Thursday, March 29, 2012

Myachi: The Table of Contents

by Crazy Ivan

A conversation with Monk and Kid ran late the other night.  We talked, as Myachi Masters often do, about Myachi.  We were discussing its past, its present and its future, and at some point or another, we started talking about what a great book it would make.

The story has it all.  There's a protagonist that goes up against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, there are plenty of interesting characters that join in along the quest, there are more than enough moments of triumph and crushing moments of defeat, there's plenty of humor, tragedy, promise, catharsis and determination.  It is the story of human will that would not be denied.  It is a story of an insatiable dreamer.

Now, none of us know exactly how the story ends.  We kind of hope it ends with something that rhymes with "Shmearly Shmretirement", but nothing is carved into stone just yet.  That being said, it got me to thinking and when I get to thinking, I often get to writing.  It would be premature to try to start writing the story of Myachi at this point, but it's never too early to start planning ahead.  So here's my first draft of the table of contents for the Myachi Story:

The Myachi Story:

Part One: The Myachi Mobile(s)

Chapter One - The Dream Defined
Chapter Two - Mulva's Maiden Voyage
Chapter Three - Big Kids and Big Dogs
Chapter Four - Big Momma's Brick House
Chapter Five - The Jester and His Wife
Chapter Six - Cracks in the Brick Wall
Chapter Seven - Start Spreading the News

Part Two: The House of Skills

Chapter Eight: ...And They Built An Army...
Chapter Nine: The House of Skills in Forest Hills
Chapter Ten: A Fortress of Steel and Skill
Chapter Eleven: At the Feet of the Giraffe
Chapter Twelve: International STWAKOJ
Chapter Thirteen: A Stray Animal
Chapter Fourteen: Standing at an Open Sea

Part Three: The Yacht Years

Chapter Fifteen: The Global Phenomenon Hits
Chapter Sixteen: The Myachi Jet-Fleet
Chapter Seventeen: Sir Myachi Man, the first American Knight
Chapter Eighteen: Myachi Island
Chapter Nineteen: Myachi as an Olympic Sport
Chapter Twenty: Myachi Saves the Universe

I'll be the first to admit that maybe part three there is a tad ambitious, but even if we have to settle for a less spectacular ending, it'll still make for a heck of a story.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Happened to 5.2X?

by Crazy Ivan

If you're new to Myachi, you probably saw series 5.1 and 5.1X come out together and thought you understood what was going on.  And then 5.2 came out alongside 5.3X and you were perplexed.  You decided that you probably had it wrong to begin with and are now confused.

And if you're not as new to Myachi, you probably just laughed inwardly when you saw 5.3X and said, "There goes Myachi Man again..."

You see, there's never really been a "method behind the madness" when it comes to series numbers in Myachi.  There have been trends to be sure, but things are never as neat and tidy as one might expect.  There aren't any hard and fast rules that we follow except that, by and large, the series numbers have been consecutive.

So first, a little history lesson.  In the earliest days of Myachi, the series weren't exactly numbered and they weren't as distinct as they are now.  Myachis didn't come in individual cardboard packs back then, but rather they came with instruction books clipped to the tags in large boxes.  The boxes would contain 36 sacks divided into a number of different colors.  Usually there would be 3 each of 12 designs, but occasionally it would be 4 each of 9 designs or even a mishmash of 3 of some and 4 of others.

What retailers were getting at that point was what we had.  And that might be a few of the slower sellers from one series mixed in with all the newer sacks.  At that point, a series didn't change over as much as it evolved.  There weren't clear lines that separated the series the way there are now.

When you check the sackthology, you'll find that many older sacks are series "0.1" or "0.3" or whatever, but those are artificial distinctions that were made long after the fact.  They're paired together with other sacks that were manufactured around the same time, but there was never a time when all the Myachi retailers were selling just the 0.4 series.

The real series numbers begin in 2003 with series 1.0.  This marked the first time that Myachis were offered in the now familiar "Blister Pack", where each sack has a cardboard backing and a little plastic blister that contains the sack.  From that point forward there would be no mixed bag, in-between series.  The package denoted the series so there would be no confusion of what was a 1.0 and what was a 2.0.

Except that there still was.  Once a sack was removed from the pack, there was no way to definitively say what series it was from.  I mean, sure, if you knew your Myachis, you would know that a Leopard Lime was a 1.0 so when you saw one, you wouldn't need to see the packaging to know which series it came from.  But back then we did a lot more repeat sacks so only a minority of Myachis would be offered in only a single series.  Eventually we would add the series number to the tag on the sack itself so even repeats could be distinguished from one another.

Ultimately we would solve one problem by creating another one.  The series numbers helped everyone to keep track of which sacks came out when and which were older and thus more valuable.  But in so doing we would create a whole new source of confusion.  Namely, the series numbers themselves.

The first series was 1.0 and even before we moved on to 1.1, there were already some head scratchers.  1.0 had two distinct releases.  It was made twice and the second time around 3 of the sacks had changed.  This forced us to internally refer to series 1.05 when talking about this brief reissue of series 1.0.  Then we moved on to series 1.1, but that one was pretty confusing too.  At that point we were still offering the mixed box variety (POP or point of purchase) of display to some retailers so this time we decided to make one series to be offered in the blister packs and a different series in the POP boxes.  Unfortunately, there were no tag numbers at that time so we had two series both being called 1.1.  This forced us to refer to one of them as 1.1 (the Blister series) and the other as 1.15 (the POP series).  And then we came out with 1.2 and that one was far less confusing.

But then we moved on to series 2.0.  We never did a series 1.3, but instead released a 2.0 then a 2.1 and 2.2.  There was a POP series hidden in there somewhere as well that never got a number (but is often referred to as series 1.9, 2.05 or simply "the Lost Series").  Then we skipped ahead to series 3.0.  This was followed by series 3.1, 3.2 and 3.2X (which was only a slight departure from series 3.2).  And then we moved on to series 4.0.

By then, people thought they saw a pattern emerging.  We would do three series in each number... a #.0, a #.1 and a #.2 and then move on to the next number.  So when series 4.0 was followed by series 4.1 and then series 4.2, this fit with everyone's expectations.  Then series 4.3 came along.

Everyone was a bit confused, but they embraced it.  4.4 came out next and then 4.5 and everyone once again thought they saw a pattern emerging.  Once again, everyone felt like they had it all figured out.  And then 5.0 came out and everyone was left perplexed once again.  Where was series 4.6?

Keep in mind that to keep things from getting too hairy, I've left out series XM7, 5B, 5BPOP, FMX and TRF.  I don't want to intimidate anyone, after all.  But the point is there nonetheless: Myachi series numbers have never really fit into a consistent pattern.  They've always been a little odd.

The logical question is why, but I'm not going to try to answer that one.  All I can do is embrace it and thank Myachi Man's slightly crazy numerical tendencies for giving me endless things to blog about.

So where is series 5.2X?  Who knows.  Perhaps the next series will be 5.3 and 5.2X.  Maybe it will be series 5.4 and 5.4X, but maybe it'll be series 5.3X1a and 5.3X1b.  Who knows?  I wouldn't be all that surprised if the next series was numbered using some fraction of pi.  All I know is that just when I think I know what's coming, I get a surprise.  And I like surprises.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

5.3X Series Review

by Crazy Ivan

I remember a time when Myachi Maniacs had to settle for only one new series per year.  Back then even the one series was nothing compared with the series of today.  9,  7 or even a scant 6 new Myachis would pop up once or twice a year and but for a few promotional and special event sacks, there was very little new meat for the collector.

But long gone are those days.  Already this year we've seen 24 new series sacks and based on the speed they're selling through, it won't be long before we start seeing some new ones.  It's gotten to the point that I hardly have time to jam with  all the new sacks and break them in enough to review before the new series is popping up and ready to go.

So quick, before it's been antiquated, let me get in my reviews of the 12 sacks that make up the 5.3X series.

 #1) Aztec Orange and Special Ops 

This set is the go-to double pack for collectors.  It includes the most recent in the ever-popular Aztec line along with one of the most jammable camouflage Myachis ever produced.  As a double pack, it's a great introduction for beginning freestylers, as it contains both a horizontal and vertical corduroy.

The Aztec Orange isn't the most striking Aztec sack we've made so far and compared to the vibrant color of the Aztec Red, one could even say that it is muted.  It's a great understated jammer and while I haven't seen any of them wideboarding yet, they break in quickly and throgoughly.

The Special Ops, on the other hand, might be the best sack in the 5.3X series once it is fully broken in. It takes a bit more time than it's partner, but once you get it as jam-worthy as it gets, you'll find it well worth the effort.  Like most camouflage Myachis, it's a big seller.  As an individual sack, it might well lead the series in sales, but given the double pack nature of 5.3X, it's been relegated to a slower selling position.  This generally means it will have added value to collectors in the future because fewer Myachi Maniacs will already have one in their collection.

 #2) Bag Pipe Red and Lumber Jack Blue 

Drawing on the popularity of the 5.1X Lumber Jack Black, Lumber Jack Red combo pack, this duo was destined to be the best seller in the series.  We just can't seem to make enough plaid sacks to keep the collectors happy but we keep trying.

The Bag Pipe Red is a dark plaid with a great contrast and breaks in quickly.  The horizontal corduroy gives it about a 50/50 chance of slight wide-boarding as it breaks in and though the color tends to be a little too dark in shady jamming spots, it is a fantastic day-jammer and acts as a spectacular contrast sack in many 2 Myachi shreds.

The Lumber Jack Blue is certainly the more vibrant of the two.  It stands out enough to make it easy to jam, but it isn't an overstated eye-catcher like the Gang Green or the Agent Orange.  It'll be easy enough for you to see during a jam, but it won't be so overpowering that your audience will lose track of the other sacks in a multi-Myachi shred.  This is also a great gift sack for a new Myachi player as it is neutral in color and a sick jammer.  Anyone looking to buy a two pack but only intending to keep one of them should take a long look at this combo.

 #3) The Watermelon and Hot Lava Pink 

If there was a measurement for how cool a Myachi looks during a jam versus how cool it looks sitting still, these two sacks would combine for the highest such rating of any two Myachis ever paired together before.  Both sacks are cool enough on their own, but take on a whole new life once they start spinning and flipping.

The Watermelon has been called the "most appropriately named" Myachi of all time.  We debated with the name "Lady Bug" for it, but ultimately decided that as cool as lady bugs are, watermelons are delicious and therefore better things to name a Myachi after.  The pattern of spots gives the Myachi a unique look depending on what axis you spin it on so a Watermelon in a shove-it spin actually looks significantly different than a Watermelon in a kick-flip.  The visibility and break in speed make this an ideal Myachi for younger players and newbies.

The Hot Lava Pink lacks the pop of it's sister sack, the Hot Lava Yellow.  The pink is plenty bright, but doesn't exactly jump off the Myachi the way the popular 5.2 sack does.  But that being said, as long as you're not comparing it with the most visible sack we've produced in 5 series, the Hot Lava Pink scores pretty high marks.  I would rate their break in time as pretty middle-of-the-road.  Not fast and not slow.  They continue to break in for a pretty long while even once they're yummy so it's a sack that rewards persistence.

 #4) The White Stripes and Red Medallion 

If we wanted, we could speculate endlessly about which of these sacks would be the best seller if they were all offered individually.  But there's no need for speculation in the question of which pair sells the best.  This combination of sacks offers pretty much everything you can ask for.  Two very cool understated corduroys that look great whether they're in a jam or sitting in a collection.

The White Stripes is possibly the best jammer in the series.  It breaks in almost instantly and the soft corduroy gives it a nearly microsuede feel, but it still breaks in like a traditional corduroy.  The contrast of the stripes makes it a superb show-jammer.  While it isn't the best for solitary practice where one might prefer a brighter overall color, the stripes make it extraordinarily eye-catching to an audience.

The Red Medallion isn't quite as good a jammer as its partner but it is still a very solid jammer.  It doesn't break in as thoroughly as some of the other sacks in the 5.3X and from what I've seen so far it isn't quite as good a jammer as its sister sack, the Black Medallion, but what it lacks in jammability it makes up for in visibility.  I'd recommend it more to veterans than beginners, but all that being said, it still breaks in quicker than 90% of the Myachis we made before 2007.

 #5) The Gate Keeper and Gr8ful Shred Blue 

When we first saw these sacks paired together, many of the Myachi Masters were a bit worried.  They both seemed like really sick designs, but they were dark and understated and they got lost next to sacks like the Gr8ful Shred Purple, the Red Medallion and the Hot Lava Pink.  We were a bit concerned that these sacks would get overlooked and under-perform.

Luckily, Myachi buyers are a bit more savvy than we sometimes give them credit for and this has quickly become one of the top selling offerings in the 5.3X.

The Gate Keeper is a bit darker than we expected such that the design almost gets lost on it.  That makes it a pretty hip sack to have in virtually any well-lit environment, but as soon as the sun goes down, this one gets really tough to jam with.  It's a shame, really, because it is a spectacular jammer and it breaks in far better than most horizontal corduroys.

The Gr8ful Shred Blue seems to be grabbing a lot more of the attention in this combo pack.  It is a striking fractal design that appeals to a pretty wide-range of Myachi buyers and depending on the cut of the fabric it can be awesome or it can be ridiculously awesome.  Luckily, this is not one of those times that you have to trade off cool for jammable.  The Gr8ful Shred Blue breaks in quick and jams great right away.  It is a bit dark for low-light jamming but when you pair it with its sister sack from 5.2, it makes for some of the coolest 2 Myachi jams ever seen.

 #6) The Blackout and Gr8ful Shred Purple 

This combination pack offers not only the best contrast of this series, but possibly the best contrast of any series including any two randomly selected sacks from non-double pack series.  These two in a doubles shred is a thing of beauty.  We find it to be a popular brother/sister combo pack in retail, but most collectors, regardless of gender, are going out of their way to get both of these Myachis.

The Blackout is obviously the sister sack to the Power Grid from series 5.1, but in a lot of ways it is more reminiscent of the family of black&whites that include the Finish Line, the Static Cling and the Hounds Tooth.  It is a phenomenal jammer but it does take a bit of effort to really break it in.  So if you think you've got your Blackout broken in all the way, keep working.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

The Gr8ful Shred Purple is unlike any sack ever produced.  To be perfectly honest, there has been a dearth of cool purple sacks for quite some time.  The Power Grid was awesome, but to get a truly sick purple sack before that, you really had to go back to series 1.0 and the Purple Haze.  Luckily, we seem to be in the process of changing that.  This sack jams well, looks good and breaks in quickly, so it pretty much has everything.  While this probably means nothing in the real world, this one is my personal favorite of the series by a pretty wide margin.


And of course, we're interested in your opinions on these suckers as well.  If you'd like to add something to the review, please leave a comment or head over to our forum and join the discussion there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Losing a Myachi the Right Way

by Crazy Ivan

Those of you that have been following this blog for a while will know that in the back yard of the House of Skills, we have a slack line wrapped around a tree and a fence post.  It's basically a tightrope, but it's about as wide as a seat belt.  It's got some bounce to it so it has some elements of a trampoline and some elements of a balance beam.

Anyway, it's one of the many ways that we challenge our skills from day to day and over the year and a month that we've had it, we've actually gotten pretty confident with it.  Mav, Monk and I have even practiced freestyling with a Myachi as we traverse it.  But interestingly enough, it wasn't until yesterday that we thought of another Myachi-related use for it.  Turns out that the thing functions pretty well as a Myachi catapult as well.

We got the idea yesterday afternoon.  It was gorgeous and Monk, Mav and I were all off so, of course, we were outside playing Myachi.  An errant kick left the Myachi sitting over by the slack line so when I went to fetch it, I decided to do something cooler than simply toss it back.

I placed Monk's Suffolk Downs on the line and then grabbed it with both hands.  I pulled it back a little, uttered "this probably won't work..." and let go.  Much to my surprise (and bemusement), the sucker shot at Monk like it was coming out of a canon.  Anyone but a Myachi Master probably would have jumped out of the way, but Monk stuck it with an MVP catch.

And we all smiled.

See, one thing we all share at the House of Skills is the desire to always go bigger.  If somebody comes up with a new trick, we naturally fall into competitions over who can do the more complex version of the trick.  If somebody gets a new toy, we're all looking to master it quicker than anyone else.  And when you inadvertently discover that you can rocket a Myachi off the slack line, everybody starts seeing all the crazy applications of that at once.

After a bit of fun with that, we realize that if you set the Myachi on the line and then bounce just right as you cross it, you can launch the Myachi fifty feet in the air.  So we did that.

It was tough to get a proper launch, so we were taking four or five attempts between every successful launch, and each time we'd get one in the air, we'd stumble about trying to figure out where it was going to land as it pachinkoed its way through the tree branches above.  In one extraordinarily unlikely bounce we all missed the catch and it landed right back on the slack line (which is about three inches across).

Anyway, as we're having fun with this, we're also doing the math.  Every time the Myachi launches, it skyrockets upward and at an angle into the branches.  But we can all see that if it were to somehow navigate the maze of boughs and twigs without hitting any of them, its trajectory would take it out of our yard and way up on top of the neighbor's roof.  It's so striking that Mav even brought it up.  He mentioned it to Monk because we were using a particularly yummy Suffolk Downs that Monk had gone to great lengths to break in.

"You know, if we keep doing this, you're gonna lose this thing up in the tree or in those gutters eventually," Mav warned.

Monk stopped for a moment and contemplated.  There were plenty of Myachis in the house, but nobody else had one on them at the moment.  He'd have had to run inside and by the time he came back, the mood might have changed and we might decide to play another game.  "Forget it," Monk decided, "this is fun".

And I'm sure you can already guess exactly how this story ends.  Within ten minutes of the warning, the Myachi finds a launch window that would have left a NASA scientist scratching their head and somehow manages to fly all the way up to the top of the neighbor's roof... the top of her three floor house.  As in, there is no possible way we're getting this Myachi back.

And Monk's response?  He shrugged.  "I lose Myachis all the time," he admitted, "At least this one has a great story."

Blog Reruns

by Crazy Ivan

The other day I was looking back over a few older entries on this blog.  It's been around for over a year now and when I was in the office full time I was updating it as much as three times a day, so sometimes when I'm looking for inspiration for new entries, I read a few older ones.

And it occurs to me that most of what I was saying back then is still pretty pertinent now.  Many of the entries answer basic Myachi questions that everyone has from time to time.  Since this blog has picked up a lot of new readers in the last few months, it occurs to me that it might be a good idea to start bringing some of those old blogs back for another day in court.

Now, of course, anyone who wants to can simply dig around on the archives and read as much as they want.  I've written a few short novels worth of Myachi related stuff on here and while some of it is clearly dated, much of it is timeless in terms of Myachi-applicability.  But only the most dedicated of Myachi Maniac is actually going to start from the beginning and read all 450+ blog entries I've added so far.

So to save you the trouble, starting next week I'll be featuring a weekly "best of" blog.  This will essentially be a rerun of a blog entry that I put up a while back.  I might amend or expand a few of these and I might add some new pics or video links here and there, but by and large, I'll just be drawing your attention to information that was already there.

And for the long time readers, don't worry, I'll warn you at the beginning if I'm reprinting an old blog.  If you'd like to reread it just for old time's sake, great.  If not, I won't be offended if you just skip the reruns.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A True Game Changer

by Crazy Ivan

In November of 2011, Myachi made took an enormous leap forward with the introduction of the new Battle Paddles.  The first rudimentary prototypes were first fashioned in Cocoa Beach back in 2003 and for all the intervening years, we eagerly awaited the right time to introduce them to the Myachi playing universe.

They look like that, but bigger and three dimensional.
The concept is pretty simple.  They're like a baseball mitt for Myachi.  They strap on to the back of your hand and expand the total catching surface making it easier to catch big air throws, long distance chucks and crazy difficult aerial tricks.  They open up freestyle moves to a much younger audience and they open up athletic moves to even the most seasoned Myachi veteran.  They expand the game beyond freestyle, MYACH and Fu players and create whole new worlds of Myachi-sport.

They are game-changers in both the literal and figurative sense.  They've changed the game of Myachi, but they've also been a game changer for the company.  We've been selling them as fast as we can make them and we've already smashed even our most optimistic sales goals with them.  Stores all over the country are selling out of them and we've seen reorders galore even over the first few months of the year.

Some people have complained about the level to which the paddles have changed the game and I suppose that in a sense I see where they're coming from.  Some dedicated freestylers complain that paddles make the tricks "too" easy and that they shift the focus of the game from the tricks to the passes.  But can only sympathize with this argument to a small degree.  Sure, they change the focus for some people and sure, they make the tricks more accessible.  But is that a bad thing?

Obviously, adding the paddle doesn't take any of the skill out of paddle-free tricks.  I'm far more impressed by a Kelly Slater dropped to a bare hand than one with a Paddle on it.  That being said, I really wish I'd had a paddle at my disposal when I was learning that trick.  It would have saved me a lot of frustration and I probably would have mastered even the bare-handed version of it far quicker.  So while the paddles change the game, they only change it for people wearing the paddle.

And accessibility has always been the hallmark of Myachi.  The whole point that inspired Myachi Man in the first place was making a skill toy that everyone could play.  Now, the Myachi did fall a bit short of that goal.  While it is certainly the easiest skill toy to learn and the easiest to build an impressive repertoire of tricks with, it still wasn't accessible to everyone.  Kids under 6 couldn't really play at all and some people who were behind the curve in coordination could only do a very limited number of tricks.  Catching back and forth throws actually required some serious practice, especially if those throws included any real speed or height.

But now those boundaries have been widened.  There are still limits, of course, but they are smaller and smaller margins.  I've seen 5 year olds throwing down with paddles and I've seen grandmas master the catch in an instant.  I've seen people who weren't all that interested in learning tricks get fired up about long distance catch.  I've seen skilled people throwing down tricks on their first day that were once limited to people with weeks of practice.

So yeah, they change the game, but only in the best of ways.  There are still plenty of hold-outs in the Myachi community when it comes to the paddles, but I've already had the pleasure of changing a few minds.  When it comes down to it, all that it took to inspire such an epiphany was strapping a paddle on the back of a doubting hand.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Heart of the House of Skills

by Crazy Ivan

Kid and I stayed up late last night chatting about the brief history of the House of Skills.  For many Myachi Masters, that represents the beginning of their involvement with Myachi, but for Kid and I, it only represents the most recent chapter.  Monk had been with us for over a year when we moved to Forest Hills and Mav had already been on board for quite some time as well.  Animal had been a part of things on and off for a while, but he started full-time Myachi employment only a few months before we signed the lease on the House of Skills.

So Kid and I were contrasting it, as we often do, with life in the Myachi Mobile before it.  Obviously life it a bit more comfortable now.  The House of Skills is about 12 times the size of the Myachi Mobile and it had fully functioning plumbing so there's that.  There's also the fact that the House of Skills is big enough to hold all our stuff and still have room to play.  There's also the foosball table, the ping pong table, the slack line out back and the presence of a real kitchen.

The Myachi Mobiles (there were two of them, after all), saw a few variations in residency as time went on.  The very first tour in the very first Myachi Mobile consisted of Myachi Man and his buddy Goldie and that was it.  Eventually Goldie left and Kid Myach and I joined in (along with some temporary stints by Big Dog, Butter and Animal).  Throughout those years we never stayed in one place for more than a couple of months at a time.  The Myachi Mobile was our home, but motel rooms, friend's couches and cabins occasionally augmented it.

At that time, to be a Myachi Master was to be in motion.  It was a nomadic lifestyle that demanded the ability to live with very few possessions and with few constant friends.  Of course, it's easy to make friends when you have Myachi to lubricate all your social encounters, so the lifestyle was as rewarding as it was demanding.

And then things started to change and NYC became an inferno of a hot-spot for us.  Before long we had all but retired the Myachi Mobile and all gotten apartments in and around the five boroughs.  Now, I think it's safe to say that even if you've never been to New York City, you probably know that it's one of the most expensive places to live in the world.  It had the highest living cost of any city in the US by a pretty wide margin (San Fransisco is a distant second).  So the House of Skills was born of necessity when it became too expensive for all of us to find places to live.

But the House was also a dream we'd talked about for years.  Even when things were small, we foresaw a day when we could expand and hire a bunch of Myachi Masters.  There was talk about eventually renting a "House of Skills" even before I joined the company.  The concept of giving a bunch of Myachi Masters so much time in close proximity promised to revolutionize the game by creating an engine of unending challenges.

To that extent, the House of Skills has more than lived up to it's intended purpose.  Whenever one of us comes up with a new trick, variations on it show up in a matter of minutes.  New prop-adds and games show up on a regular basis and every record in the game is under constant challenge as the Myachi team relentlessly pushes the envelope of possibility.  Two, three and four man tricks and games can be tested out as soon as they're conceived and there's never a lack of test-subjects when we examine new products and new series.

But the true heart of the House of Skills is in the variety of people who occupy it.  A few people have come and gone, but even the past residence of the House left an echo of their skills.  The unique blend of talents that each resident brings forever alters the overall make-up of the house.

Kid Myach was an athlete all through high-school and college and that has really defined him as a person.  It also colors the way that he looks at the world and, more importantly, the world of Myachi.  Competition is key and accuracy is his strong point (he's a basketball player and a golfer, after all).  He brings a competitive nature to the House of Skills and often sees things in terms of team possibilities that the rest of us miss.

I bring something else to the table entirely.  I never really played team sports and was always more focused on individual accomplishments.  As a juggler, I spent countless hours perfecting odd nuances of skill with a myriad of props.  My focus always was (and still remains) finding new variations in existing tricks.  In the past that meant applying diabolo tricks to cigar boxes or contact juggling moves to poi, but now that I focus that lens on Myachi, it helps to keep the repertoire of known Myachi tricks ever-expanding.

Monk was a renaissance athlete in school as well.  He had a sport for every season growing up and played volleyball at the collegiate level.  He's also the most competitive person I've ever met in my life.  But unlike Kid Myach, he also focused for a long time on an individual skill; flair bar-tending.  Like juggling, this requires hours and hours of solitary refinement so Monk adds a strange synthesis of minute skill and athletic dedication.  Where my focus is forever on expanding my tricks, his is ever on perfecting.

Maverick comes to us from a background in footbag.  Like Kid and Monk, he was an athlete and focused on lacrosse, though he dabbled in a number of athletic endeavors.  The one that eventually caught his eye was, of course, footbag.  He proceeded to take this talent to a level that very few ever do.  Combined with an astounding level of confidence, his skills quite-literally know no bounds.  The tricks that scare off the rest of us are ready challenges to Mav and he almost always gets the best of them in the end.

Lucky comes from a background of performance.  Theater, song and dance and are his primary loves and this adds a new flair to the game.  While he's still catching up when it comes to Myachi-specific skills, two unschooled observers would never know that.  What he lacks in technical know-how, he makes up for in the theatricality he adds to his every move.

While still only a part-time resident, Bones adds a strange blend of skills to the mix as well.  Unlike the rest of us, Myachi is truly his first skill-based obsession.  His introduction to juggling, advanced footbag, balance props and skill-toys in general is all seen through the lens of a Myachi Maniac foremost.  This provides a strange "bottom-up" approach to new skills that none of the rest of us can match.

Even though they've moved on, Animal and Kore still left an indelible mark on the heart of the house as well.  Animal's focus on yo-yo and string based skills (as well as his encyclopedic knowledge of pop-culture) can be seen in Myachi tricks and Myachi trick names, but his greatest influence was to the art of STWAKOJ, which he all but revolutionized with his larger-than-life persona.  Kore's extreme-sport history and devil-may-care attitude helped to establish the very spirit of the House of Skills and it lives on every time a new longboard finds its way to our foyer.

The heart of the House of Skills is the people within it and as new people add their skills, personalities and aspirations to the game that heart grows ever larger.  I suppose it makes for a pretty good microcosm of the Myachi Movement itself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Least Popular Myachi

by Crazy Ivan

One of the consequences of doing Myachis in series is that no matter how good we do in terms of color selection, no matter how tirelessly we toil over our choices, no matter how long we debate the potential fabrics and names, no matter what we do, one fabric will, by necessity, be the least popular.  Even if every sack in the series was awesome, one would be the most awesome and one would be the least awesome.

We often don't know which will be the least popular, but we find out pretty quickly in the stores.  Even a slight preference for other sacks becomes pretty obvious as you restock.  You start with an equal number of each Myachi.  Each series has 12 fabrics, each master carton contains 72 Myachis so in each box, you have 6 of each color.

So let's say we put 360 Myachis on the display and every time we sell 72 of them, we put up 72 more.  Well, we start with 30 of each color (6 in each box and 5 boxes on display), but when we sell the first 72, it's not going to be by selling 6 of each color.  One color will sell really well, so 20 of the 72 might all be that color.  Another will sell better than most and that one will account for 15 of the sales.  10 more will come from another popular color and six other colors will sell, let's say 4 each.  The other 3 colors are less popular, so let's say each of them only sold 1.

That's 72 Myachis sold, so we have to put up another box that contains 6 of each color.  That means that while there are only 16 of the most popular seller on the whole display (the 30 we started with minus the 20 we sold plus the 6 we restocked) while  there are 35 of the less popular colors still hanging out (the 30 we started with minus the 1 we sold plus the 6 we restocked).

It doesn't seem like much after the first restocking, but pretty soon a few less popular colors are going to start stacking up as the more popular colors sell out.  Again, this will happen no matter how good the series is.  Even in the 3.1 series (which seems to be the consensus "best series of all time"), this occurred.  The Blackbeards and Crimson Tigers sold out right away and the Wavy Oranges and Calvins started stacking up. The Calvins!  The single greatest series sack ever produced and it was the "dud" of the series.

I'm sorry I called you a dud...

Luckily, we have a solution to the problem.  Every few months we'll just retire the old colors and come up with a new series.  This way the less popular colors from the old series get mixed in with the new series and even if they continue to sell slowly, they aren't being replenished any more.  That means that pretty soon these sacks, which we call "carry overs" sell out completely just as the less popular colors from the previous series start stacking up.

Right now, in fact, we're replacing the 5.1 sacks with the 5.2s at some of our biggest retail locations.  The "Carry Over" sacks from series 5.1 were the Green Shredders, the Fishbone Orange and the Crimson Houndstooth.  Note that the consensus best jammer of the series (the Crimson Houndstooth) is probably the slowest seller of them all so you shouldn't mistake the slow seller for the worst Myachi.

The slowest seller in the 5.0 series was the Push Pop Orange and in some locations we're actually seeing double carry over.  The Push Pop Oranges that carried over into the 5.1s didn't sell out completely before the 5.2s came out so there are still two or three of them hanging out on the shelves.

And this leads to an obvious question.  What was the least popular Myachi of all time?  After all, if we see this phenomenon, we must have noticed one sack that beat out all the others, right?

Well it turns out that this is a much harder question to answer than you think for several reasons.  After doing the math, you might think that all you'd have to do is name the Myachi that carried over the longest, right?  The one that made it's way the furthest through successive series before selling out completely.  There is such a sack.  The Zoot Suit Blurple, which was last produced in the 3.2x series, was still lingering on shelves in major retail locations when we debuted the 4.4!

Shown here lingering.

But was the Zoot Suit Blurple really the least popular Myachi ever?  Well, if you look a bit closer, you'll notice that compared to the series before and after it, the 3.2x was an ENORMOUS series.  We made a ton of them.  So whichever was the least popular in this series was bound to carry over more than the carry overs in previous series.  It's not fair to single out the Zoot Suit among other "least popular" sacks just because it was the least popular sack in the largest series that was produced at that point?

Another strange contender could be the Purple Reign.  This incredibly cool and exquisitely jammable sack really started stacking up toward the end of the XM7 run and carried over for quite a while.  But that was an unusually narrow series, offering only 6 colors.  We'd done 6 color series before, sure, but when we did we'd released 2 of them simultaneously so there were really 12 choices on the shelf.  But with the XM7 there were only 6 choices and 4 of them were incredibly cool, even compared to a Purple Reign.  No surprise then, that this abnormally cool sack which would have been the 6th best seller in a series of 12 sacks, was the least popular in a series of 6.

This picture clearly doesn't belong in a discussion
of the least popular anythings ever.
So we can't really pin the "least popular" on that one either.  Perhaps we can find the answer by looking at it in another way.  Instead of looking at which sack carried over the longest, what if we look at which stacked up the most?  In other words, every sack starts off as 8.33% of the total (1 in 12), but as more popular ones sell out, they become a smaller % of the total and the less popular ones start filling in.  So in a series like the 3.2X, the extremely popular Finish Line might be only 2% of the Myachis on display, but a less popular sack like a Zoot Suit or a Delta Force Blue would account for, say 16% of the total.

If we look at all the past series and do some estimations, we would find that the Bazooka Joe was the least popular sack by that measure.  At the time of it's release (the simultaneous release of the 2.1 and 2.2 series), there were 12 sacks available and this plain-Jane pink sack eventually accounted for some 45% of the shelf space.  It was the slowest seller of the series, but it was also a slower seller than any other sack in any other series before it or since.

So we have our answer right?  The Bazooka Joe was the least popular, right?

Grab your pitchforks!
Not so fast.  There's one other interesting phenomenon to look at before we pass judgement.  And one interesting fact.  Let's start with the phenomenon.

In the 1.0 series, the Royal Tiger was the clear winner.  It sold out so fast that we could hardly put them up on the pegs before they were at the register.  It sold some 5 to 1 over the next best seller (the Black Butter).  So we brought it back in the 1.1 series, and guess what?  It was the least popular sack in the series and started stacking up.

But why?  Well, as it turns out, the other sacks available in a series make a huge difference when it comes to what's going to be popular.  The 1.0 series had a lot of plain colors.  Of the 9 sacks available, 6 were solid colors (the Dawg Diggity, the Purple Haze, the Red Stripe, the Black Butter, the Dawg Diggity and the Calvin).  Only 3 had patterns.  One was the Leopard Lime, which was a bright green, and the other was the Eye of the Dragon, which was gold and black and kind of weird.

The Royal Tiger was the king of this field because it simply stood out from the others.  It was brightly colored and had a cool pattern.  But when it was coupled with sacks like Punk Pink Leopard, the Flame Thrower and the Commando, it quickly became the least impressive patterned sack.  What's more, the sacks that were solid colors were in the minority so now they stood out.  To make matters worse, one of those solid colors was the Blue Crush, which is a strikingly sapphire blue color.  So the Royal Tiger wasn't even the only blue sack.

So what does this have to do with the Bazooka Joe?  Well, that leads us to the interesting fact.  Like I said, the Bazooka Joe was part of a 2 series co-release and it was a plain pink Myachi.  Contained in the series that it was co-released with (the 2.1), was the Bubbalicious, which was also a plain pink Myachi, except with a grippier fabric.  So when there were 2 plain pink Myachis to choose from, one of them was obviously going to stack up on the shelves (our bad!).

So where does all that leave us?  Can we really pin down the "least popular" Myachi of all time?  The truth lies, as it often does, in some gray area that is wide open to personal interpretation.  It might be the Zoot Suit Blurple, it might be the Purple Reign (although that's hard to imagine), it might be the Bazooka Joe and it might be something else entirely.  Perhaps the least popular Myachi is yet to come.

As we often do on this blog, we'll just have to leave this as an open question.  Maybe we'll revisit it again some time and when we do, I promise that there'll be less math.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why's It Called the "Page Six"?

by Crazy Ivan

As a general rule, any time I hear the same Myachi related question 3 times, I write a blog about it.  I just figure that if there are three people curious enough to seek me out and ask me about it, there must be a few more who are at least curious.

So this one comes to us from the recently extensively reviewed series 5.2.  Among the sacks offered in the series is the one pictured below, known as the "Page Six".  So the question, as you've probably guessed since it's the title of the blog entry, is why did we choose that name?

Pages 1 through 5 not pictured.
Well, it all started over the summer at the Cabin of Skills.  It might surprise some people to know that we actually start setting up the new series that early, but we were already choosing colors for this series in June of last year.  By late July we'd finalized the colors and fabrics, but we were still debating names.

Myachi Man had swung out to Gatlinburg where Pinky, Bones, Rush, Kore, Lucky, Bamboo and I were staying during our Dollywood gig and we start going over the various prototypes and trying to select names.  Some of them were easy (the Red Dragon, for example) and some of them were hard, but the Page Six up there was giving us the most trouble.

We were down to the wire on this because they were going to start printing the packaging a few hours later and Myachi Man had to finalize the back.  So we debated.  We've done a lot of plaids in the past and they were all named "Highlander something" or "Tartan something" or "Lumberjack something" or "Braveheart something".  So the obvious choice would be to do the same with this one.  But what color is it?  There's no dominant color on it, so it couldn't be the "Highlander White" or the "Lumberjack Red" or anything like that.

We knew we had to go a new direction here so as we're discussing it allowed I say, "So what's black and white and red?"

For those of you who know that old joke, you'll see where I'm going right away.  For those that don't let me take a full paragraph to explain a stupid joke that isn't even funny.

The joke is "What's black and white and read all over?" and the answer is a newspaper.  Because it's black and white and people read it.  But when you say it allowed you hear "Black and white and red all over" instead of "read all over".  So you think I'm talking about a color.  And I'm actually cleverly sneaking in a past-tense verb.

For some reason, despite not being funny, that joke persists enough that more than half the people reading this are familiar with it.  So when I asked that, we all got it right away and started trying to think of newspaper related names to give it.  If we called it, for example, the Herald or the Post, people could ask why and we could say "because it's black and white and red all over", and if they knew the old joke, they could not laugh (because it's not funny).

But then as we talked, the joke kind of got lost and Myachi Man settled on the Page Six because of the coloration of Page Six in the NY Post, which is black and white and red.  We kind of end in a spot that's twice removed from the joke so there's really no reason to stammer through it in the explanation, but I figured if I just said, "because page six is black and white and red", you'd be no closer to understanding why we chose it.

Of course, if I wanted to abridge the story, I could have just as well said, "because we only had three hours left to get the names in"...

Friday, March 9, 2012

5.2 Series Review

by Crazy Ivan

Finally, enough time has elapsed for me to offer an honest and meaningful review of the 5.2 series.  I always try to offer some quick commentary on the sacks (the stuff you read when you click on them on the website) based on my first impressions, but as any Myachi Maniac knows, your first impressions of a Myachi can be deceiving.  I wasn't too impressed with the Calvin the first time I jammed with it and now it's my favorite.

So I usually reserve judgment until I've met all the following criteria:

  • I've jammed with every sack in the series extensively,
  • I've jammed with them new and broken in,
  • I've jammed with more than one of each sack and
  • I've talked with others who have jammed with each one.
Having finally met all these prerequisites, I now offer my thoughts on all the sacks available in 5.2:

 #1) Page Six 

This one was an early favorite for me.  I loved the look of it and while we've done a ton of plaid patterns in the past, we've never done one that looked like this.  Like all the sacks in the series, it's a corduroy, but there are some serious variations within the cords.  This one doesn't seem to widen as easily as some of the others, so if you like a wide-boarder, this might not be the sack for you.

That being said, they do tend to yummy up pretty quickly.  They stay thin and tight, but the fabric offers great grip right away and they start to get that broken in bend pretty soon after you start jamming with them.  They look great in action and they're good contrast sacks for 2 Myachi work since they'll stand out from pretty much anything you pair them with.

 #2) Comic Camo 

This was the House of Skills consensus pick to be the best seller in the series, though early indications might be that we underestimated the Red Dragon and the Hot Lava Yellow.  That being said, camouflage Myachis have always proven to be huge sellers and this one is no exception.

The addition of the little comic lettering has been a boon for this one, though it has caused some distress for our online customers.  Because some cuts of the fabric don't have as cool a sampling of the lettering (or sometimes none at all), the one they get might not be as cool as they expected.  This isn't a problem for the majority of our customers, of course, since they see them as they're buying them at the store and know exactly what it will look like.

As for the technicals, the jammability on this sack is definitely up to par.  It's a solid jammer than breaks in quickly, though the darker hues on the cammo can make it tough to shred with in low light.

 #3) Smarty Pants 

Sistering up nicely with the Lottie Dottie and a few other polka-dotted favorites in the past, this one offers the multi colored dots over a solid black background and gives it a Lottie-Dottie meets Dippin' Dot kind of a feel.     This gives it great visuals as you get into spin tricks and grinds.

It doesn't break in as quickly as some of the other sacks in the series (in my limited experience), but once you get it there it is very worth the wait.  It has the feel of a sack that will go under-appreciated until after it is retired, but it's too early to say with any certainty.

 #4) Red Dragon 

The long awaited reprisal of the Dragon line comes in a way that nobody expected.  As much as we'd all love to see a red and black version of the original Blue Dragon fabric, no such fabric exists and even if it did, it would make for a pretty rough jammer... the kind of thing you wouldn't want to spring on an unsuspecting jammer.  So we finally found a solid jam-fabric with a design that would earn the name.

So obviously it looks really cool.  Not only do you have the whole dragon thing going on, but it's a really eye catching red color so it looks great in a jam, even from a distance.  Add to that the fact that it breaks in quickly and jams really well right away and you have what might be the hands down best sack of the series.

 #5) Aztec Blue 

This is the closest thing you have to a repeat in the 5.2 series and even it isn't an exact repeat.  The Aztec Blue was first offered in an exclusive POP release of the 5B series.  It was never offered in a blister pack at all and you could only get it in a chain of stores called "Five Below" that (a) is only in a couple of states and (b) doesn't sell online.  So it was a really hard sack to get.  Even those of us in the company had trouble getting a hold of those ones.

But we've flipped the pattern for the re-release so now instead of running horizontally across the sack, the stripe pattern now runs vertically.  It makes a significant difference on the look of the sack and it brings it more into line with it's sister sack, the Aztec Red.  This long time favorite among collectors was offered in multiple series in both a horizontal and vertical form.

This sack seems to vary quite a bit when it comes to break in time.  I've seen some that break in super fast and others that take their time, but it is a very jam worthy sack once you get it broken in.  Visually it just reminds us all why the Aztec line was so popular to begin with.

 #6) Tight Rope 

This is a pretty understated sack in a series that contains such outstanding patterns as the Gr8ful Shreds, the Comic Camo and the Red Dragon, but this is sack has a really classy look to it and a solid grip to match.  I've probably had the least experience jamming with this one, but from what I've seen (and felt) it looks like it will be one of the best pure jammers in the series.

The pattern isn't flashy, but it's a very effective way to get a dark sack that is still visible enough for every occasion jamming so it's definitely one that will appeal more to the players than the collectors, but it's upscale enough to hold it's own in a collectors box as well.

 #7) Bag Pipe Green 

I'll be the first to admit that this sack came back to us a bit darker than I expected.  The idea of a green and blue plaid really excited me and when I saw it, it was so dark and understated that I was a bit disappointed.  From a distance it almost looks black and that has led it to go almost unnoticed amid such a striking series.

It's definitely a descent enough jammer.  Some of the Bag Pipe's I've jammed with have been a bit tight and I've yet to see one wideboard at all, but they break in quick.  I wouldn't recommend it as much for a beginner just because of the dark color and overall break in time, but it'll compliment any other plaid sack nicely in a two Myachi shred.

 #8) Green Spectrum 

Alright, so it's not as flashy as it's sister sack, the Blue Spectrum, but how could we not be excited about this one?  The Blue Spectrum was the best jammer in its series so odds were good on this one.  We had pretty high expectations for the Green Spectrum, which makes it all the more impressive that it lived up to them.  

Very likely the best jammer in the series and if it's not, it's only because something else proves to be ridiculously awesome, not through any fault of the Green Spectrum.  It has a pretty dull look, but the contrast is great for such a dark colored sack making it ideal for a jammer who wants the focus on the skills, not the sack.

 #9) Hot Lava Yellow 

I'm ready to say that this is the most underestimated sack in the series.  We thought it would be a slower seller and it is selling in the top 3 everywhere we offer it.  We thought it would be a humdrum jammer and it's turning out to jam like a champ.  We thought it would be a boring pattern but the yellow just leaps off the sack and adds flair to every trick in the lexicon.

So yeah, I give this one a pretty ringing endorsement.  We don't make yellow Myachis very often because, honestly, they don't usually sell very well.  But this one is making us rethink things a bit.  The contrast of the yellow on purple makes this a perfect sack for fast-hands shredding and foot work and at the same time it's making your shreds look cooler, it's also making your tough tricks easier by being so eye-catching.

The one drawback, of course, is that bright colors like yellows and whites get dirty easily and dull up pretty quick if you shred outdoors or drop a lot (there's no shame in it!  You're not learning unless you're dropping!).  If you make this one your primary jammer, expect to wash it regularly.  And as a word of warning, if you get one of these, you will be very tempted to make it your primary jammer.

 #10) The Guatemalan Blue 

The Guatemalan Black was an extraordinarily cool Myachi, there's no question about that.  It was a good jammer that broke in quickly and looked cool.  If there was any mark on the Guatemalan Black's record, it was that it wasn't super-visible.  It had good contrasts, but no bright colors.

So enter the Guatemalan Blue.  Everything you loved about the Guatemalan Black except now it's tinted with fluorescent blue stripes and markings so it becomes way easier to see.  The fabric is even reoriented to make the new contrast all the more striking.  Already proving itself as a really popular sack just based on it's look, it won't disappoint you when it comes to jamming either.

 #11) Gr8ful Shred Black 

This crazy family of psychedelic fractal patterns is long overdue.  As soon as we saw the selections come in, we knew we had to have them.  Normally we're a bit hesitant about bringing in completely new patterns and we do so one at a time so that we can gauge their popularity.  But once in a while you see something that's so cool you just know people will embrace it.

The Gr8ful Shred Black is admittedly getting outshined a bit by it's sister sacks (keep in mind that the 5.3X series is selling along side it).  As cool as it is and as much as it would stand out in virtually any other series, it's kind of getting lost in the shuffle.  It's a solid, middle-of-the-road jammer but the pattern does kind of get lost once the sack is in motion.  This is definitely not a problem its sister sacks are prone to.

 #12) Gr8ful Shred Red 

An extraordinarily cool sack that manages to look every bit as cool in motion as it does standing still, the Red Shred (okay, so there's already a sack with that nickname, sue me) is proving to be an early favorite among the Myachi Masters.  It's one of the few that I've seen everyone jamming with at this point.

It's a solid jammer and I've already seen a few of them wideboard, but even the ones that don't seem to yummy up like they're in a hurry to be your favorite.  Add to that the groovy pattern and you've got a Myachi that is a must whether your a jammer, a collector or more of a paddle/sport player.


We'd love to hear more opinions on the matter.  Feel free to continue the conversation below or head over to our forum and let your voice be heard over there.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life Without Animal

by Crazy Ivan

As many of you know, the Myachi family bid farewell to one of it's favorite sons a few months back.  Animal, who has been involved with this company is some way or another for longer than I have, recently moved on to another job in another state.

Of course, things like this happen.  People grow and their needs change.  Animal fell in love and his need to be with the woman he loved was greater than his need to stay with the job he loved and when she moved we all knew it was only a matter of time.

And while Animal has left the company, he certainly hasn't left the movement.  He's still one of the world's foremost Myachi freestylers.  After all, it's not like you turn in your skills with your two weeks notice.  Nobody can ever truly "leave" the Myachi movement, but it's even less possible when you have the Myachi glyph prominently tattooed on your forearm.

So we said goodbye to Animal the right way, with a big party and a lot of friends... okay, it was actually a big roast with a lot of friends, but it served the same purpose.  He donated a bunch of his collection to future contests, gathered up his belongings (mostly graphic novels and limited edition action figures) and moved on to new things.

Over the intervening months, we've all had to adjust to a House of Skills that is, while a bit cleaner and a bit quieter, a bit less skilled and a bit less fun.  Now don't get me wrong, Bones moved in to Animal's old room and he's mad fun (not as messy or loud though), but there are certain times when it becomes painfully obvious that Animal isn't here any more.  For example, last night we were trying to remember the name of Jabba the Hutt's little pet rat and we had to Google it.  If Animal were here, we could have saved those keystrokes.

Now, I joke, of course, but Animal is one of my best friends in the world.  I've known him for 8 years and for a lot of that time we've worked and lived together... sometimes in a cramped RV.  He's like a brother to me and there's something to be said for having one of your best friends as a roommate.  There are at least a couple times every day when I wish he was still around.  I'm happy that he's doing what he feels is best for him, as we all are, but one can't help but feel that tinge of selfishness when one realizes that a friend that was once always there no longer is.

Life without Animal is tough, but we're coping.  It is kind of nice that we all got moved up in the "best Matrix reloaded in the company" rankings, but it is a small solace.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Birth of a Challenge

by Crazy Ivan

Of all the fringe benefits of my job, I suppose my favorite is living in the House of Skills.  For most people, the idea of having 6 roommates would be pretty frightening, but when all 6 of those roommates are (a) your best friends and (b) into all the same weird stuff you're into, it's quite a plus.  You just never know when you're going to walk in on an intense MYACH tournament, a 2 ball foosball match or a kendama championship.

And you also never know where the next challenge is going to come from.  It could pop up at any second, so you kind of have to be on your toes at all times.  A perfect example occurred a couple of weeks ago when Maverick and I were playing a little Myachi in the living room.

We were tossing two Myachis back and forth and freestyling a bit.  I would have one and he'd throw me a second.  I'd do a few 2 Myachi tricks and then toss both back to him.  He's shred a bit, toss me one, then toss the other.  I'd shred a bit and then toss one and then the other back to him.  We do this quite a bit and it's usually in these types of multi-person freestyles that you usually see the coolest new tricks done.

This time was no exception.  Mav had both Myachis and made to send them back to me, but he did so with a pass I'd never seen before.  He tossed both sacks up in a Vertical Split and then, while they were hanging in the air, he balled up his fist and punched the lower one so that it rocketed toward me and then caught the other one on the back of his hand.

As soon as I saw it, I had to try the next toughest thing.  So Mav tossed the second Myachi to me, I threw a Vertical Split down and hit them both, one after the other, with quick rabbit punches.  Both careened back to Mav with pretty good velocity and we shared the grin that skill toy enthusiasts wear in light of a new challenge.  If I could do two on the first try, after all, it seemed reasonable that we could a do three with a few tries.

So the challenge was as follows: Toss 3 Myachis up in a Vertical Split (for those not familiar with the basic splits, check out this video).  While they're in the air, you make a fist and punch all three Myachis individually. And weak punches won't do the trick here.  The idea is to make each punch a pass so that another person can catch it.  When we did it, Mav was about 20 feet away from me, so I was trying to get a good 20 feet of distance out of each punch.

This is extraordinarily tough to do.  Your punches have to be quick and accurate.  They have to have enough force to send the Myachi flying and you have to be centered enough to get the Myachi to go forward instead of spinning off to the left or right.  We realized as we were doing this that it would make great practice for martial artists and pugilists looking to improve the speed of their strikes.  We had a lot of time to realize this, too, since it took us a few dozen tries to finally get it right.

Before we were done, Monk and Lucky had joined the game and we'd come up with a ton of variations on the challenge.  We were doing splits where you'd punch one Myachi alone and then two together.  We did ones where you had to hit the first two with straight punches but the third one with an upper cut.  We did pummels where you split four Myachis and then trade off, right fist, left fist, right fist, left fist.  We did splits where you'd punch one then hit the other two together with both fists.

An hour and a half later, we took a break to rest our sore muscles and we did so with the certain knowledge that we'd be revisiting this challenge several more times.  It was just too fun not to do.

We didn't bother coming up with a name for our new challenge.  After all, it wasn't a "trick" technically speaking, since you don't actually catch the Myachis that you punch.  It also wasn't a "game" technically because there was no scoring, no winner and no loser.  So it didn't really occur to us to name it.

But then a few days later I was at FAO and I met a couple of really cool guys that were crazy into martial arts.  I was showing them some of the martial-arts inspired moves that we'd come up with like the Fu, the Ninja and the Mantis.  One guy asked if we had a move called the Bruce Lee, so I showed them that one.  His friend asked if we had a move called the Chuck Norris.  I joked that we did, but nobody but Chuck was skilled enough to do it.  They asked if we had a move called the Tony Jaa, and strangely enough we did, so I showed them that one as well.

And then one of them asked if we had a move called the Ip Man.  Now, for those that haven't seen the movie Ip Man, there are only two things you need to know.  One is that you should really go watch Ip Man (it's on Netflix).  The other is that the hero in Ip Man punches really fast.  So before I could formulate the words, "no, no Ip Man move yet", the challenge from a few days back occurred to me and I said, "As a matter of fact, we kind of do..."

So with that, a new challenge was born and named.  We've been at it quite a bit since then (video forthcoming), but we've been having so much fun with it that I felt like I had to share.  I know we've got a few accomplished martial artists reading this blog and I'd love to see where they could take this challenge.  After all, we haven't even started adding kicks to it...