Beginning Responsive vs. Unresponsive


I did, and explained how it came about.

Wrong. Maybe you can’t or could not have, but I’ve done just fine.


Based on your logic, everyone should start with a fixed axle that can’t sleep at all, then move to a sleeping responsive yoyo.

If I had bought my first yoyo after the advent of unresponsive, I would have bought an unresponsive.


If I had started with a fixed axle yoyo that couldn’t sleep, I wouldn’t be here now. I would have quit the first few days I tried to really get into this.

However, I think he meant that he’d rather watch people who started out responsive and know what that’s all about, rather than some kid starting unresponsive and not knowing where yoyo came from.

With unresponsive being the norm, responsive is for noobs and novelty, or the retro-trending and nostalgia purposes, as well as additional challenge. At some point in the next few years, it’s going to be hard to convince anyone to start with responsive play unless some of us, acting as instructors, will insist upon it.


I personally don’t think starting on responsive is a must, even though that’s what I did. In fact, I’ve always argued that you should start wherever your interests are piqued, as that’s the way you’ll be inspired to learn.

Interesting point, though: I’ve taught several people to bind, most of them non-yoyoers. They didn’t even have a background in responsive yoyos from their childhood. And they did OK after some hours of teaching a correct throw and then working on the bind itself. But then yesterday an old high school friend of mine was at a BBQ, and asked to see my yoyo. He threw a rather decent throw and then said, “OK, how do I get it back up now?”

Showed him threading the string across the front, holding the loop, and pulling back with the throw hand. He had a bind on his second attempt. (The first one, he didn’t pinch the loop long enough so the whole thing slipped)

Now, I’m not saying it was a responsive background that helped… but what helped was a familiarity with how to throw a straight sleeper. If you learn on responsive, it’s a bit less frustrating to learn that straight, strong throw because it’s easier to get the yoyo back to your hand for repeated efforts, especially if you learn a hand start early on. :wink: Now, I don’t think that means you need to learn all the responsive tricks before moving on. But a decent throw will help no matter what.

On the whole, I think you should start either way. I don’t think responsive is a must. But I can see how it could be seen as helpful.


Doubters: list your top five smoothest players of all time. Now go ask them whether you should be learning responsive or not.

How do you think guys like Yuuki, Danny and Adam got so good? Knowing the way their yoyos and tricks work inside and out. Countless hours of bashing their knuckles against Freehands.

Picking up an unresponsive yoyo without a solid understanding of how to use a responsive yoyo makes for not good players.


I kind of agree with GregP. I think starting on a responsive is easier. I also agree with Studio42 in that I would have never stuck with it with a non-sleeping yoyo. In fact, I would have never stuck with it without a ball bearing. I got an imperial as a kid, and probably played with it less than 2 hours total, yet when I got my SB-2, I loved it.

As for “knowing what that’s all about,” I’m not sure I know what that’s all about. I had an imperial in the '80s, an SB-2 in the '90s and now a bunch of unresponsives. I worked my way through all the beginner and intermediate tricks, including the ones requiring a responsive throw, and even like to keep one of my classics responsive, and plan on getting a new responsive SB-2 if I can’t turn up my old one this fall, but I must admit, the yoyo has moved on, and I prefer unresponsive 99%+ of the time, even if I’m doing brain twisters or split the atom or other tricks that could be done on a responsive throw. It is just that technology has moved on. Yoyos are more fun now.

I’m not sure what is gained by going backwards. We don’t make kids learn to drive a stick shift to get their license, though this knowledge is certainly good to have. Learning computers no longer requires knowledge of programming or command lines, where as that used to be a prerequisite. I think it is ok to start from the current state of the art, that’s where the next innovation comes from. iprefer looking forward, not back.


Mikers, the argument falls apart unless you believe that ALL good players start responsive. None of us have an encyclopedic knowledge, but you can imagine that there’s at least one good player out there (some of the young players on the C3 team, maybe?) who have never played responsive, or at least didn’t try until after starting on unresponsive.

And since it’s so easy to imagine that there are such players (even without contacting all of them and asking), the argument that all good players start responsive is a touch on the weak side.

And the great thing about counter-argument is that all it takes is one. All someone would need is ONE good player who started unresponsive and your argument is invalid.


I would be surprised if this is true.

THis part is true:
“How do you think guys like Yuuki, Danny and Adam got so good? Knowing the way their yoyos and tricks work inside and out. Countless hours of bashing their knuckles against …”

Countless hours. putting in the time, working at improvement and building muscle memory.

I don’t think the fact that they started with a responsive yoyo made them better. Look at all the people who start with responsive yoyos that are not good at all (like me).


There’s an exception to every rule, some people are born to yoyo. Most have to learn.

However, 90% of every “under one year” video I see, is total crap compared to the ones coming out five years ago. As our technology advances, more people get involved due to it being easier to get tricks done(not learned, done), but our overall skill and knowledge decreases from taking the easy way in.


You were the only “unresponsive” reply, and I’d have a few questions to clarify. I guess that’s why I solicited more responses from other “unresponsive” people. To clarify, are you saying that you bought the unresponsive yo-yo because you liked the tricks much better that you had seen done with the unresponsive yo-yo, and you wanted to go straight to those? I guess your answer just didn’t start at the point when you were deciding what yo-yo you should buy…and why you were shopping for that yo-yo. In order to figure out that the metal was more stable and forgiving for you, you had to buy it first and play with it. Had a friend told you this? I guess I’m just curious about why you sought out an unresponsive metal that first time out. Your response just stated that you bought a metal, enjoyed the bind, and found the metal more forgiving and stable and so on, and you have no regrets. I’d just like you to back your response up a tad bit, to tell us what was going through your mind before you made the purchase of a metal the first time out. Thanks for the response, it will help satisfy my curiosity.

In regard to the other discussion taking place, I think it is just fine if people want to start unresponsive. I never thought it would hinder people. I personally, think that history has value, so starting my play responsive was important to me…for my experience. That is not necessarily true for others.

Mikers, have you found that people you think don’t play so well, also started out unresponsive? I’ll be honest, most people play better than me, so I don’t ask them anyway. Perhaps Mikers has asked them, and learned that there is a pattern, in his opinion. I’m curious to hear about it, if that is so. Where I stand is, if he asked people who stink at yo-yo how they started, and they all said “unresponsive,” that might mean something toward this discussion. I have not asked anyone, so I have insufficient information to draw any conclusions on this.


I don’t mean to be overly harsh towards Mikers, but I work with stats for aliving. People always see connections in their mind and attribute causality to them. Even if he had enough data to form a significant statistical correlation (which I doubt he does), there is no way he has the methodological understanding to attribute a causal relationship.

I’d bet the singe best predictor of yoyo skill is number of hours spent in practice with focus on improving. That tends to be the best predictor of just about every skill. Natural talent is quickly outpaced by mindful practice. The combination of the two can be incredible.


I don’t need to work with statistics for a living to see that there are more players now, but less of those players are good.
Maybe you need to take a break from your methodological understanding and learn to proofread.

My opinion has been formed over almost a decade of reading these forums, TotalArtist. I’ve watched numerous people start playing yoyo, both in person and via the internet. Starting unresponsive leads to poor, sloppy, choppy, unappealing play. Nobody can tell you how to be smooth, you can’t read it, you have to figure it out.

Oh, and what happens when they practice something wrong for a number of hours? Well, an unresponsive yoyo isn’t going to let you know, but a responsive one will.

I’d rather have a bloody knuckle and only know five tricks than poor technique while being able to go through the motions of twenty.


I don’t think you were harsh at all. I’d agree that from a “statistical” or factual perspective, he would not have any evidence through his personal observations. But, I would give him credit for having an “opinion” worthy of some consideration toward this discussion, if he was asking the yo-yoers who stink how they started out. I think asking them, rather than watching Youtube to presume they must have skipped responsive play, may not be the best way to form the opinion. But, if he has been asking, I think his opinion is a credible “opinion.” It does not make it a fact, but an opinion worth hearing toward this. I never look at beginner yo-yoers and think, “wow, that kid really stinks at yo-yo.” I just presume they are new, have not practiced as much, or other things that might contribute to their lack of skill. I’ve never thought, “Yikes, he must have started with an unresponsive yo-yo…he doesn’t have a clue.” :smiley:

I agree RobK about the single best predictor being “practice.” My thoughts are that someone who excels at yo-yo is part practice, combined with a natural ability. I think that some people are predisposed to do better. I believe that some people are just faster, quicker, smarter, or more agile. If the average person who practices, practices the same amount as someone predisposed naturally to do better in a sport…the person naturally gifted will do better. Michael Jordan was as good as he was for reasons way beyond “practice.” Tons of guys are on the court trying to accomplish what he did, and many of them can practice day and night for the rest of their lives and never be that good…ever. Michael Jordan had some extraordinary natural ability, combined with his dedication, practice, and the luck that he never got hurt playing the game, to get stopped. It takes a lot of variables. Interesting discussion on it’s own, and somewhat related. Good spinoff discussion, if someone wants to post it ;D But…oops…my bad, back to yo-yo. :stuck_out_tongue:

So Mikers…you have been asking these kids how they started, or they have posted on the forum about starting unresponsive it seems. I’m wondering if anyone else has made the same observations as Mikers. I am not frequently in the video section of the forums, so I have not paid much attention I must admit. Anyone else noticed this pattern?


I agree that playing with a responsive yoyo will help you find your shortcomings in the way you describe. I also believe you that there are more people playing now, and the under 1 year players are not as good as they were 5 years ago.

But let’s consider that: There are more players now than there were 5 years ago. They’re not as good. There is nothing wrong with that. I think you can learn on an unresponsive yoyo, and then refine your skills after starting with an unresponsive after you become more serious about it. Playing a responsive yoyo may be a great way to do that. I am not arguing that point, just that there is not an inherent need to start responsive.

No matter where you start, if you want to be a seriously skilled player, at some point you need to learn to throw a yoyo well. The current unresponsive yoyos may allow for lesser skill to do more complex tricks poorly, but I think that’s ok. If your goal is to have fun, then have fun. If your goal is to compete, then you need to develop the skill that you’re talking about. And one of the paths to that skill is to learn responsive play. But couldn’t this also be dine after making some unresponsive progress, or in parallel? My only argument is that one does not necessarily have to follow the other.

I am currently learning on a TP MaxBet. This is a big stable unresponsive yoyo. After learning a new trick, I work the trick through my more challenging yoyos, all the way down to my $10 classic. Learning the moves of the trick on the easier yoyo keeps me motivated. Learning to execute it on a more demanding throw improves my skills.

I am very interested in the acquisition of skills. This is something my colleagues and I research quite a bit. I don’t know the answers, but I have 2 thoughts after reading your most recent post, which helped me understand your point better:

  1. Learning responsive first teaches better fundamentals that are required for more aesthetic play.

I agree that this is probably true.

  1. This might not be the only path to the skills you are talking about.

This is the part I had issue with, and probably didn’t articulate clearly enough. I think there may be room to still start with an unresponsive throw, and by combining other training techniques, gain the skills you see as lacking in the current crop of young noobs.

All that said, you are probably right that the way the kids are approaching it is probably not yielding good results, but this is not necessarily because they skipped playing responsive first, it may be because they lack good understanding of what is important in cultivating good skills. This may slow down their ultimate progress to greatness, if they have it in them, but that might not be the end of the world, if it means they are now yoyoing because it can be more fun and a little easier up front. Maybe slowing down the progress of skill isn’t bad if it increases the number of participants.

BTW - didn’t proofread this one either.


Actually, RobK’s proofreading is better than my own…take the title of this thread as an example :smiley: He also raises a good point, that one person’s questionable observations, have not yielded any evidence of fact here. Even if observations are valid opinion, and every yo-yoer who stinks was asked how they started…and the majority said “unresponsive,” we’d then have to ask if it is just a coincidence that you asked a pool of people who happened to mostly say “unresponsive.” So, at the end of the day, these are all just opinions and observations, and one is probably as good as the next. I’m just curious how other people think about it. Again, is Mikers the only one who has observed this? No one else has posted that they have witnessed this trend.

I think RobK has some great points. The fact that beginners are “sloppy” or “choppy” may have to do with the mere fact that they are “new,” that there are a larger number of players than in the past (and therefore more bad ones to see…especially in the internet age), maybe that they have not practiced much, or they generally would play poorly even if they started responsive. There are more variables than starting unresponsive that you could link to. The only real way to tell if a kid who started unresponsive would play better if he played responsive first, is to go back in time and have him play responsive first. You can’t go backward, so it is something you will never be able to ascertain with certainty. Therefore, the question here, was merely whether someone started one way or the other, had any personal regrets, or feels that they may have been better off starting differently. Also, if they were to teach a beginner, how they might go about it.

I was working with someone, a pro player, who was showing me some tricks in the very, very beginning, and he was against learning picture tricks. He thought them a waste of time. Others would have disagreed. It is all a matter of opinion anyway.

Nice posts RobK. By the way…the polls have changed 4 to 1, with most starting responsive. I would have guessed maybe 5 to 1. We’ll see if the numbers change any with more participation.


I started with responsive and I learned responsive from my older brother. I started out with them Yomega’s.

Oh the memories…

(Jei Cheetah) #37

Starting responsive is the way to go, and anyone who says otherwise needs to rethink and figure stuff out.

There are certain fundamentals that learning on responsive builds within a player, that can prove to be detrimental later on.

While its true that some players excel and gain “smoothness” later on from starting unresponsive, there are lots of elements that while not crucial, are things they would be losing.
Shoot the moon regens? Chris Chia needed to learn responsive to figure those out before taking them into the realm of snag unresponsive kink.

Even things like learning lacerations on responsive throws (as they were invented), I find that players who figured this out have some of the most effortless and smoothest laceration movements as apposed to those starting unresponsive, as unresponsive from the get-go builds bad habits, that while they can be corrected later on, is a very roundabout way.

Theres a greater understanding of a yoyo’s soul that comes into play when you learn the essence of natural movement within individual concepts that really can only be understood with responsive learning and responsive play, and that can carry greatly into ones future of unresponsive if they let the bond between their own flow and spirit grow greater with the natural earth aura of a responsive yoyo’s play.

It’s just how it is.




Stating something emphatically doesn’t make it a fact. :wink:

There are those who often say that you need to learn acoustic guitar first, if you want to move on to be a good electric player. There are those who say you should learn skiing first before taking up snowboarding. There are those who say you should have flatwater fundamentals before learning whitewater kayaking. There are those who say you should learn programming design paradigms before writing some crappy JavaScript.

But these are all opinions and most of them are full of hooey. Just because something intuitively makes sense to you or has been your experience doesn’t make it so. You of all people should know, Josh, that there are many paths, many different personality types, many different approaches. And even though some of these might seem alien to you, it doesn’t make them wrong or inferior.

It makes sense to me that acoustic guitar play will help your electric. There’s no “cheating” in acoustic. Can’t mask mistakes with distortion, you need stronger fingers, etc. Intuitively and even from a practical level, it’s something that seems to make sense. But I can’t tell you how many successful, amazing performers out there were once kids who thought electric guitar was cool, started on electric, got good on electric, and then MAYBE (usually, actually) pick up an acoustic some day.

Opinions are not facts. There are multiple approaches to any learning situation, and what we think is the “best” way or the “right” way may not actually be. It’s just our brain fooling us into thinking that other people will have similar experiences to us. They won’t. There are many ways to learn.

THAT is the way it is.


I like what GregP is saying here. Maybe it is the clan of the first name-last initial screen name bias, but he makes sense to me.

Like different people have different learning styles for just about everything else, it is possible that there is no one correct way.And the sense that people must learn fundamentals first, is a rigid mindset that does break down in many learning paradigms. Though it is often possible that a good outcome comes from this, and often time it is the easiest way to build a system of learning, it is not inherently better in many skill acquisition contexts. I encourage you to watch Victor Wooten: Groove Workshop for a great discussion on this. Not all learning progressions are optimized through linear progressions. In fact, most are not. There is a body of published literature in peer review journals that bare this out.


Not related to skills, but related to linearity: it’s a very common piece of advice in writing (both creative and otherwise) that you should start with the parts of the story that motivate you. If you just can’t wait to write the ending, you should probably be writing the ending. There are some authors who start at the beginning not really being sure how the story will end, and they must therefore write more linearly.

But that’s the exception, not the rule. Most authors know how their book will start, know key points for the middle, and have a very good idea of how it ends. You don’t need to start on chapter one and work your way through.

Similarly for scholarly work, you can write your chapters and conclusion long before you write your introduction.

The only point being: linear approaches are not always the best approaches.

Heck, let’s bring it back to yoyo for fun, though. I would be stifled if I tried to force myself to learn the tricks here in order, the way some people do. One of the tricks that really popped my eyes open when I first discovered modern yoyo was boing-e-boing. So instead of waiting on it, I applied myself to learning it and it took only a few days, because I was motivated. As it turns out, a lot of people actually get stuck on that trick, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just “jumped ahead” to a trick that I thought looked cool.

Ditto Spirit Bomb. I learned that one a while ago (can even do it blindfolded!) yet I still have a pretty inconsistent Rewind. :wink:

It’s OK to have guidelines, and things that are thought of as “best practices”, but best practices are never meant as rigid rules. Maybe in your experience the “best practice” is to learn responsive first. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the right practice at all times and for all people.

The “best practice” I learned from my years teaching people and then as a classroom teacher is that you should provide your students with motivation and inspiration, not simply a set of skills. The skills will come because they’ll be motivated to acquire them. And if unresponsive play is where a student is finding inspiration, that’s going to get them a lot further than simply trying to force a prescribed “starting point”.

RobK – I’m feeling what you’re saying. In fact, most of what I’m saying here is to support the points you’re already making, and making better than me. :wink: