Hi ho, everybody!
I hope it’s been an awesome week, and that you’re ready to kick off those hard shoes, slip on your best organic type-8, and rock out with a refreshing late-summer fixed axle spin session. I read someone on the internets this week describing fixed axle yo-yoing as a “current fad”. As somebody who’s been pushing it (sometimes obnoxiously) for about 7 years, part of me took that as a compliment. However, I don’t see it the same way, exactly.
To me throwing fixed axle is a two-fold path. It’s obviously a great way to connect with our heritage; with the roots of yo-yoing. Our art began on the high-friction noble disks of yesteryear, and every day I try to take time to appreciate the scope and breadth of what yo-yoing has become over almost a century of innovation. Fixed axle is also a really natural way to push forward though. Playing modern 1a is its own challenge to be sure, but sometimes it can be difficult to see the creative potential. There are so many great players throwing down so many amazing tricks these days, it’s easy (albeit unfair and untrue) to slouch into the belief that you can’t come up with anything new and significant. With fixed axles though, it feels like there is room for a game-changing trick concept almost every week. For years, wood was relegated to the creative prison of the antiquated and/or novice, which has set the stage for the revolution we now enjoy. I literally wake up in the middle of the night thinking “Oh my crap, I can just Dumptruck into that Wrist-mount!”, after which my wife slaps me. Similarly, the empty space in our fledgling fixed axle style is perpetually beating us about the head and neck, and it’s comparatively easy to feel innovative.
Has it gained popularity? Absolutely. At Worlds, pretty much everybody wanted to be Drew. I saw more butterflies and kickflip attempts than I have in summer meadows and suburban skateparks. But I like to think what we’re trying to build is not so much a fad, but a valuable and lasting counterpoint to the mainstream. If it makes you happy to feel like a hipster, go for it. But I think it’s safe to say that what we’re not trying to define ourselves against the current so much as check out newer, smaller connected streams.
In any case, this week I wanted to go back to where we started and look at a standard trick element and it’s applications to fixed axle. Going back to our original model, the video starts with basic concepts and technique, and then gets into some more interesting applications at the end. This week is all about Buckets (and their kissing cousins, Triangles).
In the initial trick, I show a pretty standard entry into a move I imagine most of you have tried by now: a Drop-in-the-Bucket Stall. Discovered by Thad Winsenz, Buckets are an essential aspect of modern string geometry, but are so ubiquitous that they often they pass almost unnoticed in freestyles. In fixed axle, they demand a bit more attention, and will readily reward the unfocused with a snag, a whack, and a knot. That said, they work great for stalls. Since a lot of the string is accounted for, you may want to practice with a slightly longer string than you typically play with in order to make sure you can regen out of the holds.
One of the key discoveries from a few years back that made Buckets way more useful was the Instamount concept. There are several ways to get into a bucket directly from breakaway (or a laceration). In the 2nd trick, I show one of my favorites. As the yo-yo comes around to your non throw-hand side on breakaway, use that non-throwhand index to pull a string segment out over your throwhand thumb and an adjacent segment with your throwhand middle finger. This will open up a nice little 3-string formation, and as you might guess, the one in the middle there makes a perfectly serviceable bucket. While the traditional mount can waste precious time, I can get directly into this version, even with an Imperial.
If you elect to hit the string closest to your body instead, you land in a really cool and immediate triangle. A Green Triangle is essentially a bucket mount minus one extra bend in the string. They have different feelings, but very similar DNA. The tough thing about triangles on fixed axle is that the doubled string at the bottom can easily cause a snag. This is usually easily avoided by reversing the yo-yo’s spin. It’s tough to see, but on that Instatriangle, I threw with a reverse breakaway for that reason.
Next up, we stall that Instabucket out in a trick I call Infinite Instants. I’ve shown a version of it before. In this one, I stall out an Instabucket, regenerate to a Man-Bro stall on the other side, rinse, repeat.
At :30, we get into what may be the ultimate Butterfly Horse trick, Manly Bucket. I have no idea who came up with this gem, but it was first shown to me by Danny Severance on his trusty purple FH2 in 2008. It took me awhile to get it dialed on a No Jive, but man – nothing feels better. It’s pretty easy in concept – just a totally traditional Bucket entry… only you have to do the whole setup during the breakaway. Not a huge problem with an unresponsive yo-yo, but a knuckle-seeking No Jive (or Danny’s FH2) will be dying to punish your hubristic hands before the yo-yo gets to your shoulder. It’s an exercise in control, and as the next few tricks show, it can be stalled out directly or after a hop.
At :50 I come back to another triangle. Though this is not a bucket, the wrist-whip which begets it demonstrates how closely related the elements are. I like this mount way more than the ever-present Brent Stole, but like that Instatriangle I showed earlier, this one will usually require a reverse throw on Breakaway.
Around the 1-minute mount, I start getting more interesting. My bearing play is replete with pinch-mounts (maybe that’s why I love Lunars so much), and this Pinch-n-Roll move is one of my favorite ways into a Spirit Bomb Wrist-Bucket. To hit that on a No jive, I find I have about 5-6 tries max before I need a new string. TMBR’s are certainly more forgiving.
Seth Peterson and John Bot taught me the pull-mount Bucket that leads to my trick Hyacinth at Indy States one year. It’s one of the most aesthetically interesting mounts I’ve ever seen. At 1:20, I go ahead and turn the thing upside down while stalling it out. Was kind of surprised to discover that it works! Anyway, I did the whole Hyacinth trick on 365, and again for my video Big Deal last week – which you should go watch!!!
Ladder Mounts I learned from Jeff Coons of the Millbury Crew. I think Andre does his a bit differently, but they arrive at the same place. The beauty of the Ladder is that most of the segments are actually “safe zones” which you can drop without a knot. Not so with this middle one, which is a true Bucket. (The segment from your throwhand thumb, incidentally, yields a triangle – go figure.)
I come back to Instabuckets at 1:39. It’s me this week, so there’s gotta be a Snap-Start trick. You could just as easily hit this from Forward Pass, but this has more panache! Same mount as that original Instabucket, but you gotta be ready to grab that segment to land it off a snap.
Last two tricks, I think, are pretty cool. It’s possible to Dumptruck out of a bucket, but I had a hard time coming up with a consistent example. Dumping INTO an Instaucket, however, is pretty simple and feels great. I’m calling them Dumptruckets©™®. (I heard what you said, Drew Tetz! Next year, all the kids will want to be ME!)
And finally, speaking of mashup repeaters, we have a trick I’m calling Planet Bombs. Basically, an alternation between a Wrist-Bucket stall and an undermount stall, this one has a distinctly Planet Hoppish feel on account of the no-flip regens so common to stall tricks.
Aaaaaaaand that’s it! I hope you found something you could sink your teeth into, conceptually. If you have a chance to explore some alternate concepts in the fine art of bucketry (or if you have some applications you hold dear), I hope you’ll let us know about them in the comments!