You know I talk about the "spirit" and "flow" quite a bit

People know that I often encourage players to let their spirit interact and dance with the spirit of the yoyo, to put their heart into their yoyoing and let the natural movements of the atmosphere and the flow of nature move you with the yoyo to create a melodic harmonious omniverse. It’s often difficult to put it into words without seeing what I mean, well, I bring to you, what I consider, to be the finest example of what I mean, what I like to see, and what I believe to be the pure essence of yoyo play at its finest.

Nobody, NOBODY, manages to show the true essence, the real flow and spirit of yoyoing like Tommy, No other player, no matter how innovational, or technical, can match what Tomiyuki manages to show. Its absolutely incredible to see someone put everything, their very soul into their yoyoing, and there is something special in seeing this sort of performance. This is what yoyoing is, this is yoyoing from the heart in its truest form, and what I believe it should always be.


I always throw like that…

cept I tend to let out a lot of deep War Cries from my heart & soul… that’s what this performance is lacking.

Real talk, the UFO part was pretty nice

TL&DR: I was left a bit cold, and I think “spirit” is found in the joy of playing not in dramatics; however, he had tonnes of flow!

Certainly an impressive performance. It goes to show how things like “spirit” are subjective terms, though. What I watched was a fairly talented dancer making impressive use of a prop. I got the distinct feeling that the yoyo was in service of the dance, and I would imagine that he himself thinks of that performance more as a dance than as “yoyoing”. As such, I was only compelled by it in a way only a bit more powerfully than watching a gymnast using a ribbon or hoops to supplement a floor routine.

However (and you knew there was going to be a however!), I see people with far less drama and far less scope in their presentation (sometimes barely using any of the stage at all) really becoming lost in their yoyoing and their performance. The new player pouring every ounce of concentration into landing that Split the Atom, and then running on the spot and pumping their fists in the joy of successfully landing it (and if you’re lucky, you still get this feeling every time you land a new challenging trick for the first time without fluking it!).

I liked this performance, but I get more out of watching someone just really showing joy as they play. It’s no more complicated than that, and it doesn’t require choreography or dance skills to express.

Now “flow” is a slightly different matter. Tommy had this in spades, and there’s no “however” about it. I don’t have flow yet, so I can’t speak from experience in yoyo… but based on other passions of mine (playing guitar, for example) I think that flow starts off as technique (no amount of spirit and passion can give you command of the instrument) and then at some point (sometimes without even knowing it has happened), technique is internalized to the point that you can now use the instrument as a form of expression. Tommy didn’t do anything too technically amazing, but the elements he chose were so seamlessly incorporated into his performance that “flow” is really the only way to describe it. :slight_smile:


I guess your views on what makes spirit are different than mine, or how we interpret the meaning perhaps.

I also would mention that Tommy himself has said on numerous occasion that he pours his heart and soul into his yoyo performing, which goes with what I said also.

Def agree on the flow thing though.


I’m happy to be wrong about his own opinion on the performance. Knowing how much he values yoyoing changes the perception of the performance. Which is an important note…

I don’t know that our views on spirit are different, per se. To me, it has nothing to do with dramatics and everything to do with the joy of playing. You probably watch this performance with a preconception based on what you know of Tommy. I had no idea, and so I saw mainly a dance… I don’t feel that his joy (which I believe exists!) is necessarily more evident than the joy I see in a focused newbie or a delighted “less dramatic” competitor. In other words, the choreography and dance didn’t necessarily communicate that joy to me.

So, we both probably value the joy. It’s just that in this performance, you see the joy and I saw dramatics. And in a more humble performance I’m possibly more likely to see the light in someone’s eyes and have that be enough… while you may (or may not!) be thinking “put your body into it, friend! Dance!”

I don’t know what I would call it, but there is a certain attribute to a person that makes them a true performer.

To me, Tommy Watanabe is a true performer.  He is enveloped in the music and embraces what he is doing entirely.  Besides the music though, it is like he is one with the yoyo.  He is entirely aware of what it can do, like it is his partner.

Makes me think of Yukihiro Suzuki and his powerful essence on stage (maybe that’s the word I’m looking for… essence?)

Did you listen to the music in the Tommy’s video? That was the weirdest version of Roxanne I’ve ever heard. I like it better by The Police.

The yoyoing was really eye opening though. Not what I really like but I could see others being interested.

hmm, while this is an Impressive style and undoubtedly heartfelt I have to disagree with it being the purest example of pouring ones heart into yoyoing.

While Tommy’s performance was passionate, It could just as well be replicated and choreographed by a dancer. I think the problem is that we are comparing two different styles of yoyoing. Nearly two different beasts.

Yoyoing as an art can be shown by Tommy and other AP competitors through passionate dramatic display, but Yoyoing as a sport can be displayed through hard work and dedication.

Tommy shows heart in his performance but so does anyone else who throws with elegance. You me and everybody. To say the likes of Suzuki, Kimmit, Charles, Conde or whoever has less heart is like saying he throws for no reason other than to throw. They throw with heart because you can tell they worked to get their. If they didn’t throw with heart then they wouldn’t be amazing at what they do.

One doesn’t breath just to breath but rather to live life. If you don’t put heart into yoyoing you won’t. still be doing it tomorrow.

Theres a difference between yoyoing with heart, and yoyoing with Heart AND soul AND spirit.

Maaaan, I only yoyo with my vital organs on the forth of July.

You’re hardcore Josh, doin it year round.


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I saw the video shared.

I couldn’t get through it. Maybe I’m jaded after working over 30 years in entertainment, but that video bored the crap out of me. I had to stop halfway through it because it wasn’t going anywhere. It felt and looked uninspired, unemotional, poorly rehearsed, somewhat thought-out, but completely failed on execution and was unable to engage me. It was completely uninteresting and unable to hold my attention.

Heart and spirit? No, that didn’t come across, wasn’t apparent, and in my opinion, just plain wasn’t there. What emotion I saw looked forced and practiced. If by “flow” we mean “he didn’t trip and do a faceplant onto the stage”, well, then I guess he gets flow points then. This routine seemed dancing, but then add a yoyo into it, but the yoyo was second, and the dancing was really not all that good. Of course, we are talking the AP division, where the rulebook is just kind of words on paper.

With sufficient training with a responsive yoyo, I could get a dancer to pull off the same routine with more grace, flow, spirit and emotion. Granted, the spirit and emotion would be faked, but that’s why dancers often take acting lessons, in order to help with interpretation purposes.

I normally enjoy the links HaruRay posts. I often agree with many of the things he says too. Unfortunately, on this one, we won’t be able to see eye to eye.

Now here’s an AP performance with spirit and flow.


I personally am surprised you don’t see what I see studio…
But I guess some people see spirit and soul differently.
I watch that freestyle, and honestly, it almost brought a tear to my eye. The ammount of sheer passion and grace with the expression of ones true soul truly came across to me here, something that I really have t seen many players manage to accomplish.

As for Steve’s freestyle, that was a fun and silly AP freestyle, but in terms of artistry and real expression of the spirits within, Tomiyuki had far more in my eyes. Although Steve’s freestyle there was legendary.
^ ^

I agree. No offense, but it just looks like he’s doing some fancy dancing. Not really interesting to me at all. Nor do I get the “spiritual” side out of it. In my opinion, if he wanted to be truly spiritual, he’d be doing it by himself in a quiet forest, where he can reflect on nature and beauty, instead of being in a clustered, loud hotel room full of tons of other people in Orlando, Florida. Just my two cents.

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He was having fun though! That’s all that matters right?

He certainly put a lot of effort and “soul” (whatever you spiritual people want to call it) into his fancy schmancy dancing, but that really didn’t have much to do with the actual yoyoing. Looked to me like they just gave a yoyo to a interpretive dancer and he threw a couple sleepers. What I’m trying to say is that the emotion in his performance had very little to do with the yoyo as opposed to the dance.

Guess many see it very very differently than I do.

Just understand, I work actively in entertainment, so I see thousands of these things a year(so to speak). You can get a sense real fast when it’s “the real deal” and when it’s “male bovine excrement”. That’s 30+ years of experience talking. And yes, I’ve pretty much seen it all.

The bottom line is that if this wasn’t a yoyo contest, it would have been boo’d off the stage quickly. I’m also taking this in the perspective of in a greater realm than just yoyo, and even then it falls flat.

I’m also highly critical of all things entertainment these days, since entertainment is at an all time low since the expectations of those wishing to be entertained have been lowered for the past 50 years. Yes, there are those who stand-out. Yes, there are those who have carried their high levels with them(although unfortunately many are dead now). Some shoot for the stars, many crash, burn and explode on the launch pad of mediocrity.

I see more soul and spirituality in many of the 1A performances. I’ve honestly seen more soul and spirituality in YOUR performances at CalStates. The problem is you discredit yourself more than you should. He put on a “show”. You put it on the line. BIG difference. You get it, you DO it. He was just doing a show.

I guess I still can’t see it in the same way you do.
Cal states had many players who have developed and refined their craft for years, and it shows, but I have gone and looked at basically all of those freestyles, and I can honestly say that I dont get the “soul” and “spirit” that I see with Tomiyuki’s freestyle.
I am humbled by your comment that you found my freestyles more of, but I honestly aspire to be more like Tomiyuki honestly as I feel he has managed to capture and engage in a way that is performance yes, but also complete expression of the inner soul.

I understand your work in the entertainment industry, but one must also remember that I have been in the yoyo world for 15 + years, and have seen players come and go, I’ve seen freestyle development, probably more than I would have liked to see. I can read it on the way an individual moves, the way they think out their tricks. I can watch the first 5 seconds and from looking at a players face on stage, I can see what lies within and what may be to come. That said, I still feel a great sense of spirit and soul from this freestyle, but I do try to see where you are coming from as well, I just simply can’t seem to do so.

Thank you for laying your thoughts though, I do enjoy seeing what you have to say.