Bill Working it out over Labor Day Weekend in Georgia

An RST photo report
(photos taken Sept. 2 in Decatur, Georgia at Golden Glide Skating Rink during Bill’s weekly skate class)

Bill still 
Roller Skating Today
at the age of 72.
Bill with his 16 year old student Bryan Taylor.  Bryan has been training and learning the Jammin technique for nearly two years and appears to be the next to follow in the skate-steps of Bill’s long-time student/protege, Michael Johnson.
Bill is making sure the technique he created lives on by passing the torch to the next generation.  These 10-11 year old students are paying close attention as their teacher demonstrates “skate-stop” positions and movements.

Students say learning the Jammin’ Technique is “difficult but fun.”
Now the youngsters put the moves and body positions that they learned into practice as they proceed through the many steps involved in the “skate stop” exercise.
Making the rounds, Bill, (in the center, red shirt), rolls on to instruct his adult students as they work on their pairs, trio and train skating.
Afterwards, the class was all smiles.  In addition to his local students, Bill (back row center) had visiting students and guests including Tyrone Dixon (8 Wheels & Some Soul Brotha Music, back row far right) and Noriko, a long-time student from New York, (kneeling far left).

Skating the Circle is Where the Fun’s At

Students of the Jammin’ skate style are known for what is called “skating the circle,” whether solo, in pairs, trios or in a larger train of skaters.  The circle can be very small or it can be expanded to cover an entire skate floor.  Any way about it, Bill says, “the circle’s where it’s at,” especially at many of the skate events that are held throughout the year in various cities.  Some of them are held at rinks which are filled to capacity with little skating room to be found.  In the middle of the skate floor, however, the excitement, thrill and motion are endless when 15 or more skaters congregate and skate within a small, circular area.  Many of these skaters are not students of the Jammin’ skate method but are participating in something that is part of the overall Jammin’ Technique.  RST spoke with Bill (BB) and Michael Johnson (MJ) about what crosses their minds when they witness these circular skater showcases which are greatly inspired by principles of Bill’s skating Technique.
(RST) – Bill, your skaters are known for skating that circle.  People would be surprised at how much fun they can have in that circle as opposed to trying to find some skate room in an over-crowded rink at some of today’s skate events.  What things cross your mind when you see 20+ people skating within a circle in a small area on the skate floor?  It’s not your Technique but it’s a style you developed.  What kinds of things go through your mind?
(BB) –  First, I’m very flattered that they’re even in there doing whatever they do.  I think it’s wonderful, I love the exchange.  I think what’s going through all of our heads is to stay out of  one another’s way, that’s the big deal. Moving around swiftly in all directions where most other styles don’t allow that to happen.

Also, I would like to point out, this Technique is not just limited to circles, [it] can take you anywhere in the  rink at any given time.  We just go in a circle because we have more fun there and it’s not so crowded.  It’s crowded, but not to us. We can just maneuver.  It’s kind of like a rabbit in a briar patch.  To other animals, it’s dangerous in there but not to the rabbit.  He knows how to get around in there and that’s the same concept of The Technique:  it allows you to go in all different directions and it’s a learning process.  Sometimes you do have a tendency to rub against someone and it’s such a cool thing because everybody just keeps going, they bump and keep going.  It’s a perfect example of The Technique being so viable, so usable, so skater friendly and all you have to do is be aware of [it] and use it to its full extent.

At the same time, you can skate in the rink the same way but when it becomes so congested and people are not as much up on it, if you will, as those being in the circle, you would find the danger much less in the circle as opposed to out on the main floor because there’s so many people who just skate fast but they don’t have real control.  That’s why we have these accidents from time to time because skaters are just not aware that it is so important to know how to control the skates and that would include knowing how to stop.

(RST) –  Michael, Bill’s skaters are known for skating the circle and doing all kinds of steps and moves within a circle.  What do you think of when you see – it’s not The Technique- but it’s people imitating a part of it and it’s so much fun. What do you think when you see that happening in the middle of a packed skate floor at some of the skate events?
(MJ) –  I think it’s great.  It lends itself to everyone just having a great time showing their skill, their style of skating and just combining together as one big party circle.  I think it’s great.  For the most part, people that get in the circle have skills because it’s so compact and tight so you need some skills to get in there and skate around with everybody else.  You don’t find too many people that don’t have skills get in there unless it’s a different kind of night. It takes some skills to get in there and do your thing.

[At the Atlanta Skate/Sk8-a-thon], it was great to see different styles and that showcase in the circle.  It kinda reminds me of back in the day at Empire [Roller Skating Rink in New York] and everybody used to get in the middle, not a circle but in the middle section and just do their thing as opposed to forming a circle.

(RST) –  Bill, as far as skating the circle, you can expand the size of it depending on the crowd size?
(BB) –  You can expand the circle, you can shrink the circle, you can go in all these different directions.  Say you had a circle that was 20 feet by 20 feet you can make it 60 feet by 60 feet by skating in all these different directions, that’s what makes you expand the size of a circle by  skating the circle in  all these physical patterns.  Circles, little circles within circles, triangles, you can skate half circles, quarter circles, straight lines, tangents, all these various things within the circle and that’s what makes it so unique.

I know I have something that’s really cool for people to learn and enhance their skating ability and if they don’t choose to do it because they would allow anything outside of good, clear understanding get in their way, then they’ll keep skating like they do.  I say, learn this technique and everybody will skate better.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll skate better.  It’s that simple.  This is something I’m trying to get people to understand.  You just have to understand it, get to do it and it’s beautiful because you can mix and match any other style you wish by having the knowledge of the Jammin’ technique which encompasses any style anyone would want to skate at any given time.  You don’t have to skate the same way all the time, you can change it up and that’s what makes it beautiful. The Jammin’ style of skating, teaches you to do that because I do it myself.  I skate five different styles at any given time.  I’m just trying to share the wealth because the more people get it, the more fun we’re all going to have.

(RST) – Thank you both.

Student teaches Bill “There’s More to Skating than Meets the Eye”

Skating is challenging enough for those with 20/20 vision or even those who are near or far sighted, but imagine skating without any sight at all.  Such is the case for Marshall Lee Ratliff who has been been taking lessons from Bill for nearly two years.  His sister and caretaker, Diane Odom, said her 51-year-old brother was born blind and first learned to skate at the age of five.

“When he was very young, there was a group of ladies in Atlanta involved with some sort of sorority and they took it on themselves to take groups of children with disabilities to the skating rink,” Ms. Odom explained.

Both she and her brother are extremely pleased with the progress made since Marshall became Bill’s student.  Ms. Odom adds the lessons are great therapy for her brother psychologically since his social life is not as active as those without disabilities.

“It has meant a tremendous amount for him to just interact with Mr. Butler, [who] doesn’t look [72] years old and doesn’t skate like that,” she told RST in a phone interview.

Bill’s sentiments are much the same toward the student in whose company he is honored to be.  “I think [Marshall’s] extraordinary, courageous and special,” he said.  “It’s inspirational just the fact that he wants to do this.”

Marshall Ratliff skating while instructor Bill Butler watches  Marshall is as excited about what he’s learning as he must have been as a child when putting on skates for the first time.  When asked what he loves about skating, he shared that he is being taught the backwards plow, scissors and that he is ready to begin skating to music.  He meets Bill twice a week at Skate Zone in Morrow, Georgia for his beloved skating lessons.

The goal-oriented Marshall wants to be the best skater he can be and also keeps busy defying the odds with tap dancing lessons, horseback riding and playing the drums.

For more information, read RST’s News Release sent to various media outlets to invite them to share this inspirational story with their audiences.

Harnessing the Power of Menopause to Skate Better

Bill has selected Ruby Thomas as his 2006 “Jamma of the Year” for her dedication, determination and her overall positive spirit and aura.  She has been a student of The Technique since late 2005 and will be part of the “For the Love of Skating” Jammin’ weekend in Denver, May 25-27, 2007 as a performer and also a workshop presenter.  In her “skateformational” workshop, she will share more about the topic of this testimonial which will be beneficial to women as well as any men who would like to attend.  Stay tuned to the event e-flier for workshop date, location and time.

I started skating late in life, around 16 years ago at the age of 41, and have continued well into middle menopause.  It has been determined that pre-menopause begins during your thirties with assorted symptoms:  hormonal swings and female health problems that begin to proliferate.  What’s the up side?  The power surges that come with those raging hormones!

There is a feeling that though you are a wife, daughter, mother or grandmother, you are an individual with needs to address.  My need was to find an exercise I could live and mature with.  Skating filled the bill. I could do it without waiting for someone and pick up and leave when I got ready.  I could zoom around working up a good sweat or keep time with the music as I pleased.  It made me feel so good.  (I later found out that the body forms pleasure hormones called endorphins during exercise).  Remember now, I was no longer in my prime but was staying fit due to my regularity in skating and my willingness to put sweat equity into my hormone regulator.  After thirty ladies, let’s face it, we have to work at what we once took for granted.

At fifty years old, menopause came out with big guns blazing leaving me with hot flashes day and night like I had just run marathon races; I was drenched in sweat, irritated and depressed.  The body mourns the loss of the childbearing hormones leaving depression in its wake.  I found what beats depression is determination and I would not stop skating.

I found out that childhood lung problems were impairing my ability to breathe and I was losing stamina.  The doctor told me I had asthma along with sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that blocks breathing).  I started to bump into furniture like an adolescent child.  What was happening to my reflexes?  Menopause causes balance and reflex problems due to the softening of every ligament of your body.  Missteps, slipping and falling become real dangers.  The fire of the body metabolism starts to go out.  I felt like my body was starting to fall apart but was I going to give up skating?

Fortunately the Jammin Technique** as taught by Bill Butler was available to me at just the right time.  It has helped me to beat back the symptoms of menopause to a great extent.  In what areas you may ask?  I have been taught how to stop to avoid accidents by using cutting skills, various stops and plows.  With the use of body contortions, The  Technique has strengthened my reflex reactions to skating conditions on the floor and my balance has been normalized.  My metabolism has accelerated, burning calories again and I was taught breathing techniques while skating and the correct use of exhalation.  This has subdued my asthma symptoms and has expanded my lung capacity.  Oxygen is what fires up metabolism and increases stamina and I’ve seen steady increases, therefore, more burn time.

I’m also seeing increased overall muscle tone from The Technique.  It has taken me to another level in my ability to skate to the music; to dance-skate single, pairs, trios etc., and to communicate with my skate partners through my hand, commanding my own space.  I am fighting menopause with skating and The Technique has given me the tools!

– Genuine Ruby –
A True Skater

Bill’s signature headband and learning to fall professionally

You may be wondering what the above two subjects have to do with one another but they are related as shown in this interivew RST conducted with Bill (BB) recently.  Many, who have taken note, have observed that Bill faithfully wears a customized head band whenever he skates and even when he is teaching his classes.  Some may have assumed that he originally began wearing the headband to add a personal, unique touch to his skating attire but the real reason he started wearing it may come as a surprise.  His explanation about the chosen length of the headband is what led into the discussion of falling on the skate floor and how it is advisable for skaters to learn to fall “professionally.”   (Read more)

 


Message from Bill

 

TO: Roller Skating Today readers
FROM:  Bill Butler
RE:  Bill Butler’s Creative Skate Dance Company on the move
DATE:   October 22, 2006

Dear Readers,I am currently involved in a situation that might prove to be something wonderful for the sport of roller skating.  I’m not at liberty at this point to tell you anymore details than I will on this day, but it’s something that I feel great about and I don’t want to get anybody any more excited than myself.

If my will stays strong in my new endeavor, I’ll be in the catalyst to put roller skating in its proper place.  So pray for me, that I will have the strength to make it happen for all those that either read and/or hear what’s to follow because we’re all in this together –  whoever you may be.  Just know that I’m doing it for the sport so wherever you may fit into this, all the better.

I’ll keep everybody posted through my wonderful and dear publicist, Kim Muhammad, who has been very dear to me in a very short period of time.

Thank you.

Bill Butler

– To be continued –


Female Skaters Needed

 

Bill Butler’s Creative Skate Dance Company (CSDC) is seeking EXPERIENCED female skaters, who have “the right stuff,” to take part in a 2007 Jammin’ Exhibition Tour.   Must be at least 16 years of age, well behaved, eager to learn, with a beautiful personality and good character.  Must also be available to train in Atlanta and/or New York.  NO BEGINNERS PLEASE!  Interested male skaters may also respond for consideration in future events.  Email RST for more information.NOTE:  RST’s “For the Love of Skating” tour, featuring CSDC, currently has scheduled stops in Denver, Colorado and in Vancouver, British Columbia, where a grand opening extravaganza is tentatively scheduled for next spring.  Call RST, 720-506-4780, for more information on scheduling a tour stop in your area.


Bill’s Confessions

 

Bill was somewhat embarrassed and surprised at himself when he found out days ago that Bryan Taylor – his youth dance team captain – did not know how to adjust his skates.  Usually a clinic on how to adjust one’s skates is amongst the first things Bill teaches his students.  Bryan, however, has been training for two years and Bill admitted that he “stepped on his own toes” and dropped the ball with the oversight.  Rather than sweep the incident under the rug, he wanted to share it in the hopes that skaters will become more aware of the necessity of knowing how to adjust their skates.  “I have nothing to hide,” he said, while noting that October 13 at 5:45 p.m. was the exact date and time that his young student learned how to adjust his skates.Bill says skaters do not have to know how to make adjustments but then compared the situation to knowing how to drive a stick shift versus only knowing how to drive a car with an automatic transmission.  “It’s nice to know how to drive a stick but you don’t have to know it,” he said, while noting that it would only be a plus to have the additional knowledge and know-how, even if one chose not to use it.  The same, he maintains, applies to a skater knowing how to adjust the nuts and bolts on his or her skates.

In a 2003 Good Jammin’ News feature, he spoke on the importance of skaters knowing how to make adjustments for the best control, maneuvering and flexibility.  We revisit that article now.  Read Adjusting Your Skates.

– Adeeba –


Article features Bill’s tips on Staying Young

 

The Black House online news and discussion forum has featured an article with Bill sharing tips on how to retain a youthful outlook, spirit and zest for life.  He’s one of a growing number of seniors who fulfill the saying “you’re only as old as you feel.”  Read Jammin’ Around the Fountain of Youth.


Womens Rollercise Classes Starting Soon

 

If you are a health-conscious woman in the Atlanta area, aged 30 or above and are looking for a structured, weekly roller workout, roll into Bill’s Jammin’ Rollercise classes STARTING SOON. Class size is limited so sign up today. Send your name and phone number and a Rollercise representative will contact you with more details.


Jammin’ Roller Network in Planning Stages

Has Bill adopted you?

 

The (tentatively named) Ndani (pronounced en-dawn-ee) Silver Skate Key Alliance is in the formulation stages and once plans are finalized the alliance will become a well connected network of skaters and non-skaters who support the vision of Bill Butler, his incomparable Jammin’ Technique and his love, passion and devotion for roller skating.Ndani is a Swahili word which means “within” and within this network of Jammin’ supporters and advocates is where Bill would like to place The Technique for safe keeping and longevity.  Bill says The Technique’s value, and the importance of keeping it pure, far outweigh anything else, including its creator.  “Forget about me,” he said recently.  “Help me make The Technique better.  Help me carry it – it’s getting too big.”

Application forms for the network will be available soon for individuals who have caught the vision and would like to assist in spreading it worldwide.  Join the mailing list to receive future updates and to stay within the circle.