Tommy Guns (Renegades/ILL-Abilities) Interview in Tokyo |「It’s all about being creative.」-「大切なのは、つねにクリエイティブでいること。」

BBOY Tommy “Guns” Ly from Renegades/ILL-Abilities recently moved to Japan and continues to pursue his passion in dance. We did this interview to shed perspective on his inspirational backgrounds and motivation for his recreation turned craft as a bboy and his developments with ILL-Abilities. Such motivational words will definitely inspire you and we publish this article both in English and Japanese so more people can share the positivity around the world. ENJOY IT!

BBOY Tommy Guns(Renegade Rockers:レネゲイズ、サンフランシスコの伝説的クルー。/ILL-Abilities:イル・アビリティーズ、身体的特徴を持ったBBOYからなるワールドワイドクルー)は最近日本に移住し、最近ではBBOY Double UとSteezによるイベント”VIBE OUT”(2月23日)にゲストバトラーとして参戦するなど、新しいダンスのキャリアを日本でスタートさせました。RAW SKOOLは彼の刺激的バックグラウンドと、BBOYそしてILL-Abilitieとともに活動を広げてきた観点について聞いてみました。本当に勇気づけられる彼の言葉は、きっと色んな人が刺激を受けることと思います。今回も日英でのポスト。では、楽しんで!

Q. Please introduce yourself and let us know your BBOY background

I’m Tommy “Guns”. Representing Renegade Rockers (Renegades) and ILL-Abilities. My real name is Tommy Ly. My a.k.a “Tommyguns” came from my high school days. I used to wrestle in high school. While on the wrestling team, we used to weight lift in the gym. So, I used to be more physically built, pre my Chemo Therapy treatments, and my friends said I had “GUNS” which led to the name Tommyguns. It’s not even from dance.

僕は、トミー・ガン、サンフランシスコのRenegade Rockers(Renegades)とILL-Abilitiesのメンバーで、本当の名前はトミー・リーっていうんだ。このトミー・ガンっていう名前は、高校の時からなんだけど、僕は当時、高校のレスリングチームでレスリングをしていて、今よりももっとガタイがよかったんだよ。筋トレしてたからね。それ(筋肉)がガン(銃)を持ってるみたいだったんだろうね(笑)。ダンスは全然関係ないよ(笑)。

I started dance around 11th grade with group of my friends. We never had the luxury of a teacher when we started since we lived in a really small town. We didn’t have an opportunity of having a more experienced dancer to be a major influence who was already in the scene and understood fundamentals. I learned the fundamentals from a How To Breakdance VHS, I believe Mr. Wiggles was on it. We also used to watch VHS tapes from events like Mighty 4, Out for Fame, Lord of the Floors definitely Freestyle Session video and Bboy Summit video.

僕は高校2年くらいの時に友達とダンス始めたんだ。小さい町だったから、僕たちには先生みたいな、教えてくれる存在がいなかったんだ。当時、シーンで活躍してて大きな影響を与えてくれるような、基本を知ってる経験に富んだ人も近くにいかったんだ。だから、Mr.Wigglesが出てたと思うんだけど、「How To Breakdance」っていうビデオからダンスの基本を学んでたよ。その他にも、僕らは、Mighty4のビデオ、Out For Fame、もちろんFreestyle Session、Bboy Summitのビデオをみていたよ。

That’s different scene compare to now.

Since we started without a direct teacher, we learned from and inspired each other at practice. Learning that way helped to develop our creativity. I think the generation that didn’t have the opportunity of a teacher was forced to develop in their own path of progression by being creative and developing of your moves. We would have an idea in out heads and just go to practice and try them, versus some people maybe now go to YouTube to learn something. It is different now how people approach the venture of developing their your own skills/style. I’m not saying “Don’t watch YouTube”. The web is a great resource for learning, but the con is that it is also saturated with a lot of footage/posts/opinions from people who have a limited perception of the dance and culture. So if you are a newbie and don’t know what to watch, then you could easily be misdirected. My approach to continue developing myself is about staying creative and open minded. For me it’s about going to practice and trying some new movements, which is how I learned from the beginning. Versus some newer dancer to the scene are approaching learning process instead by YouTube or take a class. There is nothing wrong with that, but people should still learn how to be creative by learning concepts and technique vs just a particular move itself, try to understand things like the origins of footwork/power/transition/flow styles developed by different people, crews, countries.


Bboy Tommyguns from Tommy Guns on Vimeo.

Q. Can we ask you about how you lost your leg?

Sure. When I started bboying about maybe 2 years, I developed pain on my knee. About, 6 months after, I decided to go to a doctor. After an X-Ray the doctor said a tumor is on my knee. At that time, I went to chemotherapy 3 months. I was 18 years old at that time. I was going to college, art school and living San Francisco. Then a doctor basically gave me a choice to amputate my leg or to do some bone replacement after they extract the tumor. Extracting the tumor could have led to a paralyzed leg and some other complications. I decided to go with an amputation. I wanted to continue dancing and if I went the other route, they said I would not be able to put high level of impact on my leg. Like maybe doing toprock, doing jumping new moves, would not be good for my knee, and I might have a pain and rejection from whatever implanted in my leg. Shortly after I got down with Renegade Rockers in 2005.

そして、お医者さんが「脚を切断」するか、腫瘍を摘出して膝の骨を移植するか、どちらかを選んで下さいって言うんだ。もし移植した場合、脚に合併症やしびれが残るかもしれなかった。そして僕は「脚を切断」することを選んだ。僕は、その時すごくダンスを続けたかったんだけど、お医者さんが言うには移植すると大きな衝撃なんかがあるとダメだし、トップロックや新しいムーブを作る事が膝によくないって言うんだ。それに、拒絶反応や痛みが残るかもって。そしてそのあとすぐ、2005年にRenegade Rockersに加入したんだ。

I continued dancing throughout whole time chemotherapy. And, I was going in and out of the hospital for 1 year. However, I was practicing and going to a club to practice with my brother, Tony Styles and Iron Monkey cause we lived together. That was crazy. I was 18, love dancing, living my own. I wanted to do whatever I wanted. There were a lot of adjustments and adapting. Before I lost my leg, I was developing fast for only dancing for about 2 years. I could do flare 1990 and continuous halos and also developing my foot work and had many various freezes.
When I lost my leg, I had to start over. I wasn’t able to do any of my previous footwork and tops. It was frustrating; my mentality was “I can do what I can do”. Instead of focusing “what I couldn’t do”, I focused on what was possible. And, the circle of my friends and the Bay Area dance scene were definitely supportive, so I was not sinking into depression. Also, it is my natural personality because the way I grew up, never had time to feel sorry for myself and kept it moving.

僕は化学療法中もずっとダンスしてた(笑)。手術から1年間は病院を行ったり来たりしていたんだけど、練習はしてたし、クラブに行って兄のTony StylesやIron Monkey(ともにRenegades)と踊ってた。クレイジーだったよ。僕は18歳だったし、ダンスが好き過ぎたよ。自分自身の人生なんだから、やりたいことをやりたい時にやりたかったんだ。けど、慣れるまでめちゃくちゃ大変だった。足を失うまでは、たった2年間だったけどかなり上達していたんだ。トーマスから1990も出来たし、連続でAトラックスも出来たし、フットワークや色んなフリーズもね。

No Limits Festival 2012 Official Trailer from Tommy Guns on Vimeo.

Q. Can you introduce us ILL-Abilities?

“ILL-Abilities” was originally conceptualized by Lazy Legz, he is from Montreal, Canada. He and I teamed up, before the formation of ILL-Abilties, for 2on2 BBOY battle in Toronto by Piecez of Unity Charity, in 2007. After that, he contacted me via email, he wanted to create a BBOY crew comprise of people who were different abled. He talked with Kujo too and the first thing we did was perform Redbull BC One Qualifiers in LA, 2007. Basically, we did a 5-10min speech and performed 2 solos each. And after that, Checho from South America got in the crew. Then we gathered in Montreal for our event, the first NO LIMITS. Last person is Redo. He got in the crew when we went to perform in Sweden. We also have a DJ, Decoy, who is also a bboy. Over the last 5 years we have all put in much time and dedications into the development of the crew to make it what it is today.

ILL-Abilities(イルアビリティーズ)は、カナダ・モントリオールのLazy Legsが初めに考えたチームで、2007年に彼と僕がUNITY Charityがトロントで主催した2on2のBBOYバトルに招待された時に初めて会って、その後にメールが来て、それぞれ違う身体能力を持ったBBOYで構成されたCREWを作りたいっていう思いを知ったんだ。その後Lazy LegsがKujoに声をかけて、その年のRedbull BC OneのLA大会でひとり5分〜10分くらいの講演と1人2ムーブのソロショーケースをしたんだ。それから、チリのChechoが入って、カナダのモントリオールで「NO LIMITS」っていう自分たちのイベントを初めて開催したね。そしてスウェーデンに招待された時に、最後のメンバーとしてオランダのRedoが入ったんだ。そのあとBBOYでもありDJであるDecoyが加入して、ここ5年ですごく努力して、今のクルーの姿が出来上がったよ。

We promote the massage “NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS”, and also want to spread our story and want to motivate general people of all ages, all abilities. We are doing a lot of shows at schools such as kid schools, high schools and universities and corporate events and we recently performed at John F Kennedy’s center. A lot of dance groups usually perform for Hip-Hop communities and people in Hip-Hop festival, but we perform for all peoples. This summer ILL-Abilities will be headlining one of the festival days at Breakin’ Convention held at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and also working on performances with the US Embassy in UK and Turkey, before and after.

僕らは、「NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS」(言い訳しなければ、限界はない)というメッセージを発信しているんだ。それに、自分自身の今までの経験なんかを、あらゆる世代と能力を持つ一般の人たちに聞いてもらって、人々を勇気付けたいんだ。沢山のショーを小学校、高校、大学、それに企業で経験したし、あのジョン・F・ケネディセンターでパフォーマンスもしたよ。普通、ダンスチームは、Hip-Hopのコミュニティに向けてターゲティングをしているけど、僕らは普通の一般の人に向けてメッセージを発し、踊っているんだ。

Give us some final messages and shout outs.

ILL-Abilities started as a BBOY crew. After time being together, we realized our potential of how much we can influence people in a positive way. Motivate people for their own passion, and really push their limits.
Also, NO EXCUSES is a mindset of how I can learn how to adapt myself for what ever I am doing in my life in general. It might be harder, a little bit more difficult, longer to get my goal, but I if I am willing to put more time and effort, I may creatively find a way for myself. It’s all about being creative and developing one self, making and taking opportunities. Also, it’s all about learning to be the best of who you can be. It’s for life in general, not only dance, finding what you are good at. Shout outs to my fam Renegade Rockers ‘83 till infinity, ILL-Abilities, Peace!

それに「NO EXCUSES」(言い訳しない)というメッセージは、脚を失った僕が、障害うんぬんやダンスだけではなくて、もっと普遍的に、人生のあらゆることに対して、自分を進化させるということを学んだメッセージでもあるんだ。大変な事もあるし、人より難しい事もある、そしてより時間がかかるんだけど、もし僕が人よりも多くの時間と努力をかければ、クリエイティブな方法で、自分だけのやり方を見つける事が出来るんだ。
それはダンスだけじゃなくて、普遍的に、誰の人生に対しても言えることだよ。自分が何が得意で、何が好きな事かってのをみつけて欲しいな。Renegade RockersそしてILL-Abilities、そしてみなさんありがとう!




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