Temperatures were at an all time high as JinJo Crew and Mortal Combat faced up to fight in the final battle of the Battle Of The Year 2010. The 12,000 spectators at the Arena Montpellier were a sea of hand props as the two crews pulled out their slickest moves to convince both judges and crowd that they were worthy of the title.
In thrilling semifinals, both crews crushed their competitors with state-of-the-art B-Boying, so the big final was highly anticipated. The two Asian outfits - JinJo representing South Korea and Mortal Combat, Japan - were determined to win the most respected championship on the B-Boy scene.
But there could be only one, and in the end once again it was a crew from Korea who proudly held their prize high. With more than 22 B-Boy titles in the bag and a reputation for challenging, precise and coordinated movements, JinJo Crew were already well known on the B-Boy scene.
A tight-knit group of friends, since the crew formed in 2001 there have been a few changes. The current members include world famous champions B-Boy Hong10 and B-Boy Wing, winners of the Red Bull BC One in 2006 in Brazil and 2008 in Paris respectively. Skim, Vero, FE, Octopus, Fleta, Giboon, Stony, Mold and Patrick Star complete the crew. Together they have won the LG Korean Nationals in 2007 and 2008, as well as traveling and performing extensively in the Americas and Europe.
With this impressive track record, for many fans it didn’t come as much of a surprise to see the Korean crew win BOTY 2010. In addition, dancers from Korea have made many successful appearances at the Battle Of The Year. Ever since the first crew from Korea entered the Battle Of The Year in 2001 and won “best show” honors, Koreans have placed first or second at every event series.
So what is it that makes Korean B-Boys so strong? “I believe it’s because the environment in which we live and the B-Boys around us right now are living and training in a system truly ideal for excellence and progress. If I do well, the ones around me must do well also and vice versa. This system seems to be making us better,” said JinJo Crew member Wing in an interview to Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily.
In fact, there are few other countries in the world that take hip hop dance more seriously than Korea. The Korean government not only places high investments in B-Boy competitions and breakdancing, but also designated two of the most successful teams, Gamblerz and Rivers, official ambassadors of Korean culture. Once considered outcasts of the Korean culture, the B-Boys’ skillful moves and dexterous performances embody exactly the dynamic and youthful image the country wants to project.
It could probably also be seen as a tribute to this very kind of gravity-defying power moves that the crew named themselves after JinJos, bear-like cartoon creatures found in every game of the Banjo-Kazooie series. After all, they are said to have magical powers, among other things possessing the ability to fly.
However, unlike their little cartoon namesakes, the guys from JinJo have to work hard to acquire and hone their skills. For the past five years, the group holds nighttime practices from 12 to 9 a.m. But as JinJo Crew’s track record shows, these tireless graveyard shifts have paid off in a spectacular way cementing their visual style as “human origami orchestrated into a grand symphony of illusion-like footwork,” said BOTY spokesman Mario Roth.
In 2010, the group won first place in the crew and performance battle categories at the R16 B-Boy Championships in Seoul. More than 300 B-Boys from around the world participated in the tournament and this victory was one of the crew’s sweetest - at least until they won the Battle Of The Year 2010 finals in Montpellier, France shortly after.
Their success also comes down a strong base of trust and friendship. When it comes to recruiting new team members, JinJo Crew take a slightly different approach to other groups. “It is important to find what each member is good at and help them develop that characteristic. Then older members coach new members in establishing their own B-Boy style. Without trust, it is hard for new members and old members to work together and accept advice to find and develop a unique style,” said crew member Skim to Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily.
Following this approach, every team member finds his own role that supports and pushes the crew. While Skim is the official leader of the group, his brother Wing is responsible for JinJo’s finances and planning of gigs.
“I did once think that I could do better leading the team. But I think the power system structure we have works for our team. I’m more of a planner and organizer, and my brother is more like a humane and charismatic leader who can embrace each and every members’ needs,” says Wing.
That’s also the reason why JinJo Crew doesn’t have a manager or agent other than Wing. This allows the crew to stay focused on practicing, entering competitions and evolving their style.
For Wing it’s all about staying true to their passion for hip hop: “Just be in love with this culture, be obsessed! There is no better suggestion I can give. Just work hard and be the best you can be, so you will never have to regret anything!”