Yeah, you’re gonna be mad at me.
It’s cool. I’m a grown man. I can take it. I know I’m raining on your fixed axle parade; your special day. The one day each week which you KNOW will not be sullied by the loud, tacky swagger of ball-bearing infidels. And here I am playing with a bearing… in a metal yo-yo, no less. On YOUR Fixed Friday. Needless to say, I will accept the beatings with understanding.
Hear me out though. While I recognize that this column is all about pushing FIXED play forward, we need to constantly keep in mind what that means. I was at Worlds this year, and I saw some cool stuff. One kid came up to me and said “Hey ed, check out this stall!” proceeding to bind his Chief into a slick cross-armed 1.5 before regenerating into the rest of his day. Alexis JV’s 1a final was so replete with beautiful regens that it almost felt like he could have done it on wood. And I saw kickflip suicides on every yo-yo imaginable, up to and including an off-string. It was incredibly vindicating to see concepts we’ve pioneered and advocated for here (and I do not, for a second, claim that Drew and I have been the only ones doing it) osmoting its way into other hardware.
No yo-yo style can exist in a vacuum. Every cool element you see, you should consider “how can I use that?” I’m not even just talking about specific trick elements. Think about the feeling, motivation, and presentation of the tricks you observe and consider whether they might serve you in a different context. Playing a lot of fixed axle yo-yo will CHANGE the way you approach yo-yo’s in general. Somebody commented the other day that my play with an unresponsive transaxle yo-yo is starting to look a lot like fixed. I’m actually kind of surprised anyone would assume it WOULDN’T after the last few years. My tricks have gotten shorter, or else have leaned toward regenerating repeaters. I seem to end everything with some kind of stall. We’ve all seen sweet modern 1a tricks attempted (and landed) on wood. And there’s no doubt that the influence of modern 1a is inextricably embedded in fixed play. So this week’s video is all about how even throwing a wide-gapped, all-metal, low-response yo-yo, you can evoke the rhythm and dynamics of fixed axle.
Ok, so on to the video. Obviously, as mentioned, you can do a Kickflip on any yo-yo. Actually, I find the wider the gap, the harder it is, because the yo-yo bangs around from side to side and is difficult to control. Still, your everyday Bind-to-Kickflip is easy enough to where I think it should be just as much a staple of transaxle style as fixed. If you need to up the ante, try the Kickflip to Casper which follows (or skip to the last trick, which will melt your face).
Next up we have two fun takes on Zipper Stalls, which is one of the few tricks I’ve pioneered that people actually know. Using a bind-return yo-yo is no reason to dissuade you from the regenerating Zipper theme. In the first example, we basically have a bind-regen Zipper which is easy enough to follow (just have to have smooth Planet Hops off your binds), and following that we’ve got a cool bind-to-Lunar Zipper variation. Zipper is probably the first true repeater I learned (off of Ken’s World around 2002), and one of the most underrated tricks. There remains much to explore within the element, even within traditional 1a.
Scooting ahead to :55, we have a great trick showed to me by Jack “Una” Ringca a few years back. I have no idea of its origins, but he called it “1a Shoot the Moon” for obvious reasons. Although this one will saw through your fingers on a humid day, it’s a fun trick which emulates everyone’s favorite vertically-inclined loop trick and evokes a classic feel with which passers-by will connect. You can even end it in a Lunar… sort of.
Drew’s Dumptrucks are some of the coolest trans-regen transitions ever, and while controlling spin direction is more obviously essential with a fixed axle, there’s no reason not to migrate them to your bearing play as well. 1:10 shows a cute little repeater using Dumptrucks as the conjunction. I’m sure with a bit more exploration, we could see Crisis-level truck combos integrated into modern 1a as well. I’ll… leave that to you guys.
Snap-Starts are not only my favorite way to rewind a dead yo-yo, they’re also among my favorite tricks! I’ve dedicated an entire column to snaps and they are integral to at least a dozen of my tricks. Since their efficacy is in how quickly they deliver the wound yo-yo back to the hand, a lot of bearing players overlook them, thinking they need to snap, bind, and then catch. Unresponsive Snap-Starts, however, are perfectly immediate if you just load up a backspin bind before snapping. This enables all manner of Snap-Stalls, too, which are just as rad with a Center-Trac as they are with a walnut sleeve. Also note the Sky-Bind-to-Stall in the middle of that snap-start melee. Some other neat slack-binds yielding simple stalls and redirects in a bit make up a lot of the video’s second half. Sky-Binds to Lunars (1:42) feel especially nice after a fun 1a combo.
At 1:59, I show an application for that one trick that all the kids are trying to learn these days… oh, the kids aren’t trying to learn Andre’s Inner Ring Grinds (or IRG’s or Thumb Grinds, or Grings) anymore? That’s ok, cause guess what! A 180 Ring Grind sets up a Lunar-bind perfectly, and if you really want to nerd it out, rotating it frontside before regenerating is pretty much a lazy man’s Dumptruck.
I can never remember what the bind at 2:12 is called. I get it confused because though it’s not the Guy Wright Bind, Guy Wright showed it to me, so, well you get it. Anyway, consistently stalling out of it is almost impossibly tough, but a quick, spin-reversing straight-string redirect off trapeze is pretty manageable. After that we’ve got trick called Knuckle Grinder which is one of the few tricks I developed on fixed which transfers to unresponsive play with zero changes. Trapeasy is up after that; just some redirects off of slack binds which you can do once or as many times as you like.
It seems like almost everyone has a cool unresponsive Stop N Go these days, but comparatively few people try Eli Hopping out of them. My go-to is at 2:45. Bear in mind, a wide-gapped yo-yo is WAY harder to Eli out of in this way. You have much less control on the walls, which lends itself to crazy tilted hops. What I love about this one is since I switch the position of the yo-yo before the hop, the spin is back to normal. So in theory, I could hop into trapeze and repeat the whole Stop N Go, but that would be both kind of redundant and, how you say… really, really hard.
For some reason I moved outside for the last trick, which I’m calling a Hardflip Suicide© (yes, I talked to Drew, it’s cool). I ran into this one while brainstorming more Kickflip applications. I hit it the 1st time… then it took about 200 tries to get the 2nd. Now I’ve got it about 1/4. The weird integral (but subtle part) that you can see in the slow-mo is that the bind/mutation you put on in the beginning is actually rejected right before the catch. This has more to do with the way you throw the loop around and the way you hold your throw hand than anything else. It’s comparable to 3D Drewicide, but obviously with that extra twist, and also to his brand new Butterfly Horse nightmare scenario, Shuvit, which uses string tension to load up the loop’s movement around the yo-yo sideways.
Ok, so I deviated from the regular column this week. Mind, it’s not because I have no more cool ideas for fixed axle, or because the movement is breaking down, but rather because it is WORKING. I went in this direction because we’re starting to see the style we’re exploring migrating more and more into everyday tools and mainstream contexts. It’s so vindicating to see, and definitely helps me to reevaluate taking inspiration from styles I hadn’t considered. And when you think about it, is the ultimate goal of Fixed Friday to build up walls and create a fortress of solitude inside which the holy fixed-axle pupa may fully mature in a safe haven? Or is it to explore the tricks and ideas which come most naturally to fixed axle, pausing every now and again to see where they apply and how they connect to yo-yoing as a whole?
… Honestly, I’ve forgotten, but whatever these tricks are SWEEEEEEEET!