Hey gang! Gather ’round the internet machine and join us for the best yo-yoing you can fit into 15 seconds, #trickcircle. In this series (previous installments here) we scan Instagram for videos tagged with #trickcircle, pick recent favorites, and collect them here along with some thoughts on what makes them great. In the spirit of 5A May, let’s keep this installment to counterweight tricks.
It only seems right to start things off with the man who first decided that yo-yos worked better tied to dice than to fingers, @unklesteve (aka National Yoyo Master Steve Brown.) Steve laid a huge amount of the bedrock for 5A; there’s a pretty good chance that he made up half of the tricks you can do back in ’98 with Neff. The crazy thing is that Steve is still shredding: there ain’t nothing outdated about that combo up there, and few people can manage those kinds of finger switches with the ease that he does. I recognize the launch from one of my favorite tricks in Steve’s 365yoyotricks project, “Circuitous”, great to see two equally gnarly paths branching out from the beginning of the combo.
Let’s take a trip down south to visit @bryanjardin, AKA 2 time Asian Pacific Champ & 4 time Philippine Champ Bryan Jardin. Bryan’s style is fun, exciting, and hard to keep up with—kind of like Bryan himself. Where Steve’s combo was based around clockwork motions within a few mounts between his hands, Bryan’s is all about momentum. He keeps the mount simple, but the confidence behind his tricks comes out in power & speed that make for a very exciting show. Entering red propellor from around the arm at the end of the combo was a particularly nice touch.
Taking us back to technical territory is @scottsm7 (2011 US Champ Samm Scott.) Samm has been exploring this style of combo more frequently in his recent freestyles: dense tricks that rack up by points by mounting, pinwheeling, and redirecting the counterweight & yo-yo around the hands while maintaining control of a central string structure. You can definitely see traces of influence from Jon Rob & Jake Bullock, but more than anything what shines through is top-level string control placing every element exactly where he needs it to be.
Let’s take a break from the long combos and get to something more instantly satisfying: bangers! @danielbudai (AKA Daniel Budai, 2 time Hungarian Champ & 2012 European 5A Champ) brings us this mighty green triangle. The beauty in this trick is that the elements all logically flow together, but the end result is still surprising: the motion of the counterweight out of e-fan naturally unmounts the yo-yo and continues into the crook of his arm, and the momentum of the yo-yo naturally sets up a GT formation to land in. The other best part of this trick is definitely that it lets you flex like a strong man at the end, so if you learn it make sure to pose in the mirror a bit.
@chasebaxter is an American player who has been steadily moving up the ranks in contests and is beginning to make waves with combos like this one. Chase’s style features a good mix of ’07-10 American contest 5A influences and his own “swangle,” perhaps best exemplified with the 1-2-3-4 counterweight mount buildup at the beginning of the combo and the drop suicide at the end. Definitely a name to watch.
At the beginning of the month, Takeshi Kamisato challenged @edhaponik to come up with some Fixed Axle 5A. Ed is certainly no stranger to Fixed Axle, but fixie 5A has gone largely unexamined due to the fact that traditional counterweight tricks are reeeally hard without bearings. Ed sidesteps this technical challenge and uses a responsive setup (a butterfly!) to his advantage with this sidewinder freegen, a visually appealing exercise in quick reflexes & lateral thinking. This trick contains some of the best parts of modern fixed axle play: it may seem like a “dead end” due to its lack of string hits and inability to combo in/out of anything, but it’s not easy to find a single move with a visual effect as strong as this one. Furthermore, even players who understand why a sidewinder flutters can enjoy banging the hell out of their knuckles trying this trick at home—trust me, it’s harder than it looks. And isn’t that the heart of all yo-yo tricks?