Friday, December 30, 2011

Helium Rising

by Crazy Ivan

The other day, someone asked me to write a blog where I ranked all the non-Myachi Master players in order of freestyle skill.  What they wanted, essentially, was the top 10 Myachi players in the world that didn't work for the company.  I politely declined.

"Why?  You don't want to offend anyone?" the inquisitor asked.

"No... I just don't really know."

There are a lot of reasons why I wouldn't know.  I've met many of the avid Myachi players in the world, but not all of them.  There are certainly people who got into the game through a friend and practiced a lot and played for a really long time but never put up any You Tube videos, joined the forum or visited HQ.  It's entirely possible that all 10 of the best Myachi players in the world go to the same school in some little town in Mississippi, but we've never heard of them.

Now, if that seems unlikely, consider the case of Helium, a Myachi Maniac that I just met the other day.  He is a legit freestyler with a pretty wide range of skills.  And we're not talking easy tricks.  The dude has a clean Matrix Unleashed, a spot-on Jedi, a Clipper Delay to Gui, a Back and Forth Daredevil and an Instep to Duck.  And that's just a small sampling of what I saw out of him.

If I'd written a list of the 10 best freestylers last week (which is when I was asked about it), I certainly wouldn't have mentioned Helium from Toronto.  I'd never met him and didn't even know he existed.  But after he went toe to toe with me in MYACH today (we had to end our game at H to H after I successfully nailed him on a redemption shot), I've got to imagine he deserves some mention in that top 10 list.

But that's just the thing.  He was probably one of the 10 best freestylers I've seen that don't work for Myachi that I know are playing right now, but what about the hundreds of thousands of Myachis that were sold to people I never met?  What about all the talented maniacs that we got into the game back in Virginia Beach, Ocean City, Cocoa Beach, St. Louis, Knoxville, Miami, Branson or any of the hundreds of other places we've been.  Could it be that one of them is still into the game and pushing the envelope of what's possible?  Could it be that some Manaic that we met back in 2001 has been practicing for 2 hours a day ever since and has a whole repertoire of 6 Myachi tricks?

All I know is that we've taught millions of people to play over the years.  Even if they were all standing in front of me right now and throwing down their best freestyle tricks, I don't think I could pick out the top 10.

Oh, and hopefully I can update this blog with a little video of Helium shredding.  Check back with this post in the next few days...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Surviving Christmas

by Crazy Ivan

So it's happened once again; we made it through the Christmas season.

As you can easily imagine, the holiday season is a pretty taxing time of the year when you're in the toy business.  We do more than half of our retail sales in the final 6 weeks of the year so it's a time of the year that we both love and dread.  We love it because that huge chunk of sales is what keeps the lights on at the House of Skills all year, but we dread it because we know that it will be really hard work.

This year was a bit harder than most.  Our school outreach programs (the ones where we go and take over gym class for a few days) have been exploding in popularity and we continue to do a ton of private party work, so we had more demands on our staff than we usually do.  So we did what we always do; we hunkered down and crushed it.  There were a few really long weeks in there and a few really long days, but we all pushed a little harder and worked a little longer and before long, we made it out of the Christmas season alive.

And we sold a lot of Myachis.

We set a new sales record this year, which is something that we've done so many times in a row it seems routine at this point.  The Battle Paddles were such a huge hit that we sold almost every one we had in the country and are fast at work making more.  We crushed even our most ambitious projections and we made hundreds upon hundreds of new Myachi Maniacs (who will make thousands more themselves).

This week will be another huge one for us.  The week after Christmas is still huge here in NYC with all the tourists staying through for New Year's Eve.  Our major retail locations are still packed and we've got big things going on at HQ this week, so no rest for us just yet, but come January things will slow down, we'll all get a few weeks of vacation and we can finally put this year in the books.

Now, I don't need to tell any of our regular readers that all the extra hours over the holidays have kept me from fulfilling a few of my obligations.  This blog had cobwebs on it when I hopped on the other day.  The Trick of the Day video hasn't been updated in months.  The Facebook page has tumbleweeds blowing through it.  I have 6 trillion unread PMs on the forum.  I haven't checked our YouTube messages in weeks.  We haven't tweeted in so long that the coal miners are getting nervous (that joke was a real stretch, but someone out there will get it).  In other words, I've been online over the last few months about as often as I was in 1987.

But we made it through and the hardest part is in the rear-view mirror.  Obviously, I'm already starting to correct the problem.  I've still got a lot of work to do just to catch up, but the blog will be updated daily (or darn close to it) going forward and the Trick of the Day videos will make their triumphant return next week.  Perfect timing for a New Year's resolution or two...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 4

by Crazy Ivan

It's been a long time, I know, but now that we've reached the end of this record smashing Christmas season, the blog shall rise again.  Sorry that there was such a long hiatus and that no information was provided about when the blog would reappear, but we're back and you'll be seeing daily doses of the Myachi Blog once again beginning today.

I can't thank you all enough for sticking with us for so long and being so patient with me during this extended blog-black-out, and all I can say is I hope I can repay your patience with fun, insightful and interesting content in the new year.  It's been a crazy couple of months and things are looking better than ever for Myachi so there should be no shortage of topics.

And now, by popular request, the next installment of our stalled series on the Myachis that changed the world:


In the last installment of this series, we talked about the Black Belt and it's nearly incomparable influence on the future of jammability.  Even now, the wideboarded Pakisacks we equate with the Black Belt are considered the pinnacle in yumminess to many a Myachi Maniac.  Many have expressed disbelief that the remaining Myachis on this list can outdo the sacks already highlighted.

And at first glance, that might appear true.  But I must again draw everyone's attention to the fact that in this list we're concerning ourselves only with the impact that each Myachi would have on future Myachis.  This isn't a list of the best jammers or of the most valued collectibles, though sacks belonging on both lists have thus far appeared in the series.  So despite the fact that on the surface, the following Myachi might seem an odd choice to outrank the Black Belt, but with a little explanation, I'm sure you'll understand.

 #4) The Fire Flower 

The Fire Flower has a lot going for it.  Many people prize it for it's cool look.  Floral patterns aren't usually really popular in the Myachi world, but this is one of the few that makes the exception.  Other notables are the Black Rose and the Blue Dragon, which incorporated Chinese dragons into the floral print to make it far more dragony than flowery.

Others prize this Myachi for its grip.  They start off as good jammers and quickly surpass good and get off at the exit for "spectacular".  They break in quickly and evenly and within a week of dedicated jamming they are some of the best production jammers to ever come out of China.  At the time they were made, they would have easily ranked in the top 10 all time jammers.

Still others prize the Fire Flower for its incredible rarity.  Among the rarest Myachis ever produced in China, this sack was created in an exceedingly small run of prototypes in an effort to test new fabrics.  Keeping in mind that a Myachi is considered extremely rare if we've made only 150 of them, there were only 25 Fire Flowers manufactured in all.  This was back in 2007 and they've steadily gotten more and more difficult to acquire.

The story of the series itself is rather unique.  Over the years Myachi has grown exponentially in volume.  Back in the earlier days, it was easy to be experimental with Myachi fabrics.  We were only making a couple hundred of any given fabric so even if it wasn't a great jammer or didn't look as good as we expected, we could still sell through the sacks by counting on collectors to pick up the slack from the jammers.

But by 2007 we were making Myachis by the thousands and there was a much greater risk in getting creative with untested fabrics.  The 3.2 series demonstrated that in the worst way when we committed to a huge run of Zoot Suits and Delta Forces, creating a massive series where a full third of the sacks were really tough to break in.

The series that the Fire Flower came in, often called the HF series (the initials of the Myachi Maniac who selected the fabrics) or the "Quarter" series because there were 25 of each of four fabrics for a total of one hundred sacks.  They were all experimental.  The Pig Skin was a tough leather that took a lot of effort to break in but eventually made it all worth while.  The Very Jerry had great grip and broke in quickly, but started getting pretty flimsy after a few weeks of jamming.  The Aztec had a great design and jammed pretty good right out of the gate, but it didn't break in very much and even after using it for a while, it still felt pretty "fresh-from-the-pack".

But the Fire Flower was the resounding success we were hoping to find in the series.  It was durable, jammable and abundant.  It had great grip and came in a wide variety of designs and vibrant colors.  It was a fabric that was destined from the first jam to replace the microsuede as the standard throughout Myachidom.  The Fire Flower was a lot of things, but the one we're concerned with here is a simple one: It was the first modern corduroy.

I have to say "modern", because it was not the first corduroy sack.  Some early examples of the fabric showed up along the way in Myachi history.  The Fudge Stripe, for example, predated the Fire Flower by more than a year and even that wasn't the "first" corduroy Myachi.  But the Fire Flower was made from a very specific type of corduroy with a thin, tough lining and narrow, shallow grooves.  It is an extremely common fabric so it's a wonder we hadn't made Myachis out of it before, but as soon as we jammed with it, we knew we would be making up for it.

The first series selected after the Fire Flower was series 3.0, largely considered to be the greatest series of all time.  Of course, since the 3.1 series was released at the same time and since together the two series contained only 12 sacks, in fairness these two series should be considered together.  This only enhances the status of that series as the best we've ever done.

One reason was the long awaited re-release of two extraordinarily popular Myachis that have already made their way on to this list (the Black Butter and the Calvin), but even more important was the introduction of 4 sacks of the same corduroy as the Fire Flower; the Highlander Blue, the Highlander Black, the Red Beard and the Black Beard.

If you need any evidence of the popularity of those four sacks, consider this.  Since then we've released two more sacks in the Beard line and at least 7 more in the Highlander line.  It has become the most commonly used Myachi fabric in the history of the game in the intervening years.  Consider that.  We were making Myachis for 8 years before we made the first sack out of this fabric.  Now, in only 4 years it has surpassed all the other fabrics that had so big a head start.

When it comes to influential fabrics, no Myachi compares to the Fire Flower.  That being said, there are still 3 more Myachis that we consider to be even more world changing.  You might have already guessed one or two of them, but to find out, you'll have to keep checking back with us for the next installment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 5

by Crazy Ivan

So far in this series we examined the Calvin and how it changed our concepts of "yummy", we talked about the Cherry Red and how it changed our concepts of fabric choice, we talked about the Tune in With Taylor and how it changed our concepts about marketing Myachis, we talked about the Green Sponge and how it changed our concept of the family of Myachis and, most recently, we talked about the Black Butter and how it changed our concept of what a Myachi should be.

But now we're moving on to the second level of earth-shattering.  If we were simply compiling a list of awesome Myachis, it would be hard to find five that outdo the five we've already discussed, but since our focus here is on the most "game changing" Myachis, the ones that made the biggest impact on future Myachis, there are five very deserving candidates, beginning with one you might have seen coming.

 #5) The Black Belt 

For those who have been in the game for a while, just glancing over the glorious simplicity of the Black Belt evokes images of perfection and desire; this sack is at once rare, unique, classic, simple and unparalleled in jammability.  It is a Myachi for all people, regardless of their interest in the game.  For the collector it is a 1 of 121 and one of only three officially sanctioned Myachis ever released without a tag.  For the freestyler it is unrivaled once broken in... and not too shabby along the way either.  Heck, even for people outside the game entirely, the very name "Black Belt" suggests that this sack sits upon the apex of a distinguished pyramid.

And as many great things as I could say about the Black Belt, only one of them is truly pertinent for the purposes of this article.  Sure, it was the best jamming Myachi of all time when it was released.  Sure, it was a prototype from a very small run that was never released in stores.  Sure, fewer than 10% of the Black Belts made were ever actually sold.  Sure, more world Myachi records have been set with this sack than any other by a ratio of at least 3 to 1.  But none of those are the reason that this sack earned such a high spot on this list.  What achievement could possibly outshine the ones listed above?

The Black Belt was the first Myachi ever made in Pakistan.

It wasn't intended to be a world-changer.  Heck, it wasn't even supposed to be a sack that many people would ever hear about.  We met a manufacturer from Pakistan at a trade show and he said he could make Myachis for us.  Of course, we already had a manufacturer that we were happy with so we thanked him politely, but he was quite insistent.  So we discussed it a bit deeper.

The one drawback to the manufacturer we were using up to that point was volume.  It was a pretty big factory and they weren't interested in doing our small runs.  They would only accept orders for 1,000 pieces or more.  Now, that was rarely a problem.  We were always making way more than 1,000 at a time when we made our series sacks and companies like Dodge, Dunkin Donuts and Sobe were more than happy to order by the thousands.

But that left a big segment of our potential customer base out of the game.  This manufacturer was able to make orders of as few as 150 Myachis so all of a sudden we would have a viable option for small run orders; the kind of orders we could get from private events, bar mitzvahs, school fund raisers, church groups, charity organizations and local businesses.  It would open the door to a whole new market for us... a market that had been knocking on our doors for years.

Of course, before we broke out the champagne bottles, we had to make sure that this dude could deliver on what he was promising.  After a little negotiation, he agreed to make 36 Myachis as a sample to show us his work.  Since we were thinking about this as an option for custom Myachis, we had him put the Myachi logo on the front to see how that would work out.

We didn't provide him with the tags and we told him not to bother with the loops on this first run.  We just wanted to see if he could make a quality, jammable Myachi for the price he was promising.  A few weeks later we got the shipment in and our hopes were raised a notch or two.  They were a little bit too small and a bit overstuffed, but they were well stitched and the fabric was awesome.

But Myachi Man is a cautious guy and he wanted to see it on a bigger scale.  Before we offered these sacks to one of our customers, we had to be positive that we would be giving them the best possible quality.  We asked for a few corrections and placed our first order.  Since this was still just considered prototyping, we still didn't bother sending any tags.  This time he offered to split it up between three colors so we got 85 Black, 85 Blue and 85 White.  This time they got the dimensions perfect and crafted some of the best Myachis we'd seen to date.

With sacks that were so cool looking and so incredibly jammable, it was only a matter of time before a few made their way into the wider world of Myachidom.  We hooked up a few long time maniacs with the condition that they break them in and report back to us.  Soon after that they were being talked about on the forum and a few were being shown around a couple of the big Myachi schools.  Soon after we were inundated with calls asking if we had any Belts left.

Today, more than half of the different types of promotional Myachis ever made were manufactured in Pakistan.  We've made countless Myachis for maniacs, birthday parties... heck, we ever made a Myachi to commemorate our long running online forum, designed and paid for by the members of the forum.  This one small step in our supply chain has had a long echoing effect that is still being felt today.

Believe it or not, there are still four Myachis on this list that rank higher than the Black Belt for the impact they've had on the movement.  To find out what they are, keep checking back with us...

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Met Max!

by Crazy Ivan

I've said before and I'll say again that the single greatest aspect of the job of Myachi Master is the Maniacs that you meet along the way.  If I wrote out a list of all the cool people I've met over the years that I've done this job, the internet would run out of room.

But once in a while there's a meeting that's so epic I have to blog about it.

Myachi Max is a regular on the Myachi Blog, he's a favorite for Myachi videos, he's a loyal reader of this blog, he's a frequent contestant in our Myachi contests and he's an overall very cool guy.  Unfortunately, he's separated from the bulk of the Myachi movement by something called the Atlantic Ocean (and something else called France).  Max is Myachi's first ambassador to Switzerland and he's been spreading the word for us over there for over a year.

Not to be overly precise, but he's been spreading the word for exactly one day over a year.  He informed me today that yesterday was his one year anniversary with Myachi.  If you had to judge it only by his skills, you would guess that he'd been playing for three or four years, but we'll get to that.

I opened up FAO today so I was there mad early.  Most of the people there today seemed to be from Holland, so half of the time I found myself teaching people who didn't speak much English.  That doesn't really matter, as I long ago learned to teach Myachi without relying on things like language.  At one point, I was teaching two different groups, one speaking Spanish and the other speaking a language I couldn't actually identify.  As I'm walking them through the basics I see this smiling face appear at the edges of the circle.

I've never met Max before, but I recognized him right away from his Facebook photos and his Myachi videos.  I tossed him a Hounds Tooth and he started working it like he was using the Force.  The whole crowd (about 12 or 13 people altogether) went crazy.  He was weaving together dozens of tricks in an effortless and endless symphony of skills.  All the while he's wearing this infectious smile that has everybody around grinning from ear to ear.

So after a few minutes things cleared out a bit and me and Max got to meet formally.  We swap a few tricks and challenges.  I knew he was coming so I brought a few tradables.  I usually sacrifice rareness for yumminess and this trade was no exception as I let a few gems from my collection go for a few of his more yummified semi-commons.  We hung out and jammed for a while and his multi-lingual capabilities came in pretty handy in the international crowd.

He'd been in the day before as well and met Lucky and Bamboo, both of whom he beat in games of MYACH.  He stuck around long enough to meet Bones as well, and while it was too busy for MYACH at the time, he actually made it back in later in the day so that he could notch one more Myachi Master in his belt, beating Bones as well.  He and I never got a chance to play and after seeing his skills, I regret missing out on the challenge.  The dude has sick foot skills, great flexibility, a lot of technical upper body stuff, virtually everything that's ever been featured on Trick of the Day and the best Matrix Unleashed I've ever seen that wasn't performed by Animal.

I believe that Max has said the new record for the longest distance ever traveled to play a game of MYACH at something like 3800 miles (or 6200 km).  Granted, I'm sure his family had some other things to do in New York other than play Myachi, but they've been to FAO two days in a row and they're heading to HQ tomorrow to meet Pinky, Monk and Kid Myach.

All I can say in closing is that I hope Max has had as much fun meeting us as we've had meeting him.

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 6

by Crazy Ivan

As we work our way further and further down the list of the most influential Myachis of all time, there are a few sacks that you expect to see.  Some Myachis have reached such an iconic status within the movement that they are bound to show up on a list like this.

In fact, I'm willing to wager that as the bona fide Myachi Maniac read through the first four entries in this series, they were probably listing Myachis in their head that they knew would show up on the list somewhere.  While I doubt that anyone had predicted the Cherry Red, the Tune in With Taylor or the Green Sponge as contenders, I have little doubt that many of our loyal readers have been thinking for a week now, "I wonder where Black Butter will fall?"

 #6) The Black Butter 

In many ways, the Black Butter could be considered the definitive Myachi.  It is the most popular Myachi of all time, having been released in no fewer than 10 different series.  In addition to the more than 22,000 Black Butters that have been released in various series over the years, the same fabric has lent itself to a number of popular promotional sacks like the Dunkin Donuts, the Alana Grace, the Dodge, the Mileage Club and the Shamrock Shuffle.

The first iteration of this sack actually came long before the Black Butter itself.  The Black Velveteen of series 0.4 was a remarkably similar sack with exquisite jammability and grip.  It was fast to break in and its neutral color made it a favorite among early jammers.  But that fabric quickly became unavailable and a series of not-quite-as-good substitutes plagued the Myachi Movement for the years following.

But then along came the Black Butter.  It was superior in grip and the fabric was widely available so there was no danger of our manufacturer running out.  What's more is that we found virtually everyone loved the solid black.  It was rarely anyone's favorite in a series, but it was always a suitable second choice if the most popular sack was gone.

The Black Butter was extremely popular and is even today considered by many to be the most perfect Myachi ever constructed.  But that, by itself, does not earn it a place on this list.  We're not compiling a list of the most popular Myachis ever made, after all; this is a list of the Myachis that changed the world... or, more accurately, Myachis that changed the world of Myachi.

To understand the impact of the Black Butter, we must examine a slow, undulating trend that has existed in the Myachi Movement since the beginning.  It is the tidal flux of Myachi, the eternal ebb and flow of collecting and jamming.

At first, of course, Myachi was all about jamming.  The game can't start with collectors, as there would be nothing to collect.  Jamming was all there was to Myachi at the time; solo shredding, tossing back and forth with your friends, creating new tricks and thinking up new Myachi games.  The only reason people got more than one Myachi was to hedge their bets against losing one and later to learn two and three Myachi tricks.

But it didn't take very long for the collecting aspect to materialize.  As soon as a few jammers glanced at their pile of four or five Myachis, it started looking like a collection waiting to happen.  The various fabrics all in a uniform size and cut just beg to be augmented with ever more colors and patterns.  Within only a few series, collecting started to dominate the market.

It makes sense if you think about it.  Keep in mind that we're talking about the earliest days of the Myachi Movement where at best there were a few thousand people that owned Myachis.  Jammers, by and large, buy two or three Myachis and eventually develop a collection over years.  Collectors, on the other hand, by ten, twelve or twenty Myachis.  So even if there are ten times as many jammers as there are collectors, the collectors are still buying more Myachis overall.

As a company, we have little choice in the whole supply and demand thing.  It's kind of an immutable law of business so when the biggest segment of our customer base started begging for ever more exotic fabrics to add to their collections, we obliged.  We scoured the world for cool looking, unusual fabrics to use in upcoming series.

This led to an interesting era in Myachi that is still relished by collectors.  Sacks like the Snake Skin Tie-Dye, the Orange Wetsuit, the Yellow Cat and the Red and Purple Swirls dominated each new series.  These sacks were clearly there for collectors.  They were stiff, unaccommodating jammers but they looked spectacularly cool.  Inevitably, of course, this trend went too far.

The sack that most perfectly encapsulates the ridiculous end that we went to trying new fabrics is the infamous Neo, the waterproof neoprene yellow beast that has all the jammability of a soaped up iPhone.  Designed to be jammed with in pools and on beaches, the Neo was a decent jammer when it was soaking wet and all but useless the rest of the time.

The Black Butter showed up at about the same time (actually a few series before) and represented our continuing commitment to the freestylers and skill-players.  Sure, the majority of sacks were produced for the collector that was demanding more colors, patterns and feels, but we never lost focus on the importance of having a few great jammers in every series as well.

For a number of reasons, the trend toward exotic Myachis started to recede around series 1.1 or so.  Part of this was due to the ease of manufacture of some fabrics, some was due to the shifting zeitgeist of the movement back toward freestyle but an awful lot of it can be credited directly to the Black Butter.  Despite being offered in a series alongside such visually striking sacks as the Blue Dragon, the Royal Tiger, the Leopard Lime, the Tie Dye Snakeskin and the Fireball, the Black Butter consistently remained toward the top of the sales numbers.  Sure, we sold out the Royal Tigers a bit faster, but everyone was willing to settle for a Black Butter if they didn't get their first choice.

The Black Butter was a turning point for the company and for the game.  It said that we didn't need gimmicky fabrics to make it work.  The fun of the game itself was enough even if the Myachi wasn't visually striking.  The quality fabric and the intrinsic yumminess of the Black Butter was enough to help reverse the trend.  Of course, today we've found ways to couple superior jammability with awesome patterns, but this best-of-both-worlds approach never would have been possible if it weren't for this simple Myachi.


We'll be breaking into the top half of our list in the next installment, so be sure to keep checking back with us to see if your favorite Myachi made the list of the top 5 Myachis that changed the world.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 7

by Crazy Ivan

We've worked our way through the first three Myachis that changed the world in previous posts.  Already we've seen the importance that a single Myachi can have on the direction that all future Myachis take.  We have learned that one innovative idea, fabric or realization can forever alter the course of the game.  That might seem like an overstatement considering the examples that I've offered so far, but in this installment you'll see how literally true that statement is.

To provide this example, we're going to have to go deep into Myachi's history and examine one of the first production sacks ever made.  So imagine yourself in a land before You-Tube, a time before Facebook, a world in which everyone had a surplus of bottled water they were still working through from the new year and you couldn't go eight minutes without hearing "Who Let the Dogs Out?"... I speak, of course, of the year 2000.

 #7) The Green Sponge 

The Green Sponge was released in what we now call series 0.3, but was at the time simply called "the new batch of Myachis".  This would represent the third "production run" of Myachis (before that, Myachi Man was hand sewing them) so the process of selecting large run fabrics and formulating the combination of such fabrics to create a series was pretty new.  Myachi Man had largely constructed the earlier Myachis out of scrap fabric like old clothes and swatches too small to be valuable to fabric stores.

This was a time of high experimentation when it came to fabric selection.  We'd not yet hit upon modern staples like microsuede, phelvit, corduroy or that unique softsuede you get in Pakisacks.  Heck, to this point Myachi Man had yet to try denim on a large scale.  The first two series had a bit of a "throw everything against the wall and see what sticks" feel to them with each sack a departure from the last.  Thing about sacks like the Iridescent Rainbow, the Brick in the Wall, the Flower Power, the Glow in the Dark and the Yellow Wetsuit, each of which has a vastly different feel and each of which was released in one of the first two production runs.

But by the third series, you could already see the ideas start to galvanize.  The fabrics from that series were odd by the standards of today, but compared to the cacophony of fabrics and patterns offered in the first two series, this one was downright tame.  Each sack was a solid color and though the Purple Crush and Red Swirl were slight departures, everything else in the series was a new coloration on a fabric that had already proved itself before.

The Blue Sponge was released in series 0.1 and was not particularly popular when set against the flamboyant Guatemalans, Flower Powers and BITWs, but Myachi Man had seen that the fabric itself was great for toss and catch.  The Blue Sponge was the slowest seller in the series, but it might have been the best jammer.  In his newest series, Myachi Man was moving away from crazy patterns and toward solid colors so he decided to revisit the sponge fabric in a green.

As it turns out, the sponge material isn't particularly good.  It's got great grip so it's good for toss and catch and centrifugal tricks, but not so much for the fast aerials and hand swaps of today's freestyle jammer.  In fact, but for the fact that it is so antiquated, the Green Sponge is hardly worth mentioning at all.

Except for one unintended consequence that would forever change the world of Myachi and the way that Myachi fabrics are selected.

You see, whether or not it was intended as such, the Green Sponge was the first "Sister Sack" in Myachi history.  The idea that Myachis would be pair-bonded was an immediate hit with the burgeoning ranks of collectors and as soon as Myachi Man saw the reaction, there was no question that this would become a staple of Myachi series in the future.  People who'd already picked up the Blue Sponge gravitated to the Green one and people who got the Green one started looking for the Blue.

Today, the Sister Sack concept is an integral part of Myachi and when we choose new fabrics we're always thinking about it.  We're always thinking about the popular sacks that don't yet have sisters and when we see new fabrics or patterns, we always consider how the sister sacks will look before we settle on them.

For the Black Butter there is the Slater; for the Green Spot the Red Spot; for the Calvin the Diesel; for the Phat Kat Green there is the Phat Kat Black.  It has become such a big part of collecting that when rumors of a new series begin to circulate, the first questions we get our usually framed around "sister sacks".  People will ask "Will there be a (pick a color) Crush?" or "Will there be a Red Dragon?"

It's hard to imagine a time before this was the standard and it stands to reason that Myachi Man always had this vague concept in his head, but before the Green Sponge it was no more than an idea.  Then, with the release of one unimposing Myachi, the world was changed forever.


We still have 6 more parts to go in the series, so keep checking back with us for #6 on our list of Myachis that changed the world...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Most Frequently Asked Questions

by Crazy Ivan

One of my favorite things about this blog is the analytic page.  It's here that I can peruse all the ins and outs of the blog.  I can see who is visiting, how many people have visited, where they're from (the country, not your street address), how they found us and how often they visit.  It tells me what websites have links to our forum, where people most often go after leaving the forum and how long they stayed before they took off.

It even tells me what people have Googled to find the forum.  And this is actually one of the most interesting things to check.

One of the main reasons I started this blog is that when I Googled a Myachi-related question, I would always find the wrong information.  I'd either be directed to a horribly incorrect wiki-answers or Yahoo Answers kind of page or I'd wind up on some random post on the forum.  I might even find myself on some wholly unrelated page that just happens to have a mention of Myachi buried somewhere within it.

So when I set out to start this blog, one of the first things I did was get to answering basic questions about Myachi.  That way, if somebody Googled "Who is the best Myachi player?" they would win up finding this instead of some kid on Yahoo Answers anonymously claiming that they were, in fact, the best Myachi player.  I tackled many of the basic questions that I hear a lot, such as "Which is the best Myachi?", "What's the hardest trick?" and "What was the first Myachi ever made?"  In fact, I make it a point to write an article on here every time I hear the same question 3 times.  I figure if 3 people were curious enough to ask me, there were probably several more who never bothered to bring it up.

I also use the aforementioned analytic page to find new subjects.  As long as we've been adding content now, pretty much any Myachi related question that you Google is going to turn up at least one link to this blog on the first page.  That means that I often get to see questions that I haven't thought to answer yet.  For example, if somebody Googled "Which is the best Corduroy Myachi?" they would still find our blog.  In fact, I double checked and this is the first link they would find.

So now I can look back at the analytic page and see that somebody found our blog by Googling the best corduroy Myachi and if I've seen that same question asked before (or if I can't think of anything else to write about at the moment), I'll go ahead and write a whole article about which corduroy is best so that the next person Googling it gets a more specific answer.

The other cool thing about that feature is that it allows me to track trends in Myachi Googling.  I can track which Myachi questions are asked most often and which ones are being asked more or less frequently as time goes on.  Armed with that information, I can try to stay ahead of the curve by adjusting the content of the blog to whatever people are growing more interested in.  I can also, of course, track the consistently most asked questions about Myachi and generate more and more content about that subject.

It should come as no great surprise that the most common subject we get questions about is breaking in a Myachi.  I've posted a few articles on the subject before and they are some of the most popular articles on the blog.  People are always looking for ways to break in a Myachi or new shortcuts to SUMPOY.  They are always seeking out the most yummifiable Myachis and wondering which fabrics work best for which methods.

So think of this blog as an explanation in advance.  If you start noticing a higher-than-usual volume of posts about breaking in Myachis, that's why.  I still owe everybody a MythBusters style test of various break in methods and I haven't forgotten it, though I'm still not sure when I can fit it into my crazy schedule.

Oh, and a sort of side note to this whole thing.  If there's a subject you want me to blog about, you can always email it to me or leave it in the comments, but if you wanted a more round-about way of getting it done, just Google your question a couple of times and click on the first link you see to the Myachi Blog...

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Stupidity of Theft

by Crazy Ivan

Getting stolen from stinks.  There's a mix of frustration, anger, ineptitude and regret that all come rushing to the surface at once and combine to form a sense of overwhelming peccancy.  Theft is a violation of such a fundamental part of our general social contract; you get your stuff, I get my stuff.  When somebody takes your stuff you just can't help but reflect for a while on how fragile that agreement really is.

In case you hadn't guessed it, I recently had some stuff stolen from me.  It was nothing major, so don't be too worried about me.  It was a simple matter of setting down my backpack for 15 minutes and reaching back for it only to find an empty patch of carpet.

One would think that after several years living in New York City I'd know better than to take my eyes off my stuff for a full 15 minutes.  But we all suffer from occasional lapses in judgment and when we do, life has a way of forcing us to regret it.

So I notice my pack missing and the first thing I do is go through the aforementioned list of emotions and then I notify security at the place I was.  They were sympathetic but it was too late to stand any real chance of recovering it so I thanked them and continued on with my day back-packless.

Now that I'm a few days removed from the immediate upwelling of anger and frustration, I'm able to look back on the occasion with a bit more clarity.  When I do so, I'm left only to reflect on the stupidity of theft.  Of course, I'll never know who stole my backpack, but whoever it was saw it there, saw that nobody was keeping a close eye on it, swung in and snatched it.  A "crime of opportunity" they call it.  That person probably wasn't out looking for backpacks to steal; they're just the kind of human refuse that sees an unattended bag and steals it.

So they casually walked out of the store with my backpack slung over their shoulder.  They walked past security and even though there was a lump in the pit of their stomach, they stayed cool on the outside.  They walked away at a hurried pace, but they didn't rush.  They didn't want to draw any attention to themselves, but they were really curious about their bounty.  The backpack was pretty light so they'd probably already figured out that there wasn't a laptop in it or anything, but what did they get?  They couldn't just sit down in front of the store and start rooting through it because surely the rightful owner (me) would have noticed it missing by now.

Every step they took removed them further from the scene of the crime but the suspense also grew and eventually the thief decided that he was far enough away to look inside and see what they got.  And I can only imagine the disappointment on their faces as they discovered that the backpack contained nothing but:
  • A kind of smelly green hoodie that was in need of a wash,
  • A spare pair of socks,
  • A few Myachis (which probably just left them scratching their head)
  • A cord that connects something to a USB port
  • A few business cards,
  • A half eaten bag of Dark Chocolate M&Ms,
  • A few hair ties,
  • A Sharpie and
  • Last week's inventory sheet from Toys R Us Time Square.
I can only hope that after seeing what a worthless take they wound up with, the fledgling criminal is dissuaded and realizes that there were probably easier and safer ways to get a hoodie and half a bag of M&Ms.  Ways that don't come with any potential prison time and don't leave me walking home from the Subway freezing while I try to figure out where I can find a new USB cord for my camera.

Now, to the thief all of this stuff is more or less worthless.  Sure, a couple of the Myachis were rare (including a Theatrix!) and a few of them were really yummy, but I'm sure they won't know that they have value.  My guess is that my back pack (or at least it's contents) got dumped in a trash can somewhere when their worthlessness was discovered.  A huge inconvenience to me that didn't benefit anybody and might have wound somebody up in jail.

There are a couple of morals to this story, of course.  The first is to always keep your eye on your backpack (I doubt I'll forget again) and the second (and probably more important) is don't be a thief.  Not only is it cruel and immoral, but it's also stupid.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 8

by Crazy Ivan

So far in this series, the Calvin has taught us the importance of breaking in our Myachis and the Cherry Red has been highlighted for the influential introduction of a new fabric.  Both of those nominees can be said to be on the "game" side of the evolution of Myachis.  The nominee that we'll be talking about in this third installment of the Myachis That Changed the World made its mark on the "business" side of Myachi.

Of course, this series of blog posts are all about the way that Myachis themselves changed, not the way that the company changed.  So instead of looking at this through the lens of a person with a vested business interest in Myachi, I'll instead try to wear my collectors cap and look at the way it influenced dozens of Myachis that would be made in the future.

 #8) Tune in With Taylor 

First of all, the Tune in With Taylor sacks (there are three of them) get my nomination for the worst pictures on the entire Sackthology.  The pics themselves are crudely cropped (I have nobody to blame but myself) and they lack the all important signature keychain loop, one of the primary things that make this Myachi unique.

So moving beyond the sub-par picture above, let's take a look at what this sack represented.  There were a lot of things that made it different.  The keychain loop, though not pictured above, was white instead of the standard black.  We'd made a few sacks before this with a red keychain loop (the Best Westerns, for example), but to this day the Tune in With Taylor sacks are the only ones that ever sported a white keychain loop.

They're also embroidered, which is rather uncommon in Myachi history.  The Rice Krispies Treats has the most spectacular example of embroidery in Myachi history and the sack Myachi Man made for his wedding announcements was the most memorable, but as few examples as there are of embroidered Myachis, it is definitely worth noting that these sacks belong to that narrow class.

But there was something else that made the Tune in With Taylor a different type of Myachi and it had nothing to do with the way it was manufactured, the colors they selected or the fabric that we used.  This sack marked the first time we ever sold a Myachi as a commemoration of a special event.

Notice an important word in that last sentence, because it was not the first Myachi ever made to commemorate a special event.  A year earlier, Myachi Man had commissioned the production of the aforementioned Myachi Man wedding sack, but that was more of a novelty than a new direction for the business.  Myachi Man was getting married and he was the Myachi Man, so it only made sense to send out his invitations on Myachis.

But the Tune in With Taylors marked the first time that we were able to sell this concept to someone else.  It wouldn't mean much to the history of Myachi if we just made a new special event sack every time one of the Myachi Masters got married.  Since Myachi Man's wedding in 03, none of the rest of us have needed a nuptial sack so it would hardly be worth mentioning in an article like this.

Parties, on the other hand, eventually grew to be a huge part of our business.  Back in 04 we were still working with manufacturers that demanded really high volume to make Myachis so the cost of getting a sack made just for a kid's birthday party was prohibitive.  As the years progressed, however, we were able to bring the minimum down from north of a thousand pieces to a mere 150.  This had led to the "Special Event" sack becoming a staple part of our business, as well as a staple part of most Myachi Maniacs collections.

Legendary sacks like the Coreyster, the Syd, the JDM, the Charles' Milk, the TJP... these sacks can all trace their Myachi lineage back to the three Tune in With Taylor sacks.  With a legacy like that, it should come as no surprise that the Tune in With Taylors come in at the #8 spot on our list of the most earth-shattering Myachis of all time.

And if your itching with curiosity about which other Myachis made the cut, be sure to keep checking back with us...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Runner Up Worth Reading

by Crazy Ivan

We ended our back to school writing contest on Monday and from the feedback I've gotten, I think it's safe to say that we chose the right winner.  Still, there were a lot of really solid submissions and I wanted to share a few of them with you as well.  I might add a few more later in the week, but this one made me laugh out loud so I couldn't help but kick off with it.

Sorry, no prize for first runner up, except to know that your hard work will be appreciated by all of the Myachi Blog's loyal readers:

The Long Lunch Toss

            “Aaaahh,” I whispered to myself, as I finally put down my backpack full of what seemed like bricks.  It was made heavier still by all my Myachies. The first thing I heard from my teacher after unpacking is, “What do I not want to see until recess?”

            The class responded, “Myachies!”  This answer was a mix of my-achies (incorrect pronunciation) and me-achies (correct pronunciation.) Taking all this into account, I felt a little silly wearing a black shirt with jumping yellow letters that screamed, “MYACHI!”

            Classes that day were how they always were… painfully boring.  I did what I always do during banal classes… desk jam!  I wasn’t about to stand up and start hopping around to foot jam.  Myachi movements at my desk entertained me until lunch.

            At lunch, I finished early, so I got a tiny bit antsy.  One of my really good friends is also a Myachi fanatic.  I had a jammer with me, so the urge to play Myachi was unbearable. 

            I whispered to my fellow Myachi Maniac, “We should play long-toss across the lunchroom.”  To us, the oblivious plan sounded “insane,” as some people in the world of Myachi would say.  I ran over to the complete other side of the lunchroom, took my Myachi out of the patented Myachi pocket, and did a quick Osis to make sure I was ready.  I was.

            “Huuaaggh!” I heaved Patchwork Blue across the entire lunchroom.  My buddy stuck it with some difficulty. The next thing I knew, my Patchwork was returning.  With a quick tug on my shirt, I trampolined the Myachi and caught it (on the back of my hand, of course.) My second throw was my last.  When I cocked my hand back, it slipped a little bit.  When I actually released the Myachi, it was on the side of my hand, so it slipped off and hit the most serious teacher in the school. (Just my luck!) That did it.

            Every teacher in the school knows from previous experience that my friend and I are a bad combination.  This woman had an absolute ZERO tolerance for us.  I knew we were busted.  She angrily bent over and picked the yummy jammer off the floor, trying to barely touch it in the process.  I was positive she was going to keep the Myachi, at least until the end of the year.

            The lunchroom fell silent.  Even with all this in mind, I couldn’t help but crack up… completely.  That definitely didn’t help my situation.  She stormed over actually sounding like a storm.  Her wide-heeled boots pounded on the tile echoing around the still lunchroom like thunder.  Her eyes burned like lightning.  Ironically enough, her name was Mrs. Storm.  It completely captured her appearance. 

            I was tearing in my eyes, trying to restrain myself from laughing too hard.  The next thing I knew, Mrs. Storm was screaming her head off at me.  She was loud in the first place, but now screaming?  I couldn’t even pay attention to what she was saying.  Something about responsibility and what was I thinking.  As if her fifteen minute lecture wasn’t enough, she sent me and my friend (who was laughing when I was) to the principal’s office, AND gave us a week of no recess. 

            After a visit to the principal (my pal, because I visit him at least twice a year), my friend and I had no recess for five extra days, making a total of ten recess days never to be recaptured.  I also know that the school’s policy is that if something is taken away from you, you don’t get it back until the end of the year.  I love my Patchwork, and didn’t want to have it taken away for months.  Even though I was in big trouble, I could only think about what I was losing.

            Ten days later, I decided long-toss wasn’t right for the lunchroom.  “Too bad the classrooms aren’t bigger,” I thought.  The next day for the hour long lunch, I got a little antsy again.  The urge to play Myachi was unbearable (again), but there was NO WAY that I was going to play long-toss.  I thought about my somewhat stolen Myachi.  I won’t do that again.  Ever.  It tarnished my reputation, and even though I did get a minute of fun and a good laugh, I had learned my lesson.  While I was thinking all of these serious thoughts, I caught the gaze of my fellow Myachi Maniac...

            "High-toss?" I whispered.


Starting Off With a Little Kick

by Crazy Ivan

There's an upcoming addition to the Myachi family that I've alluded to on this blog before, but never actually talked about.  The truth is that I didn't want to get everybody's hopes up until it was definite.  Now it's definite so I can now feel comfortable stoking the fires of suspense.

Many of you have probably heard of/seen the new Myachi Battle Paddles.  We've developed a series of increasingly awesome prototypes over the past year and several versions have shown up on various videos and photos.  Heck, an early version even snuck its way onto the back of the 5.0, 5.1 and 5.1x packaging (look on Animal's desk on the back).

A few weeks ago, we finalized the design and the long process of R&D came to a close.  Some of you have been waiting for a year to see the finished product, but for Myachi Man, Kid Myach and myself, this is the culmination of ideas and sketches we've been sharing for the better part of a decade.  Seeing the effort finally come to fruition seems like a real milestone in the Myachi world as yet one more of our dreams are realized.

Now the whole operation moves on to the next phase.  We're done with the research, we're finished with the development, we've polished off the design and now all that's left is the manufacture.  Granted, that's a pretty big piece of the puzzle, but the wheels are already turning on it and molds are already being fashioned.  The juggernaut has already started to roll and the inevitable awesomeness of the Battle Paddle creeps closer and closer.

But that's not to say that you can't still play a part in it all.  We recognize what a big step this is in the history of the Myachi Movement and we also realize that the movement spreads way outside the House of Skills.  Sure, the Myachi Masters have played a big part in spreading the word and expanding the scope of the game, but our contribution pales in comparison with what the Myachi Maniacs have done to build the game and the expand the reach of the brand.  Without you, the loyal jammers and local STWAKOJeers, the Battle Paddle would still be a sketch on a napkin.

For that reason, we want to give you a chance to be a part of this next phase in the Myachi world-takeover.  Luckily for us, there's an awesome website out there that makes that pretty easy.  It's called "Kick Starter" and it helps small companies and groups raise money for projects.  The concept is that the company sets a goal (in our case that's $2500) and people can go to the site to pledge small amounts toward that goal.  They can pledge small amounts, even down to a single dollar.

Of course, there's more in it for you than simply knowing you helped Myachi move forward as a company.  At different pledge amounts, you get different rewards for your contribution.  Even if you pledge as little as a dollar you get a certificate that commemorates your participation in the Batlle Paddle project, but as the dollars go up, the rewards get better and better:

  • At $1 you get a certificate that confirms that you were a part of it all.
  • At $10 you get an exclusive commemorative Myachi (A Pakisack, no less!)
  • At $25 you get the certificate and the Myachi, but in addition, you get a pre-release Battle Paddle set.  You'll be among the first people in the world to try out the newest addition to the Myachi family and as soon as they arrive at HQ your pre-order will be shipped out.
  • At $75 you get all the other stuff, but instead of getting one set of Battle Paddles, you get 4.  Keep in mind that these packs will sell in stores for $20 a piece, so you'll be getting $80 worth of stuff PLUS the limited edition Myachi.
  • At $250 or more you get stuff so awesome that I can't even tantalize you with it on this blog.  To find out about this pledge, you'll have to go to the Kick Starter website.
We've only had the project listed for a couple of days now and we've already gotten almost 20% of our goal, so things are looking really good.  The way the website works, if we don't raise the full $2500 then nobody who pledged will be on the hook for anything, but at the pace we're going it looks pretty clear that we'll be smashing our goal.

If you want in, click here to check out the website.  It goes without saying that if you're under 18, talk to mom and dad and have them read over the info on KickStarter.  I'm sure many of you have plunked $10 down on a limited edition sack in the past and this isn't much different, just more meaningful in the long run of Myachi history.

And even if you're not interested in backing the Battle Paddle project, you should still click on the link up there if for no reason but to see the video that shows the Battle Paddles in action...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 9

by Crazy Ivan

In the first part of this series, I nominated the Calvin as the 10th most earth-shattering Myachi in Myachi history. Some have accused me of playing favorites and it is a charge that I won't deny entirely.  The good news is that i got my favorite Myachi out of the way early so at least I can remain relatively objective on the next 9.

My next nominee on the list is one that most people might not expect to see.  It is one of the most common Myachis in the world and since it is still widely available, few people think about it as being exceptional in any way.  But when it first arrived on the Myachi world, it was an instant game changer:

 #9) The Cherry Red 

The Cherry Red traces it's history back to the earliest days of Myachi.  It was included in the first ever "Made in China" run and is still available in the old-school DVD Combo pack along with the Midnight Blue.  This sack is so common that many people consider it the "generic" Myachi and on the Hall of Fame, its various iterations range in Trade Value from 10 to 99.  It is also one of the few sacks that is available (to a really determined collector) with no loops, a keychain loop and a power loop.

Clearly, there are a lot of things about the Cherry Red that make it unique, but nothing I've said so far makes it influential, and that's the theme of this whole series.  So rather than focusing on what makes it an unusual sack now, we need to instead go all the way back and look at what made it unusual when in first arrived on the scene back in 2002.

There were felt sacks before the Cherry Red, but their fabrics were quite a bit different.  The Blue, Black and Purple Velveteen all shared a similar feel to the modern Phelvits, but they are unmistakably different.  The Velveteens were more coarse and thus had better grip right away, but it also made them harder to break in and less likely to fold over even once they were totally yummified.

The Cherry Red was different.  It broke in much quicker and even though it was a bit slicker on the hand and thus a bit tougher to do centrifugals with, it was far easier for aerial tricks, foot stalls, finger tricks and high body stalls.  What's more, the coarser fabric we'd used before was only available in dark, muted colors.  The treatment process of the fabric itself would not allow for bright, vibrant colors to be maintained.

The Phelvit fabric was a different matter altogether and thus it ushered in a whole host of new Myachis including the Midnight Blue, the Juice, the Sour Apple Green, the Eggplant and all the QSPs.  The Hunter Green, which predated the Cherry Red in a paper tag and Made in Mexico form was reworked in the new Phelvit fabric as well and given a new lease on life when the older fabric became unavailable.  It also became the new standard for promotional sacks and would remain so until it was overtaken by the Microsuedes (which would, in turn, be taken over by the Pakistani Suedes).

Many jammers today consider the Phelvit to be an antiquated fabric and the recent run of sacks would tend to back them up on that.  We've found a number of fabrics since then that have taken the place of the Phelvits and most of the determined defenders of the Phelvits are people who have been in the game for quite some time.  It's easy to underestimate the importance of the new fabric now, as we look back at it through the lens of hindsight.  But in its day, the Cherry Red was a monumental step forward in the evolution of the Myachi and thus earns the ninth spot on my list of the most earth-shattering Myachis of all time.

Keep checking back with us to see the other 8 nominees...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Essay Contest Winner!

by Crazy Ivan

Before we get to the winner, a quick explanation.  My intention had been to release several of the essays that we got throughout the day on Friday and announce the winner at 6 that evening.  But because of the holiday we extended the deadline through the weekend.  I could, of course, just do the same thing today and release a couple of the runner ups first, but since all the entrants have already had to wait an extra 66 hours or so, I've decided to end the suspense mercifully and declare the winner.

Normally it is really hard to pick a winner in these contests because we always get so many good entries and they're usually all prize-worthy.  This time around was no exception and there were quite a few touching stories that certainly could have competed for the grand prize here.  Before I announce the winner, I feel like I should take the time to thank all the participants for their effort and their imaginations.  Reading through these essays was one of the most fun things I've ever done as a Myachi Master.

Normally I fret over picking the winner.  I usually spend a while whittling it down, rereading several entries and getting the opinions of as many Myachi Masters as I can.  I'll take their conflicting opinions and weigh them with my own until we reach a consensus and then I'll usually waffle about that for a while and declare two or three winners instead of one.

But I must say that this contest was one of the easiest to decide of all time.  All the judges agreed completely on which one deserved the prize.  It wasn't that there was a lack of good entries; on the contrary I was amazed by the level of writing talent that our loyal readers displayed.  Many of the stories made me smile and a few of them made me laugh out loud, but only one of them literally brought a tear to my eye.

It was a few words over the 1250 word limit and the writer asked if that would be okay.  He went over by less than 100 words so we forgave him and I think you'll all see why:

Myachi Essay Contest
Grand Prize Winner:

Before I start my story, I want to say that this story is truly an amazing one and has touched my life in so many ways. This story has been a blessing to not only my life and the people who witnessed it, but the very gentle life it involves.
I am a member at a Baptist Church in my city. I have been a member of this church for about 8 years. About 2 years ago, we had a family move to our church (which is hard to notice because of the size of our church, but this family was easily noticeable). In this family, we will call them the Jones family (I am keeping their last name safe just in case), there was a kid named Matthew, yes his name is really Matthew. Matthew was adopted by the Jones family and it was obvious he had been sheltered due to his disabilities. You see, Matthew is autistic. He has the academic mental capacity of a 5th grader, has very little understanding of right and wrong (such as when to talk and when to listen), but has a memory like I have never seen before. For example, it is a thing at our school to say, “Booiii,” like boy, but a lot more country and a lot louder.  I said it one night during youth and now he asks me to say it at least 20 times within the hour that we see each other at church.

I have slowly become Matthew’s best friend, which I am proud of because he is so much fun to be around. I jam just about wherever I go, so I was bound to pull out my myachi around Matthew at some point. When he saw this interesting little sack I had, he was instantly intrigued.  About a month ago, I found out that Matthew is one of the special-education students at our school, which was surprising because I had never seen him before around school, as I always make sure to say hello to “those kinds” of kids. I know how much it means to them to get a hug or a high five, so taking 2 minutes out of my day to make them smile makes me feel better. Turns out, Matthew is really shy at school, so he avoids going to lunch to escape the crowd. My youth pastor, Scott, told me about this and asked me to go visit him one day when I got a chance, so of course I jumped at the chance.

I have Journalism 3rd block, which is basically a relaxation class, as we usually leave campus for lunch, write one article a week, and just hang out during the day. When I went to his classroom, I sat down with him and talked, and I put the Myachi on the table right in front of me. Usually if I am not jamming, I am holding a sack in my hand and rubbing it in a way to break it in, so when he got the sack he started rubbing it like I did. Suddenly, an idea stuck in my head that would change our lives. I stood up and said, “Matthew, do you want to play?” and he started smiling, “Play what?” I replied and said, “Stand up; I want to show you how to play with this.” So he stood up and I slowly began to teach him the cold fusion. Sadly, he wasn’t quite getting the fact that you can’t just slap the Myachi, but it is a catch and toss kind of thing, so the cold fusion was off, but I wouldn’t dare let this stand in my way. I got the feeling he was getting frustrated, so I decided to let him have some fun. I told him to toss me the sack, so he did. Once the Myachi was within reach, I did a Trampoline, Instep Stall, Outstep Stall, Instep Kick combo. As I finished the trick, Matthew’s face lit up with excitement. He said, “Do it again!” so I repeated the combo, but skipped the trampoline. Suddenly, his face wasn’t as amazed, which then he said, “No Huntur, off your shirt!” I chuckled and did a trampoline. When I stuck it, he laughed so much that he fell on the floor. Just as I was getting into showing him fun tricks like the Trampoline, Flying Fish, Faceplant, etc, the bell rang and class was over, so I told him goodbye and went to my next class.

Several days passed, and I visited him more days than not.  Every day I visited him, I incorporated him more and more into my jams. One day I would do a trampoline off of his shirt and catch it, sometimes he would throw it and I would do a kick and then catch it, and some days he just wanted to watch. One day, I decided it was time for him to learn. Days and days went by of me skipping lunch just to spend that extra 30 minutes teaching him, seeing him laugh, and seeing him truly enjoy himself. Today, he can do a Cold Fusion, the Flow, Trampoline, and the Neo.

The thing that hit the most was the day he completely changed. When I went to his room, he wasn’t there. I asked his teacher where he was and she told me that today he was eating in the lunchroom. When I finally found him in the mix of the hundreds of kids in the lunchroom, I went and sat with him. When I sat next to him, he said, “I wanted to show my friends!” as he held out the sack I had given to him. He stood up and began (clumsily) doing all the tricks he knew. Then something crazy happened. Over the intercom in the lunchroom I heard, “Matthew, please come to the stage.” So I walked Matthew up to the stage to see what the principles wanted. They were amazed that he was standing up in lunch playing with everyone. He was showing off his skills when everyone started looking. Everyone started watching this kid, who was obviously challenged in life, do things that they couldn’t do. Sure, plenty of people in my school have asked to hold the Myachi and have slapped it for about 3 seconds only for it to fall, but he was actually doing it. Everyone in the lunchroom looked in awe at him, and began to clap.

It was at this moment that I realized just what Myachi can do. Myachi isn’t just a game, it isn’t just a hobby, but it is a tool. It is a tool to open doors to where no one imagined they would go. Myachi brings people together. It gives them a sense of excitement and success. This day, Myachi was a tool to overcome a challenge, one that Matthew has had since birth. Autism, shyness, and an enormous amount of doubt were all overcome by the willingness of someone to teach, the desire to learn, and the excitement of the game. This day, everyone gazed upon the truth that nothing is impossible, no matter what stands in their way. This day, people realized the potential of everyone, even the disabled.

I don’t know the best part about this story, whether it is teaching someone about Myachi, or the life lessons learned through the person. Whether you choose to see the some 250 people in the lunch who saw what myachi is, or those who chose to see a kid overcoming his challenges, Matthew had some purpose that day, and I believe his purpose was fulfilled.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Quite Reasonable Delay

by Crazy Ivan

Alright, so I feel like I have a pretty good excuse for delaying the announcement of the winner of the essay contest, but I have no legitimate excuse for being a day late explaining it.

When I first announced the contest, it didn't really occur to me that it I'd scheduled it to end on Rosh Hashanah.  All I was looking at when I scheduled the contest was Pinky's birthday (the 28th) and I wanted to make sure that I would be done with all the birthday stuff before I had to finish up the contest.

But I've gotten a few emails requesting that I back up the final entry date from a lot of our loyal readers who are out of town, have relatives in town and are otherwise occupied with holiday festivities.  I guess it was a bit unfair to pick that date to begin with, so as per request, I'll be allowing for a few extra days for everybody to get their entries in order.

The new deadline for entry is midnight on Sunday night so there's a whole extra day (and an evening) to work on your entries.  The theme is pretty wide open so get creative, have fun, but also, get to work!!!  There's not much time left.

And, of course, to all of you who got your entries in on time, thanks and sorry for the delay.  I'll announce the winner (and the final decision on the prize) on Monday afternoon so the suspense will have to carry over for the rest of the weekend.

Good luck to all and thanks for all the submissions so far.  They've been a lot of fun to read (which I'll prove on Monday).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 10

by Crazy Ivan

I've had it in my head for a while to write a series of posts about the most influential Myachis of all time.  To be fair, I've gone a bit grandiose with the title.  As far as I know, no single Myachi has yet changed the world.  Well, there was a Royal Tiger that played a pivotal role in taking out Osama Bin Laden but the details of that one are still classified.

This series will be focused on the much smaller world of Myachi and the sacks that made a pivotal difference in the way that Myachis would be made in the future.  I'll be grabbing certain sacks that I deem cornerstones of Myachi's history and presenting them over the next week or two in hopes of further illuminating the evolution of the game from an idea in Myachi Man's head to the reality we see today.

I've ranked 10 sacks by their influence but I should point out in advance that my rankings were necessarily arbitrary as were my choices of which Myachis to include and which to leave out.  It's impossible to objectively quantify the influence one development had on the future of the game.  If you take issue with any of my rankings once this whole series is published, please feel free to make your own top 10 ranks (preferably annotated) and I'd be happy to publish a few of those as responses to this series.

I'll begin with a sack that I just can't seem to leave off of any top 10 list of Myachis I put together...

  #10) The Calvin 

I should admit that the Calvin barely belongs on this list at all.  Part of me is force fitting it in here because it's my all time favorite Myachi and I think it belongs on every list of Myachis.  But part of me also sees a significant turning point that the Calvin allowed.  The Calvin was the first Myachi to really show us the absolute importance of breaking a Myachi in.

It's not an absolute, mind you, more the culmination of a long trend.  We already knew that a broken in Myachi was far better than a brand new one.  We already used the term "yummy" to describe a really nice Myachi and we already all had our own personal methods of breaking them in.

But up to that point, it was seen as the extension of an absolute.  A broken in Slater was a spectacular jammer but a brand new Slater was already a pretty good jammer.  A broken in EO Shag was a good jammer, but nowhere near as good as a broken in Slater.  Similarly, a brand new EO Shag was not as instantly jammable as the fresh-from-the-box Slater.

In other words, up to that point, we all would have agreed with the following statement:

If you take two brand new Myachis, one of which is a better jammer than the other, and you break them in equally, the one that began as the better jammer will still be the better jammer.
That was so universally excepted that we never would have bothered to make such a statement.  You just knew that.  Every sack gets better as you break it in, but one sack won't leapfrog over another if both of them are broken in.

But then along came the Calvin and changed everything.  If I had to rank the 1.0 series in order of jammability, it would probably break down like this if we were talking about brand new, never before jammed with Myachis:

  1. The Dawg Diggity
  2. The Black Butter
  3. The Red Stripe
  4. The Purple Haze
  5. The Juice
  6. The Leopard Lime
  7. The Calvin
  8. The Royal Tiger
  9. The Eye of the Dragon
But if we were to take those same 9 Myachis and break them all in to a point where they could be said to be "yummy", the list would break down more like this:
  1. The Calvin
  2. The Dawg Diggity
  3. The Black Butter
  4. The Red Stripe
  5. The Purple Haze
  6. The Leopard Lime
  7. The Juice
  8. The Eye of the Dragon
  9. The Royal Tiger
Notice that most of the Myachis in question stayed in the same spot.  The Leopard Lime and Juice swapped places because shag fabrics have a slightly bigger metamorphosis than phelvits and the Eye of the Dragon moved one place ahead of the Royal Tiger since the Royal Tiger has a characteristic stiffness that it's almost impossible to yummy up.

But the Calvin moved a whopping 7 places, all the way from the 3rd worst jammer to the undisputed king of the series.  Had it not been for that realization, we may have continued to underestimate the importance of breaking in a sack for a lot longer.  More importantly, if we hadn't known this there are some Myachis that might never have come into existence at all.  A few of those might have been Myachis we could have done without (the Vette, for example), but some, like the PigSkin, the Black Rose and the Diesel are Myachis much beloved throughout the movement.

If for no other reason than it taught as the value of patience when it comes to Myachis, I nominate the Calvin as the tenth most influential Myachi in the history of the game.  Keep checking back with us to see the rest of my nominees.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

by Crazy Ivan

Last week I wrote about an awesome website that I'd stumbled across that allows visitors to post videos of world records.  I made a call to action from the Myachi community to flood the site with Myachi records (and a few people responded).  I then went home and showed the site to the House of Skills and everybody agreed that it was exactly the kind of site made for us.

It's a relatively young site so there are plenty of huge categories of tricks that haven't been added yet.  Mav and Animal immediately started thinking about longboarding records they could try to set.  Monk came up with some cool ideas for flair based records.  I just stared at the huge collection of skill toys on the side of the room.

My first thought was to use as many of them as possible in a minute.  Animal and I discussed my plan of attack and we tried using them in a few different orders and combinations.  We filmed it three times altogether, but by the end of it, we came up with this video:

Well, no surprise, it didn't take long for somebody to give my new record a day in court.  My new friend Brian (who inadvertently alerted me to the site's existence in the first place) wanted to show off his skill toy collection too, so he put up a video where he used 23 different skill toys in 60 seconds.

There was some question as to whether all of them counted, but to be fair, their is a similar question as to whether I spun the basketball long enough to consider it "in control" as well.  It doesn't help that the ball itself is all but off camera throughout the finger spin.

Given the questionable nature of a few of our toy usages, it could be said that both of us are actually tied at 19 toys a piece.  But in reality, he has the record and I don't.  Even if it were officially marked as a tie I wouldn't be comfortable with that.  I need to up the ante.  The gauntlet, as they say, has been thrown down.

I've got a lot of items in my in-box, not the least of which is this blog and getting the Trick of the Day videos under control, but I can't let his 23 toys record stand.  I'm careful about how I phrase this because the guy who broke my record and I have way too many common interests to be anything but friends, but there's nothing wrong with a friendly rivalry here and there.

So be on the lookout for my next record breaking video in the near future.  And, while you're at it, be on the lookout for Brian Pankey's record breaking-breaking video shortly after that.

1000 Apologies (and a Few Excuses)

by Crazy Ivan

I guess I don't have to point out that this blog hasn't been updated in nearly a week.  I would think that was pretty obvious.  What's worse, there hasn't been a Trick of the Day posted yet this week.  One could be forgiven for thinking that I'm a first-class slacker.

But the truth is a bit more complicated than that.  As Myachi Masters, we all have a number of different responsibilities.  Because Myachi employs such a multi-pronged approach to promotion, we all find ourselves wearing a number of hats from day to day.  Our duties essentially break down into three broad categories:

1) Good Will - This is normally the bulk of my job.  We're proud of the fact that at Myachi, the relationship isn't over when the sale is made.  We go out of our way to try to stay connected with our customers and add continuous value to their Myachi purchase by providing things like this blog, the trick of the day videos, the forum, contests, etc.  Basically, this is the part of the job where we try to turn Myachi players into Myachi Maniacs.

2) Administrative - This is the least exciting but often most important part of the job.  In a company this size there is always a mountain of logistics and paperwork to overcome.  This includes stuff like human resources, inventory, scheduling, ordering, new product development, promotional meetings and marketing.  This is the bulk of Kid's job, though I often find myself immersed in it as well.

3) Sales - Ultimately, this is what keeps the doors open.  This is the part of the job that most people think of when they think of 'Myachi Master'.  This is the part where we actually go out and teach the game, promote the company, visit the stores and sell Myachis.  As important as the other two categories are, this is the only one that actually brings dollars into our bank account.

During the busiest times of year, there is a ton of work in all 3 categories.  So much so that even a dozen full time Myachi Masters can't handle it.  During the summer and the holiday season we could probably keep at least two dozen busy.

But in the slower times there is less and less to do.  One would think that would mean that during the slower times I'd have plenty of time to do things like blogging and filming tricks.  One might think this was the ideal time of the year to focus in on the blog and the forum.  But because of the seasonal nature of our business, we also have seasonal employees.  Some members of the team only work for us during the busier times and during the slower months (September and October for example) they're off doing their own thing.

That means that those of us who are still on full time staff have to wear a few extra hats.  A person who, say, normally fills much of their day doing Good Will stuff might suddenly have 20 hours a week of administrative work and 25 or 30 hours of sales work in a given week.  And when that happens, unfortunately some things get moved to the back burner.

As much as I hate to admit it, this blog is one of the first items to be shelved in favor of the other stuff.  The fact is that the company can operate without this blog.  It can't operate without somebody there teaching people how to play or delivering the orders to our retail locations.  The blog is only important if we're doing the other two jobs.

Well, as you may have guessed, this week there's been a lot of category 2 and category 3 stuff for me to do.  On top of that, I had some work to do to make sure that Pinky's birthday was legendary.

I'd love to say that all of that is behind me and I'll be back to 2 or 3 updates a day now, but the next few weeks look to be every bit as hectic as the last few.  I'll be trying some new ideas when it comes to time management so hopefully we won't have another 5 day lapse on the blog, but I'm afraid I can't promise anything more than an update a day between now and then.

It pains me to leave you, the loyal reader, hanging like that.  A lot of you have been with us for quite some time and I think it's fair for you to expect a new entry on this blog every day.  After this long of giving it to you, I'd venture to say that we owe you a new entry every day.  We're looking at some ways of spreading this responsibility around a bit, but my guess is that for the next month to 6 weeks I'll be struggling to keep this thing regularly updated.

But you can help, and you can help in several ways.

One is, of course, to write a guest blog.  The best entries on this blog have come from readers anyway, so I'm always to happy to see more entries from the MMFLs, Katanas and Hunters of the world (among others, of course).  Getting the viewpoints of people in other parts of the movement is great for the reader and it also makes my life a little easier so it's a real win/win if you're a fan of writing.

But if not, you can help simply by suggesting topics.  Sometimes the hardest thing about writing a blog entry is thinking of what to write about.  I don't want to get repetitive on this blog (although I don't think this is the first 'sorry I haven't blogged' article I've written), but I also don't want to overlook the topics that are important to you, the loyal reader.  If you have an idea for an article or even a question you'd like to see answered, by all means send it to me.  You can email me at with your ideas (or guest blogs).

The third way that you can help is to simply be patient.  Keep checking in with us.  We may have lapses again in the future when this blog will go unchanged for a day or two.  Just try to forgive us for all the hectic insanity that goes along with trying to create a worldwide movement and check back in the following day.  And remember that everything we're doing is designed to help expand the Myachi movement.  If I'm not blogging, it's always going to be because there's something more pressing that demands my attention.  It's never going to be because I just chose to neglect you.

Except on Pinky's birthday.  I can admit that I actually did have time to blog yesterday and instead I went out and got stuff for Pinky's party.  But Pinky is the only thing that comes before Myachi for me and she only has a birthday once a year so that won't crop up again very often...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Choosing My Jammers

by Crazy Ivan

One of the last things I do before I leave the House of Skills in the morning is pick out my jammers for the day.  Like many of you, I have a pretty substantial collection of Myachis.  I would love to say that I just reach into a pile, grab the 5 or 6 Myachis that my hands land on and stick them in my pockets.

But in reality it's far more complicated than that.  Complicating matters is the fact that I have to find the right balance of jammability.

As we all know, Myachis take a little effort to break in.  Some break in quickly and others break in slowly, but as a general rule, the more you jam with a Myachi, the more jammable it becomes.  This is true for a Zoot Suit (a notoriously tough sack to break in) the same as it is for a Black Beard (the extreme other end of the scale), it's just that one has a much longer timeline than the other.

So if I wanted to make the decision as easy as possible, I'd simply grab the 5 or 6 most broken in Myachis I have in my collection and go from there.  But I can't do that because once a Myachi is really, really broken in, I start worrying about losing it.

And I lose Myachis all the time.  Whether they're claimed by elevator cracks, gutters, protrusions on buildings or the third rail, Myachis just get lost.  You kick them wrong, they start flying away and you watch in painfully slow motion as they move toward a spot you know you'll never get them back from.

Of course, I could solve this dilemma pretty easily too.  I could just take the sacks that have reached that "too-valued-to-use" echelon and set them aside in a special pile that I don't pick from.  Then I could just take the 5 or 6 best jammers that weren't too jammable and use them.

But that doesn't work either.  There are two reasons, of course.  One is that I often find myself in a spot where the "Myachi Mastery" thing to do is to give away a Myachi.  If I run into some cool cats on the train, for example, and they're really good at the game, I'll usually hook one of them up.  If all I've got is my best jammers (or the best ones I'm willing to use), I'd be pretty hesitant to just hand them off.

There's a more important consideration as well, of course.  If all I ever did was used my best jammers, I'd eventually run out of good jammers.  At some point I'd lose all the ones I was willing to lose and wouldn't dare to carry any of the other good jammers with me.  Then I'd wind up with nothing but tough jammers.

The balance I choose is somewhere in between.  I always keep at least one spectacular jammer with me (something like a Yellow Jacket, a Hounds Tooth or a Member Solutions).  That's my peak jammer and it's there just in case I wind up in a tough game of MYACH that I can't afford to lose.  That one stays in my back pocket unless it's absolutely needed.

The other Myachis will be something of a spectrum of jammability.  I'll have a few good jammers (because you never want to teach somebody the game using brand new sacks) and a couple that are on their way.  I'll jam with them throughout the day and inch them ever closer to the promised land of SUMPOY.  This way if I lose a great jammer, at least I've got another one on its way.

Lastly, I'll grab a tough jammer.  When I'm on the train or in line or something, I like to have a Myachi just to fidget with.  I won't necessarily jam with it; sometimes I'll just rub it in my hands or fold it over repeatedly.  This is the first stage in yummification so I always try to have a few that are at that spot.

And yes, that whole process goes through my head every day when I grab my Myachis.  There was a time when I just had 6 or 7 and I simply carried all of them.  The decision was simpler back then, but that doesn't mean it was better.  Sometimes the good old days are more "old" than "good".