Style vs Technique?

I'm not entirely sure where this whole Style vs. Technique thing, in regards to Tricking, originated. For some reason, people think that if everyone adhered to the same, good technique, that everyone's Tricking would look the same; that it would be devoid of any style and flair. Yes, some argue that doing things without proper technique adds more style to a trick, since the small deficiencies in the technique give it a different look.

Is there really a difference between these two aspects? Are they at odds? Are they working together? Are they apples and oranges? First, let's discuss what each one is, so we'll be able to understand just what we're talking about.

What is Style?
Style is the peculiarities or the discernable difference in appearance or execution. This is Style as it is defined in Tricking, but it very much relates to the regular English definition of the word of course. In fact, the dictionary defines style as "manner: how something is done or how it happens". So style is how a trick is done, and this affects how the trick looks.

Most everyone has their own style, and for the most part, it can't be taught. It's just how someone's "tricking personality" comes out of their motions. It's made up of an individual's mannerisms of performing tricks.

In fact, for those who have been around Tricking for a while, you may be watching a Tricking sampler with a group of people, and be able to tell who's who simply by the way they do their tricks. Even without seeing someone's face or hair or skin color, sometimes you can just be like "Ooh that's totally so-and-so." Style is something that's easily observable, and yet it can't always be explained. Even though we can generally say "man his style is so fast, or floaty, or sharp, or powerful, or smooth, or etc", it's not always as easy to say what exactly makes it fast/floaty/etc etc etc. But that doesn't matter, because you don't need to be able to explain it to recognize and appreciate it!

What is Technique?
Technique in Tricking is what is done to execute the trick efficiently and adequately. The dictionary defines technique as "a practical method or art applied to some particular task". Interesting, no? Another one defines it as "A way of accomplishing a task that is not immediately obvious. Hence Technology, the study of or a collection of techniques". Hence why many people who are new to Tricking don't understand how to do tricks.

How is the concept of Technique applied? It is basically the how to's, what needs to be done to do a trick. For example, in a 540 you must do the setup, then jump while swinging your first leg up and turning forwards, then you chamber and kick, then you pull across and land. Of course, that's just a very basic "schematic" of the trick, and even those mentioned components have their own techniques to them, but the fact remains: all those steps must be performed. That is the method through which this task is performed.

Pretty much any sport has technique. In dance especially you'll find lots of technical work, with turns and stretches and all that being done a certain way for it to work. Not only that, but to work properly. Good technique is more than something just for "pride" or some crap, better technique means better and more efficient execution. And technique exists for many other things. When you're using an axe to cut wood, there's a proper way to do it which is most efficient. When skating, there's a good way to move your feet in order to skate backwards. When typing, there's a proper way we're all taught to stoke the keys to develop the fastest and most accurate way of typing. Even when we walk, we all generally walk in the most efficient and stable way for our bodies. Technique is very much a part of all our lives.

So, getting back to Tricking, technique is the practical method, the series of steps, or what is done in order to accomplish a Trick.

Is There a Conflict?
The short answer is no.

Putting together what we talked about before: Technique is what you need to do to accomplish a trick well, and style is how you do that technique.

There you go!
Further Exposition
Do you still more convincing? Read on!

Now, one might start thinking "style vs technique" when they start thinking that different little idiosyncrasies, or other minor differences in how a trick is done is a part of technique. In reality, technique is only what needs to be done. Within reason, if you can take some part of a trick away and still have it be done without compromise, then that part isn't a part of the technique. For example, some people think there is a difference between alleged "side-to-side" Aerials and the so-called "gymnastic" Aerials. If you look at both of them, the exact same technique is being accomplished between them: the body dips, you then jump while swinging your leg up, and then you pull your leg down to land. The body motions that create those steps are the same between them, and the fact that in one you're facing forwards at the start and in one you're leaning sideways makes no real difference to the technique. So let's no overstep the boundaries of what technique is applicable. (Note though, above I said without compromise. For example, you can still do an Aerial holding your hands in your pockets. But this does make the technique less efficient, so you can't argue that using your arms in an Aerial is a part of the technique, since not using them does lead to an objective compromise.)

Now even when you do get down to what technique actually is, is there still room for style? Yes. Ok, to execute say a 540, you need to take off right. That's one part of the technique. One thing you have to do for the takeoff technique is jump. Well, how are you going to jump? Do you jump high? Do you float? Do you not? You need to swing your arms up and around to when you jump. So how are you going to swing them? Are your hands open or closed? Are your shoulders high or low? How bent are your arms? Are your hands going to be at your head level or above it? You also need to lift your leg up straight as you jump. Are you going to lead the lift with your knee or your foot? Do you lead it more towards the side while it goes up, or just up. You need to spot your target too. Does your face scrunch up or stay neutral? Your whole body is going to turn as you jump. What does your body look like? It is curved and aesthetic? Are you tall or lanky? What body type do you have?

Ok, you see there, everything in green is part of the technique. Everything in blue is part of the style. This just reiterates what I said above: style is the manner is which technique is done. It's just the way something LOOKS, technique is the way it's DONE. There's not much more to say! Even two people doing the same foundational technique for a trick can look completely different when they do it! Don't get me wrong, some tricks actually do have two techniques with real differences. But the majority of tricks only really do have ONE technique, one methodology or one series of steps you take to accomplish it. However, even with just that one technique, there are a plethora of different intricacies, idiosyncrasies, and yes, styles that can be done in it's execution.
Your Style - Your Technique
So now that we've cleared that up (hopefully), what does this mean for you?

Keep striving for good technique. Heck, that's why this site is around! It teaches technique for tricks because technique is the skeleton of a trick. There is no mistaking it: if you actually do each step in a technique, you will do the trick. That's why technique exists! So try to do the technique of all your tricks properly, not comprimising it into doing a different trick. The better your technique, the easier it will be to do it well, and the better it will look to a trained eye!

What about your style? Don't worry about it. Your style is you! Haha. A style cannot be taught, it simply is. The way you perform your tricks will express yourself. Now, I don't mean that if you're, for example, a shy person your tricks will look a certain way, or that if you're outgoing they'll look a certain way haha, for example. No, your actual personality has nothing to do with it. It's more of a "tricking personality", or a "movement personality". The way your body naturally wants to move will be expressed in the way you move when you execute a technique. Yes, even if your technique for a trick is perfect, it will still look different than someone else doing it with perfect technique (unless you both have the same style haha).

Of course, like I just said sometimes people do have very similar styles. Some people have naturally great looking styles, and some people are stuck with kind of ugly looking styles haha. It's very much just like one's face. You may look similar to someone or you can look different than someone, that's all it is! But yes, even though the "styles" of our physical appearance (and even other aspects of our physiology) are different, the "technique" of what makes us human remains. All of our bodies require energy/calories, they all require water, they are all made up of cells, etc etc etc. Despite being the same in functionality, we all have our differences! I hope all these illustrations have made the point clear.

So yes, don't argue about technique or style, don't think you have to chose one or the other, and don't dignify any discussions promoting "technique over style" or "style vs technique" haha. Just go out there and start doing tricks, and then you'll be doing them both! :)