Ok, so. You may be asking yourself why are we talking about vertical orbits? Do vertical orbits even matter?
This was a topic that was brought up by the father of Astrojax, Larry Shaw, one day at AP-Club. We had an in-depth discussion about the weight of vertical orbits as it relates to AJ play and for some reason, this topic has seemed to stick out in my mind above any other. And while the unanimous answer was "Yes, they matter!", the question still lingered (longer) in my mind.
If you were to know anything about me (besides my affinity for rambling and using the word "avid"), you would know that I'm very much the deep-minded thinker type (whatever that means). Basically, AJ play is more than just play. It's a lifestyle. It's a form of meditation. And simply, it is indeed play. But when you combine all those aspects into one, you start to ponder things like "do vertical orbits matter" at a deep level that would make Ghandi say "whoa". I mean, seriously. We're talking the equivalent of asking a yo-yo player "does it matter if the yoyo spins at the rate of a ga-gillion miles per hour in order to do your awesome tricks?"
Vertical orbits matter.
And I think the reason I have pondered this for so long is because of the question. You know the question all you Jaxologists out there. The one that makes you stumble over your words and go, "well, uh..."
The question: "What are those things?"
If you're prone to busting out your AJ's in public, you're guaranteed this question. The simple answer, "Oh, these? These are Astrojax!", leads to the inevitable follow-up.
"So, what are they?" (yeah, pretty much the same question as the first one because they want an explanation).
And begins the stuttering.
"So, these... uh... Astrojax are... uh... three balls... on a string. Are you following me. And you sort of do this... (here you show them some amazing trick like a reverse fabulous that you NAILED over and over again in solo practice but cannot seem to pull off fluidly when it counts)."
"It's like a yo-yo..." (I think that's how I've started over 99% of this conversation - it's nothing like a yoyo really). "Do you know what a skill toy is..."
And on and on. Looking for the words. Coming up short. What do you say? "I'm controlling the chaos, MAN!" That doesn't go over to well.
So, after many attempts at coming up with the perfect words, I found the key word.
We orbit. We spin. 99% of the tricks we do involve orbiting in some fashion. You think this would pretty obvious (it wasn't to me), with tricks like vertical ORBIT, horizontal ORBIT, butterfly ORBIT,... you get my drift. Larry gave us the answer from the get-go. Now I know that the latest Astrojax, the MX, is marketed as "the free-dimensional swinging ball toy", but to say this is an orbiting skill toy is so much shorter and has some punch just by using that word orbit. You say orbit, you think something grand, something colossal like what planets do. You say swing, you think, kids swinging at the park. It just didn't feel right constantly saying "I'm just swinging my balls around" (See: parents rushing their children away from questionable skill toy weirdo).
All joking aside, at the heart of the matter, we orbit. Take some time when you play next and consider each trick you do. Observe how each trick contains some form of an orbit. Even lollies, though they look like they're shooting straight out in any which way, have quick quarter or half orbits.
So why am I saying all this? Why all the hubbub about orbits and if they matter? Because they do. It gives us a powerful word to extend our Astrojax community to potential new members. To market to them, yes, but to let people know what we do.
As far as vertical orbits? Well, when you start stringing tricks together, weaving from one trick to another, a good percentage of the time you will end up in some variation of a vertical orbit. It's the easiest orbit to drop into. It's the equivalent of the yo-yo player's sleeper. It's the first trick you learn and the one trick that quickly becomes your foundation.
So consider it. Learn it. Master it. Blend it. Weave it. Make it your own. And make the word orbit become powerful prose in your conversation with others when they ask, "what are those things?"