I consider myself a “Jack of all Trades, Master of Astrojax” kinda guy when it comes to the skill toy world. Astrojax may be my primary focus, but I'm proficient with many other skill toys as well. Astrojax was the second skill toy I learned how to use (yoyos were my first), so I picked up a whole lot of others after learning Astrojax. What I’d like to share with you today are the skill toys I’ve found easy to pick up after learning Astrojax. Because Astrojax served as a 'gateway toy' of sorts, this seemed like a great opportunity to point out some other toys that you can cross-train with as you refine your skill toy techniques. As it's not uncommon for a player proficient in one toy to gravitate toward another skill toy I thought this would be a fun post to share with you today.
First, let's take a look at poi;
Poi is described as the art of spinning tethered balls in an artistic fashion. Essentially, it’s the art of spinning stuff in beautiful patterns. It’s got a very zen-like feel and if done to the right music, it’s a wonderful stress reliever. The moves in poi are called “Patterns” since most (if not all) poi moves are continuous, so patterns develop.
Poi spinning is very easy to pick up especially if your jaxing style involves a lot of powerplay, or full-string, moves. I don’t consider poi a “toy” but more like an “apparatus” or extension of one’s body movements.
One of the reasons why Astrojax relates easily to Poi is because, well, Astrojax can be used exactly as you use poi! You can hold one end ball, and swing the two-ball end in the various poi patterns. (Using Saturn balls can mimic a great set of light-poi as well). There are numerous instructional poi videos, but Playpoi.com has the best in my opinion (YouTube handle: Meenik ) whereas he has the videos I use to learn new patterns/moves.
Once you've learned how to spin poi with your Astrojax, you are ready to either pick up a set, or make a set of "sock poi" using two soccer-socks (or your sister’s knee-length socks) and a pair of tennis balls. US Astrojax actually sell three great sets of Kite Poi (Poi with streamers on the end, two regular sized ones, and one set for younger children) and the Boing Swing can be used as poi (I use Boing Swing with extensions tied to them so I can make the spin radius longer).
Because Astrojax combines features of the yo-yo, juggling balls, the lasso, poi and many others and we've already taken a look at poi, let's check out the 5A Yoyo style.
The 5A style of yoyo is also referred to as a “Counter Weight” style of yo-yoing. In this style, the part of the string that is usually tied to your finger is tied to a counterweight. This allows one more degree of freedom and opens up a whole new set of tricks that can be done by manipulating the counterweight. I do not claim to be extremely good at this style, since I only can do the basics, it’s easy to see how many Astrojax moves can be incorporated into this style by looking at the professionals.
Notice how he basically starts with a horizontal Thriller move?? And then he proceeds to blow your mind!!
Now, what do you need to get into this style? Well, for starters, you need a yoyo. Basically, you’d want a standard butterfly shape metal bearing yoyo. (Sadly, Plastic bearings have a hard time with this style due to the small spin time) After that, you need a counterweight. Now what can we use…. wait a second, let’s use ASTROJAX!!! (since, obviously, you should have a ball or two lying around) Best way to put the ball on the string is to take the string off the yoyo, thread the yoyo-end through the center of the Jax ball and let the ball slide to the knot-side of the string. Take the yoyo-end of the string and thread it through the loop at the knot end of the string. After that, attach the string back to the yoyo.
Once again, I’d recommend looking up videos on YouTube on how to start the 5A style since there are others much better than I that can explain the basics. However, when you start learning moves, look to practicing first with Astrojax since the string length and weight distribution are roughly the same as a yoyo. The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about the throw, and landing the yoyo on the string. Get the basics down with Astrojax, then transition to the yoyo.
These are two of the most prominent gateways to other skill toys. By taking the time to use Astrojax, you learn how to visualize moves and become creative. This is very useful when picking up any other skill toy. Through hard work and that big word called “perseverance” (that’s a big word for a non English major!) you can pick up any other toy you set your heart on!
If you're interested in learning a new skill toy, feel free to mention it in the comments section, or post it on the AP-Club.net forum under the “General Discussion Skill Toys” section, and I’ll be glad to share what I know. For reference, here’s a list of the other toys I'm proficient with that I'd be happy to talk about.
Diabolo, Gyro-ring, Kendama, Shaker Cups, Juggling (3 balls/3 rings), Meteors, Flower stix/Devil Stix, Bolero (Mexican version of Kendama)
Until next time folks, this is Theferrell, signing out.