Even before the quarantine, I found myself spending a lot of (really, too much) time on Tik Tok, which has since become my #1 source for lols and giggles. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, amongst the hundreds of videos I have Favorited on that app, one of them is of a guy who makes videos of himself singing numbers:

On its own, it’s a cute, goofy little bit of entertainment. Something that you’d watch, snort a little air out of your nostrils, and then swipe on over to the next thing.

Enter Hovey Benjamin.

The musician (of Send Bobs fame) recently added some instrumentation and turned this little ditty into a certified bop:


Keep counting king 👑 @ytietofficial. #remix #producers #fyp

♬ 60 thru 65 Remix – hoveybenj

So what does any of this have to do with Cardistry?

As Cardists, the way we normally get into this art form is by learning other people’s stuff. We copy, mimic, and clone the work of others in order to develop our aptitude with a deck of cards.

Most Cardists just stop there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like Hovey did with 60-65, you can expand upon a core idea, add to it, and leave your mark in a way that makes your own personal touch(es) shine through.

Here’s 3 ways to do just that.

1. Accentuation / Repetition

In every good move, there’s usually one main concept within it that makes it special. One way to build upon that is by focusing on that idea, and making it the highlight of the move.

Tornado VBH came out of taking the core mechanic of Brian Tudor’s Very Bad Habit, and making that the spotlight of the move by repeating it in rapid succession:

Zach Mueller’s running versions of Chase’s Budget Cut and Franco’s Judo Flip are other ways of maximizing the effect of a moment through repetition.

As for accentuation – maximizing the effectiveness of the strongest components of a move – one need look no further than the myriad of extra-spinny Mockingbird handlings out there in the wild. Here’s one by Salvador:

2. Extrapolation

One of my favorite scenes from the Bad Boys series is when the camera circles all the way around Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, and then Lawrence says …shit just got real.”

A move is only done when you’re done with it. Instead of just stopping where the creator did, think about what more can be achieved with the situation you’ve found yourself in, and how you can add a further moment or surprise.

Here’s Abraham Galicia’s 720 version* of the Riffle Fan:

Another great example of this is Oliver’s ongoing expansion of the ReTrigger series (itself an extrapolation of Trigger**). I wouldn’t be surprised if ReReReReReReReReReReTrigger was a thing sometime before the next decade is over.

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Look for alternative ways to continue the move you’re doing, for how to take them to the next level. You might just surprise yourself.

*Sorry Dimitri, I know you came up with it first.
**Sorry R.A Mendoza, I know it’s actually BOLIS.

3. Deconstruction / Reinterpretation

Noel is known primarily for his incredibly unorthodox approach to Cardistry, so much that even his approach to packet cutting eschews the normal routes that most of us would take when dabbling in that genre.

Watch how Noel segues into Kenner’s 5 Faces of Sybil mid-way through Suddenly Sybil, then follows through with his own way of closing it:

Dismantling and then reconstructing a move so that it becomes almost unrecognizable from its predecessor until a snapshot/highlight moment appears is an act of near-complete personalization. The main question asked is, “how would I do this?

More recently, Samuel Pratt did this with all 5 of his opponents’ trademark moves during his entry in Round 3 of The Fontaine Trials. Notice how he also incorporates elements from points 1 and 2 of this article:

Whether it leads to a tribute or a call-out, deconstruction allows you the freedom to experiment more with your own way of doing things, and in the process it’ll allow you to discover your ‘voice’ as a Cardist.

In short, the goal of creating good variations isn’t just to come up with something different, but something better. The process might be more difficult than straight-up emulation, but I promise you that it’s worth the effort and time that goes into it. No matter how small or simple the idea, there’s always a way it can be improved.

It’s our duty to do justice to the little things we fall in love with.

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