Last week we shared part one of our interview with break dancer Youngkwang Joung, better known as Bboy Blond. If you missed out, you can find part one here. If you’re ahead of the game, here’s part two of our interview, we cover a stint in the army, power moves, memorable battles and the future!
As a Korean-born male, you were required to serve in the army. What were your thoughts when it was your time to serve?
When I went into the army, I was thinking – it’s time to stop dancing. Before me, everyone who went to the army would just stop dancing completely. It’s compulsory to serve in Korea, so when it was my time, I thought that it was my time to quit dance, too. After one year I realised there was no life without dance. So when the army gave us holiday break, I practised a little. It was only maybe twice in two months — which made it very hard — but I kept practising.
You’re a pioneer for ‘power moves’. How do you develop a new move?
It’s complicated. Sometimes new moves evolve from an accident, sometimes you just take a basic move and add your own personality to it, or sometimes inspiration comes from others’ suggestions. In the early days I wanted to shock people with moves, that’s all I was thinking. So when I competed I would keep the move a secret during warm up and then, in the battle, I would let the move loose and people never saw it coming! I feel differently about it now — I like to practice and focus on the music and let them come naturally.
Kids always ask me how do I keep doing power. How do I keep my body going? Do I work out to be able to do it? Sure, I do some sit ups and push ups sometimes, but that’s just for fitness, you don’t need to do it just do more power. Practice more and study the moves you want. Think about how it works and the technique, or watch someone else. Maybe you can’t do it exactly the way you want because of your body type or level. But the best way to learn is practice.
It gets annoying when people ask what my secret is, there is no secret, I just practice. Practice more and study the moves you want to know. Think about how it works and the technique used. I’d also say it’s better to learn how to control your body first. I always get asked how to do airflares. Airflares are hard to learn! You’re basically in the air, no feet on the ground, jumping over from one hand to the other. It’s dangerous when you’re in mid air with no hands on the ground. If you don’t know how to control your body, anything can happen. It’s a move I’m known for, but I don’t teach it to people who don’t know basic moves or don’t know how to control their body. What’s the point in having one of the hardest moves if you can’t do anything with it or tie it together with the rest of your skills?
You mentioned your style changing from power moves to more freestyle dancing. What motivated this?
I was never pure power, even before the army. People would always see a battle with power moves but they never saw how I would train. I would practice footwork and freezes too, but I would never use any of those moves in a battle because I mostly danced with my crew where we each showed our strongest moves. It just turned out that they were better at footwork and freezes, and I was stronger with power moves. That’s why most people think I’m just a power-move guy.
Since I moved to Australia I’ve tried to enjoy my dancing even more, which has naturally changed my style. Back in the day, all I would care about is winning a battle, now I’m more focused on enjoying a battle. I still want to win, but I do whatever I’m feeling not just my best moves.
How did it feel winning Battle of the Year 2007 with Extreme Crew?
It was awesome! When we got onto that stage and we saw the audience, we thought it was crazy. I was so impressed that there were so many people there to watch bboys, it was unbelievable. We were just happy to be there, to be at such a big event. After we made it into the final four crews all we could think was, ‘This is real, we have to kill it! We have to smash it!’ And when they announced the winner and it was us, we went crazy.
After a long career in dance, do you still get nervous?
I get nervous every time. Even if it’s a small battle, I’m still nervous. I don’t know why. My heart beats faster all the time and I have to tell it to relax! My heart never understands.
Dancing is still exciting and I’m happy that even though I haven’t competed in big international competitions for a while, people still know who I am and still like me.
What’s your most memorable battle and why?
I have two favourites. My first was in Osaka, Japan in 2002. It was first time we had been to an international battle. It was a whole new feeling being in a different country to dance. The other one was definitely Battle Of The Year 2007. It makes me happy thinking about it because it was probably the biggest competition we had ever won.
What’s your favourite country that you’ve been to for dancing?
I can’t pick just one, but I like going to Europe. When I go there to dance, there’s so many bboys from so many different countries. When I go to a competition in Australia, it’s mostly Australians, when I go to Korea, its mostly Koreans, but in Europe, there’s so many different people from so many different countries. I like going to Korea too, it’s so competitive there, and there are so many good bboys and and so many crews there. They have Drifters, Last For One, Maximum, Gambler, Jinjo, Rivers, my crew Extreme, Fusion MC. And even then, some of them make united crews. It’s hard to compete there when so many crews are really good.
Going to India was crazy. I felt like a superstar. They’ve had a few dancers there before but they were just there to do shows with no one-on-one time. When I visited, I was doing workshops and teaching dance which no one had experienced before. I travel less now, but since I moved to Australia my English has improved, and that helps a lot when you travel. So now I can enjoy a trip 10 times more because I can actually speak to more people now.
What’s the next competition you’d like to take part in?
I’d like to go to a lot of the big-name competitions, UK Championships, Battle of the Year, Red Bull BC One. I don’t want to win, it’s not about that. I just want to see more bboys and new bboys. I don’t think I could go unless I could compete. To compete in most of these big competitions you need to be invited, and it’s hard being here sometimes, because now I’m representing Australia, but everyone knows I’m originally from Korea. I sometimes think if I was born here I might have had a better chance to compete in bigger competitions.
What’s it like being married while dancing around the world?
It’s hard because I travel a lot without my wife and I always have to leave her. She supports me a lot and she actually wants me to go see new countries and travel if the opportunity comes up. She’s a cool girl, she’s one of the reasons why I moved to Australia. She has seen everything I do, so she always asks why I don’t get invited to the big international competitions and events, because I’m always doing my best and pushing to be a better dancer. But they don’t want to invite me because I live in Australia now. I’ve spoken to a lot of organisers, and to bring someone out from Australia is really expensive. For the price of one Australian bboy, you can get two Korean bboys. It upsets her. She’s just looking out for the best things for me, I definitely know I married the right person.
What keeps you pushing to be a better dancer?
The scene inspires me to become better. In the early days, I was known for power moves and it feels weird that after 15 years I can still win a power-move competition. I’m really proud of myself, sometimes I don’t know how I do it. People always say I need to prepare for later in life when I’m ‘too old’ to do power moves, when I can no longer do flips and airflares. I hate when people say that. I’m doing what I like and if I can still do it – I’m going to do it. If my body decides it can’t cope with it when I’m older, I’ll do something else!
Who are your inspirations?
Back in the day, I was inspired by the first Korean bboys, such as Sung Hoon as well as American Bboys, like Remind and Super Dave. Today, even the new generation inspires me – they have crazy power!
What does it mean to you to be a bboy?
I don’t want to say it’s everything, because I can live without it, I just don’t want to. I know a lot of people say it should be everything and you should live every day as a bboy, but there are also other things I want to do and want to see in life. It does mean a lot to me. If I didn’t start dancing I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t have been to a lot of the places and countries I’ve been to and I wouldn’t have met all of the inspiring people I have and who are still some of my best friends today. I don’t want to ever say that I’m not a bboy. If I could, I would dance for the rest of my life but, if I had to stop one day, I would move on. It’s been the main focus of my life since I was 14.
What would you do if you weren’t dancing?
I think I would be a totally different person. I have no idea what I would be doing, and even now I wonder what I would do if I suddenly had to stop dancing. I know I’d like to study, but I’m not sure what. I’ve tried to think about what I would do if I were to stop dancing, but every time I do, I get distracted and start thinking about bboying again!
What advice do you have for the new generation?
Enjoy dancing. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much when I was young like I do now because I was so focused on winning battles and competitions. If you win with that mind, you’re happy, if you lose, you’re sad. That’s all I would think of when I was young. But now I think that’s not important. Whether you win or lose, you’re still dancing which is the best part of all. Just have fun, respect all the bboys, too.
I get hundreds of requests and videos from younger dancers asking me to teach them. I like to teach and train people in person, face to face. I need to be able to see you dance, how your body works and not just one move. I feel bad sometimes because people expect me to have instructions on exactly how to do a move but they don’t realise it’s not like a recipe where you follow the exact same steps or methods as the next person.
Do you plan to stay in Australia?
For at least 3-4 years we will be here. My wife is currently studying at university so we’re going to stay and see what happens after she finishes. When I was travelling in Europe, I kept wondering what it would be like if I had moved to the UK instead. So that might be an option down the track.
Check out the latest clip of Bboy Blond showcasing his different styles in the clip below.