FSF Interviews – Vellu Saarela
Have you ever tried to put words on a special occasion or a stunning landscape seen while traveling without being able to recreate similar settings? Describing tricking gives the very same, banal outcome. The only exclusive way to capture the essence of this sport is either to see it live or flip through captivating videos on YouTube. Broadly speaking tricking is a combination of gymnastics, martial arts and Capoeira with an intention to be aesthetically pleasing. In reality, it’s much more.
FSF had the pleasure to talk to one of the biggest names in the trickster world, Vellu Saarela. Despite his young age, Vellu’s track record talks by itself. He won Big Trick events both in 2009 and 2011 in Cologne, Germany not to mention that he’s one the first people in the world to have landed a triple cork. His YouTube videos get hundreds of thousands of views, and the fame is increasing.
Vellu emits positive spirit and passion towards tricking. This fellow doesn’t just take it as given, but is making his own, unique tricking style.
From the backyard cartwheel to global battles
A few weeks ago, Vellu returned from U.S, where he took part in Tru Trickz Tricking World Championship. What’s your overall feeling about the trip?
In Las Vegas over the weekend I was privileged to train and compete with some of the world’s best trickers. San Jose was more relaxed, having fun, teaching and training with old friends. I definitely had great time in both places and needless to say, learned a lot. The whole trip was a superb experience.
Photo: Heikki Järvinen
So let’s go back to when everything got started. In 2005, Vellu stumbled on tricking when his neighbor showed a tricking video. Next day he found himself learning how to cartwheel at his backyard. Before getting into tricking, had you done any gymnastics or martial arts?
Yes, I did little bit of gymnastics when I started, because that was the only way to get to train at the local gym. Mostly I learned on my own and by the help of other trickers. I used to spend hours and hours watching footage of “the pros” frame by frame and then tried to imitate their moves.
At that time, what was the source of information?
It was, and actually still is, Internet. Back in those days there were three main tricking sites: bilang.com for tricking videos and trickstutorials.com for tutorials, videos and information about tricking.
Nowadays trickstutorials is still a good place for beginners. Naturally, YouTube is full of tutorials and tricking samplers.
You’ve 7 years of training experience behind. Can you elaborate some individual ups of your career?
Year 2009 was a good year for sure. I was training a lot and progressing rapidly. Heikki from Unito edited a breakthrough sampler for me “Vellu – Summer 2009″. That was a turning point after I really started to get invitations to travel to different places to teach and trick. In December 2009 I won The Big Trick 5 battles in Cologne, Germany.
Personal highlights have been meeting and getting to train and share ideas with the people I used to admire since starting tricking.
How about downs?
In the beginning of 2010 I overtrained myself. After practicing 12-14 times a week for a couple of months my body and mind got exhausted. It took me awhile to get back in shape, but I learned the rough way how important it is to rest and recover.
Vellu describes that in order to be a good trickster one has to be “all-around”. By this he means that one has to know how to kick, flip and twist. What are the essential qualities for a competent trickster?
Solid foundation is critical. You can always tell if someone is good at tricking by seeing his basic tricks. In my opinion it’s also important to add your own flavor to your moves by being creative and sometimes thinking outside of the box. Learn from the best, but don’t just copy, instead make it your own.
How would you describe your weekly training routines?
I train tricking 4-7 times a week. Sessions usually last 1-2 hours. I do conditioning couple of times a week mostly for my mid-body and legs. I also try to do some cardio at least once or twice a week. Stretching is vital for trickers but lately I’ve been too lazy in training my flexibility. At the moment I stretch properly only about once a week and sometimes before/after tricking trainings.
Photo: Wojtek Kalka
This amount of exercise must consume lots of energy. What are the key principles of your diet?
I try to eat regularly, as diverse as possible and a fair amount of vegetables, chicken and fruits. I love food and I prefer to cook my own food. Occasionally, I also allow myself to consume unnecessary delicacies such as cookies and cereals.
Give us an example. What made you wake up this morning?
Good breakfast consisting of a fresh rye bread sandwich, yogurt with some muesli and a cup of coffee. And obviously, my belief that today is going to be a good day.
Spreading the love – sharing the passion
Vellu is one the members of Unito, a martial arts tricking based performance group. By now Unito has been representing Finland in tricking events and gatherings all over the world including Europe, The United States, Canada and China. They also created a great deal of attention after being one of the finalists in the Finnish Talent show.
In tricking, community plays an essential role by tutoring rookies, sharing the best practices, and tricking episodes. What are the thriving elements behind Unito?
Spreading what we love, tricking, is our main goal. Particularly, helping Finnish tricking community grow is sufficient for us. By guiding newcomers, educating, making samplers and tutorials we hope to see tricking getting more acknowledged in the future so that when people see it they get to the bottom of it.
We want to build a rock-hard base for tricking in Finland so that it will be able to grow. I love seeing new people getting into this sport and spotting them getting thrilled just like I used to and still do.
At the moment, tricking enjoys very strong hype, scaling up events and gatherings. That is no wonder since the sport itself is truly appealing. But is it as demanding as it appears to us?
Many people think tricking looks cool, but they restrict their mind by thinking they’ll never be able to do such things. That’s not the reality! Anyone can learn tricking. When I started I couldn’t even cartwheel. So try to find trickers living close to you and join their trainings. Remember to take things step by step. The most important thing is to have fun while pushing your own limits!
For a young guy like Vellu, his plans for future are still undecided.
At the moment, I’m in a situation where I’m seeking for different opportunities for my further studies. I’m figuring out what motivates me the most. It really needs to be something practical and all-round. For example being an entrepreneur, and especially to be your own boss. Luckily, in the beginning of 2013 I’ll start my mandatory military service, which gives me more time to consider the next move.
My greatest ambition is to just keep going! There’s always reason to stay curious and excited.