Rewind boss man Hironori Mii got his own promo video from Rewind! Hironori is one of the early World Champions of the modern era, and one of the most influential forces in yoyo contests worldwide. He knows a few tricks. 😉
As we gear up for the 2013 World Yo-Yo Contest, we take a step back to appreciate and admire the greats of years past. We will be posting the top 5 in each division in the weeks leading up to the World Yo-Yo Contest.
This time we take a look at the history of the offstring (4A) division. The inception of the style can be traced back to the 1950 Duncan instructors pushing the limits of yo-yos. Rumor has it that Duncan demonstrators would sometimes show the kids a single offstring trick—a front mount, and high toss—at demonstrations; it was intended to be just enough for the kids to try, break their yoyo, and buy another one. It wasn’t until 1990 when Dale showed a group of people the concept and Jon Gates took the style to a whole new level by introducing diabolo and Single A concepts but most importantly: the offstring bind. Later Jon collaborated with John Higby, and with the popularization of ball bearing axles and rubberized rims, Jon was able to push the boundaries another step further. After Jon led the Japanese Hyper Viper tour of 1998, which featured offstring, the style spread like wildfire. With the ground work established, players like Hironori Mii and Sky Kiyabu began to add offstring tricks to their routines. Due to the unprecedented nature of the style, offstring was initially accepted within the Single A division before being moved to the X Division and then eventually being granted its own dedicated division. Today offstring is one of the most intense divisions—any mistake can end up with a yo-yo flying off the stage. Regenerations, solo-ham, technical, whip catches and so much more—the growth from a challenge among friends to a highly competitive world-wide division remains a testimony to the creative possibilities of yo-yo and the ingenious minds who foster it.
5. Bryan Figueroa –
- 6x National Champion, 12x Regional Champion, 4x State Champion
One of the few players on these lists to not have a World title, Bryan’s six straight National titles are impossible to overlook. Dominating—which is perhaps a dramatic understatement—an extremely tough 4A division in the United States for six years, Bryan is clearly one of the greatest to play 4A. Bryan is known for his technically difficult tricks and extreme accuracy—rarely does he lose a yo-yo. With two near victories at the World stage, Bryan is a World title away from cementing his legacy further.
4. Naoto Okada –
- 2x World Champion, 3x National Champion, 4x Regional Champion
One of the four players on our list to own two World titles, Naoto is the ultimate performer. His on-stage persona is more artistic than anything else, taking yo-yoing in a direction that highlights its expressive beauty. With a number of near flawless routines to cement his extreme professionalism, Naoto never seems to disappoint. Even in the midst of a less than perfect routine, Naoto maintains his composure—something only a true performer can do.
3. Rei Iwakura –
- 2x World Champion, 1x Asia Champion, 3x National Champion, 8x Regional Champion
The curse of 4A World Champion—no one has ever won back-to-back 4A World titles and after taking the top spot at Japan Nationals, Rei has perhaps the best chance ever to accomplish this feat. And with it, he will certainly have an argument for the greatest of all time. Already one of the most out-of-the-box thinkers in yo-yo, and now incorporating his brilliant Artistic Performance routine concepts into his 4A routines, Rei is truly a master of offstring. With no end in sight after taking the top spot over Naoto and company at Japan Nationals, he only seeks to climb the list.
2. Tsubasa Onishi – /
- 2x World Champion, 2x Asia Champion, 3x National Champion, 2x Regional Champion
Tsubasa holds the interesting feat of winning both US and Japan Nationals. Not to mention his two World titles, his resume is only to be expected with the creativity he exhibits year after year. One of the few to make full combos that incorporated his ears, Tsubasa is undeniably one of the most ingenious offstring trick creators. Add in his arm stand whips & jump behind the back whips and it is clear Tsubasa belongs among the greats.
1. Eiji Okuyama –
- 2x World Champion, 1x Asia Champion, 1x National Champion, 2x Regional Champion
The first ever to capture two world titles, Eiji is the original offstring superstar. Creator of the classic trick which bears his name, Eiji Regeneration, Eiji pioneered offstring and pushed it to levels unheard of. With his signature extremely long string, Eiji was at the top of the offstring division for many years. Incorporating full arm grinds, long regeneration combos and intricate string tricks, Eiji was diverse in his repertoire; Eiji also had an aura of confidence and swagger which emanated on stage. All of these qualities came together to cement his place at the top.
Who do you think are the greatest offstring players of all time? Feel free to post your thoughts below!
As a reminder, these rankings take into consideration competitive players from around 2000 and on.
We are proud to announce that the World Yo-Yo Contest and the newly formed International Yo-Yo Federation (IYYF) are going to merge into one organization, with the IYYF taking over the running of the World Yo-Yo Contest.
IYYF is a nonprofit organization that unites national associations and is designed to become the governing body for yo-yoing as a sport. Starting in 2014 the IYYF will be responsible for hosting the World Yo-Yo Contest. After 14 years as chairman of the contest, Gregory Cohen is passing the torch to the IYYF so that, together with national yo-yo associations, the IYYF will host the WYYC in countries around the world. The planned schedule for the next four years is:
* 2013 United States of America (Orlando, Florida)
* 2014 Czech Republic (Prague)
* 2015 Japan (Tokyo)
* 2016 United States of America
The exact locations and dates of these events will be announced when they become available.
We will do our best to help the yo-yo community grow, support contests and national associations around the world and much more. You can find more information at http://iyyf.org and at http://worldyoyocontest.com
I spoke with Greg Cohen, who has been running the World YoYo Contest since 2000. “There have been a lot of discussions, and this has taken a long time. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been a fun or easy transition.” says Cohen. “But I’m supporting this move because I think it’s best for the community, and for the event. I’m excited to see the World YoYo Contest in Prague in 2014…handing it off to the Czech crew is going to be a huge moment for me at Worlds 2013 in Orlando.”
Rafael Matsunaga, president and founder of the Brazilian YoYo Association, says “I’m quite relieved we never got to a split and I’m grateful Greg approached us to talk, even if it took an unfriendly and aggressive move from IYYF to make him realize we were willing to sacrifice continuity in order to promote change.”
The World YoYo Contest has been under-fire for several years now due to the general stagnation of the event. But while plenty of people agree that it was time for the contest to evolve and change hands, others disagreed about how the change started happening.
“Personally I’m stoked to see the formation of the IYYF as both a player and sponsor of many events including the World Yo-Yo Contest,” said Brandon Jackson, National Sales & Marketing Coordinator for Duncan Toys. “Many players have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current state of the World Yo-Yo Contest and this was especially true during the 2012 event as rumors began to fly of a competing world championship to be held in Prague. The rumors created both confusion and excitement amongst players, but the consensus was that of excitement and hope of a bigger, better world championship to be held in a new location. It’s very exciting to see an uprising, especially in the yo-yo community. But it’s even more exciting to see these two organizations come together for the betterment of competition yo-yo play.”
Seth Peterson, Communications and Team Manager for YoYoFactory was a bit more reserved. “It’s interesting to hear this finally come together. It’s cool that Greg’s part of it…surprising, but good. Greg has been instrumental in a lot of different aspects of the community for a very long time. He’s been a figurehead for a lot of people in their growth in the yoyo community, and I’m glad to see that his accomplishments and gifts aren’t being thrown to the wayside by the IYYF. I think last years “Worlds13” announcement came as a surprise to a lot of people, including people who were involved in the goal of moving the contest. I don’t think the way it was presented was to anyone’s benefit, but I’m glad that its been resolved in a way that is clearly moving the event forward. It was hard for me to see the way that Greg was being treated, in spite of my own hopes of moving the contest. I have a lot of respect for Greg and what he’s done, even if we didn’t always agree on aspects of the event.”
There’s certainly still a lot of work to be done, and lots more detail that we’re waiting to see before anyone can really determine if this move will help the event. But I’ve been assured that the IYYF will be an open and transparent organization, with elected board members and representatives from all countries with national organizations given room to speak and contribute.
We’ll continue reporting on this as more information becomes available but in the meantime we offer our congratulations to the IYYF and all involved in this huge step forward for the World YoYo Contest and hopefully all other major contests worldwide.
This week’s YoYoRadio broadcast will feature an interview with Ondrej Sedivy, Rafael Matsunaga and Hironori Mii. The three international yoyoers will make an announcement on YoYoRadio about the future of the hotly-contested World Yo-Yo Contest, and YoYoRadio will be the first place they will make this announcement.
Looks like we’re finally going to get some answers to the tremendous number of questions raised by the announcement last August that a group of yoyo players were actively working towards creating a rival World YoYo Contest after several years of failed negotiations with the current World YoYo Contest organizer to improve and move the event.
The current World YoYo Contest has been stagnant for quite a few years now, and while a great deal of thanks are due to Greg Cohen, who took over the contest more than a decade ago, it’s clear that it’s now time for the event to evolve beyond what is currently being offered. While the manner in which this “takeover” was held was certainly counterproductive, no one can deny that hiding the contest away in a hotel ballroom for the past decade hasn’t helped the sport or industry in the slightest. We’re greatly looking forward to hearing this broadcast, and will be tuned in with everyone else to find out what is happening.
YoYoRadio is the world’s first internet radio show by and for yoyoers. Started in 2005, YoYoRadio broadcasts live each Friday at 9:30 pm (EST). Listeners can listen live and/or download the one hour show after the fact. To listen to the live show, click the ‘Listen Now’ tab at YoYoRadio.net between 9:30 pm and 11 pm (EST) on Fridays. To listen to previous shows, click the ‘Show Archive’ Tab at YoYoRadio.net. Listeners can call the show via Skype (yoyoradio) or via phone (302) 319-9696.