Fixed Friday – Tape Measure
Whenever we discuss fixed axle trick theory (or whatever it is that we do here), I feel as though we inevitably get very conceptual. The tricks are simplified as a natural consequence of the vehicle/medium. In the context of a shorter throw, smaller movements have augmented significance. As fixed axle aficionados, we’re often trying to fight against the limitations of the medium you’re using. Sometimes, however, if we can get out of our own way, those limitations really open up other doors. Your unresponsive yo-yo will just laugh at you when you try the typical version of this trick. It’ll be all “Yeah, that’s a finger grind, dummy.” But on a nice wood yo-yo like the purpleheart Currier the Hildy Bros sent me, there are a hundred sweet ways to get a very aggressive response with but a touch. That can pretty much be “the whole trick”. It seems like we say that all the time, but… yeah.
Tape Measure is an old Jon Gates trick, and (like a lot of Jon Gates tricks…) it’s one of my favorites. Anyone who’s ever released one of those spring-loaded devices to feel the thwack against their palm can appreciate that this is among the most appropriately named yoyo tricks out there. As shown in the 1st trick in the vid below, the basic idea is ludicrously simple. That said, there are a lot of neat places to take the concept. A lot of yoyoing, whether fixed or trans, is about taking in an idea and asking yourself where else it can be applied. Some of these variations are obvious and easy, and some of them require a bit of finesse. These can be thought of as grinds, but with the specific intention of invoking the yo-yo’s reponse.
The second trick is one of my go-to’s for general fixed-axle mindlessness. Throw down frontstyle just like any regular power-throw, but instead of recalling the yo-yo with a tug, drape your free hand down and “lift” the yo-yo into its response. When you get the timing right, you can speed your hand up with the yo-yo and seamlessly bring it all the way to your hand (or regenerate it). It always feels cooler and more casual to do this one with the palm turned around to the back, as opposed to facing forward. It’s like a hand-held soul arch, if you catch my surfing reference (or just google it).
It’s also fun to do these tricks off of sideways throws. Because your hand is impacting more of the yo-yo’s surface area, it tends to slow down (and so, respond) more quickly, so if you’re not bringing it directly to your hand, you’ve got to be quick. I do a fun throw hand chopsticks stall like this a bit later in the vid (1:10). Get your hand ready now. Oop. Too late.
It stands to reason that any “response-grind” you can do with your palm facing up can be done just as well with ANY contact area (ok, don’t get fresh). Turning the free hand around palm-down gives Tape Measure a different feel, but it’s still the same jam. Try collapsing your free hand over the yo-yo and regenerating with an off-hand throw. Even more fun is to try that palm-down Tape Measure and con the yo-yo into balancing upright all on its own. It’s rewarding to get the angle dialed so that the yo-yo will just hang there on the back of your hand until you regen back over your knuckles (:36).
While we’re at it, who says you even need to TOUCH the yo-yo to get it to respond like Tape Measure. From a standard trapeze, slam your hands together sharply and see if you can get the yo-yo to stay dead-center as the system responds (:45). This is similar to a trapeze Stop-N-Go, but like any Tape Measure, the response is only actually engaging on the trapeze side, so you have to regen like any normal stall (as opposed to by pulling down, like Stop-N-Go).
:50 is “Cram It, Judy”, one of my favorite fixed axle tricks, and one I featured on 365yoyotricks.com last year. This is basically a Tape Measure in the context of a breakaway throw. You’ve got to time that free hand to meet the yo-yo, and “ride it” as it responds into that throw hand stall. When you’re really hitting it, you can get the hand to engage the response, as opposed to the breakaway.
The last trick shows another one of my jamz. I love the feeling of lifting a Tape Measure into a stall, and it totally works as a repeater. Just lift with the throw hand into the first trapeze stall, then with the free hand into a brother stall. Rinse and repeat if you like.
Apologies if that jumped around all over the place. It’s kind of a testimony as to just how fertile the territory of fixed axle Tape Measures is. Behind the back, behind the head, upside down… who knows how many weird applications are out there? When you’re throwing a yo-yo that’s going to come back if you touch it, you can basically take two attitudes. You can either AVOID going anywhere near it because you’re afraid it’s going to mess up your string trick… or you can literally embrace it because your string tricks were getting boring anyway.
Have a great Friday!