I wanted to talk for a bit about a practice that I do, that many might not agree with, but I felt it would be worth it to share as while some may feel it is wrong, maybe others might benefit from the way of thinking and my particular approach.
Over my many years of yoyoing experience, I have taken many a student under the paw so to speak, and helped them rise up to become confident yoyoers who have a confidence in their ability. My understanding is that many do this, which is awesome! It’s great to see new blood in the yoyo fandom, and seeing people willing to teach is something very awesome to see.
I want to adress, however, the concept and method of teaching. And to begin, I’d like to go explain the course that I have taught for many years now.
Essentially, I do shows at numerous places and I take on students who express interest. I have a class that I teach which is laid out as such:
Students are all given a yomega fireball. This is their starting throw. I also use the fireball to show all of the tricks to make sure that they understand how capable the fireball is. As soon as they get their fireball, I start by teaching them the basics, and we work through week by week, the NYYL trick ladder. Within the classes, we take the time to also go over some important yoyo history. Origins, companies, notable names, I especially make sure my students know who the yoyoer is that created a certain trick or element of a trick that they are learning. I don’t skip ahead until each student finds their way at roughly the same level as the others.
As time goes on, I have a periodical quiz to see how much my students recall (names of mounts, names of tricks that (yoyoer name) or element they have created, notable yoyos that changed yoyoing significantly, etc) and they get prizes for scoring well (strings, little yoyo accessories etc.) I train them completely on the fireball up until around boingy boing. I like for them to try to learn boingies on the fireball at least. Once this happens, They get to graduate and are all supplied with yoyojam kicksides/speedmakers. Once this happens, I teach them a bit more, but then I leave it up to them to attend our yoyo club meetings, do their own research, get involved in the fandom, and grow as players.
Now, something I want to talk specifically about. First of all being, the yoyo choice.
You may notice that I start every student on a responsive thin gap fireball. And you might also note that this is very unconventional as often, new players are suggested getting something already unresponsive. I don’t really believe this is a good approach. When I learned how to yoyo in my younger days, I learned on responsive yoyos, I actually learned tricks up to split the atom on a fixed axle proyo. While in many cases, this may take longer, It developed certain skills for myself. I learned how to feel the “essence” of a yoyo. I developed a bond with the forces of nature through the yoyo I was using, because these sort of yoyos, specifically responsive thin gap yoyos, had a very organic feel to them. You felt the forces of gravity, you felt that hum of the starburst rubbing the string. You felt the little catch of the response at the end of the string, and you developed a sense for the yoyo’s movements and soul. This meant that I had gained an incredible amount of control and understanding of what a yoyo really is and the forces that are within. I didn’t realize it then, but it ended up being extremely advantageous for me in my yoyoing life.
That said, I carry this on to my students. I believe that students can greatly benifit in a true bond and knowledge that comes with “learning to understand” their yoyo. And starting out with one of the most basic and bare kinds of yoyos develops something special inside of them. They also develop special skills and essentials. I cant even count the number of times Ill see a kid at a contest doing some decent tricks, but then finding out that they don’t know or understand how to do boingy boingy. Even those that can somewhat, their technique will be sloppy, due to using a highly unresponsive yoyo from the start, that is something that I consider to be damaging. Younger throwers get “spoiled” to a sense due to the fact that they have a yoyo that is so unresponsive, and so well balanced, techniques and skills that are greatly advantageous end up being put off and forgotten, resulting in a sad state of advanced play, without a good foundation.
That said, this is why I wait until the great fundamentals are learned on a highly responsive thin gap yoyo. Students develop a great and accurate aim, they know how to keep a yoyo balanced, they know the feel of what makes a trick work and what doesn’t, and they, to put it blunty: “Truly learn how to yoyo”.
Now, I go to the lessons I teach on players past. I believe that one of the most valuable things for any player, is for them to learn where they came from. When one develops an appreciation for a trick concept, a yoyo, a style etc. It creates something special within that gives a greater dedication and love for that particular element. When this happens, it allows the player to broaden the horizons of what they know, while still keeping the previous past in mind, creating building blocks that are strong, as they are built on a foundation of respect and appreciation. You dont know how sad it makes me when I hear kids tell me that they dont care about who invented a trick or what yoyo revolutionized a concept/shaped who we are today. Theres a value in learning your history and respecting your past. I believe that with this, ultimately, you create a better and more respectable player.
I have taught many kids yoyoing over my numerous yoyo years of life. And some stuck with it, others didn’t, but the few that did, I see great things within. One of my students who I first took under the paw back in 2006, still yoyo’s to this day. He chooses not to compete as he enjoys yoyoing for the sake of yoyoing itself, and he creates some very unique tricks. And while he may not be technically advanced as some other kids around his age, his flow is absolutely amazing to watch. It is so natural and I love watching him do his thing.And best of all, ask him about a trick, and he might say something to the extent of “Oh yeah I took some concepts of Paul Escolars orange tulips and mixed in one of Sage’s old bucket mounts with some bit of Alex Lozyniaks superflow.” That always brings a smile to my face.
I know my methods to many may seem a bit different and perhaps illogical and ludicrous to some. But I say that I would never teach a new thrower in any other way when I have the opportunity for one on one in person interaction through teaching.