With the recent surge in kendama popularity lately, I felt like I really needed take this direction this week. I have no idea when “Lunar Landing” was first named on THAT OTHER skill toy, but I’m gonna go ahead and [baselessly] assume that it’s been a yo-yo trick for way longer. So here follows my perfunctory “taking back Lunars” endeavor.
To me, “Shoot the Moon” really is the quintessential yo-yo trick. It’s simple enough for anyone to see and understand, yet difficult enough to completely flummox and bewilder. It requires weeks (if not months) of dedicated practice to get consistent. You can go into it from virtually any other trick (i mean unless you’re still using an unresponsive bearing – LOL). Although I’m happy to Shoot the Moon all day – or would be if my arm didn’t fall asleep (I swear, Bill deB can do it just by controlling the amount of blood distending the vessels in his throw-hand finger. VOODOO.) As I was saying, I can StM all day, but sometimes you want to throw in a little funk.
Lunar Landing takes Shoot the Moon and gives it a beautiful, natural pause AND a resultant direction change which can be used to link fixed axle combos together very nicely. Though it’s been around forever, I’m 99% sure the first time I saw it was by John Higby in 2008. Not so surprising, since fixed axle was neither ubiquitous nor trendy then. I was throwing No Jives with Seth Peterson, Tyler Severance, and Spencer Berry (my life is incredible), and John was like “Oh, Shoot the Moon. Hey, do you know this one?” … No. No, I did not. It was pretty much my favorite trick after that.
If you don’t have Shoot the Moon down, this video whole entry is pretty useless. Go and get it down right now. If you’ve got it to where you can do 10-20 reps consistently, it’s probably worth trying to get Lunars dialed too. As you can see in the initial trick, the idea is pretty straightforward. As the yo-yo goes up toward the “moon”, your throw hand thumb sneaks in front of the string, pulling the segment away from the middle finger. This creates a nice little landing segment which (if your hand has a nice open shape) the yo-yo will really “want” to hit. In many ways, this is the original stall trick, having led to so many other variations which have come to define the current fixed axle style. Like any stall, it’s counterproductive to try to do Lunars hard or fast. You kind of have to bounce with it and flex with it as it lands. It always feels best to me when no part of my hand touches the yo-yo, but that’s a feel thing.
Once you have the basic Lunar down, the floodgates are open. The first variation (0:14) I came up with was one I called “Crash Landing” (basically a Lunar from a punch-regen/backwards Around the World). It’s way easier if you look up, but sometimes it feels cooler to hit it blind (sometimes making it a legitimate Crash Landing). Another simple variation which I’ve done numerous times in this column is to do an inverted Lunar Landing straight from forward pass. Bonus points for coming as close as possible to your teeth. (It’s yo-yoing – gotta inject some danger someplace.)
So is Lunar Landing a hold or is it dependent upon Shoot the Moon? I see it as the former, personally, which is pretty freeing since you can land it from anywhere. Eli Hop stalls are fun, but and Eli to Lunar offers even more compression. A nice variation I found which I call “Wax On, Wax Off” involves hopping into lunar, then regenerating into reverse trapeze before hopping into an inverted lunar. I find landing multiple reps of that one to be a pretty solid challenge.
At 0:50, we have a fun Drew-inspired tricks (which tricks aren’t Drew-inspired these days?). I can never remember what Nate Sutter calls his under-arm Shoot the Moon, but it feels so fun and alien. Higby’s “Shoot the Other Moon” variation (between the legs) is also a great one. Anyway, as the yo-yo returns, let it pop you in the shoulder for a tough-love regen. It really doesn’t hurt, and it’s easier than you might think to control the direction. Plus, it puts you in Forward Pass, which is prime for an inverted Lunar. Alternately, you can go up into a regular moon, rinse, and repeat.
Pretty sure I’ve used variations of the next few tricks in previous Fixed Fridays, but they’re relevant, so you will suffer through them! Hitting a fully sideways “UFO Landing” can be tougher than it looks, because with the string banging around, your thumb has a tough time holding it in place. At 1:02, you have the original snap-stall Steve taught me in my yo-yo room years ago, along with an inverted analog. It’s interesting because usually, it’s downright impossible to catch a backward-spinning stall, but this snap-stall works ok. Also, when you bring it back to your hand, the wind is reversed (which, I guess, makes sense).
There’s nothing better than coming up with a 3-second trick that you’re proud of. 1:17 features a sort of “plus-style” Lunar Landing, where you intercept the string with a free-hand chopsticks mount instead. Feels really, really weird at first, and I’m just starting to explore the potential. I do Lunar variations so often, and yet I almost never consider +-style applications. “Commit” (1:26) is a trick I came up with on the Flying V, which was a thin, responsive metal yo-yo SPYY produced. That thing was a Lunar machine, but when you missed one of these and got pegged in the collarbone or forehead… you felt it. It’s more awkward than you might assume to throw the forward pass straight up and down.
Lastly, we’ve got something I (modestly?) call Lunar Landing 2.0. It’s a simple concept, but really tough to execute. Same under-arm Shoot the Moon entry as the Tough Love trick earlier, but then you’ve got to run the gauntlet. Getting the yo-yo to land in your hold properly demands that you thread a needle between your shoulder, elbow, and wrist. 90% of the time, you’ll end up hitting one of them (actually you can still hit the trick if you do). It really helps me to take a step back, lean forward, and drop my knees a bit kendama-style. Feels great when you hit it, but getting it consistent is a full-on kodiak bear.
And that’s the news! Have a great week and Fix the Planet!!!©™®