One of my unusual hobbies is yo-yoing. (Yes, I just verbed yo-yo.) If you’ve read about my tips for being married, you’ll know that my wife and I have gone through some rough times. At one point, we were separated for a while. It was during this difficult time that I first took up the yo-yo.
I was visiting my Oma and talking about how rough things were for me. She handed me a yo-yo and told me in her thick German accent that it was a wery great vay to deal vit stress (sic). I was a little skeptical at first, and my yo-yo skills were pretty weak; I could barely get the thing just to go up and down. However, with a little practice, I found that it actually was very relaxing, and although it takes some skill, anyone can learn to do it and enjoy this simple pastime.
Here are some interesting facts about yo-yos:
- “Yo-yo” means “come come” in Tagalog. Get your mind out of the gutter! . . . but not really, that’s what I thought, too.
- Rumor has it that the yo-yo was originally a weapon. Experts are still debating because they don’t have any more important problems to solve.
- There’s a famous Chinese cellist named Yo-Yo Ma. You have probably heard his music if you’ve ever seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Ma part means “horse.”
- Yo-yos were popular among the French nobility in the 18th Century. See? I’m not the only grownup who plays with yo-yos.
- Death row inmates used to be given yo-yos as a way to take their minds off of their coming fate. I may have just made that up.
If you’re interested in taking up yo-yoing, first watch this video and be inspired (or intimidated).
Obviously, skill levels for yo-yo can range from myself (I can make it wind back up) to Hiroyuki Suzuki (If you actually watched the video, then you saw what that guy can do).
The first thing to do is decide how serious you want to be about yo-yo. If you want to be closer to the awesome end of the aforementioned scale, it will help you immensely to choose the right yo-yo. I’m not serious at all, so I do fine with an imperial shape, but string tricks are much easier on a butterfly shape because it has a wider gap for catching on the strings. The modified shape is good for looping tricks that involve keeping the yo-yo constantly moving up and down the string.
In addition to shapes, there are a variety of axles that provide varying amounts of friction. If you want it to sleep (spin at the end of the string without coming back up) for certain tricks, then you’ll want an axle that gets less friction, like a ball-bearing axle. If you prefer more friction so it will come up and down more easily, you might do best to get a clutch axle.
Once you’ve chosen a yo-yo, I’d start with simply learning how to make it wind itself back up. Most yo-yos come with instructions on doing some simple tricks, and there are plenty of websites and instructional videos that provide further guidance for the beginning yo-yo enthusiast. Keep at it, and if you ever get as good as Hiroyuki Suzuki, then I would recommend spending a lot of times on street corners with a hat set out for collecting people’s spare change.
Regardless of how serious you are about your yo-yoing, it really is a relaxing activity and a great way to calm down when you’re on the verge of killing your kids, so I’d recommend giving it a try.