Petr Kavka is a yoyoer from the Czech Republic who just so happens to be the 6-time 5A Czech Champion as well as the first European 5A Champion. Petr is a member of the CLYW team, and can often be seen throwing his well-known signature throw, the Cliff.
Petr, as the 6-time 5A Czech Champion and the first European 5A Champion, you’ve definitely proved yourself within 5A. How did you start yoyoing?
Originally, I started around 2003 when I got a Duncan Dragonfly from my friend in exchange for a baguette. Unfortunately, all that I could do with it was a Sleeper. Then, I got a Freehand 2 because my Dragonfly broke and I learned Around the Corner. Since my Freehand 2 broke as well, I gave up till like early 2006. I started again because my friend in the Boyscouts won a whole set of Duncan HardCore line yoyos. He let me try them and I was hooked up. I bought myself a YoYoJam Lyn Fury, learned how to bind and shortly after also bought a Duncan Throw Monkey which comes with a Duncan bouncy ball counterweight, and that was the reason I started 5A. I always loved to experiment with different forms of yoyoing outside of 2A.
Wow, that’s good! How did you get involved in the actual yoyo community?
I was attending yoyo meetings in Prague since it was only place to get good quality yoyos for a good price in the Czech Republic. I was attending the meetings every week and met, for example, Vashek Kroutil and Tomas Bubak there. Vashek was already a superstar and Bubak was almost on the same level as I was but he was like half a year or year ahead. I think the Czech yoyo community started to notice me after I won X-Division at Czech Nats 2007 with 5A. They noticed me, but I feel like I was kind of an outsider till like 2010 when we started SLUSNY.
What style of play did you focus on most at first?
I always focused mainly on 1A and only played other styles when I was tired of 1A. It was not hard to become good in 5A since there were not many 5A players and none of them were really competitive.
I’m not too familiar with the Czech yoyo scene but I’m familiar with those two and I know they’re definitely big names there. For those that don’t know, can you explain what SLUSNY is?
SLUSNY was originally just Vashek’s blog, but in 2010 the SLUSNY team was born from a group of people that happened to travel together around Europe to any possible contest. At that time, we also decided to start an e-shop and a few years after that we also opened our offline store. As of today, SLUSNY is an e-shop, brick-and-mortar store, contest organizer, group of competitors and yoyo collectors, video production team, yoyo brand and many more things. Huge thanks to Vashek for all of his work! The Czech and European yoyo scene would look really different without his influence. I am really happy to be part of this huge project! We also really appreciate all the support from so many people from all around the world!
SLUSNY is totally an incredible project! Who were some of your favorite yoyoers in any division when you first started?
There was no YouTube when I started, so I watched lot of Czech videos on yoyo.cz and shortly after I discovered yoyoing.com/videos where I watched videos from all around the world. I spent many days just watching anything there. I miss that website! So many gems there! I think the first international player that I recognized was JD with his 2003 Worlds freestyle. His play was soo different from all the other players! Other 1A players that I can think of were Yuuki and Black. In 5A, I was always a fan of Jake Bullock for his killer concepts. Rafael Matsunaga and Tyler Severence were also influential. Tyler is my big hero and I think my 5A was influenced by him on a big scale. I got in touch with him for a first time when my Severe 2009 had a bearing that was too tight and I did not like it. I emailed him, and he was nice enough to send me 3 other Severes that I used to claim my 5A title at EYYC!
That’s so lucky! What was your first contest?
My first contest was Czech Nats 2006 where I competed in the Beginners and X-divisons. I placed 5th out of 6 players in the X-Divison and 3rd in Beginners.
What’s your method to prepare for a contest?
I don’t really have any method to prepare for a contest. Many times, I just improvise on stage. But, when I prepare my freestyle I usually just put my tricks in some logical order and then I find a song that will somehow fit into my freestyle. I know that most players do music first, but I find it really hard to fit my tricks into music I choose. In 1A, I try to be as innovative as possible but in 5A/4A I pretty much do the same tricks over and over again with some upgrades from time to time. I know that I have to work on my freestyles much harder then I do now.
How did you get hooked up with CLYW? Was it mostly from your freestyles?
I was kind of like a CLYW fanboy since like 2009, when Jensen visited Prague. I bought a Caribou t-shirt from him and I had it on during almost all of my freestyles. I actually got that offer after I made my first video that was dedicated to Caribou Lodge. That was a few weeks after EYYC 2011 where I used an Avalanche for my freestyle. I was soo happy and I feel like that really pushed me forward!
Definitely, I know what you mean. Your signature CLYW throw is the Cliff, what was the process like in designing that amazing yoyo?
I designed the Cliff together with Chris during the 2012 World YoYo Contest. I had a pretty clear vision in my eyes and Chris did such a great job by making my dream come true! The prototype was a success for a first try and we started production pretty fast after spending some time with a prototype. Its such a special yoyo. Its not for everyone, but I think that some people find it pretty special.
I can’t say much else, but I guess I can reveal that we are working on the new design!
I was just about to ask about the new design, sounds good! You mentioned earlier that you like JD, was he a big influence in your use of slack in a lot of your tricks? What do you like most about slack?
I don’t feel like he was a big influence for me. His tricks are way to complex for me. I don’t think I use slack more then others but I guess I do. Its an element that feels natural to me. I think Black was a really big influence, but I realized this not so long ago.
On another note with tricks, what are some of your other favorite elements to add to your 5A tricks?
I really like tricks with a good use of momentum with both a dice and the yoyo and tricks with good rhythm. Any kind of arials are fun as well!
Lastly, what is any advice you would have for any aspiring 5A player and what can we expect to see from you in the future?
Just grab a dice and start playing. Try to be inspired by some of your favorite players but stay true to yourself. You have to experiment, develop your concepts, and practice and it will pay off. Also, try to convert your moves from other styles into 5A. You can definitely expect more videos from me, attending as many contests as possible, a new signature throw with CLYW and much more will come.
That all sounds great, thanks Petr!