What is Breaking?

Breaking is a style of street dance that originated in the United States in the 1970s, particularly among African American and Latino communities. It is characterised by acrobatic moves and complex footwork, traditionally performed to funk, breakbeats and hip hop music. Breakers, or 'b-boys' and 'b-girls', often perform in circles or battles, in which two or more dancers compete by taking turns improvising and showing off their best moves.

*article by Emmanuel Adelekun

Over the past four decades, Breaking has gained popularity around the world and is now a common sight at concerts, competitions, and other major events. In December 2020, it was announced that Breaking would be added to the Olympic Games for Paris 2024 as one of the new sports.

There are 8 basic elements which make up the dance of breaking

Top Rock

This is how breakers start, and is when they are dancing while standing. Some basic top rock steps are the Indian step and cross step.

Go Downs

These are any moves breakers use to go from top rock (dancing standing) down to the floor. Some basic go downs are the knee drop and spin down.


This is when breakers are moving down on the floor, using their hands for support, as they move their legs through a variety of footwork steps and patterns. Some basic footwork steps are 6 step, 3 step, and CCs.


This is when breakers hold a solid shape with their body for a few seconds. Some basic breaking freezes are the Baby freeze, Chair freeze, and Elbow freeze.

Power Moves

This is when breakers propel their body through a dynamic, continuous spinning move, by generating a lot of rotational force. Examples of power moves are: head spins, windmills and air flares.


Transitions are the movements breakers use to get in and out of the moves that they do. They are also the movements that breakers use to connect their footwork, freezes, tricks and power moves, in a seamless way. Some basic transitions are sweeps, pretzels and spins.


This is when breakers take a conventional breaking move and adds a unique or unconventional twist to it.  An example of a trick is a hopping air chair.

Individual Style

What makes a breaker truly unique, and stand out, is having their own individual way of moving, dancing and expressing their moves. This is known as ‘style’ in breaking, and no matter how good a breaker is at all the elements of breaking, to have your own style is valued as the highest expression of breaking.

(Flips are a part of breaking, but not an essential or basic element to the dance.)

Is Breaking a Sport?

Breaking sits uniquely in both realms of being an art form that is a dance, but also being a professional dance-sport. In its origin, Breaking is a dance within Hip hop culture. But with professionally organised breaking competitions have grown massively over the years, Breaking is now undeniably on the level of any professional sport, bringing it under the ‘dance-sport’ category.

Examples of what makes Breaking a sporting dance:

  • Many Breakers are now full-time, professionally-sponsored athletes, under brands such as Nike, Red Bull, Monster Energy and Adidas.
  • The biggest competitions on the breaking scene have been televised on major and national TV channels all around the world.
  • Worldwide championship Breaking competitions attract hundreds of competitors from all over the globe.
  • Breaking has globally recognised champions.
  • Breaking has an official Olympic rule book and judging system.
  • With Breaking being included in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, and now added to the 2024 Paris Olympics Games, it now has officially recognised status as a professional sport.


Every Breaker is a dancer whether they are someone who takes up Breaking as a fun hobby, or are a competitive B-Boy or B-Girl.

Professional, competitive Breakers are recognised as dancer-athletes, who train, live, and pursue a professional career as Breakers.

Long running championship breaking competitions


  • UK B-Boy Championships
    - With its first edition held at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in 1996, this is the longest running championship competition in the UK, which attracts competitors from all over the world.
  • Break Mission
    - One of the biggest competitions in the UK that also attracts competitors from all over the world.


  • Battle of the Year (Origally in Germany but now held Worldwide)
    - The longest running breaking competition in the world which held its first event in 1995.
  • Freestyle Session (USA)
  • The Notorious IBE (the Netherlands)
  • The Red Bull BC One World Final (worldwide)
    - The biggest championship solo competition on the Breaking scene.
  • The Legits Blast Series (Slovakia and Prague)
    - Outbreak Europe is the series event in Slovakia
    - and then you have The Legits Blast Prague

UK Breakers and figures who made an important impact on the worldwide Breaking scene

B-Boy Evo (aka the Demon Smurf)
- A B-Boy who inspired many breakers around the world with his dynamic style, when he was competing in the 90s.

Second to None crew
- A UK crew that inspired breakers all around the world with their incredible power moves, when they were competing and travelling in the 90s.

Hooch (also known as DJ Hooch)
- The founder and promoter of the UK B-Boy Championships, as well the promoter of many UK club nights back in the 90s and early 2000s, where breakers would go to meet, dance and battle.

DJ Leacy
- A UK DJ who inspired the worldwide scene with his DJ skills, mixes and ways of spinning breaks. Sadly he passed away but is still remembered and honoured.

Kevin Gope (also known as DJ Renegade)
- A UK DJ who brought inspiration to the worldwide scene with his DJ skills, mixes and ways of spinning breaks.
- A breaking coach and founder of Soul Mavericks crew, one of the best crews to come out of the UK back in the early to late 2000s.
- The co-creator of the Olympic judging system for breaking, Trivium, and one of the lead judges at the 2018 Youth Olympic games.

Popular and informative documentaries on Breaking

The Freshest Kids
The definitive documentary on the history of breaking, as given by the pioneers.

Evo (aka Demon Smurf) documentary
About the legendary Evo, and how he influenced and inspired breakers all around the world.

Second to None present The B-Boy Mercenaries
About the legendary Second To None crew, and how they influenced and inspired breakers all around the world.

Turn it Loose
A documentary about the Red Bull BC One World Final competition, following the breakers who competed at the 2007 world finals in South Africa.

Bouncing Cats
A powerful documentary about a B-Boy in Uganda using breaking to change the lives of the kids in his country.

Breaking in the Olympics

Breaking was first introduced at the 2018 Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Breaking was then chosen as one of the 4 new disciplines to be included in the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris. The I.O.C recognised federation tasked with delivering Breaking as an Olympic sport is the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF).



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