I started with a Reflex. My objective when getting into this was to have some near instant results and help gear things in the direction of success to build initial confidence. Of course, I was coming off a failure that was over 30 years ago with the yoyo. While that failure didn’t keep me away from yoyo for so long, the drive to finally be able to play one finally really surfaced.
After the Reflex, I was playing an Imperial bought at the same time, mostly to reinforce what the Reflex was teaching me. Just being able to throw and tug it back without a “safety net” was a huge source of satisfaction. I was playing the Imperial while I waited for my DM2 that I ordered to arrive. I played the DM2 responsive for about 3 months before swapping the bearing and learning to bind.
I started responsive. Not too bad for starting out without any real help except for internet videos. That’s really why I bought the Reflex to start with, because I felt I’d be alone in learning this. My first 10 months were pretty much me on my own.
My experience does color my thougthts. I feel that new players should start off with responsive play. I think there’s tremendous satisfaction from throwing the yoyo down, having it sleep at the bottom of the string, and then tugging it back up. Building from that as quickly as one can progress. Learning the simple beginner tricks with a responsive yoyo really helps build some good fundamentals. We have to lay down that foundation. I don’t care if it takes someone 4 months like it was for me to get from responsive to unresponsive or a couple of hours, I think responsive is the way to start.
Again, I started on my own. All I knew was responsive play because I am older and I was rather ignorant on yoyo as it had evolved a ton since 1977. You throw it down, you tug it back when you’re done.
Having someone around to show you how to do things is a big help. Having a responsive yoyo handy is a good thing. You can use it to refine what you’ve learned and help make you play better. Having a responsive yoyo around is easier to put into a beginner’s hand so they have that same sense of initial success and satisfaction. People don’t want to learn a “trick” just to bring the yoyo back to their hand. Not yet anyways. Now, if you can show a new person(and/or their parental unit) the difference between responsive play and unresponsive play, now things can start to make sense.
I don’t see any problem with learning unresponsive. I do feel that by not learning responsive play, people are missing out on what I feel is an essential part of yoyo play. I am friends with people who are doing a series of “beginner videos” that are based around beginners and unresponsive play. Their logic and reasoning is that “if you want to learn this responsive stuff, go somewhere else”, which actually, I do agree with. However, they aren’t starting with the bind either. Their videos are assuming you know how to bind.
Responsive play hasn’t gone away. The narrow gaps in off-strings can allow them to play responsive. 2A requires responsive performance. The new fixed axle and wood axle sub-set is based around the concept of having to play responsive. YYJ sells a good number of yoyos at various price points that ship with a slim bearing for responsive play pre-installed, and of course the wider bearing already in the box for changing to unresponsive play. YYJ ships the Classic responsive only, yet it can be upgraded to an unresponsive yoyo. YYF offers the ONE as initially responsive. Duncan still makes the Butterfly and Imperial, which are also responsive. YYF makes the Velocity with an adjustable gap for making it as responsive or unresponsive as you want.
I have a ONE I keep responsive and one unresponsive. Of my 7 Classics, two are kept responsive and one of those two are kept completely stock.
I prefer unresponsive play. I do appreciate my responsive play start.