This year at worlds a group of guys and I had a discussion about the differences between Eastern and Western play styles. Many people can understand the difference between the two unique play styles, with terms like “generic Asian freestyle” or “generic American player” being tossed around, but we were having a difficult time pinning down the actual difference between the two. Was it simplicity vs. complexity? A difference of speed? Innovation vs. Imitation? Was it just personal bias, or the way the player conducted themselves on stage?
Eventually we came to a conclusion that seemed mostly correct. Eastern play styles focus more on the yoyo and Western play styles focus more on the string.
Let’s examine two different players at worlds this year that I think highlight this difference well. Zach Gormly and Hiroyuki Suzuki.
First, watch Zach Gormley’s video.
Watching his freestyle critically, you’ll notice that his complex string formations are the main focus of his tricks. Sure, the yoyo moves around a lot, but it really just seems like the yoyo is only there to serve as another way to move the string around. When he does a banger the string is the focus, rather than yoyo movement.
Now let’s take a look at my personal favorite yoyoist, Hiroyuki Suzuki
Here you’ll notice that the yoyo is more of the focus of the performance. The impressive parts of his tricks aren’t the complexity of the string formations, but rather the difficulty of the movements of the yoyo. Boing-e-boing-ing tricks through a chopsticks mount. Horizontal 3d eli hops. Even on his tech, it’s much more about the yoyo moving around his fingers than complex string formations.
Obviously there are some exceptions to this, but for the most part this appears to be true.
I feel like this discussion is important, as it helps us understand the differences in play styles, which can help everyone add variety to their trick repertoire.
Let me know your opinions on this. Which play style do you prefer? Do you have any other examples, or evidence that our idea was wrong?