The ‘Benihana‘ is commonly known as the kook trick but only by experienced skaters. Benihanas are the stepchild of skateboarding and are considered so only because they are overlooked and ridiculed. Many skaters who are unaware may be unaware of the emergence of the trick and also wonder how the hatred towards the trick began. Well, the truth is it isn’t just the amateur skaters who have questions about the trick, even the most experienced skaters don’t fully understand it.
The Benihana is said to be invented by Lester Kasai who was a pro skater during the ’80s. However, he wasn’t alone in inventing it; he was partnered by Tony Hawk.
Tony, along with Lester, was in the process of trying out weird tricks when they accidentally made up the trick. They named the trick after an infamous Japanese restaurant that they loved dining at. This is how the Benihana came into existence. This being said, the original benihana that was attempted by Lester is nothing like the one performed today.
A Benihana is done by getting airborne first. In this trick the skateboarder holds the deck tail with the backhand and the back foot is extended downwards off the skateboard. The front foot is kept straight on the board extended, and the board tail is brought closer to the front leg. The modern version was actually called the ‘Benibonga’ before, where the skater moves forward while performing the same trick.
In the 1990s, this trick gained popularity with Josh Kasper and Jamie Thomas who were professional skateboarders. They were proficient with their Benihana moves which brought the trick back into demand.
Lester performed the trick first and also tried new tricks often. He also gave flashy names to his tricks so that other skaters remembered those tricks by their name. Some of his tricks are named The Madonna, Sean Penn, and The Stalefish.
The ‘Madonna’ was a name given to a trick that was a result of a crisis. Tony Hawk emerged with this skating trick, and he asked Lester for naming advice as the trick didn’t take off initially. It was the time when Madonna was the shining star, and thus this name was suggested by Lester.
The Benibonga stuck around as a hated trick as it had a bad reputation. Benibongas were regarded to be out of style, as taking off the back foot on a skateboard when skating is fundamentally wrong because it made it look irregular. Moreover, the Benibonga was without any ambassadors to take it forward.
The name remained catchy, but the trick didn’t do so well. Neither the Benihana nor the Benibonga was meant to become a hit. Lester confessed to having only tried both the tricks just once in contests. The Benibonga, however, stayed on with a horrible reputation. This trick was not always the bad one, though. Many like Jamie Thomas did the Benibonga trick just because he was so inspired looking at his idol perform the method with ease.
Jamie was a firm believer of the Benibonga trick over time even though he was constantly ridiculed for performing it. Benibongas is an excellent skateboard trick, but no one should promote this trick in general. However, just know that the Benihana wasn’t always ridiculed and disliked but created a buzz sensation in its time.