This is: Shigekix
B-boy Shigekix (KAKB, Red Bull BC One Allstars, Black Market) competing at the World Urban Games in Budapest Hungary on September 13th, 2019. Shot by @littleshao
higekix is a world-class dancer from Osaka, Japan that recently made history as the youngest-ever winner of the Red Bull BC One World Finals.
He was first introduced to breaking at the age of seven by his sister Ayane (a world-class dancer in her own right), and quickly started winning major competitions all over the world. Rather than using tactics and strategies to psych out his opponents, Shigekix relies on his confident personality, natural musicality, and high-level moves - he never takes his eyes off of the prize, and never lets anybody rattle him in a battle.
Shigekix is an excellent role model for anybody struggling to balance their passions with school and work. Despite being a professional dancer, Shigekix consistently ranked at the top of his class in high school and stressed how important it was for him to maintain good grades even while traveling.
Check out our interview with the champion below, where we learn more about his Red Bull BC One victory, his training regimen, the bboy scene in Japan, and his future aspirations.
Shigekix at the Red Bull BC One World Finals 2020 filmed by @RedBullBCOne
Congratulations on winning Red Bull BC One! You looked very confident and strong this year. How was your mentality and training before the competition?
So many people have said that they could see my confidence when I was dancing on stage, and I agree. I feel the same; I’ve been training and preparing for this competition for a long time. It was pretty hard - I worked hard, so, you know, that's the reason I had much confidence and could enjoy myself. I practiced as much as I could, and I was doing CrossFit training. CrossFit helps build muscles for endurance, of course, and also for explosive power. I feel that it was really good to use those workouts to make my body stronger, especially for this kind of competition where there are so many rounds. I did a lot of practice and special workouts.
Did Ayane also do CrossFit training? She did really well this year too.
Yeah she did really well - better than I expected, haha - so I’m proud of her. I always tell her after battles, “you can do more,” you know?
But yeah, I agree she did really well and I think her practicing and the effort paid off. Yeah she sometimes did Crossfit, but she actually doesn't like those kinds of workouts. So she did a lot of just practicing, you know.
She doesn’t like running or working out or any of those kinds of things. I think it's so hard for her to keep motivated to do it, so maybe she can just practice, haha.
When did you know you were going to be competing in Red Bull this year? When did you start practicing for it?
Oh, I'm not sure... maybe around spring? April or May?
Around that time I had a phone call from my manager and he told me that they wanted to invite me to the Red Bull BC One World Finals in 2020. But, you know, at that time they were planning to do a normal final, in person you know. You know, the same as last year. But right after that, it was announced it might be postponed or canceled.
I was like, “oh, my God, I really want to do this.” So I was really hoping that the situation would start getting better. I was hoping and it was actually not the same, but, you know, it still happened. So I'm so happy.
How did you feel about the fact that it was only top eight this year? Everybody had to do three rounds fewer than in the past. Did you think it made the competition easier due to fewer rounds or harder because everyone has more moves?
In terms of stamina or kind of these things, it was better for our body because we only had to do nine rounds to win the competition. Normally, they have twelve or whatever, depending on the year. Sometimes there were like five rounds at the finals, so that was hard. But I mean, like in terms of winning in the battles, I think it was harder because all of the bboys could put more stuff in their nine rounds, rather than saving energy for twelve or more rounds. So I was expecting it was going to be a hard battle.
Yeah, I think I felt like 50/50; half of my feeling I was like, “yes, I can put in all of my energy into just 9 rounds!” But at the same time I was like wait... everybody only has to do 9 rounds. Ok, so all the bboys I am against will be stronger than normal. So I can say both. It was a different experience on that stage compared to 2017.
I actually liked that it was only 9 rounds. I felt like you guys had so much more energy. Especially because there was no audience this year.
I feel like if it's going to be like five rounds at the final, you know, it's hard to keep energy, especially because there was no crowd. You know, the final is worse sometimes, because both guys are already tired or don’t have any moves left. So sometimes it’s about like... which bboy is going to have a mistake, or it’s hard to make a decision about which one is the winner.
So I think so too, yeah, it was really good. I agree with you.
What did you think of the line-up when you first saw it?
When I saw the lineup at first, I felt like it was really high level... of course because it's Red Bull BC One. But at the same time I felt like... I don't know, I mean they’re really good and some of them are 100% better than me, but I felt really good. I felt like, OK, I have a chance.
Was there any match up you were kind of worried about?
I have had battles with Alkolil many times. And also when I was 15 years old, during the first time when I was on the stage at the Red Bull, I did a battle with him. And after that, I had more battles against him at other competitions - we’ve battled many times. In my opinion, he's one of the best bboys in the world for sure. He has high level skills and also originality, so I really respect him.
So I was thinking that, if the first battle was with him, it was going to be tough. Of course, I wasn't, like, worried or afraid of course. But he has good style and moves, so he's definitely one of the guys who are really strong in the first battle. The others... of course, Lil Zoo because he has a lot of experience especially at Red Bull BC One. He has been at the stage so many times. In my mind it doesn’t matter who’s gonna be the first battle, second battle, or final. I just do my best and I'm confident in myself.
Shigekix at Ichigeki Anniversary 2019. Filmed by @AsiaDanceScene
How did you start bboying?
When I was seven years old, my sister Ayane, who participated in the competition, was already a bgirl. So I had the chance to go to practice places and do battles. That’s when I realized I wanted to become a bboy. You know, on the first day I didn’t feel like that, but little by little, you know, I could see so many cool dances and moves. And I was like, “oh, OK, maybe I could try a headstand.” And that was the start for me.
How did you get the opportunity to be a Red Bull BC One All Star?
Since when I started of course it was one of my targets to become a Red Bull BC One All Star. But you know, that’s all people, everyone says that. Yeah. It’s just normal.
Taisuke from BC One All Stars, from Japan, has been watching over me and has seen how I’m taking it seriously and working hard for a long time. So he might have recommended me to be a member at first. Of course, it was not only with his decision or his invitation. They talked and they decided to bring me. I didn't know much details about it, but one day I just had it announced by my manager.
I was so surprised. Oh, one funny story… the day I knew that I was going to be a member of Red Bull BC One All Star, it was the day before the Red Bull Japan Cypher last year. They told me, like, if you win - of course, you’ve already become a member - but if you win, we will announce at that time. And if you lose, that’s OK, maybe in a few weeks we can announce it. And I was like kinda pressured. You know, it's so funny. I was thinking like, “hahaha, why are you guys telling me like this, there’s no reason why!” But unfortunately, I lost in the finals so it was postponed.
Yeah. It was so funny, you know, so I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep before the competition. Maybe the reason why I lost! Haha just kidding.
How do you decide when to represent KAKB vs. representing Red Bull?
Actually, I'm always trying to represent both, but this really depends on the situation. Of course, for example, at the Red Bull BC One world finals, they put BC One All Star, but sometimes, you know, as possible as I can I try to represent both at the same time. But yeah, sometimes in Japan, for example, we get invited as Red Bull BC One all star, but at the same time, we want to enter with our own crews, - original crews. It's hard to decide, but we just talk and it really depends on the situation.
Who was your inspiration when you were younger?
Ok, so when I started, I had a few of my favorite people and one of them is Benji from France, another is Physicx from Korea. And for others, like, you know, bboys who are around me - people I practice with, and my crewmates. Yeah. So these two guys were definitely my favorites, my inspirations you know. I watch their videos like everyday on my way to go to our practice place. My house is really far from practice, so my parents were always bring me by car, like one hour one way...so I had time for, you know, just sitting. So I watched their battles like maybe a hundred times, 1000 times. I had a DVD by my teacher when I started, with Born and Physicx, and that was my favorite, you know, because at that time YouTube was not like now. So I was shocked, like “what is this!” because at the time I had never been to a foreign country, and I never saw bboys who flew around the world on reel. So I was shocked, and it was my inspiration.
Any new up and coming bboys that inspire you?
Oh, I actually don't have the feeling like I have with Physicx and Benji. Yeah. It's a very different feeling but you know my crewmates... Phil Wizard for example, Lussy Sky, Sunni of course, Aslan, you know, all of my crewmates are definitely at the top of the world. The level is, you know, really high, and I always am inspired by them. We push each other, you know. So I can say my crewmates are my inspiration.
Japan has an incredible and amazing breaking culture. Can you tell us how Japanese government and people view breaking and what the bboy culture is like in Japan?
Ok, that's a pretty interesting question, because these days I see that it really depends on the country. The amount that the government is working for breaking or, you know, like how many regular people know about breaking, that really depends on the country. And I definitely feel like Japan is one of the best right now about organized stuff by the government. Of course, not only about the government, there are so many organizations, Olympics and things like that. They have really high quality organizations and stuff for every competition. Like every day I can see myself breaking on TV these days, especially this month, because I won a competition in Japan which was really important for the Olympics and to, you know, make the rankings in Japan. I won that competition the day before I left Japan to go to BC One. So, yeah, there is so much media and like everyday I appear on TV right now hahaha.
You know, I still... I can't believe it, because I have so many messages from my friends, you know, who are not dancers, like my neighbors... they text me like “yo, I watched you on TV!” And I'm so happy about it. I definitely feel like there are so many good things shown to normal people in Japan, like media stuff. It's pretty high quality.
Seems like they got a lot of support there. I saw you even did something with Rimowa.
Yes, really, and the sponsorship things are really, really good. We don't have a contract with Rimowa but they told me like they want to support me because I travel a lot. So, you know, it's free to get the luggage haha. I was surprised because Rimowa is the best luggage company in the world. I also have contracts with Sony Xperia, G-Shock, and Red Bull.
I like to be one of the best bboys in the world. It’s not just the results, there’s more meaning behind what I am feeling. I’m proud because there are so many younger generations, and I hope they will live a much better. It’s my target to make a better environment for the younger generations.
Is the Japanese bboy community tight knit?
Yeah, really. And also one thing I want to say I want to tell is in Japan, there are so many good communities - not only breaking culture, of course, or other genres of dance, but we also have really good connections with other communities, like BMX and double Dutch.
You know double dutch? Everyone who likes to end up doing these types of like sports are really close to each other. I think more than other countries.
I went to Budapest, which was like for the World Urban Games. There are so, so many other types of sports, BMX, skateboarding, that stuff, you know? But I couldn't see, like, people talking to each other, like between the bboys, skateboarders, or BMX riders - it’s separate. But in Japan, we actually know each other. It's very different in my country and it's super nice, actually.
So you mentioned that you have a manager who helps you land these contracts and deals on stuff. How does that work? When did you get this manager?
One of my friends has a company, IAM corporation, which is for management, organizes competitions, and has a studio - like an academy.
That company does these three things. And I'm belonging to that company as an athlete/artist. So that's why I have a manager, because my manager is working in that company. So yeah, we have a kind of contract between me and the company. All the management things are 100% his doing.
B-Boy Shigekix competing in the All Japan Breaking Championships 2020 in Kawasaki, Japan November 21, 2020. Shot by Jason Halayko
You recently graduated from high school! How did you balance your breaking career with your highschool life? What are your future plans now that you graduated?
I just graduated like last spring. I just graduated from high school and now I'm living with breaking like a professional dancer. So, you know, my school life was finished with high school. In the high school I was going, it was special. It was only for athletes and artists who were doing something special.
So in high school, if I was absent - like if I had some competition or a shoot or something like that, I just wrote down details and sign. And also I talked to the teachers and it was, you know, 100% okay to be absent so far. But even though I could be absent, I have to still get good points on the exams. So I was studying hard and I was trying to keep the top of the ranking in school.
So in Japan, we have like a zero to hundred for each exams and I was like keeping around ninety five to a hundred every time. Like even when I was so tired and I wanted to sleep on a plane, I had to do my homework, you know, that was student life.
And also, you know, so many people who were doing like breaking, like Phil Wizard and Lussy, told me like, “wow you're like doing really well - because it's not easy to make balance between studying and breaking.” Also I was keeping the top of ranking, so they were surprised, haha. And also in Japan - well, not only in Japan - but the schedule is really hard. I didn't have much time to sleep till I graduated, so every day, I could just have four hours for sleeping. Because my practice was at night from like 9pm to 12:00. And after that, you know, like I said, it takes like one hour to go back to my house, then I’d shower, sleep at 2am, and wake up at 6am. Then at 7:00, I’d leave home to go to school and after that I’d come back to the house but only have one to two hours before going back to practice. So when I was traveling I was like, “yes, I have time to sleep!”
You have a girlfriend in high school?
In high school I had a girlfriend. So I had to make balance not only with studying, but also my girlfriend. Girlfriend, breaking, studying, it was super tough. I didn't have much time, you know hahaha.
You also do a lot of artwork outside of breaking. Who are your influences/inspiration for your artwork?
Actually, I have done artwork even longer than my breaking. I actually don't remember when I started because it’s for as long as I can remember, like since I was a baby, maybe like around kindergarten. And my inspiration for my work is the art around me, like museums and stuff. Or even some things that were not famous, you know, like on the street or at competitions. And I was looking at art for like a couple hours per day. Ever since I was little, I would often go to some places where I can see some artworks or I can get some inspiration for artwork. And when I'm drawing I feel like I'm following my feelings, so maybe my life is my inspiration.
Let’s talk about your training. What is a regular week for you like? What kind of training do you do and do you have any specific diet?
Now that I’m a professional dancer, I'm focusing on practicing. Of course sometimes I am shooting or performing at an event, but most of my time I use for practicing. I basically do three hours or sometimes five hours, like today. Other days, I’m using that time to prepare for next days practice.
That's the one thing I realized is the difference between professionals and amateurs. For amateurs, they have like two modes, a student mode and dancer mode, or like a working mode and a dancing mode. But for me, dancing is what I have to do, what I should do, what I love to do for twenty four hours. So all the time, I'm thinking about breaking and I'm trying to use my time to prepare for practicing or kind of these things.
About my diet, I love eating. So I really want to eat everything, what I want, you know, as much as I want, but I am taking care of my body for competitions. So especially before a competition, I make a plan to make my body perfect. So basically, like, from a couple of months before or like, you know, at least one month before a competition, I start dieting and try to lose my fat. I don’t have much fat but I try to lose my fat. I can’t see but I try to do this because it’s still there, you know? I try to lose my weight - like this year, I was 62kg after quarantine. Maybe I ate too much during quarantine, haha. My weight was 62 kg, but when I was in Red Bull BC One, I was around 57kg. So I lost like 5kg. It's just five kilograms. But you know, I didn’t have much fat, so five kgs is a lot. I basically tried to lose my weight doing this diet from at least one month before. And one week before the competition, I try not to eat too much carbs, but many proteins.
I use my body for practicing, so proteins are pretty necessary. And also I really want to get carbs for energy at the practice, but I try to stay away from eating too much of it. A few days before the competitions, I start to do carbo loading and eat carbs like at least 70 percent of each meal.
Yeah I'm, I'm used to doing that from one week before. One week before the competition in Japan and Red Bull BC One, I did the same thing - and my body condition was perfect.
So do you only do this for major competitions or for like all competitions?
I can say, like... of course for major competitions, but, you know, I only started carbo loading this year and unfortunately this year there are only a few competitions. So I did every time this year, but I don't know how it’s going to be like 2021, I might die if I do this every week for a year hahaha.
You are a well rounded dancer and combine musicality with dynamics very well. Is there a method you use to train these together?
You know, when I started, I was thinking about musicality a lot. I was like around 10 ten years ago. People who are from other genres of dance sometimes said things like “bboys and bgirls can't listen to music or kind of like that.” And when I heard that, I felt like “no, I can listen - maybe this is what I have to prove to the world, that bboys can listen to the music.” I decided to keep a high level of technique, but I was thinking about musicality all the time. Like even if I tried something, really risky or really hard, I always try to think about music, because I want to prove that bboys and bgirls can listen to music, you know? So since I started, yeah, I’ve focused on musicality.
Also I think one reason is that I have been practicing outside, like on the street, and you know, all people can come for free. So every day, someone different would bring their speakers, and every day the music I listen to at the practice place would change, because it depends on the person and the kind of music they like to play. So I was kind of on a mission - every day I tried to catch the beat, and I tried to dance with the beat even if it's hard. It was training for me. I didn't think like that at first, but now I realize that experience helped to build my style, like my musicality. And now, even though I’m practicing inside, I try to use many random types of music.
You probably have visited many countries for competitions. Is there any place you really like?
That’s a really hard question to answer, because most of the countries I have been to are my favorites, but I love Italy and Mexico. In Italy, you know, when I went there, like, there were so many kids, in the younger generations, and they have so much energy for everything. Not only about breaking, either. When I went there, the kids were like “yeah!!!!”
You know, I did kinda like a training camp with them. I did like two, three workshops per day, like every day, for one week. And also I had a competition that I could win. So, you know, that was a perfect memory for me.
They used to text me like, “I want you to come back here.” I like that they support me, I really loved it. For Mexico, I love Mexican food. And that's one of the reason why I love Mexico. I also love the atmosphere of the country. They always like to have music like reggaeton playing, and even if they are not dancers, the people still like to dance with the music.
So I love the culture because it's kind of the opposite in Japan. You know, I love, of course, Japanese culture, Asian culture. There are so many good parts. But through traveling around the world, I noticed more about the good things and negative things about Japan. So I can say that in every country, I’ll think like “this country does this great thing they we don’t do in Japan.” But there are some things they don’t have, but we have in Japan.
Yeah. So I felt something special in Mexico, and it was really a good time.
What is your goal for breaking? What about outside of dance?
I want to make breaking history. I won the Red Bull Bc One World final at the youngest age, so that's kind of, part of history in breaking. So I want to make this kind of history as much as I can. And I want to be kind of like, you know, someone that people talk about forever.
Of course, like for the Red Bull BC One, I’ll try to win two times in a row. If I can, I will try to win three times, four times, five times. And also you know in 2024 we have the Olympics in Paris, so I'm working hard to take a gold medal. So I want to make history in breaking, and I want people to say like “that dancer Shigekix is dope.” Of course, I'm happy to hear people say, that I have good moves, but I’m happier if I can hear, like, people say that Shigekix is cool as a human being.
I want to be respected as a dancer, not just from my moves.
That's, you know, like one of my dreams. I always talk about this in Japan… I don’t know how to say it in English, but, you know, for example, if I have some big competition, that's which I'm working hard for. Like, people say it’s a dream to become a Red Bull BC One champion, but I don’t want to say that it’s my dream, you know? Because I want my dream to be something I know that can’t be achieved. If all your dreams come true, there’s nothing left. So I always try to say that winning BC One is not a dream, it’s just a target. The dream is to be respected as a dancer, there’s no point where I can say “oh, okay, now I’m a really respected bboy around the world,” you know?
Like I can’t see when it happens. I might already be respected or not, I don't know. But, that’s it, you never know. So that's my dream - winning big competitions is not my dream, it’s a target.
You are young but have a lot of experiences. What advice do you have for people who chasing their dreams?
Yeah I have had sad experiences and regular experiences. I’ve had a lot more than people expect. You know, some people always see my wins or my achievements, but don't know how about my hard experiences or kind of like that. Of course I have had many difficult experiences like the same as everyone else.
But I will say, just believe in yourself and work hard for yourself, you know. Of course it's amazing to work hard for someone else, but if you can't work hard for yourself, then you’ll never be able to work hard for somebody else. Some people might judge you or say something only about your results. Not all people are like that of course - many people are supportive even when I’m in tough situations. But some people will say anything and everything, so don’t think about how they talk about you, just believe in yourself and work hard for yourself. I think that will, you know, make someone happy for sure. For example, I worked hard to be a champion of Red Bull BC One for myself. But after I won the battle, I got messages from a lot of people around the world saying things like, “Your dancing at BC One gave me a lot of energy!”, and I was so, so happy to hear that. Even if it's for myself, sometimes it makes other people happy. You never know how it's going to be, so at first just be yourself and to work hard for yourself.
Follow Shigekix on Instagram @bboyshigekix