Once upon this same earth, beneath this same sun, long before you, before the ape and the elephant as well, before the wolf, the bison, the whale, before the mammoth and the mastodon... was the time of the great trick debate. And it’s still going on this very day! We could probably fill an entire issue with trick names and their debated counterparts, maybe we will one day, but for now, we let a handful of people vent about a handful of things to start the conversation. 

WHAT IS THE POINT of naming our tricks? Is it so that we can create a mental image to accurately communicate what has been seen or done? Is it that simple, or can muttering an evolved or borrowed trick name be a direct attack to the history of roller skating? Is it fair to say using trick names taken from inline skating is appropriating the culture of roller skating? Or vice versa? Can we create totally new names for our tricks, even if they have been named before? 

While the passion runs deep around this discussion, it remains subjective. I find that you can honor those before you while using new language that is widely understood in the present times. The evolution of language is nothing new, but… WTF is a dollar grind? Something just isn’t adding up. I’ve heard it all… dollar grind, 100 grind, 50505050 grind, so let’s do the
math together. 

The term 50-50 comes from skateboarding, when both trucks are on the edge or coping, with 50% of the wheels on the deck and 50% of the wheels hanging off the edge. So we add another two trucks, and we still have 50% on and 50% off. With that logic, this term is a beautifully simple descriptor and needs no change. But to be my own devil’s advocate, add a rail, and then we have 100% of our wheels hanging off. But at this time most of us can clearly envision the trick when you hear 50-50, and really, that’s the point. 

—Kayla Klinkhammer

The 50-50 is easy math, and honestly, one of the least controversial trick names out there. Overall, most of us can agree on it. Now, souls and acids… that’s a different story. These terms are now commonly accepted and understood across the general “aggressive” quad community. However, they still manage to be a hot topic of debate. Why? Well, because “we DoNt HaVe a SoUl PLaTe.” We have to consider that when soul tricks entered the chat in roller blading, inline skates didn’t have a soul plate either—it didn’t exist yet. 

The trick alone sparked the invention of the hardware that became known as the soul plate. Originally, like the quad skaters at the time, inline skaters borrowed the term “Smith Grind.” Some could argue that to pay homage to the greats that came before us in quad skating, the term Smith Grind is what should be maintained to this day. However, I argue that it is just another borrowed trick, named after skateboarder Mike Smith. 

I could also argue that with the new advances in hardware and trick selections, you are able to execute something on one skate that much closer resembles a Smith Grind (the original skateboard trick). The  Smith Grind worked for quad and inline skaters at the time, but what they were doing wasn’t a Smith Grind, it was admittedly something else. And the inline skaters came up with their own name: the soul grind. The quad version of this trick looks and feels much more like the inline equivalent even without a soul plate. And so over recent years, it stuck with us, too. Generally, you’ll find roller skaters using these inline terms like soul and acid as they are now widely understood. The original trick names often came from skateboarding and represent the importance of those connections with quad skating and are a piece of history, painting a picture of the culture at the time. 

The growth and evolution of trick names is representative of the current relationship between roller skating and inline skating, and shouldn’t be discounted. Maybe one day we will create a whole new book of trick terminology, unique to us, agreed upon across the board. Maybe I’ll be the fool and dollar grind will become a thing, but my point is, if it did, I’d kinda have to roll with it. This old dog can learn new trick names. At the end of the day the importance of trick names at their core is to be able to identify, work towards, and communicate specific tricks without having to explain in detail what the body is doing. It’s a tool to make life simple, yet will it
ever be?

—Kayla Klinkhammer

AS ROLLER SKATING keeps evolving and drawing new shapes on the tricks we can do on our skates, the same question comes back in different forms: What would you name that trick?

Without denial, the influence of different sports is bringing new tricks to the table. When roller skating started, the pioneers set a line of tricks that many of us haven’t found a way of doing today. From side stance spins, invert variations, wild airs, to the traditional way of sliding and gliding through the coping. When I started skating, all we did were frontsides, backsides, and 50-50s. The most adventurous tricks were spinning, flipping, and playing with air variations. The past three years, roller skating has seen a big boom in street skating (thanks Covid) and besides all the aerial madness, the grind game keeps leveling up.

The whole conversation of grinds keeps resurfacing as roller skaters are exploring more ways to approach tricks and obstacles, and for today, I would like to focus on the specific term for tricks when we position the grinds on top of the obstacle: would you call it a topside or a backside?

When discussing this with some of my friends in Australia, I realized how calling a trick a “backside soul” makes much more sense than a “topside soul” in terms of how our skates are structured and how we learned to skate back in those days. I can recall the time where CIB put together their tricktionary and explained the difference between frontsides and backsides, especially on 50-50 grinds. It blew my mind and seemed too complicated at the moment. These terms come from an understanding of how skateboarders approach tricks, and as a fun fact, whenever I try a trick over the coping, I just think, It’s like a backside with a lil change. Even when teaching my friends, that tip makes so much sense. 

Now, with the rollerblading influence on our sport in how we move our bodies and shift bodyweight for certain grinds, the term “topside” seems more familiar as this is a thing we can visually relate to. The big difference is—yep, you guessed it—our skates are very different. So unless we’re fucking around with our wheels and locking on the side of our skates, the term wouldn’t necessarily apply. I think of this like doing a negative grind is impossible for us, or how our manuals differ to any other sport since we have more wheels to play around with. This is why having trick terminology is a cool way to keep track of the things we can learn on our eight-wheeled tools.

—Caro Hernandez

IF IT WERE UP TO ME, I would do away with the term top and replace it with back or backside. Whenever you are doing a topside trick, your inside foot is the one doing the variation of a grind (soul, acid, porn, etc). With these grinds, your shoulders are naturally positioned so your back faces the obstacle. With a regular acid, soul, porn, etc. your outside foot is the one doing the variation and your shoulders are turned to make your chest face the obstacle—making these frontside grinds. The orientation of the chest vs. back might not be as apparent with roller skating as it is with skateboarding, but if the grind is really exaggerated you can see that your shoulders are facing one way or the other. Acid vs. top acid is a good example. With a top acid your shoulders
dip and make your back face the obstacle— making it a backside acid. A regular acid makes your shoulders turn so your chest faces it— making it a frontside acid. 

—Taylor Stack

AS FAR AS SWITCH GOES, I think it makes the most sense to use this term literally in which you are switching the natural order of your feet. Do you normally skate with your right foot in front ? Then a trick with your left foot leading is a switch trick for you. I know this could get messy and complicated for the folks who are ambipedal and don’t have a preference for a natural leading foot. Not gonna lie, I don’t know how to make switch work for those overachievers… but for the rest of us foot-favoring skaters, I think this is a good use of the term switch. 

So if we put it all together then you can have four variations on a grind (without taking into account rotations or fakie). Let’s say you skate left foot forward, then a front soul would be you jumping to the right onto an obstacle with your right foot in 50 position and your left foot in soul position. Back soul would be you jumping onto the obstacle to the left with your left foot in soul position and your right foot in 50 position. Switch front soul would be you jumping to the left but using your right foot to soul and your left foot for 50. Switch back soul would be you jumping to the right with your right foot in soul position and your left foot in 50 position. I was considering drawing something for a visual example but I don’t think my stick figures would help clear things up.

—Taylor Stack

ONE TRICK that has been given a new(ish) name over the years is pornstar grind. Some have called it star grind or pstar. I’m curious as to why people find a distaste for the word porn. Is it because of Christianity agendas telling us it’s vulgar and wrong, or is it the children we are trying to save from learning about such horrors? Honestly, I don’t actually mind that people say star grind or pstar, I myself have used those terms, but I am still curious as to what their reasoning is for avoiding the word porn. 

Anyway, the topside (or backside?) version of this grind can also be referred to as sunny day. Alley-oop pornstar can be referred to as cloudy night. I keep hearing quad skaters using these incorrectly, so I felt the need to inform. To simplify: Top pornstar = sunny day. AO pornstar = cloudy night. Regular pornstar is just that. Or star or pstar, whatever. Reread if necessary.

Additionally, to make things extra fun, if you do a grind that looks similar to a pornstar but your shin/knee is down, it’s technically a sidewalk grind. This is a trick that has become pretty popular in roller skating, especially on hubbas and handrails. It’s still a cool trick, but it’s not exactly a pornstar. 

—Karli Craig

MOST OF THE TIME, creating is based on inspiration and sometimes when you get inspired, it’s up to those individuals to either show some sort of… not respect, but credit based on what inspired you to do it. If you go back to the beginning of all these action sports like blading, roller skating, skateboarding and BMX, it was all inspired by surfing. That’s one of the reasons why roller skating was doing side stance in the beginning, so they can have front side and back side since everything was inspired by surfing. Everything started evolving from there. The first person ever to do a 540 on vert was a roller skater and skateboarders got inspired. They didn’t call it a 540, they called it the McTwist from Mike McGill. So, they chose their own path and evolved. 

In rollerblading, we were inspired obviously by the first generation of roller skaters. A lot of them became professional inline skaters, and we were inspired by skateboarding as well. I feel very good that we influenced something that you call a soul grind. You girls are actually breaking the norm of making fun of or hating on blading and instead are using it as inspiration. When I see you call tricks a soul grind or fish brain, I think, “Oh my God, they even know the terms.” I’m very thankful for that. It’s flattering that you guys are okay with using blading names.

What you girls are doing is not what happened in the ‘70s/’80s, and it’s not rollerblading. The movement is powered by women. I remember when I first started seeing this at the beginning. Since Day 1 with the Moxi team visiting Woodward, we talked about how many tricks are very unique to roller skating. Like using toe stops and certain motions of your body. There’s something big there that can be explored. You girls are influenced nowadays by everything that is happening around you. If a girl does a soul grind and another girl does a toe stop trick with a kick, it does not mean one is better than the other. Each is unique and refreshing. So I always feel like it’s okay to create your own names, but it’s up to the scene and the people on the front lines of this movement to choose what to call it. 

Around 15 years ago, we stopped having to name tricks in blading because everything’s so established now. All the sports used to be so small that it was easy to create names for new things. If you have a magazine and you put the name in there, then that’s how it goes. Maybe you can actually create something here. I think we already did that with the chimi grind. Names are all about having street smarts and having a good time. However, if you do a trick for the first time and you name it yourself, that’s bad luck. Tom Fry created a trick and Jess was like, “Tom, do that trick that you did the other day.” And he’s like, “I’ve never done that.” Jess took a picture the day before. He’s like, “Dude, you don’t remember this? You have a fishbrain,” because he was always so high. The name fishbrain came from Tom not remembering. So, there’s always a story behind every trick and there’s always going to be somebody that disagrees with it. Especially in this era, everybody has an opinion.

I hope you don’t forget the premise of why you all are doing this, though. There’s something deeper and it’s beautiful. I feel there is a reason why so many women found happiness in quad skating and us men shouldn’t fuck with that. It’s revolutionary for me and amazing that you all have the respect to credit skateboarding and blading in your own terms, but this movement is your own, this female LGBTQ community movement. There’s no words for it. It’s a feeling. You have to be there to understand it. 

—Miguel Ramos

I’VE BEEN AROUND FOR A BIT, so I’ve seen a huge evolution in roller skating. When I started in 2013, it was much easier to define the tricks we were doing. They were mostly stalls and airs and they were pretty straight-forward. Now that a whole world of grind variations, switch-ups, and spins have been introduced, things are a little more… complicated. The way I feel towards trick names is pretty simple, whatever the majority is calling it, is what it is. The names are there so that we can communicate more efficiently. Trying to bring back outgrown terms or start trends for new names when there’s already established ones feels counterintuitive. Maybe it’s best we just accept the most commonly used names and move on?

 I agree that not every term we have adopted from inline skating necessarily makes sense for us, so I’m not opposed to using different terms for some tricks. I even understand why some people want to use the term axle grind over Makio. However, if it’s going to take five years of arguing on the internet to get the majority to accept it, is it really worth it? We already have a term that most people have accepted and resonate with, so it is what it is. Right? I dislike the term box grind, but if the majority of our community was using it consistently, I’d be like, “Alright, I guess that’s what I’m going to call it now.” Selfishly, I’m glad that’s not the way it’s going at the moment, but my point still stands. 

On the topic of box grind, (please don’t send me death threats for this) I have an issue with it because it doesn’t seem like people are on the same page regarding its definition. I can Google it right now and find contradicting information. Some say box grind is comparable to a kind grind, others say it’s like a sweatstance, while this one article over here says it’s a mizou. If we can’t even consistently refer to it as the same thing, what are we even doing? Box grind sounds more like a description of the obstacle you’re skating rather than a specific trick anyway. That’s probably how the term originated in the first place. Coupla skaters sessioning on a box. It’s just too vague for my liking. If I say kindgrind, sweatstance, or mizou, I’m pretty certain everyone would know what I’m referring to. If I say box grind, I think a lot of people would question which trick they should be imagining. 

I also often see contradictions about when it’s okay to adopt terms from other sports and when we need to stick with terms that came from the early years of roller skating. In one article I found, it states that we should use the term box grind because of its roller skating origins, but earlier in that same article it says adopting terms from other sports is sometimes okay such as Makio. This right here is a contradiction. Makios were called axle grinds by roller skaters in the early days. So based on their box grind logic, wouldn’t it not be okay to use Makio then? A lot of the debates come from the fact that our skates are very different from inlines. However, we use the term boneless for one of our tricks and our skates are quite different from a skateboard which is where that term came from, is it not?

My point is, there are inconsistencies everywhere within these discussions. This is why I personally prefer to just adopt the most commonly used terms and move on. At the end of the day, it’s such a trivial thing to expend our energies on, but I do believe universal language is important for the growth of our culture. And it’s kind of exciting that roller skating is in a place where we’re even having these lengthy debates. To me, it kind of validates the growth and passion of this community. We WANT to establish a universal language, and that’s pretty cool.

—Karli Craig