B-boy Types: Solo Edition

One of the classic dichotomies in breaking is that of “power vs. style,” or “powerheads vs. styleheads.” Every aspiring breaker that considers this debate eventually realizes that the categorization is faulty. Power and style, as concepts, are not restricted to specific techniques, and are certainly not mutually exclusive.

At the same time, there are general aspects of the dance that individual dancers can choose to focus on, whether those are types of moves or conceptual philosophies. I attempted to create a full list of these aspects and failed miserably. So, I did a full 180 and ended up with a system based on the fewest categories possible.

I proudly (sort of) present to you, the Mind-Body-Soul characterization system. Its inspiration comes from a workshop I took a few years ago, by Niek from The Ruggeds. He mentioned that Mind, Body, and Soul are necessary components of breaking that can be practiced separately. Each breaker practices these components to varying degrees. So, logically, we may differentiate and group breakers by those same components.

The Mind-Body-Soul system aims to rate the degree at which a b-boy/b-girl’s choices and techniques emphasize certain aspects of the dance. These aspects, Mind, Body, and Soul, are of equal importance. Each contains a multitude of sub-aspects that are positive traits in breaking. Ratings range from 1–10 for each of the three categories, although the individual numbers aren’t as significant as the ratios between them.

There are definitely more sub-aspects for Mind, Body, and Soul than the few I listed.

This numeric system is not a way to judge battles. It’s meant to quickly introduce a b-boy/b-girl, and to compare their traits with those of others. Think of it like a video game character’s stats, which suggest certain strengths and weaknesses, but don’t fully dictate how you play the game, or how well you play it. Just as a beginner playing the best team in FIFA will lose to a pro playing the worst team, a b-boy with great moves/ideas/personality will lose if they can’t properly apply those moves/ideas/personality.

With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the fun part. Here are a few examples of b-boys and their type charts under the Mind-Body-Soul system. A video of each dancer is also included for context.

Hope these examples clarified the system, or at least gave you some new ideas. Again, I’d like to stress that these ratings do not necessarily mean that one dancer is better than another, and that the numbers are not the focus. Looking at Tata, Remind, and Thesis, it’s feasible for any one of them to win over the others in a battle; i.e. just because Thesis focuses on the three aspects more equally doesn’t mean that he’ll always beat b-boys who focus more heavily on a single aspect.

The point of the Mind-Body-Soul is to differentiate between dancers like the examples above. Although, if a b-boy is similar to another, they should have similar rating ratios and charts. For instance, Pocket, who has physically mind-boggling moves like Tata does, should have a similarly high Body to Mind/Soul ratio. That’s an easy comparison, but the system would ideally work for more difficult ones too.

In the end, the Mind-Body-Soul system isn’t the only way to look at breaking, but you have to admit that the triangle charts are pretty cool.

Rest in peace and respect to Mex One of Unique Styles, the Squadron, B-boy Spot, Outbreak, etc. You can already see from this list of names that he was a key figure in the breaking community. He provided opportunities for dancers to showcase their talents by producing events, promoting the dance through his business, and more. I didn’t know him personally but I sure benefited from his contributions to the culture.

As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback. Follow me on Instagram @glissando for the latest updates, and please share to spread the knowledge. Thanks for reading — peace!




Amateur dancer, analyst by trade, and aspiring hip hop scholar.

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Jason Pu

Jason Pu

Amateur dancer, analyst by trade, and aspiring hip hop scholar.

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