First things first: CONTEST WINNER!
The Fixed Friday group on Facebook saw a number of quality entries over the last few weeks for the chance to win a one-of-a-kind maple leaf-branded SPYYxTMBR “Eh”. The Light Sleeper Society (which DOES exist, though they would have you believe otherwise) convened to pick a winner. On the combined basis of pushing boundaries and adherence to the contest’s theme, the winner is…
Congrats, Kyle. Your super-special “Eh” is on its way, and it’ll be lucky to get thrown by someone who legitimately rips fixed axle.
Alright, on to the trick premise for this week: Question everything.
If you want to do anything meaningfully, you kind of have to have that approach (or at least willfully ignore it).
In my last column, I suggested that yo-yo tricks don’t need to start with the yo-yo wound up. This time, I’m going to operate from the premise that you don’t need to throw them “right”.
Reverse spin tricks have a unique appeal with regard to fixed axle. For much of an unresponsive-bearing yo-yo trick, the direction of spin is something you are welcome to ignore. The yo-yo is spinning, which gives it the angular momentum to resist turning against its primary axis, which keeps you in your intended trick, and that’s good enough. When it’s time to bind back up, spin direction matters again, but only kind of, for most people. When you’re rocking wood though, it matters big time.
For one, nearly all of the progressive fixed axle play going on now involves some version of staccato, stall-based or stop-n-go-based play. I used to feel like a trick had some old skool flavor if I ended with a phat flyaway dismount, but now I feel like regenerating from some kind of stall has taken over as the fixed axle modus operandi. As I’ve said every week, when stalling out a yo-yo, spin direction is your first concern. If you throw a standard breakaway, you can go right to a trapeze stall, but not to a man-bro stall. But what kind of bull-jive is that? And who says you have to START from a standard breakaway?
In these tricks, the yo-yo is thrown or regenerated “backwards” at some point. There are two main ways to do this. You can either throw down with the yo-yo wound in reverse (the way you teach kids NOT to throw down), or you can regenerate in such a way that the yo-yo DOES NOT flip over, resulting in a backward spin. Either way, if you can keep it straight, you’ve entered a cool, “Bizarro World” of mirror-image stall possibilities. Check out these examples, and then find your own methods of getting that sweet negative spin.
In the first one, I demonstrate a nice, clean way to go right into a reverse-wind without an audience really noticing (not that most would care). Bob Rule taught me this one on stage at Worlds. The subtle nuances and tricks that guy has locked away in his noggin would stun almost any modern performer in his tracks. Just throw forward pass, and catch it with your fingers pointing up. We’ve all done it, but how many people do it purposely to seamlessly move into a reverse wind? I’ma say “few”. Throwing a breakaway with a reverse wind takes some practice. You tend to put it on its side, and there’s a weird, sketchy feeling that you have to overcome. Once you do though, going right into a free-hand chopsticks man-bro stall (there has to be a better name for that) feels pretty rewarding.
Another option is the “bowling” throw. Drew and I have both come up with variations of this trick independently. Hold the yo-yo “regular”, but let it roll off your hand in reverse as you do a kind of “softball throw”. You can’t do this quickly, which is great because it gives your throwhand time to get into position and land in a neat Bird-In-Hand which would be impossible using a normal throw. There’s a lot of potential in this sort of throw, and I love tricks which I can do with my hand stylishly enclosed within my pocket.
Trick #3 is one of my babies (albeit, a kind of lame baby that no one loves or appreciates besides his father). Anti-loops are a great way to get into a reverse spin. Yeah, an Anti-loop is basically a Gravity Pull done “outward”, but try doing 5 of them in a row. Once you’ve switched the direction, you really have to switch the side you’re stalling out on. On a normal forward pass, your freehand would have to be in front. The Anti-loop lets you switch it.
Last trick is one of my favorite fixed axle repeaters. Watch the pogs on the yo-yo. Notice that they’re always on the same side. Between the two stalls, there’s an inside-loop regen. If the yo-yo flips over, the stall (just like the one in trick #1) is a no-go. If, however, you can purposely KEEP it from flipping on the loop, the spin direction will be reversed and the stall will work. This is a great test of your loop control. We’re all used to Moons and Planet Hops where the yo-yo isn’t “supposed” to flip, but keeping it from flipping on an inside loop feels strange… in a good way.
And that’s kind of the whole thing. We’re collectively deciding right now where fixed axle yo-yoing can go. By limiting our options with respect to hardware and spin time, we’ve got no choice but to open our minds to other aspects and dimensions within our play. If there’s something we’re taking for granted (how the yo-yo is wound, thrown, caught, stopped, started, etc), then it’s worth examining. If we want to transcend the notion that fixed axle yo-yo’s are primarily a good training ground to practice the same tech tricks we’d do on a modern metal yo-yo, then it’s on us to develop the trick vocabulary that suits the medium. That’s what’s going to take fixed axle yo-yoing from being a useful and fashionable novelty to being something we can really consider a “style”.