David Ung was awesome enough to put together this great clip video showcase of the Fixed Axle Throwdown from the 2012 World YoYo Contest. Be sure to check out Ed Haponik’s amazing kendo catch at 1:52.
Isaac Sams & Zach Gormley have had a big year. The two sixteen-year-olds have been blowing minds at contests for a few years, but made waves in 2012 by launching Innovation Movement, a project based on furthering yo-yo tricks through exclusive videos and player spotlights.
Things only went up from there, with Isaac earning top marks at Triple Crown Chicago, his first 1A championship title, and Zach winning the US National Yo-Yo Contest with one of the best freestyles the country’s ever seen.
Besides that, though, America’s favorite young guns are also best buds, great trick theorists, and the nice kind of fellas you wish your little sister would meet. I caught up with the dynamic duo and got them to talk a little bit about favorite players, good tricks, and the future of Innovation Movement. –Drew Tetz
Hey dudes! Thanks so much for being the first Yoyonews interview, I’m psyched.
Zach Gormley: I’m really pumped! Thanks a bunch for thinking about us.
Isaac Sams: WOOP WOOOOP. I’ll try to make my explanations as short as I can, but sometimes I cant help myself I just LOVE YO-YOZ.
Let’s start out with an easy one: Who are some of your favorite players, and why?
Isaac: I have way too many favorite yo-yo people, so here’s my favorite three.
#1: Sid Seed: He’s been my favorite ever since I watched Kaibun for the first time, back in the day. When I think of words like innovation, style, icy, sexy, and perfection, I think of my brotha, $id. No one has tricks like him, and nobody ever will. Rodrigo Sid Seed Pires = KING
#2: Zach Gormley: #2 on my favorites list but #1 in my heart is my dude Zach. This fella won nationals doing the most difficult tricks ever seen on stage. In regards to arm tricks, it comes down to him and Ando. In my honest opinion, Zach is the best all around player at the moment.
#3: Yuuki Spencer: Needs no explanation.
Zach: Anthony – The trick artist; He makes bizarre elements you would never think of, and gets them to look good, too, it’s not just weird nonsense. He’s not just good at body tricks, he’s good at everything. The videos he put up in 2008 are still way better than pretty much anyone who is big right now.
Charles – His flow is unreal and his motions are on top of the worlddd. Plus, his typical “cool guy” stage presence makes his performances very swanky.
Isaac – Best buddy. Swell guy. Tech Master. Straitjacket King. Kendama pro. Super unique player, need I say more? He’s got some baller floral shirts, too, paired with those Escolar shoes… cough Triple Crown Champ cough
Shinnosuke Miyamoto – On Yuuki’s genius tech level with his own unique flow. Show him one of my tricks and he does it from the wrong mount somehow some way. Tell him it’s done from a different mount, and he does it with no explanation needed.
Tatsuya Fujisaka – Just like this guy’s tech as well. Tech is my weak point when it comes to getting me to like people. Handsome fella and nice flow.
No particular order, of course.
What does your trick/combo creation process usually look like?
Zach: Oh man, trick creation is kind of a nightmare, haha.
Isaac: I list segments/elements/concepts that I stumble on, and eventually try to piece together combos with them. I never force myself into creating a new trick, because I feel like my best tricks are made when I’m not trying. One tip I would give to any yo-yoer who’s having trouble making up new tricks is to take a break from learning and start creating.
Zach: Yeah, that all sounds good.
Isaac: I could’ve drawn out my answer lots more but I don’t want people to find out that I’m crazy.
Zach: When I stumble across a good element I typically make 2 or 3 variations of the element itself and pick the best so the element can reach its full potential. From there, I look at starting and ending mounts of different tricks/elements and piece them together like a puzzle – say one of my elements I notice ends in double or nothing, so I look at another trick and if I see it starts with a double or nothing I’ll put them together to make a combo that flows well and is good for comps.
The question is always brought up on how you stumble upon a good element/trick (use stumbleupon, duh.) I think that people that are stuck in a slump just never change what they are doing when they try and come up with something, thus nothing changes. It’s like saying you want to sell more shoes but change nothing about your shoes/marketing to get people excited for it. So what I recommend for coming up with elements is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Use mounts you normally wouldn’t, and try and mimic a motion you would normally do in a trapeze in a double or nothing instead. Maybe yo-yo outside instead of inside, that tends to help me a lot. Lastly, take a break. I don’t know why it works, but taking a break really helps you come up with new tricks. You start with a kind of fresh mind set, I guess haha.
What do you think makes a good trick?
Isaac: I think a good trick (or even routine) should be in a similar structure as an essay, and I think I learned that from Zach, who learned it from Sebby – shout out to one of my favorite yo-yoers and people in the yo-yo community, btw. An introduction that catches attention, and then leads to the climax of the trick. I’ve learned that it’s very important to end your trick well, instead of just easily dismounting and binding.
Zach: Yeah, the words of Sebby, haha. That’s what I tried working with in my Nats freestyle, so it worked pretty well.
Let’s talk about InnMov: you guys had an amazing first year with a ton of great videos. What were some of your favorite moments from this year, and what are some of your plans for next year?
Isaac: Most of my favorite moments revolve around the beginning of IM, when Zach and I began making an outline of what our project was going to be. Asking you to make the logo, featuring players like Mark Mangarin and Ivan Maslin, creating a Facebook page, and making our first clip videos were important factors of the movement. Seeing Zach win nationals was pretty awesome too, since I’ve known that rascal since ’07, and I watched him go through that routine on Skype at least 1,000 times.
Zach: I don’t know if 1,000 times is quite accurate. More like 15, hahaha. But let’s just keep it at 1,000.
Isaac: Hahaha, whatever Zach, somewhere in-between. As far as future plans go, we’d like to make contest clip videos, spiffy interviews, IM accessories (omg stickers and more), and even apparel. By this coming spring, we’re going to host an online contest, so be sure to watch out for that…
So excited to see the things to come. It’s pretty rad that you two are such good friends, your split video from this summer was easily one of my favorites of the year. How has yo-yoing with each other affected your own personal yo-yoing?
Isaac: Thanks dawg, things only gon’ get betta now. Hopefully next summer’s video will be even better muahaha (#hype.)
Zach: Every time Isaac makes a new video I crap my pants, and he makes a lot of new videos. So I quite frequently have to do the laundry. Isaac is just mind blowing at tech. if you look at some of my newer tech tricks, you can find some Isaac-inspired things in 1 or 2 of ’em.
Isaac: Since Zach’s been doing so well at contests lately, it makes me feel obligated to do the same to stay caught up, haha. Although I don’t think my tricks really look like it, a lot of them, especially bangers/arm tricks, are inspired by him.
In closing, what do you want to see in yo-yoing in 2013?
Isaac: I’d like to see IM grow, Zach win Worlds, and Duncan Crew take over the world!
Zach: Haha, CLYW is gonna take over the community, you can go ahead and take over the world.
Zach is sponsored by CLYW, and his signature yo-yo the Arctic Circle is already on its fourth run. Isaac is a member of Duncan Crew USA. I like to call them “Duke Sams & Count Gormley” but I don’t know if they actually respond to that or not.
Drew Tetz just won the whole wide world with this video. Crazy improvised fixed axle stalls on a Duncan Butterfly. Brilliant.
A bundle of new fixed axle tricks on a Butterfly, including some planebreaking tech stuff, a broadway stall, and the first ever heelflip suicide. Practice up for next week’s fixed friday! Launched under the banner of the mighty Lil’ Scrappy Fetus Crew, whose other members have just released some new music.
A yo-yo trick can be as simple or as complicated as you let it. Many players like to elevate their craft by pushing tricks in previously unseen directions, exploring nuances in presentation, inventing new styles, or breaking the contest system wide open. Let’s take a closer look at some tricks from world champion Hank Freeman.
Hank is well known throughout the community for his smooth style, unique tricks, and complete dominance of the American 3A scene. He is generally considered to be one of the best (in my opinion, THE best) 3A players in the world, and his back-to-back world titles support this. He’s also a fiend for good ramen and knows all the words to “Rappin’ Duke” – but enough about that, let’s get to the tricks. Specifically, let’s look at some of his signature quickmounts.
The blueline mount is a standard in 3A, and the basic form of blueline rolls is one of the first tricks that 3A players learn. Hank kicks the trick twenty years into the future by performing all the steps at once, performing what is called a “quickmount”.
In his 2012 title-winning freestyle, a full half of his combos opened with quickmounts. This is significant for a few reasons:
- By throwing straight into a mount, he shaves off a good 3-6 seconds that 3A players are used to spending on individual throws. Those seconds add up, and being able to start every trick sequence with a quickmount could open up enough room for a whole new combo in the freestyle.
- Opening with a quickmount gives the trick a sense of momentum that can be difficult to capture in a slow-moving style like 3A. Not only does it grab the audience’s attention and set a strong pace, but it can actually make certain tricks (like some of Hank’s double zipper sequence) easier than starting from a dead stop.
- Hank’s quickmounts are astonishingly difficult, and are scored accordingly. Hitting a quickmount right at the beginning of a sequence guarantees you 5-10 extra clicks right off the top, essentially giving you an extra banger every time you throw.
- They look freakin’ sweet. I mean, c’mon, it’s just like “pow” and you’re all like “woahhhh” and Hank’s like “yeah man.”
As you can imagine, these tricks can take years of practice, and are only just beginning to show up even at the top level of play. With high level players like Ken Takabayashi, Taiichiro Higashi, and Yasuki Tachibana integrating them more and more, though, it’s easy to see that quickmounts are marking a paradigm shift in 3A. Hank has expressed a desire to begin every trick in his 2013 freestyle with a quickmount, and it’s not hard to imagine them becoming as standard as the double trapeze sequence is now… provided that any of us can ever catch up to Hank.
As a bonus, let’s take a look back at some of Hank’s b-sides (and some quickmounts from yours truly) in the 2011 pure 3A clip “Chos”.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND FURTHER READING: Remember when Jensen did his Worlds 2011 Freestyle in one throw? You know how weird and amazing Christopher Chia’s regens are? Will regen- and stall-heavy one throw freestyles eventually become the norm in 1A freestyles as contests become closer and closer and competitors cram as many points in as they can? Are 3A regens ever going to become feasible? Can anybody tell me how to do Velvet Quickmount without hitting myself in the face? Talk about it in the comments below!
When I asked Drew why he likes to make toys, he said that he believes design should be enjoyed. “Toys are disarming because you just want to play with them,” Drew says “and that element of play can lead to a strong bond with the object that you might not see from a more static sculpture.”
It’s great to see Drew being recognized outside of the yoyo community for his extraordinary creativity, and we really can’t wait for his flatpack yoyos and kendamas to become available. See below for a video of Drew’s flatpack kendama in action.
2011 saw National Master Steve Brown present us one yo-yo trick a day at the 365 Yo-Yo Tricks project. Next year Steve is ramping up the project by making it a team effort, with an incredibly diverse and remarkable roster. From YoyoFactory, in addition to Steve Brown himself, David Ung will be showing off his tricks, which are mostly seen in his amazing clip videos. This will be a great chance to catch up with David’s tricks, as he’s seldom seen freestyling at contests.
Finally, Drew Tetz of Duncan Crew will also be part of the roster. Drew, who’s always been a trick creation enthusiast, he used to run a now-defunct YouTube channel filled with single trick videos, and will no doubt have plenty of new material for the project. We caught up with Steve Brown himself to talk a little more about this very welcome surprise:
YoYoNews: Thanks for taking the time for this little chat, Steve!
Steve Brown: I always have time for my funk soul brother from another mother.
YN: That’s quite a crew you got on board! When did you decide you wanted 365 Yo-Yo Tricks to become a multi-man project?
SB: A couple of months ago I started thinking about the project, and realized I needed to make a decision…was I going to just end it when I hit the last trick, or keep going? I’ve put so much work in to the whole thing this past year…but at the same time it’s been a MASSIVE time drain for me and I haven’t made any money off it. The actual video editing and uploading is the easy part…finding time to spend an hour or two every day to make up a new trick isn’t easy for me at all. I’ve got two kids, two small businesses that I’m trying to get off the ground, the Triple Crown of YoYo, and a beautiful wife who prefers to spend time with me instead of just seeing the back of my head while I’m sitting at my desk.
After thinking about it for a while I realized that I didn’t want the project to end, but I really needed help. And after winning the Trick Innovator Award and seeing people come out of the woodwork to tell me that my tricks suck and that I’m no good anymore, I have to admit…I was really rattled by that. I’ve been a professional yo-yo player since 1995…that’s 16 years. Hearing that kind of crap, especially from a bunch of people who have been around half as long as I have (or less), really stung. So I decided that I needed help with the trick creation, I wanted to take some of the focus off myself because I’m sick of being a target, and I wanted to expand the project beyond just being another piece of vanity on the web.
At that point, the only logical decision was the bring in more people. It helps me with the workload, gives the viewers a wider variety of tricks, gives me a chance to show off how awesome some of my friends are, and still accomplishes the same goal of giving yo-yo players a new trick, every day.
YN: Why these players?
SB: David Ung’s video “Broke” was amazing. The way he started and ended every single trick with a trapeze, the pacing, the flow, the style…I loved every bit of it. I had the same reaction that Ben McPhee did…I had to stop in the middle and catch my breath because it was just so much to take in. I’ve always known he was a really good player, but that video specifically sealed the deal for me.
Drew Tetz has been doing some absolutely amazing counterweight stuff for the past year, and some of his wrap concepts really are next level. He also has a style that’s really effortless but earnest…when you watch him play you know he’s working hard but you know he’s really enjoying it. It’s a neat combination, and the end result is a player that I can watch all day long and never get tired. I also like that Drew is local, which means if he doesn’t get me his videos in time I can show up at his apartment and completely ruin his day.
I defy anyone to come up with a single valid reason why Ed Haponik is not one of the most inspiring and awesome yo-yo players in the world. If you don’t love watching Ed play, then you don’t love yo-yos. Ed will be completely mortified and embarrassed by this…which is part of why we love him. And his personal challenge to only throw a custom-built wooden yo-yo for the entire year is pretty awesome. I can’t imagine limiting myself to just one throw for an entire year, so I’m really looking forward to see how he does with it.
I’ve known Nate for a really long time. I was doing a demo many years ago at A-2-Z Science and Learning Center in Northampton, MASS and the original Freehand was the hot yo-yo at the time. I had a couple of rare colors of them in my bag and announced “Best trick wins one of these. Go!”. All the kids came up and showed me the hardest trick they knew, and for anyone who knows me you know that I didn’t care at all. Then Nate came up and said “I’ve got something”…he threw a suicide, but grabbed the loop as it came around his throw hand so the loop never actually flew across….and stuck out his catching finger anyway, and looked at it. We all looked immediately at the catching finger, and it took a full 5 seconds before any looked at his throw hand to figure out where the loop went. It was brilliant, and hilarious, and perfectly executed. I handed over the yo-yo immediately, and have kept an eye on Nate ever since.
I love watching Sebby play, and every time he picks up a yo-yo I feel like something incredible is going to happen. His freestyle at Worlds 2011 was my absolute favorite of the year, and to me it really highlighted everything that I love about watching him play. He’s got a really casual style, and when he’s nailing his tricks he tends to pace, but tightly wound like a panther. His tricks are all built around singular concepts, and even his combos will always revolve around getting into and out of one particular movement that defines the larger sequence. His style and creativity are exactly what I always hope my one tricks look like to other people, and what I see in him forces me to re-evaluate what I do and try to make it better.
YN: Do you plan on having a new roster every year?
SB: Yes, although it’s almost impossible for me to think about saying goodbye to any of these guys before we’ve even started. But I think for the project to really push creativity and keep people interested, a new roster every year is the best way to go.
YN: What else is changing in 2012 for 365 Yo-Yo Tricks?
SB: Some people have noticed that I’ve started posting the videos from my Vimeo account instead of YouTube. They’re still going up on YouTube for now, but starting in 2012 they will ONLY be uploaded to Vimeo. It’s a better quality service and I’ve had tons of copyright issues with YouTube…having content taken down for using music that I actually had the rights to use, having audio deleted without any notification, and the fact that if you do use a piece of music that gets flagged as a copyright violation, they don’t offer you even the smallest window to delete it yourself and avoid penalty. I’ve used songs from my friends bands that I wasn’t aware had been licensed out to a larger company for something, and gotten a copyright strike…even though I submitted documentation from the band that said I had permission. I just hate the way YouTube handles all that stuff and Vimeo seems way more artist-friendly.
I’m also in the process of upgrading the site and moving from Tumblr to WordPress. I’ll keep the Tumblr active and probably mirror the posts to there, but the main site will be moving to WordPress, and I’m working on organizing the tricks better to be more of a searchable database.
YoYoExpert.com has come on board as a sponsor and provided some nice perks for the players that I’m pretty excited about, and all the manufacturers involved seem excited about helping to promote the project. Most of the changes really are just technical, though…behind the scenes stuff that is going to be a huge time-suck for me but will ultimately make it a lot easier for the fans to enjoy what we’re creating.
YN: Thanks for your time, Steve! We’re looking forward to seeing yet another full year of yo-yo goodness!
SB: Thanks for the interview!
Be sure to tisit 365 Yo-yo Tricks’ players page for full bios of the new team and more information about the project!