1.) The iconic ' Casper ' video had pretty much every freestyler on earth at the time. :) You were on that video. Before that, I didnt know Asians could freestyle. How long have you been skating and how did you start?
Witter, thank you so much for reaching out to me for an interview. It is quite an honor! Decomposed has been a major freestyle resource over these many years; It is hard to imagine the freestyle world with out it. Thank you for all your contributions over these many years!
You are right about the Casper Video! The community was small, but the people were amazing on and off the board. You could feel everyone's passion and enthusiasm. We really wanted to make something happen!
I got my first skateboard in 1979. However, it wasn't until around 1984 when I really got into skateboarding. In 1987, a freestyler saw me doing pogos on my street board at the Sealestial Surf Shop Contest in New Smyrna Beach. He told me that they needed one more person to enter the freestyle event in order for the event to go on. He also offered to pay my entry fee, and lend me a freestyle board. So, I entered and won second place on a borrowed board. The prize was a baby blue skateboard helmet! I have been hooked on freestyle ever since. In hindsight, maybe I was supposed to become a vert guy? The main Asian guys back then were big air guys like Christian Hosoi and Lester Kasai! How did this happen? Haha!
2.) Alof of freestylers had been seen pogoing down stairs over the years. You are no doubt, the first one to get it on tape (2001?). How does it feel to be the guy to start this movement?
Me? Really? There's a movement? Haha! I started pogoing down stairs and off of obstacles some time around the mid to late 80's. During the fall of 1989, I started experimenting with increasing my drops and gaps. One example was pogoing off of the top of picnic tables and hitting the bench before landing on the ground. It was different from going down stairs because of the distance and the gap to cover. Even though the gap between the table top and the bench was relatively small, it was still a gap. Missing the bench could have meant getting MasterCarded. We're obviously not talking about Aaron 'Jaws' Homoki level insanity here, but nobody really enjoys getting carded. Haha!
3.) You have some good rail to rail combos. They were all executed with style on a popsicle board. Did you choose to skate on one to accommodate your style or was it simply due to the lack of freestyle decks at the time?
Thanks, Witter. You are much too kind!
In retrospect, I think that my transition to popsicle boards for freestyle may have actually started around 1992. During that time, I was riding Andy Howell's 'Open Yo Mind Kid' deck by Underworld Element for the street. The size, shape, and slick bottom really helped me with my street skating. When I learned Ollie Varial Kickflips to 50 50 Grinds, my street and freestyle worlds felt less distant from one another. The feel of that board was forever burned in my mind. I did not use it for freestyle, but it did plant a seed. I had a chance to speak with Andy (photo attached) at the 'Skate It or Hang It' Exhibit in 2012, and I thanked him for the impact that that board had on my skating. We had a great discussion about our skateboarding influences! It was rad!
Around 1995, I bought Christian Hosoi's 'Fokkoman' deck by Focus. It was a popsicle shape with a width of 7 1/2", and the graphic was based on the Kikkoman Soy Sauce label. Instead of 'Soy Sauce', the graphic said 'Hosoi Sauce'. It was begging for an Asian freestyler to ride it. So, I did. But, I think I defiled it. There's something not quite right about using an aerial legend's deck for flat ground (Sorry, Christian! I am not worthy!). I did do some street skating with it as well, so maybe that softened the blow. The deck felt like a good transition from the Rodney Mullen's freestyle deck (Photo attached) that I was riding at the time (the last freestyle model by World Industries). The rails were even enough for freestyle, and the larger size felt better under my feet. I felt more stable. The rounded nose and tail were things to get used to, but during the 'dark days of freestyle' you either dealt with it or you reshape it. I chose to try and make it work. By the time the Casper Video came along, I settled on 7 3/4" popsicle decks as my ride of choice. I've experimented with other shapes and sizes along the way, but I kept going back. I have been riding the 7 3/4" Sk8Kings 360 King deck with Crown Jewels for many years now. And, they feel solid! Thank you, Richy and Maria Carrasco for all the support over the years!
4.) I have never told you this, but I dislocated my elbow doing one of the tricks I saw you do in the ' Casper ' video. Shuvit out from rail. I was sleepy that day but I wanted to try out a fresh new setup. Injuries happen. Thanks, Frank ! You dont seem to skate as much these days. Is this due to injuries? I do recall you falling into an abyss at the skatepark which knocked the wind out of you.
Wow! Your memory is pretty impressive, almost at Terry Synnott's level as a skate historian! I am surprised that you remember that slam! It occurred when I was filming for the Ambush video in 2005. I recall injuring my wrist, hip, and ankle while doing a hip transfer. It could have been much worse. I watched that slam in slow motion, and its amazing that I did not crack my skull. Getting the wind knocked out of you is an awful feeling!
Ever since the Casper Video, I've been inspired by Daryll Grogan's skating on both flat and street. Daryll is such an amazing person on and off of the board. Because of him, I wanted to try more freestyle tricks on obstacles (click here), and I wanted to smooth out the transition between tricks (click here) while maintaining Primo's earlier influence on my style (click here). Hitting the obstacles, obviously, contributed to a number of injuries from 2005 onwards. But, I feel healed-up from those injuries. Nowadays, I am carefully managing my cervical radiculopathy. Uncontrolled falls can cause it the flare up again. So, I am just a little more cautious.
I do still ride. Just not as much as I'd like. Being a parent along with my career takes priority. I use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, but I rarely engage in discussions about skateboarding. With the little time that I have, I rather skate than talk about skating. I do watch the videos though! It's been awesome following Mike Osterman and Connor Burke's progression! Very inspiring! I think I really need to film a video part in preparation for turning 50!
5.) You have some background in Martial Arts. Did this discipline help or influenced your skating? By the way, I also have photographic proof of you trying to knock my head off in California .
Yes! I love that picture! Haha!
I am currently training in Muay Thai, Kali, and Aikido. They all contribute to my overall fitness, so they all benefit my skateboarding to some degree. If I was to choose which one has the most direct influence, it would have to be Aikido. The style of Aikido that I practice is rougher and more dynamic than other styles of that art. When you are thrown (like in Judo), it can be very quick, hard, and unexpected. So, your ukemi (falling techniques) needs to be solid to avoid injury. With that said, the falling techniques can help one better handle skateboarding-related falls.