Homepage Forums NJ Freestyle Flatland An email from an old friend.

  • This topic has 1 voice and 1 reply.
Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
  • Author
  • #27030

    The story of
    Ground Tactics

    Why would someone be motivated to create a judging system for flatland?

    First off, Ground Tactics is not a subjective judging system. It’s an
    objective scoring system. There are two objectives: high score single
    trick, banger and high score set of tricks, connectors. It has been
    developed to offer an alternative to opinion-based competitions (it is
    not meant to replace the current systems). This project grew into
    Ground Tactics, the initial goal wasn’t a battle-type concept. It
    started as TRIKtionary, a complete trick list.
    I started collecting every flatland trick and name. When I told others
    what I was doing, the project began to snowball. I was getting tricks
    and names from people all over the world! The support and interest
    overwhelmed me, and I began to think how this list could benefit all
    riders. I wanted to share it with everyone. I drew a stick figure
    sketch of every trick on an index card, and tacked them to three walls
    in our studio (over 400 tricks). This enabled me to stand back and
    look at the similarities and differences in these tricks. I saw
    patterns and began organizing them into families of like-tricks. In
    the process, the BMX Matrix revealed itself.
    I studied how tricks evolved from other tricks. I wasn’t expecting to
    get this deep into it, but I don’t like to do anything half-ass. I’ve
    become obsessed with documenting and sharing the BMX Matrix. I decided
    to do two things: 1.) Develop an in-depth guidebook and 2.) Edit a
    sample version, on video to display how the Matrix could be applied to
    a scoring system. I know I should have put the guidebook out first,
    however, the video was necessary to help me explain to others what
    direction it could go. Nothing is set in stone as far as Ground
    Tactics goes. The guidebook will take another year to be complete.
    Currently, it’s in a very rough form.
    Back to the Matrix, which is really the heart of Ground Tactics. You
    can’t see it, but the scoring system is based on it. In sports, scores
    are based on measurable facts. This is something that flatland lacks
    (only because it’s a relatively new sport). With the Matrix, all
    tricks are listed by degree of technicality. The most basic, like the
    common bike ride is valued at zero. With variations, the value
    increases. The most technical tricks are valued up to 25, plus
    upgrades (packers, trucks, etc.). The Matrix and TRIKtionary do not
    include combinations, only base positions. The links are left for the
    rider to figure out and create.
    Freestyle has always been about being creative – taking what has been
    done to the next level. This became obvious when I studied the cards
    covering my studio walls. So, with this in mind, adding values to the
    tricks seemed effortless. Starting at 0, followed by 1, then 2, and so
    on, as the tricks progressed. There were a few exceptions, which were
    studied and discussed in detail with others. Hundreds of people passed
    through the studio, so there have been many conversations regarding the
    topic. I’ve heard many opinions, and have absorbed every one. In my
    research, I have contacted riders requesting input, and have referenced
    boxes of magazines and videos spanning over twenty years, in order to
    be thorough.
    This effort was meant to help progress flatland and share the knowledge
    I have gathered. It was not a path I ever imagined I would take. It
    has been over four years of work so far, and I have been paid nothing.
    It is a labor of love and a way for me to share something I am
    passionate about. I realize that many riders consider flatland art,
    not sport. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an artist and see the
    art in flatland. At the same time, however, flatland is diverse and
    many riders seek to compete.
    With so many riders training for contests, the need for an objective
    system has never been greater. Ground Tactics is an example of what
    that could be. Similar to basketball, a two pointer is the same two
    points for everyone. Someone doesn’t get more points for popularity.
    People knew of my passion for flatland and that I didn’t care to
    compete. As a result, I was asked to judge and consult for many
    events. I was flown all over the globe, and am very grateful for this,
    but part of me felt guilty. People trusted me, and I did my best every
    time, but when it came down to it, there was no system to refer to, and
    no solid explanation for contest results. I started turning down
    offers such as C.O.B. Tokyo, and Moto Ground Force Singapore (my
    sincere apologies, thank you for the consideration). I started
    thinking about a solution, a way to back my actions and stand
    accountable for my decisions. Since flatland is so complex, I knew
    some of the details might be lost in translation. I thought it best to
    put the experiment out on video (all inTRIKat titles are experimental).
    The purpose was not to offend anyone, but to give back to BMX. Ground
    Tactics is the first video I’ve done where the riders got paid. All
    travel expenses came out of my pocket. Flat Clothing and Flatland Fuel
    put up the $1000.00 purse. With four years of labor behind it, I will
    never recover my costs completely. Although I would love to give away
    copies to everyone, I can’t afford to do that. Thirty to thirty-five
    riders interested in providing feedback, received advanced copies. I
    thought I would sell some at a low cost to give everyone an opportunity
    to see it. Unfortunately, the price at Flatland Fuel is inflated –
    110%. Highlights will be on http://www.bmxgroundtactics.net in August, and
    the complete DVD will be available for $14.99. Currently, there is a
    rough copy of TRIKology. Look for the complete guidebook next year.
    Details of the scoring system may not be apparent in the video. There
    is a lot of information. Visually, the screen might look like a video
    game or any modern sporting event. There is a lot going on in my mind
    when I watch a rider and I wanted to give the viewer a sample of that.
    You will notice the round number (Ground Tactics is based on 5 rounds),
    also the number of attempts the rider is on. There is no time clock.
    I want to promote a low-pressure atmosphere where riders don’t hold
    back and do safe tricks. I want to see cutting edge riding. In the
    lower third area, subtitles provide the viewer with trick names.
    Sometimes it flashes too fast to read, but each variation, direction,
    and modification is being calculated. If the rider faults on an
    attempt, the penalty flashes. There are eight degrees of faults from
    dabs to slams. You will see everything, faults and all. For those
    that find it too difficult to watch the faults, the “replayâ€ÂÂ￾ version is
    provided in addition to “play allâ€ÂÂ￾.
    Ground Tactics works on a par system. Rounds 1-4 are par 5, while
    round 5 is a par 10. In other words, a rider is given a certain number
    of attempts before being penalized. With the “Fresh out of the Box
    Factorâ€ÂÂ￾, riders are rewarded for complete sets on first, second, and
    third attempts. After said par, slight deductions come into effect.
    There are two classes: Professional and Amateur, with two distinct
    differences between them. First, Pro’s get paid, Am’s get products.
    The main difference is that a professional rider only earns credit for
    tricks valued at 13 and over. “The Filler Factorâ€ÂÂ￾ is designed to
    address the issue of doing a couple of safe tricks over and over to
    accumulate points – not here, maybe in Tony Hawk’s video game (I’m not
    sure, I’ve never played it, ask P.J. Terry). “The Broken Record
    Factorâ€ÂÂ￾ kicks-in when a rider repeats the same trick, consecutively,
    four times or more. A rider will receive credit for the first, second,
    and third repeated trick, but the fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on, will
    not be rewarded. A rider may perform these reps, but will not be able
    to milk them for more points after the third. There is much more that
    goes into evaluating a run than just accounting for flashy tricks.
    Some people believe that a measurable scoring system is unnecessary.
    I am not trying to sway any opinions. However, before criticizing this
    effort, consider for a moment why the AFL/IFL was put to rest. Do you
    wonder why ESPN eliminated flatland from the X Games? Do you wonder
    why flatland will not be considered for the Dew Tour, the Olympics, or
    any other reputable event? It is due to the lack of organization,
    unity, system and seeding/ranking. If we can provide for these
    challenges, flatland will gain the level of respect it deserves. Among
    other benefits, this will attract sponsorship dollars that will go into
    rider’s pockets. It would be nice to see this in our lifetime, so the
    next generations could benefit. Everyone including non-riders can
    enjoy flatland. The common person can appreciate the skill and
    dedication involved in flatland, it’s visually stunning whether you
    ride or not. Why not take it to the next level with organized
    competition, where the riders benefit. Organizers like Mat Hoffman and
    Steve Swope, along with Zeiss (Circle of Balance), Verberg
    (Flatground), Ito/Uno/Tanaka (KOG), Massabova (Flat Ring), Jumelin
    (Ninja Spin), Prantl (World’s, Master’s), Adams/O’Brien (Voodoo), and
    Day (AFL/IFL) deserve much love for what they did for flatland events,
    I thank you. I am very grateful for your support and showing me my
    dreams of putting flatland in the spotlight. It reinforces in my mind
    how incredibly awesome flatland is.
    The future for Ground Tactics is Internet competition, where riders
    submit footage. Membership fees go to pro purse, and members get a
    Ground Tactics DVD.
    Nobody will be forced to join, buy, or watch the DVD – nobody will be
    required to write a review. Internet competitions will open doors for
    those who are unable to travel to international events.
    Thanks to those that have supported this project. The input and
    constructive criticism is much appreciated. Free annual membership
    will be given to inTRIKat alumni and Ground Tactics DVD purchases from
    There is much more to these projects than I can put in this email. If
    you have any questions, contact me. I would like to answer as best I

    Thank you for your time,

    Chad Johnston

Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.