Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almost Fame-ish

by Crazy Ivan

So I'm at the store the other day with Noodles and I meet a kid so cool I had to blog about him.  I'm not going to use his name here and we couldn't think of a fitting nickname for him on the spot, so I'll just call him mini-Bones for the time being.  I have to imagine that when Bones was 4 years old, he looked an awful lot like this little guy.

Anyway, it turns out that somebody had bought him a Myachi DVD combo pack when he was just 2 years old.  Way too young to really play the game, but apparently he really liked the DVD and it became one of the ones that he watched over and over again.  I'm sure everyone reading this can think of a movie they've witnessed some 4 year old watch over and over again and if you lived in the same house with that 4 year old, odds are good that you inadvertently memorized that movie before long.  And if it was in the last six years or so odds are pretty good that the movie in question is Cars.

Of course, when mom and dad come around the corner with mini-Bones in tow and they see me at the stand playing Myachi, they recognize me right away.  It's like they just turned the corner and Buzz Lightyear was hanging out, having a burger.  Mini-Bones recognized me too, but his shy shield came up and he was a little too young to realize that there was anything weird about running in to the people you see on TV.  Luckily Noodles was there and able to coax him out of his shell a bit and before long we were all hanging out and jamming.

He actually had some skills and that's mighty impressive for a kid who doesn't turn 4 until Sunday.  He could catch and throw from the back of the hand, he nailed the Hulk and Lotus several times and even managed to toss from hand to hand.  He even hit a couple of Under the Legs before it was all over.  He also taught me a kung-fu technique that I can use if I ever get attacked by a group of ninjas... and I so hope that eventually happens.

Let's be clear here.  Every day I meet a lot of cool people.  It's a big part of my job.  I don't exactly blog about it every time I meet a kid with surprising skills and awesome parents.  If I did this blog would just be loaded with stories just like this one with upwards of 50 posts a day.  And by necessity, they'd all be tweet length.  So why write about this one?

I suppose I can admit to my self-serving motives.  It still cracks me up that in some very small circles to some often very small people, I'm almost Fame-ish.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Should You Use Swaps in a Shred?

by Crazy Ivan

In the past, I've referred to Swap Moves as the "holding patterns" of Myachi.  Every skill toy has the equivalent of this.  In juggling you have moves like the Cascade and Columns.  In devil sticks you have the tic-toc and the infinity.  In poi you have butterflies and trubines.  In contact juggling you have palm crosses and waves.  In Myachi you have Cold Fusion, Heartbeat and Fu. These moves are all impressive and fun, but the main thing they have in common is that they fall in between the other tricks.

When I say "holding pattern", what I mean is that these are tricks that you can slip into when you finish a big trick or combo before going into your next trick or combo.  They slow down the action so your audience can catch up and they allow you to reset to whatever part of the body or particular hold you're going to need to start the next move.  They're also employed as temporary patterns in the middle of improvised freestyle; a trick to do while you're thinking to yourself "what tricks haven't I done yet?"

As useful as it is to have tricks like this at your disposal, it generally leads to Swaps being considered the low point of any shred.  They're the calm before the storm; the silence before the next movement; the drum roll before the reveal.  Too often a routine turns into "Trick... fusion, fusion fusion... trick... fusion, fusion, fusion... combo... fusion, fusion, fusion... trick... fu, fu, fu..."

This has led many freestylers to try to leave out the swaps altogether.  Among veteran players, a freestyler might seek to go as long as possible in an improvised shred without resorting to a swap move.  It gives the shred the feel of a single continuous combo rather than a series of combos interrupted by a few holding patterns.  It provides a bit of continuity that the holding pattern would take away.

And thus many shreds you see from accomplished players will have a bit of Fu at the beginning and maybe a Heartbeat in there somewhere, but other than that, you can scarcely find a swap move.  Even worse, you won't see one until the middle of the shred and then you'll spend 20 seconds watching a really fast Cold Fusion before moving on to a bunch of other swapless combos.

But like any type of trick in the game, Swaps are best if they're littered throughout a combo.  This doesn't mean that you have to have a peaks-and-troughs routine filled with regular low points, though because Swaps don't have to be holding patterns.  They're really useful as such, but that doesn't mean that's the only way they can be used.  Adding two quick Fu swaps to a routine might not add much to it, but it also won't take much away.  It's only when you do 12 or 14 of them in a row that it starts feeling like a break in the action.

Of course, if you're doing a tough enough Swap move to begin with, people might appreciate a solid 20 seconds of it.  The Subter-Fusion has caused something of a resurgence in the use of Swaps in shreds simply by being a really cool, really hard, really impressive trick.  The more complex the swap pattern, the longer you can get away with doing it before it starts to slow down your shred.

The other important thing is not to reuse the same Swap over and over.  You can (and should) use some Fu and Fusion in your shred, but that doesn't mean you have to use the same moves over and over again.  There are plenty of Fusion moves to fill in the gaps in even the longest shreds.  When you start mixing in Fu, Turbines and Heartbeat variations, the possibilities open wide.

The key is that if you make a concerted effort to add some good Swaps to your repertoire, you can get all the advantages of the holding pattern tricks without any of the disadvantages.  After all, nobody can complain about the Swap move slowing down your routine if it's the coolest trick you throw down.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where Does the Myachi Glyph Come From?

by Crazy Ivan

It was a post on Facebook that alerted me to this grave discrepancy in the Myachi Blog's history.  For some crazy reason, I've never talked about the origins of the Myachi Glyph, the most important symbol of Myachidom, on this blog.

It should have been one of the first articles I ever wrote.  It should have been one of the main reasons I started writing a blog in the first place, but somehow I've managed to neglect this explanation for well over a year now.

So where does the Myachi Glyph come from?  The short answer is that it comes from Myachi Man.  The slightly longer answer is that it comes from Myachi Man watching video of Myachi Man doing the Cold Fusion.

The Cold Fusion is the signature trick of Myachi.  It's easy to learn, it's hard to master and there are literally hundreds of variations on this simple hand to hand swap move.  It's one of the first tricks that Myachi players learn and it's almost always the first one they truly master.  One of the quickest ways to distinguish a new player from a veteran is to watch them do a Cold Fusion.

And it has been so since the very beginning.  This was one of the first moves Myachi Man ever did with his new invention (and by some accounts it was the very first, though he admits that his memory might not be 100% on this one).  One thing we can say for certain is that it has been part of the Pantheon of Beloved Myachi Tricks as long as such a pantheon has existed.

So it is quite fitting that the inspiration for the symbol that means Myachi should be derived from this move.

The easiest way to visualize it is to think of someone jamming with glowsticks.  Imagine they've got a glowstick on their Myachi and one on the middle finger of each hand.  Now imagine they're doing a Cold Fusion quickly, but not insanely fast.

That's the pattern that is (more or less) traced out in the sky as the Myachi and the hands move together.  I say more or less because the motion of the Myachi is somewhat exaggerated on this diagram.  The drop from the first throw doesn't shift and start going straight down and the scooping catch from the opposite hand doesn't shift the Myachi way up, so this is just an approximation.  Obviously if you just used the exact movements, it wouldn't be as impressive as a company logo:

But this was Myachi Man's artistic expression of the pattern he was seeing and I think all of us who choose to wear the Myachi glyph on our clothing can appreciate the fact that he wasn't too literal with it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Trouble With Aerials

by Crazy Ivan

When I teach people how to play Myachi (and I do that an awful lot), I have a certain method; a series of tricks that I teach them in a certain order.  Now, this will vary a bit depending on who I'm teaching.  I'll keep it easy if they're struggling and I'll ramp it up if they're doing really well, but the vast majority of the people I teach learn these 4 tricks first:

  1. The Half Pipe
  2. The Cold Fusion
  3. The Under the Leg
  4. The 360
As I go down the line of tricks, I'm waiting for the game to click.  There'll be a look or a smile or a sound of muffled victory.  It's a sign that they "get it"; that they now understand what it is that makes Myachi fun.  For some people this comes right away.  As soon as they get that first catch, they understand the game and see all the possibilities.  Some people get it one the Cold Fusion and for others they need only to hit that Under the Leg for it to click.

But if they're not already there by the time I get to the 360, I'm not worried.  There's something about hitting that trick that always makes it happen.  Getting a solid 360 is pretty tough for most people, but they usually get it after a few drops.  The internal reward of nailing that trick is almost always enough to inspire them to take a Myachi home and learn more.

The Aerials usually dominate an early Myachi player's practice and I think this is why.  Hitting a 360 or a 720 is so rewarding that it tends to be everyone's focus as soon as they break open they're new Myachi.  Illusions, Wolverines and Butterflies keep them interested and before long they'll know 30 tricks and more than half of them are aerials.

But then, for some reason, they start to drop off.  Body Crosses are usually the next big focus along with Swaps and then most avid players shift to filling in deficits on the High Body and Low Body Stalls.  Centrifugals pop up here and there along the way and that's how people develop into balanced players.  It's obviously not the same with everyone, but with most people it progresses along these or similar lines.

Along the way, Aerials tend to get relegated to a smaller and smaller position until they all but disappear.  They might eventually show back up as variations on common High Body patterns or as fix-breakers in swaps, but with the exception of an occasional dramatic Double Wolverine, the Aerials might get left out of shreds altogether.

The same tendency can be seen in MYACH games as well.  Two players who've been in the game for a few weeks play a game of MYACH and you can expect to see 360s in several combos.  You can expect to see a Wolverine or a Double and possibly a 720.  Odds are good that you'll see at least a couple of sets that use nothing but Aerial tricks.  But watch those same two players six months later and there's a very good chance that neither of them will use any Aerials at all, even as a closing trick on a tough Body Cross combo.

So why?  What's wrong with these tricks that we love so much as novices and ignore as veterans?  What changed about the triumphant feeling we used to get out of a Triple Wolverine?  There's clearly no end to the combos that we could do, so why do so few players really push the envelope when it comes to Aerial tricks?

I've set this up with a bunch of drama, as though there's some mysterious cause that we'll need to deeply explore to understand, but I think the truth is actually pretty simple.  Once you get past a 1080 (or a Triple anything), it's all just a blur.  We've all seen a friend claim to do a 1440 and really do a 1080 and a quick hand wave that's supposed to be the 4th circle.  We've all seen a You Tube video somewhere were some newb thinks he has a Quintruple Wolverine and just chucks the Myachi 10 feet in the air while he flails his hands in a vaguely Wolverine-like pattern.

I've got a pretty clean and consistent 1440, but I don't think I'd ever use it in a game of MYACH.  Why?  Because it's so easy to do a poor, "sort-of" 1440 and there's no really objective way to measure it on the spot.  Am I going to nitpick at somebody's 1440 for not really going all the way around on the fourth orbit?  If we disagree, there's no instant replay to turn to, so it's just my opinion versus my opponent's.

Most of the time this is no big deal, but I think everyone who's played a lot of MYACH has played against somebody who insists that they're Triple Wolverine is really a Triple Wolverine while you're not sure it's even a double.  You could argue with them, but they'll vehemently defend the integrity of their trick and even do it again in the same half-right way.  It's not necessarily that they're being dishonest, they might just not realize they're not really hitting the trick and you don't want to have to argue and give a whole big lesson on proper Aerials, so eventually we all start leaving these moves out altogether.

But even if that explains how they disappear from MYACH games, that doesn't explain why they disappear from shreds, does it?  One could argue that it's an "out of sight, out of mind" thing and that once you stop using it in competitions you simply don't think to use it in a shred, but I don't think that stands up to scrutiny.  After all, not everyone who shreds plays MYACH.  I'd venture to say that the as many as half of the really dedicated freestylers have never played a game of MYACH at all.

So why do these people trend away from Aerials as well?  It may well come from the same place.  The fact that a Quadruple Wolverine doesn't impress an audience much more than a Triple means that there's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to Aerials.  It's extremely hard to learn the 1800.  Only a handful of players have ever truly mastered this move properly.  It requires a lot of practice and if you think you've got an 1800 and haven't practiced hard to get there, you don't have a true 1800.  But is an average observer going to appreciate just how much harder an 1800 is than a 1440?  Will they even notice?

Don't get me wrong here.  I think that Aerials belong in every shred.  I think they're over used by new players but that doesn't matter.  They're fun and there's a lot of them to learn so it's probably a good thing that new players focus on them first and foremost.  I'm far more concerned about the fact that veteran players underuse them in shreds.

I'm as guilty as the next person of forgetting to add the Aerials.  I can challenge myself a lot more with moves in other categories so that's where my focus lies.  A Triple Wolverine might wow my audience, but it's not challenging so I don't even think about it.  But I know deep down that a solid shred should employ a solid mix of every type of trick in the game.  So next time you're having some fun and throwing down and you notice that some people are watching, offer them up your cleanest Double Wolverine.  You owe it to them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Award Winning Skill Toy Collection

by Crazy Ivan

Long time readers of this blog will recall a post that I made a while back about the Skill Toy Collection at the House of Skills.  I cataloged all the different skill toys we had (though I somehow managed to leave out the footbags) one at a time and then took a big picture of all of them together.

I was looking over some old posts the other day and came across that one and it occurred to me that I should update it since we'd added so many new toys to our collection in the year or so since I posted it.  It was something I kept meaning to do and it kept getting pushed to the back burner.

And then last week our friends at USAstrojax prompted me to go ahead and make it happen.  I was alerted to a contest they were running on their Facebook page where they were offering a $10 gift certificate to the person who could post the picture of the largest skill toy collection.  At first I simply went back to the blog and found the old picture I'd taken for that year old post and simply offered that up.  I figured that had to be the biggest collection of skill toys anyone would post.

In a sense it was.  If they were measuring by the number of different skill toys in the collection, our pic was clearly way ahead.  But there was another guy who posted a pic of his skill toy collection and while it wasn't as varied as ours, he had so many juggling rings, scarves, balls and clubs that he pulled ahead of us by a bit.  In total, he had 317 toys to our meager 154.

But this was a contest that the House of Skills was not willing to lose, so we decided to take a new picture and just to be on the safe side, after adding all the toys we'd picked up in the interim, I added 180 Myachis from my collection to make sure nobody could outdo us.

To be honest, nobody really cared too much about winning the gift certificate.  We already have three sets of Astrojax so I'll probably just donate it to one of my nephews or something, but there's a certain amount of pride that goes in to stuff like this and when you call your home the "House of Skills", there are certain challenges that you have to face head on... and certain competitions that you have to win.

For the record, this photo contains:

3 Astrojax
26 Balls (bounce, glow, contact, bean, exer, etc.)
8 Battle Paddles
1 Boomerang
3 Cigar Boxes
14 Clubs
4 Devil Sticks
3 Diabolos
1 Finger Chux
1 Fire Devil Sticks
1 Fire Poi
8 Flair Bottles
41 Footbags
2 Gyro Rings
1 Hat
3 Kendiamas
1 Kikbo
1 Lasso
3 Machetes
1 Meteor
180 Myachis
3 Nunchaku
1 Poi
7 Rings
9 Shaker Cups
1 Slackline (The box behind the Diabolos)
1 Staff
1 Stilt Set
9 Spooner Boards
1 Takraw Ball
3 Torches
1 Unicycle
1 Vew-Do Board
3 Yo-Yos

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 12 Types of Myachi Trick

by Crazy Ivan

After a conversation with Bones last week, I decided to do a series of articles on the blog where I would break down all the different trick types and explain how to properly use them within a shred.  I've already done the article on Traps and one on Centrifugals, but before I move on to the other ten trick types, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a post where I break down all these trick types.

This probably should have come first, but since the idea to do the series grew organically, I'd already posted the first one before the whole concept was cemented.  So with apologies to anybody who was left scratching their heads over this unfamiliar nomenclature, I offer the following explanation of how trick types are categorized:

The number has changed over the years as more and more tricks are developed.  By the current count there are 12 trick types, though it is often said that there are 11 (and I often say this myself) for reasons that I will explain when we get to the 12th trick type.

 #1) Swaps 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi moves back and forth from a surface on the right side of the body to a surface on the left side of the body in a continuous pattern.
Examples: The Cold Fusion, The Heartbeat, The Fu, The Hot Wings, The Subterfusion

While this category contains some of the oldest tricks in the game, it's one of the newer categories.  For years,  Fusion moves were considered "Aerials" (see below) and Fu and Heartbeat were considered "Centrifugals" (see further below).  In many ways, this category is superfluous since all the tricks could theoretically be fit into other categories.

That being said, for things like rule-making and score keeping in free style, it's important to consider these moves separately for a couple of reasons.  One is that they clearly represent a different type of talent than aerials or centrifugals.  After all, nobody judges your Double Wolverine by how fast you do it.  It's about how well you do it.  But swaps are very often judged solely by speed.

It's also important for a very technical reason.  In games where a player is limited to one or two "tricks", we have to define what a trick is.  Traditionally that definition restricts a single trick as beginning with the first touch (a stall or strike) and ending with the second touch (a stall or strike).  That generally works perfectly for any category of tricks except swaps.  By this definition, after all, a Cold Fusion would be two tricks, not one.

So in order to ensure that our definition of "trick" wouldn't leave out such fundamental moves as the Cold Fusion, the Fu and the Heartbeat (possibly the 3 most often performed tricks in all of Myachi), we created a separate category to fit those into and it has since become the primary category of moves.

 #2) Aerials 

Definition: Tricks in which the body moves in relation to the Myachi while the Myachi is in the air.
Examples: The 360, the Wolverine, the Turbine, the Butterfly, the Sonic

Aerials really define Myachi in a lot of ways.  One of the first major challenges a new Myachi player will face is running their aerial numbers up.  The 360 becomes the 720 becomes the 1080 becomes the frustrating uphill climb to the 1440.  The Wolverine become the Double Wolverine, the Turbine becomes the Double Turbine and eventually you're trying to get a Wolverine, a Turbine and a Sonic all on the same throw (and if you haven't tried that combo before, you're probably standing up and grabbing your best jammer right now).

Aerials have appeared on every break down of trick types we ever assembled.  Even our first clumsy attempt at shoehorning all the tricks into 4 very broad categories included Aerials.  And but for the Swaps eventually earning their own ancillary grouping, the definition of this category hasn't changed at all over the years.

 #3) Body Cross 

Definition: Tricks in which the Myachi or the throwing or catching surface passes behind, under, or over another part of the body.
Examples: The Under the Leg, the Behind the Back, the Bandit, the Daredevil, the In-Spin

It doesn't take much more than reading the definition above to know that this is a pretty convoluted category. It's a type of trick that everybody recognizes should exist, but nobody can easily define.  We all know that Under the Legs and Behind the Backs belong in the same category, but how do you break that down?

We used to call these moves "Flexibility" tricks, but that was pretty limiting.  After all, there are some Behind the Back passes that aren't really about flexibility at all.  A Duck doesn't require flexibility, but the Myachi clearly goes behind the head.  So is this the same type of trick or a different one?  What about the Daredevil? Is it the same "type" of trick as a Behind the Back even though it isn't about flexibility?

The problems with that categorization were obvious from the start.  We continued to use the flawed system for a while but eventually we settled for the traditional Juggling nomenclature of "Body Cross" to more broadly define what we meant by it.

Of course, even now the definition is flawed.  By the broad definition above, this would sort of include all portals, all aerials and some swaps, so I'll freely admit that this category might be tightened or redefined again in the future.

 #4) Centrifugals 

Definition: Tricks that use centrifugal force to keep the Myachi in place while the surface it is resting on moves.
Examples: The Half Pipe, the Snake, The Crane, the Vert, the Roller Coaster

This is a type of trick that belongs uniquely to Myachi.  Aerials and swaps are used in a number of skill toys and body crosses are part of virtually all of them, but I can't think of any other that uses something like centrifugals.  When we first starting categorizing Myachi tricks, this was a fairly small group that was small but important.  In the first fourfold division of tricks, centrifugals stood alone as this tiny little offshoot, dwarfed by the other categories.

But over the years a number of variations have appeared that have earned this category a pretty high spot on the list of trick-types.  The Drop of Death and all its variations, the continued advancement of the Roller Coaster and some of the exciting work Maverick and Animal have done with combining centrifugals into complex swap patterns have turned it into a legitimate segment of the game.

 #5) Grinds 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi slides from one part of the body to another.
Examples: The Dark Slide, the 50/50, the Hurricane, the Enlightener, the Rolling Rock

In many ways, this is the smallest category of tricks in Myachi.  In earlier break downs of trick types, grinds were considered off-shoots of centrifugals and were forced into the same category.  The definition didn't even have to change much.  They were all lumped together into a wide category that was "any trick where the Myachi never leaves the body".  After all, whether it stays on the hand in a Vert or slides down the arm in a Dark Slide, it still never left the body.

In some games, the two categories are still considered together.  So the pertinent question is, why divide them at all?

Once again, it comes down to the talent behind the trick.  Performing a grind requires a vastly different skill set than performing a centrifugal.  Learning every centrifugal in the book isn't going to get you any closer to the Hurricane Grind, but learning the Dark Slide will.  Mastering the 50/50 will help you get to the Enlightener, but mastering the Reverse Roller Coaster won't help much.

Beyond that, the two types of tricks clearly look different.  An observer who knew nothing at all about Myachi could see examples of one type and then the other and they would know immediately that they were seeing two different skills being exhibited.

 #6) Traps 

Definition: Tricks in which the Myachi is pinched or trapped between two surfaces of the body.
Examples: The Hulk, the Lotus, the Slingshot, the Long Sword, the Figure 4

In the old-school breakdowns, the Traps were usually considered in that same catch-all category that included centrifugals and grinds.  After all, in a trap, the Myachi is staying put on one part of the body... well, two parts of the body, but it's still not moving around.  As uncomfortable as it was to force fit traps into that category, there really wasn't room for them anywhere else and there was some debate as to whether or not they represented an important enough percentage of Myachi moves to warrant a separate category.

This debate, in fact, was the catalyst that eventually allowed the old system to fall apart.  As more and more Trap tricks were created, it got to be harder and harder to justify the ever-widening category.  This started to call attention to some of the other weaknesses in the system and led to it's all-out overhaul in 2006.

Traps were the first group to break away and for a brief time this was the only real compromise made to the larger system.  That meant that for a while we had 3 really big categories that included Aerials, Body Crosses and Stalls and then two comparatively tiny categories for centrifugals and traps.  We recognized that this would be pretty ungainly so we set out to start breaking those mega-categories down into their constituent parts.  The first to get split was that broad "Stall" category.

 #7) High Body Stalls 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi is caught and held on any surface above the waist except the back of the hand.
Examples: The Spiderman, the Melon Stall, the Mantis, the Parrot, the Neo

Once upon a time, stalls were all figured together in one large category.  But even back then, people would differentiate.  Maniacs would admit that while they were good at the arm and body stalls, they were still working on the foot stuff.

This clear demarcation in the skills required for the two trick types prompted us to split this category in half when we started rethinking our earlier system.  Obviously stalling on the elbow and stalling on the foot were vastly different, not only in the type of skill required, but also in the amount of skill required.  Mastering the basic arm stalls was something a committed Myachi player could do in a month or two, but master the basic foot stalls generally takes at least three times as long.

Splitting this category is also important for score keeping in freestyle.  An accomplished footbagger could walk into a Myachi competition and own the "stall" category if we were considering all stalls equally.  In the same way a contact juggler could probably dominate using only upper body work.  A truly developed Myachi player should clearly be able to exhibit skill in both.

 #8) Low Body Stalls 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi is caught and held on any surface below the waist.
Examples: The Toe Stall, the Instep Stall, the Knee Stall, the Outstep Stall, the Heel Stall

Thanks to decades of development by the footbagging community, this is one of the largest categories in Myachi.  It is also, by most measures, the most difficult.  Obviously, the difficulty of mastering any type of trick will largely be based on your existing skill set when you learn Myachi.  For example, a lacrosse player will probably have less trouble learning centrifugals than the average person just as a soccer player or a footbagger will have less trouble learning low boy stalls.  So which category of tricks is "most difficult" will vary from player to player.

That being said, the overwhelming majority of Myachi players will cite the low body stalls as the most challenging type of trick to master.  They require muscles that many people have never needed to develop, they require flexibility that even flexible people have trouble with and they require insane amounts of practice.  Even learning the five basic foot stalls (the Toe, Instep, Outstep, Heel and Sole) often requires more than a year of practice.

 #9) Strikes 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi is hit or batted by any surface on the body
Examples: The Popper, the Instep Kick, the Trampoline, the Toe Pop, the Knee Pop

It's hard to believe that there was ever a time when Strikes didn't merit a category of their own, but if you go far enough back into Myachi history there was a time when they were against the rules.  Even now, if you look at the rules printed in the booklet attached to a new Myachi you will find the words, "Do not strike or bat the Myachi".

This is obviously included to help new players.  When first learning to catch a Myachi, it is important to remind a newb that they need to absorb the Myachi rather than striking it.  Because of people's knowledge of Hacky Sack, a lot of people instinctively just start whacking the Myachi with the back of the hand as though the game was just about keeping the Myachi in the air.  To limit that, we remind everyone that this is a game about control, not just about keeping it going.

That being said, once you've mastered the catch, you actually want to add in that chaotic strike here and there to keep things challenging.  Even young players learn the Trampoline on the first day and that's clearly a strike move.  Poppers and basic kicks are usually a quick addition to a new player's repertoire and I see a lot of first hour players throwing in the occasional Melon Popper as well.

Strikes were added when we overhauled the system in 2006 and at first they were broken down to High and Low Body Strikes in the same way that stalls were.  We've waffled back and forth on whether or not this should be seen as two categories or one, but until high body strikes become a larger part of the game, it seems excessive to consider them as a full blown category.  That being said, Monk's profound additions to the game have had us wondering a lot more lately.

 #10) Flip Tricks 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi itself flips or spins in a prescribed manner.
Examples: The Kick Flip, the Pop Shove-It, the Impossible, the Tail Whip, the Tre Flip

This is a category that is essentially added to be thorough.  Flip tricks are clearly a part of Myachi, but they're not a very big part of it.  Every player worth their salt should have the basics mastered here, but it's not like you're going to bust out in a bunch of flip tricks in the middle of a shred.  We generally learn them so that we can master catching strikes and so that we can learn to throw the Myachi properly for weird stalls and swaps, but they're hardly a defining part of Myachi.

But of course, they're a part of the game and therefore they must be classified.  To be certain, I've won games of MYACH against accomplished players by throwing out an oddball flip trick that they'd never practiced, so there is some value to thinking these moves through.  That being said, if I earned the title of the world's best Myachi player in the category of "Flip Tricks", I wouldn't exactly add it to my resume.

 #11) Portals 

Definition: Tricks where the Myachi passes through a portal that is created by multiple parts of the body.
Examples: The Musketeer, the Thinker, the Swordfish, the Wormhole, the Jumprope

This is the second most recent addition to this system.  In many ways, portal tricks could either be considered as (a) aerials, (b) body-crosses or (c) a combination of the two.  After all, a Swordfish fits nicely into the definition of an aerial and a Musketeer fits nicely into the definition of a body cross.  So is there really any need for an additional category?

At first, we obviously answered no.  The Musketeer had been around for a long time, but it was really the only move we were doing that would have fit into this category for a long time.  The Wormhole was probably the next "portal" move to be created and the Thinker was likely the next.  But even then, these three moves hardly merited a category of their own.

It was in 2005 when the Swordfish hit the scene that we really started to consider crafting a new classification for these types of tricks.  This would be the first portal move that relied on linking the hands themselves and once we started doing that, it was as though the floodgates had opened and dozens of new tricks came pouring out.

But even after that it took several more years for us to start considering portals as a unique type of trick.  At this point we had everything neatly buttoned down into ten categories and it would seem weird to have eleven.  Especially when we knew that we could still force fit the portals into existing categories.  Ultimately, though, we realized that it was dishonest to the spirit of classifying like with like.  A Musketeer was considered a body cross but a Swordfish was an aerial.  Those two tricks required too similar a skill to be sitting in separate categories and thus another revision was made.

 #12) Showers 

Definition: Tricks where multiple Myachis are thrown from one or multiple surfaces and then caught or struck on one or multiple surfaces.
Examples: The Horizontal Split, the Vertical Split, the Triple Split, the Firecracker, the Instep Merge

As recently as last week, I wrote a blog post where I said that there were only 11 categories of tricks and when I listed them, I left this one out.  I wasn't intentionally trying to confuse people, but for the purposes of the article I was writing at the time, it didn't seem right to throw in this new, oddball category without any further explanation.

Showers represent a pretty broad category of multi-Myachi tricks that will probably eventually be broken down into yet more categories as our system of classification continues to grow with the game.  They include Splits, Merges, Firecrackers and Splurges.  They basically include any move where multiple Myachis are being moved around at the same time.

This is the only category of tricks that is exclusive to multi-Myachi work.  In all the other categories, there are one Myachi moves in the category as well as multiple Myachi moves.  If you do a Matrix, it is just a two Myachi swap.  If you do a Jedi, it's just a two Myachi body cross.  If you do a Double Dragon, it's a two Myachi centrifugal.

But, of course, there is no one Myachi version of a split, merge or firecracker.  Until very recently there were so few such moves that it had never even occurred to us to produce a category to put them in.  But as most Myachi enthusiasts agree, the most cutting edge work in Myachi is being done in this category of moves.  This is where the future of the game lies and where I currently struggle to think of the five examples to give in this post, I also know that by this time next year, I'll probably be able to rattle off fifty such moves without pausing to think.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Recruiting Myachi Masters

by Crazy Ivan

You know you have a pretty fun job when people show up and do it voluntarily.

That actually happens quite a bit in Myachi.  We'll just be jamming out at one of the stores and some Myachi Maniac will show up ready to spread the word.  These maniacs come in all sizes... some are fourth graders who go to an after school Myachi club.  Some are high-schoolers that have been playing for a while.  Some are friends of ours in their twenties and thirties that just enjoy throwing down and getting people fired up about the game.

With that in mind, you'd think that finding new Myachi Masters would be relatively easy... and in a sense, it is.  We've hired quite a few people over the years and while some of them have moved on to other things, we've never seemed to have a problem getting as many qualified Myachi Masters as we need at any given time.  In fact, it seems like whenever we start having the "we really need to hire more people" conversation, a few prospective Myachi Masters appear out of nowhere.

If you've been to our spot at FAO over the last couple of weeks, you might have gotten a chance to meet one such prospect.  Her Myachi name is Chill and she's been training with us for a little over two weeks now.  She's already proven herself to be a competent teacher and that's 90% of doing the job well.  She has a ways to go to achieve the skill-level one expects of a Myachi Master, but she's well on her way and has a huge athletic background to draw upon as she moves forward.

Next week, we'll be auditioning another prospective Master.  He's skilled, sharp and supremely confident; all important qualifications for being a Myachi Master, but there's really no way to know how good somebody will be at this job until you see them doing it.  We've brought on plenty of extremely skilled people who had all the outward qualifications for the job only to see them fail miserably when it came time to turn it on and be a Myachi Master.

There are some pretty common pitfalls that many would-be Masters find themselves in.  The most common is probably what we call "internal jamming"... since most of the people we hire come from some kind of entertainer or skill-based profession, they're usually used to being the center of attention.  But in Myachi, the person you're teaching has to be the center of attention.  Sure, the crowd around you will go nuts when they see you doing a Matrix reloaded, but that'll never be as impressive as seeing a 7 year old stick a 360 for the first time.  It will never be as exciting as watching three people who thought they couldn't do it all sticking an Under the Leg.

But for an entertainer, it can be weird to remove yourself from the stage.  I know it was hard for me when I moved from juggling to Myachi.  It was no longer about what I could do, but rather it was about what everyone else can do.  I had to transition from the entertainer to the cheerleader, from center stage to center row.  It was a weird transition, but it was a fun one.  Because ultimately, watching that 7 year old hit their first 360 is way more fun for me as well as the audience.

There are other pitfalls as well.  Some people who come from a sales background can't seem to get comfortable with the "soft-sell" method we use in Myachi.  Myachi Man will tell you that in 13 years of doing this, he's never once said "You should buy one".  That's just not how we operate.  We're not selling used cars, we're selling skills.  Our strategy has always been to play with as many people as possible and have as much fun as possible.  We sell a toy and having fun is the best way to do it.

But some people who spent a lot of time as salesmen can't get the hang of that.  If somebody isn't interested in buying a Myachi after they play, I never try to talk them into it.  I just say, "Cool.  If you want to learn a few more tricks, I'll be here all day."  I invite them back to play some more, but I never say, "Are you sure?  You're really good at this game."

There are other common pitfalls, of course.  Like any other job, we occasionally get prospective employees who aren't punctual, aren't on task, aren't trustworthy, aren't dedicated... the kind of thing that all employers have to deal with from time to time.  But we pride ourselves on having pretty good eyes for Myachi Masters.  And that's evidenced by the fact that the average period of employment with Myachi (so far) is 2.4 years.  That means that enough people stick around long term (and work out well) that the few who fail after a few weeks barely even register on our averages.

And this, of course, all leads to the big question.  Where do we find Myachi Masters?

I'd love to say we have a method, but blind-luck isn't exactly a strategy.  For whatever reason, solid potential Myachi Masters always seem to show up about the time that we need them.  Mav and Kid met Chill at a trade show in Maryland and it turned out she lived close to the city and wanted a job.  The not-yet-named trainee we have starting next week just happened by our stand at FAO and fell in love with the game when Noodles taught him.

But even going further back, you'll see that all the Myachi Masters showed up in ways like that.  We've never put out a "Help Wanted" ad because we've never had to.  We met Maverick at a trade show in Vegas.  Bones was a maniac we wanted to hire even before he was old enough for us to do so.  We met Lucky when we were in Vegas demonstrating at the FAO that used to be there.  Monk learned the game from a friend and then sought us out to offer up his services.  Bones brought us Bamboo pretty much fully trained and ready to go.  Noodles' sister got him into the game and insisted that he come in and start working for us.  Heck, even Kid and I started off as Myachi addicts and only became employees of the company later.

In many ways, we never recruit Myachi Masters, but in many ways, we're always recruiting Myachi Masters. And if you're currently a Myachi Maniac and hope to one day join the ranks of the masters, take comfort in the fact that all of us started off as Maniacs.  The love of the game has to come first.  If you have that, you can overcome anything else.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Use Centrifugals in a Shred

by Crazy Ivan

We talked the other day about the severe under use of Trap moves by freestylers.  I promised then to highlight all eleven trick types over the coming weeks, but before we get to the pros and cons break down, I figured I should highlight another trick type that tend to be problematic in freestyle.  And that's the centrifugal.

For those who aren't up on their Myachi terminology, a Centrifugal is a move where the Myachi remains on one place on the body (usually, but not always, the back of the hand) and the body moves without disturbing the Myachi.  The most common examples are moves like the Half-Pipe, the Cradle, the Vert, the Snake, the Roller Coaster and all the numerous variations on those tricks.  This is the type of trick that makes up some 80% of a game of Fu.

When we talked about trap moves, I was focusing in on their relative under-use in Myachi shreds, but with Centrifugals, I wanted to tackle a different issue altogether.  For the record, I do feel that Centrifugals are under-used in freestyle, but nowhere near to the extent that Traps are ignored.  That being said, many freestylers make Centrifugals a center-piece of their routines and Verts and Roller Coasters find their way into many if not most long-form shred sessions.

So rather than convince people to use more Centrifugals, I instead want to spend this post convincing people to use them correctly.

It seems to me that most of the time, if I see Centrifugals in a routine, they're lumped together.  It's almost like the freestyler is saying, "I can do all the centrifugals as well, see."  They're very rarely used in concert with other moves unless they're used on the way into a Daredevil or some other body-cross move and usually you see several of them together.

This makes sense from the perspective of the jammer, but not from the perspective of the audience.  As a jammer, I recognize where this tendency comes from.  Most of the popular Centifugals use the "Tiger Fist" position where the Myachi rests between the 2nd and 3rd row of knuckles on your fingers.  The Roller Coaster, Reverse Roller Coaster, Snake, Crane, Helix, Centrifuge and any number of body-cross trap/swaps all use this same hand position and virtually no non-Centrifugal move in the game uses it.

So it's simply logical that if you, in the course of your jam, find yourself in a Tiger Fist position, you would just rock out a bunch of these moves one after the other.  After all, do you really want to find two or three more tricks that end in the same spot?  It's far easier to lump them together.

But from the audience's vantage point, it makes for a very unsatisfying portion of the routine.  Centrifugals are, like any other type of move, best peppered throughout the routine.  You could do a Double Wolverine> 1080> Butterfly> Double Sonic> Double Reverse Butterfly combo in the midst of a shred and it would be awesome.  But it would be far less awesome if you never did another aerial move for the rest of the routine.  Imagine that instead of using the Double Sonic here (where it's not really adding much to an already complex aerial combo), you held on to it and threw it in between, say, a Toe 360 and a Wing Catch that you were already doing elsewhere in the shred.  I think we can all agree that it would be far more impressive to see this unexpected aerial popping up in transition than it would be to have a 5 trick aerial combo instead of a 4 trick one.

The same is certainly true with Centrifugals.  Sure, you can lock them all up in one long combo.  I've often seen even the best freestylers in the world throw down something like Snake> Roller Coaster> Reverse Roller Coaster> Helix> Crane> Reverse Helix> Drop of Death.  Now, if you think it all the way through, this is a sick combo.  But now imagine the same combo with a transitional trick in between each move:

Snake> Double Impossible> Roller Coaster> Mantis> DarkSlide> Reverse Roller Coaster> Scorpion Strike> Helix> Cross-Over> Crane> Reverse Helix> Daredevil> Reverse MVP Daredevil> Drop of Death

Now, sure, 14 tricks are cooler than7 tricks by default, but even any series of 7 moves in the combo above would get a better audience reaction than all 7 Centrifugals smashed together.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the above combo, the Reverse Helix would really get lost in a maze of movement and the inclusion of a Reverse Roller Coaster immediately after a Roller Coaster really diminishes the impressive nature of the Roller Coaster by itself.  In other words, if you follow a pretty tough centrifugal with a really tough one, the simpler one is quickly forgotten.

So when setting up a shred, look for opportunities for one off Centrifugals.  Practice landing some of your aerials directly into Tiger Fist position.  Look for combos that start and end on Centrifugals with other trick types in between.  This will add flavor to your routine and make it more distinctive in competitions.  And for Pete's sake, learn them with your weak hand too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Best Fu Player in the Multiverse

by Crazy Ivan

First, a candid admission.  I've written a lot of blog entries where the title promises the "best" of something.  Whether it's the Best Myachi, Best Myachi Player, or the Best Trick, there is one thing that all of these articles have in common: I never actually get around to answering the question.  I usually spend the whole time drawing "apples to oranges" comparisons to justify my unwillingness to provide a definitive answer.

So before I even get started with this entry, let me tell you in advance that at no point in the following paragraphs will I actually name a person that is the best Fu player.  I'm not really going to make any effort to and if I did I would be drawing too large a conclusion based on the information that I actually have.

Instead, I want to talk here about what kind of person would likely be the best Myachi Fu player on the planet.  For the purposes of this discussion there's no reason to limit ourselves to people that have actually played the game or even heard of it.  What we're looking for instead is a transplant.  Someone we could take from one profession and stick into a Fu battle.

The obvious first answer is a martial artist.  The whole concept of Fu comes from martial arts and it stands to reason that a talented martial artist would be pretty good at the game really fast.  They might not take to the trick element of Myachi as fast as some other select groups, but when it comes to playing Fu, they'll already have all the skills they need; balance, hand speed, body control, fast reactions and full-body coordination.  What's more is that I've actually had the chance to play Fu against a few accomplished martial artists in my time and this anecdotal evidence definitely favors the common sense assumptions above.

But there's no reason to limit ourselves to this one sport.  Anyone who was skilled in hand to hand combat would likely have a huge advantage in Fu.  Sure, body blows and uppercuts wouldn't play into it, but a pugilist would have huge advantages in a game of Fu.  Simply knowing how to use good footwork to dictate your opponent's actions is a major part of the game.  It also doesn't hurt to be adept at blocking strikes, getting out of the way of an aggressor and redirecting a blow.

And of course, we needn't restrict ourselves to combat sports.  I know from experience that football players (specifically offensive linemen) make great Fu players.  They can frustrate virtually any attempt to move inside for a strike and can really wear down even a veteran player.  Basketball players are fast and used to feigning in and out to get around people so they always end up popping up behind your defenses.  Baseball players even have a huge advantage when it comes to catching wayward strikes and desperation passes.

But of course, we can go much further afield than that.  Consider the advantage that a lax player has.  Considering that cradling a lacrosse ball and verting a Myachi are almost identical skills, it doesn't require much of a stretch of the imagination to see a good lax player translating those skills to Myachi Fu.  Fast centrifugal movements combined with the aggressive nature of lacrosse is a pretty likely fit for a great Fu player.

Acrobats and dancers deserve some mention as well.  Considering the amount of flexibility and balance that you need to be a true master of Fu, somebody with a head start in that regard could easily surpass the crowd and become a true master of the game.  For the same reason, one should consider most "extreme" athletes as well, since virtually all such sports hinge on balance foremost.

So as near as I can tell, the best Myachi Fu player in the world would be a basketball playing, lacrosse phenom ninja acrobat with a penchant for skateboarding.  As for the best Fu player in the multiverse... I guess that title would simply go to the life form with the most arms.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Myachi Boot Camp

by Crazy Ivan

The next Myachi Boot Camp is only 2 days away so if you're (a) in driving distance of Myachi HQ, (b) off of school on Friday the 13th and (c) looking for something fun to do from 1 to 3, you are strongly advised to grab your collection, brush up on your MYACH sets and head over to HQ for some absolute Myachi overload.  Kid Myach, Pinky, Monk and Maverick will all be there running workshops, hosting contests, brokering trades, teaching tricks, posing challenges and showing off.  There will be rares, trades, tricks, games and food.  Pretty much everything a Myachi Maniac needs to survive.

This will be the 11th Myachi Boot Camp we've hosted (if I've got my count right), and it occurs to me now that I've yet to mention them here on the blog.  This isn't as strange as it might seem; I usually try to keep the articles here "general interest".  According to the stats Google gives us, we've got regular readers in 14 countries here and our US readership comes from all over the nation.  If I write an article about using Traps in your jam, that's info that every one of our readers can use.  If I write about an event that's happening at HQ, at most, only 15% of our readers can really act on that.

That being said, the Boot Camps are a big part of what we do and I'd like to think that a reader in Switzerland or Australia or Minnesota is still interested enough in the movement to want to know the extent of the ways we spread the word.  So even if you can't come to the Boot Camp, at least you can know that such things exist.  Of course, I'm sorry to anyone who reads this and thinks "Man, I'd love to go, but it's about 4,600 miles away...", but I'd be even sorrier if that person 4,600 miles away never even knew we did Boot Camps.

I'm sure that by now, many of you are wondering exactly what a Myachi Boot Camp consists of.  Is it a tournament?  Is it a class?  Is it a party?  Well, the short answer to all those questions is "yes".  There are three main goals at Boot Camps and I'll list them in order of importance:

  1. Have Insane Amounts of Fun
  2. Improve Everyone's Myachi Skills
  3. Reward Everyone's Myachi Skills
Contests are part of Boot Camp, but it is not a tournament.  We have tournaments and those are awesome, but the goal there is to test everyone's Myachi Skills and reward the people who stand above the rest.  The first goal of having insane amounts of fun is the same at tournaments, but unlike a Boot Camp, tournaments aren't so much about learning new skills as they are about exhibiting current skills.

But a Boot Camp is just what is sounds like: Intensive immersion in Myachi.  You will learn new tricks and you'll learn new ways to challenge yourself with existing tricks.  You'll be given a chance to set world records and be given the tools to help you do so.  You'll learn from two of the three best Myachi freestylers in the world (and I'll leave it to you to decide who's who there) and through it all, you'll be earning a chance to win rare Myachis that can be obtained only through tournaments and Boot Camps.

And as cool as that all sounds, the real fun of the Boot Camp is something else altogether.  It's a class and it's a tournament, but it's also a party.  You'll be getting together with Myachi Maniacs from all over the NY area and odds are pretty good that you'll meet a lot of solid jammers you've never met before.  You'll learn not only from the Masters, but also from your peers.  You'll make new friends with common interests and you'll get some great chances to improve your collection through trades.  You'll put faces to the names you encounter on the forum and the Facebook page and you'll learn new moves and teach new tricks to people who share your passion for the game.

So if your interest is piqued, here's all the info you'll need:

Boot Camp begins at 1 and goes to 3 at Myachi HQ (1 Shore Rd., Glenwood Landing, NY).  It's $15 per person or, if you're coming in a group, you can get a discount of 4 people for $50.

If you want more information, contact HQ at (516) 801-4949 or email us at for more details.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Importance of Traps

by Crazy Ivan

Traditionally, there are eleven categories of tricks in Myachi; High Body Stalls, Low Body Stalls, Strikes, Aerials, Flip Tricks, Body Crosses, Grinds, Portals, Swaps, Centrifugals and Traps.  While some moves combine elements of several of these categories, virtually all moves can be described using some variation of these ten broad categories.

In shreds, we usually see a lot of stalls, aerials and body-crosses.  Grinds, Portals and Strikes more often show up in games of MYACH.  Centrifugals pop up in both instances and are the key to Myachi Fu.  Flip Tricks and Traps are often relegated to the "easy" pile and very rarely find their way into jams or skill competitions.

With flip tricks, it's clear why.  These are moves that rely on the motion of the Myachi itself (such as kickflips, shove-its, hard flips, etc.) and there's no real need for those in a game of MYACH or in a shred.  They're too easy for games of MYACH and they're invisible in a larger shred.

But Traps should not be dismissed so flippantly.  Sure, they're illegal in Fu so you won't use them there and there are only a few traps that are legitimate scoring chances in MYACH (and most of them are primarily body-cross moves that also incorporate traps).  But when it comes to a shred, traps are probably the most under utilized tricks in the game.

For those that don't know the system, a Trap is a move where you actually "trap" the Myachi between two surfaces on your body.  The most common trap tricks are the Hulk, Lotus and Slingshot, but there are hundreds of possible traps using combinations of the hands, feet and body.  Still, these moves aren't usually as flashy or impressive as a fast aerial or a difficult low-body stall and because of that, they are usually nowhere to be found in a jam session.

This is a real shame.  Traps serve a number of purposes in a shred and they can add a lot to the overall look of the routine.  Easy isn't always unimpressive and, depending on how it's framed, a Trap trick can be every bit as impressive as a much tougher foot trick or centrifugal.  Let's take a look at a few of the advantages of trap moves:

#1) They Break the Action

In juggling, breaks in the action are called "applause points".  These are the moments when everything stops moving for a second so that the audience can catch up and, hopefully, warm the palms of their hands with some vigorous clapping.  A good juggler will litter their routine with such stop-and-go pauses so that each motion can be appreciated.  It also has the added benefit of making the audience feel like they got more out of the show.

Myachi shreds are the same.  If you just string all your best tricks together, the audience really doesn't have time to respond to one trick before they're being baffled by another.  Sure, you could use holding pattern moves like Fusions and Fus in between the big elements of your shred, but it's far better to stop the Myachi altogether and give the audience a second to reset.

#2) They Guarantee Odd Placements

Supposing that during your routine, you want to toss in a few Fist tricks.  Let's say you've got a sick Fist of Lightening to a Punsiher combo you want to use.  This means that at the beginning of this part of the routine, you have to get the Myachi to your fist.  There are two ways to do this; you could catch it on your fist from a throw or you could use a trap move like the Hulk and then just come out with the fist stall already in place.

Obviously, the second choice is easier, but less obvious is the fact that it's the more aesthetically pleasing idea from the audience's perspective.  Think about it; the Fist of Lightening involves a Fist Catch.  So even though the fist catch is more difficult, it will take away from the next trick.  Your audience would much rather see two tricks, one easy and one hard, than two difficult tricks that are essentially the same.

And the decision can also be a simple one of consistency.  Catching on your fist is really hard.  If you have an even more difficult starting position for a trick, the knife edge of the hand, for instance, you might not be able to consistently get that catch within a jam.  But you can definitely accomplish it with a Trap.  By using a trap, you might actually be expanding the total number of tricks you can bring to a routine.

#3) They Look Really Cool

Odds are that if you're jamming for a crowd, most of them have never played Myachi before.  They don't know which tricks are harder than others.  I mean, sure, they can just look at a Toe 360 and a Hulk and tell that one is much harder than the other.  But do they know that a Spiderman is a lot harder than a Lotus that ends in a Wrist stall?

One of the toughest tricks that I regularly use in freestyle is the Spidey-Sense (a Spiderman to Spiderman Daredevil).  When I do it, I always start with a Lotus and do the Spidey-Sense from there.  This is a bit easier than just catching a Spiderman, sure, but that's not why I use it.  It simply looks cooler to do a Spidey-Sense out of a Lotus than a simple wrist catch.  There's more going on.  There's more to see.  It looks harder even though it's easier.

#4) They Can Be Really Tough

To be sure, I'm not suggesting that you go out and start peppering every routine with a bunch of Hulk to Lotus transitions.  If you throw down a Duck N Dive, you can't exactly follow it up with an Anvil to a Slingshot and think it's going to impress somebody.  But you could definitely follow up a Duck N Dive with an In-Spin to an Under the Leg Hulk and get some pretty perplexed expressions.

Trap moves are only easy if you do the easy ones.  An Atlas is a tough, impressive Trap move.  Behind the Back Hulks (or the dreaded Hula Hulk) can be great MYACH calls, let alone Jam tricks.  The Figure 4 is a spectacular foot trap.  I'm sure that with only a little bit of effort, you can probably think of a tough trap trick that has never even been attempted before.

#5) Traps Are Great for 2 Sack Shreds

Most serious freestylers focus more on multiple Myachi moves than single sack shreds, but even within a 2 sack shred, it can be fun to toss in some one Myachi moves.  But what do you do with the second Myachi?  Sure, you can stall it on your toe or the top of your head or something just to get it out of the way, but by employing a trap move, you can actually make the dormant Myachi into part of the shred.

Traps and Portals are natural allies.  Think about how much cooler a Jump Rope is if there's a second Myachi trapped in a Hulk while you do it.  How much cooler is a Musketeer if the fist on the hip is trapping a Myachi?  Virtually all portal moves lend themselves to trap variations, but the utility of traps isn't limited to that.  Think about some high-body stall/trap combos like the Pteradon and the Headlock (Slingshot and Bodyguard simultaneously from a split).

Even low body stall work can be improved upon by adding a few simple trap variations with one sack while doing a foot shred with another.  Traps and Swaps are really the only moves that can realistically be used during a foot shred, as anything else would pose some pretty super-human difficulties.  But a Transformer can be executed in the middle of a River Dance without the use of any super powers.


In summary, every type of Myachi Move has its place.  If you're not using a lot of trap moves in your shreds, it might be fun to start rethinking that.  I'll be highlighting the rest of the trick types over the next few weeks, but I really felt that the most under-rated type of trick deserved top billing on this little countdown.  Look for a post highlighting Centrifugals coming soon...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Where Can I Buy Rare Myachis?

by Crazy Ivan

First, let me throw out a quick apology to my regular readers.  I won't be presenting much in the way of new information in this particular post, so if you've been reading this blog for a while, I'm just going to spend the next few paragraphs telling you stuff that you already know.

My goal with this post is actually to draw in new readers.  My hope is that this blog will show up near the top of the page whenever people Google "Where can I find rare Myachis?" or "Where can I buy rare Myachis?".  This is, after all, the single most common question on our Facebook page, our forum, my in-box, my private messages and on Twitter.  People always want to know where they can find rare Myachis.

Of course, there are really only two reliable places; E-Bay and Myachi Maniacs.  Maniacs will often have tradable rare and semi-rare sacks and when old collectors whittle down their collections, they usually offer a few up on E-Bay.  These are the only consistent ways to find rare Myachis.  But generally, the people who ask this question aren't satisfied by that answer.

There is another option, of course, but it's difficult, time-consuming and has no guarantee of success.  I'll get to that in a minute, but before I do, let me present two facts that will seem stupidly self-evident, but which still must be addressed:

#1) Rare Myachis are rare.

#2) The rarer a Myachi is, the rarer that Myachi is.

Again, I apologize if it seems like I'm being silly or pedantic, but that it seems that a lot of people don't fully understand that.  The term "rare Myachi" gets throw around as though it were simply a type of Myachi, rather than a distinction of availability.

The point is that if there were some website where one could simply go and purchase rare Myachis, they wouldn't be rare.  They would be currently available on some website.  If there was a store that sold rare Myachis, they wouldn't really be rare... they would be available at that store.

Rare Myachis are rare specifically because there isn't a store or a website where you can buy them.  And if you're lucky enough to find a website that has retired Myachis, odds are pretty good that they'll be, at best, semi-rare.

All Myachis are made in limited editions.  For example, in the current 5.2 series, there are exactly 4,200 of each type of Myachi.  There are 4,200 Gr8ful Shred Blacks, 4,200 Comic Cammos, 4,200 Red Dragons, etc.  There are 12 types of Myachi in the series, which means that in total , there are 50,400 Myachis in the series.

Once all those sell out, they're gone.  We won't make any more 5.2s so if you didn't get a Comic Cammo then, you're not going to easily find one.

Of course, once Myachi sells out of the 5.2s, they won't automatically become rare.  We sell most of our Myachis to stores rather than to individual collectors, so after Myachi runs out as a company, there will still be hundreds of stores all over the world that still have 5.2s for sale.  Depending on how quickly Myachis sell out of each store, they might still be available for 3-6 months after we're sold out on our website.

After that, the 5.2 series will be "Semi-rare".  That's a distinction we put on a series that is, for the most part, sold out in all stores.  But it is still widely available to collectors because pretty much everyone has one in their collection and it's not old enough to be a prized sack.  So if you want, for example, a Hot Lava Yellow, you'll probably still be able to get one even if most stores have sold it out.

But if you fast forward a couple of years, it will be a heck of a lot harder to find that particular Myachi.  The Hot Lava Yellow would have sold out of stores years earlier and the only ones that would still be around would be sitting in people's collections.  By then it would be a pretty rare Myachi so Maniacs wouldn't want to give it up for nothing.  If you had your heart set on a Hot Lava Yellow in 2015, your only real options would be to find a collector with one he or she would trade or sell, or keep a close eye on auction sites with hopes that one will come available.

So if you look backwards along the Myachi timeline, you can see sacks at all different strata of rarity.  If you want a Night Rider (a 5.0), you're going to have some trouble finding it.  It's already sold out of stores, but there might be one available through some online retailer that hasn't been selling a lot of Myachis lately.  Heck, there might even be some stores in less Myachi-dense areas that still have the whole 5.0 series available.

If you're desire was a Rolling Thunder (a 4.2), it's probably too late to happen upon it in a store or on a website.  This series was sold out years ago and now the only ones in existence are probably the ones in people's collections.  Keep in mind that for non-collectors, Myachis get lost constantly.  You toss one too high, it gets caught in a tree and you're out of luck.  The older a Myachi is, the more of them that will have been lost to trees, gutters, elevator shafts, dogs, really messy bedrooms, rooftops, large bodies of water and other various booby traps that litter the world when you play a lot of Myachi.

The further back you go, of course, the harder each sack is to find.  And everybody who is looking for rare Myachis is looking for really rare Myachis.  People are always coming in asking me where they can find a White Belt or a Slick Black Leather or a Hunter Green Paper Tag.  And I have to simply shrug.  There were only 85 White Belts ever made and that was in 2006.  It's estimated that by now only about 50 or 60 of them are still around and virtually all of those are in the hands of pretty serious Myachi collectors.  There is absolutely no chance that you will ever find a White Belt for sale in a store.  And odds are pretty good that if anybody has decided to sell one, it's somebody who knows exactly how rare it is.

So to bring this whole thing full circle, rare Myachis are rare and extremely rare Myachis are extremely rare.  There is no easy way to find a particular rare Myachi you're looking for and there's probably no cheap way to buy it.

But there are two other ways one can obtain rare Myachis.  One is to hunt.  The hunt can be fun, but it takes a lot of time.  There are a few small stores that buy Myachis once at a trade show or something then take them home to some town where nobody knows what a Myachi is.  These stores will sit on them for a really long time.  Now, most stores won't let anything sit on their shelves for years.  So if the Myachis don't sell for a long enough period, they'll give them away as a "free gift with purchase" or they'll donate them to a Christmas Toy Drive or something like that.  But every once in a while, they'll hold on to them.  And every once in a while you can find those stores.

The odds are overwhelmingly against you.  You can pick through our store locator and try to find some of the older entries.  You can call around and research locally owned stores online.  You can focus in on historic Myachi hot-spots like Virginia Beach; Ocean City, Maryland; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Cocoa Beach, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia and, of course, New York, New York.  You can keep your eyes peeled every time you travel and go into as many independent toy and hobby stores you can find and eventually, with a lot of persistence and a little luck, you may come across an absolute gem.

Of course, it's more likely that you'll come across a bunch of semi-rare sacks from a few series ago, but picking up a bunch of those will give you great trade material to pick up an even older sack from a collector.  Two 4.2s could probably net you a 4.0 and a 4.0 plus two more 4.2s will likely earn you a 3.1.  So if you decide to go the hunting route, it's best to be ready to pick up whatever you find.  Don't go looking specifically for a Red Beard, but rather, get to know your series and simply look for older Myachis.

There's a second method that requires a lot more time and a lot less effort.  I only mention it because when I explain how difficult it is to build a collection of rare Myachis, people always want to know how I managed it.  After all, I have one of the biggest collections of old Myachis in the world.  How did I get all my rare Myachis?  Simple.  I just got them when they were common.

The second method is simple patience.  Any Myachi you get will be rare in time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bones Overtakes Maverick!

by Crazy Ivan

It's no mistake that the title of this post is so sensational, but I'll spare you the suspense and let you know right away that we're not talking skills here.  Bones is one of the most promising young freestylers in the world right now and there is a chance that he will someday overtake Maverick in overall Myachi skills, but Maverick is still raising the bar and there's a lot of catch-up to do.

But Bones has overtaken Mav in a different and very important metric.  He's jumped ahead of him on You-Tube.

If you search Myachi on YouTube and sort by relevance (the default setting), the top rated video is the Myachi commercial.  But right below that, you'll see the video below... a video that Bones shot with Bamboo in Monk's room and posted back in February of 2010.

For years we've watched this video creep up the ranks and while the skills he and Bamboo exhibit here are utterly dwarfed by what they can do now, the video has remained popular and has actually gained momentum over the last year.  A few months ago, it overtook one of the most popular Myachi shred videos ever recorded, a classic jam from Maverick in Washington Square:

This video had enjoyed top YouTube billing for quite a while and still ranks at #3, right below Bones and Bamboo.  It's an epic shred to be sure, but is equally eclipsed by Mav's current level of skill.  I have a feeling that in both cases, the stars of the videos find the tricks that seemed hard back then quaint in comparison to what they can do now.

I should note that Bones' video hasn't actually overtaken Mav's in total view count.  Mav still has an advantage of some 8000 views as of this writing.  But that's increasingly irrelevant.  If you search Myachi videos by view count, the top 9 videos have nothing to do with Myachi.  Three of them are highlights of Japanese football phenom Ryo Miyaichi and the others are all but inexplicable.  In fact, the only actual Myachi video that cracks the top 10 in view count is a 4 year old video of Caffeine demonstrating a 360, a 720 and some very questionable attempts at higher rotations.

I'm not sure what factors are figured in to You-Tube's calculation of the most "relevant" video, but i can tell you that this top honor is a source of pride within the House of Skills.  We all ceck in from time to time to see where we're ranking.  As of this moment, the top 10 breaks down as follows:

  1. The Official Myachi Commercial
  2. Bones' Tough Myachi Tricks (Bones, Bamboo)
  3. Mav's Washington Square Shred (Mav)
  4. Myachi in NYC (Myachi Man, Kid, Big Dog)
  5. Myachi Sales 101 (Kid)
  6. Meeting Night (Everybody)
  7. Old Myachi Video (Myachi Man and Big Dog)
  8. Monk and I in tandem (Monk and I)
  9. Battle Paddle Promo video
  10. My 1st Collection Video
There are always a few shuffles and changes here and there, but we're all always looking to crack that top 3.  Which leads me to the call to action.  Do you have a favorite Myachi Master?  Do you think Mav's video should be above Bones?  Do you think Bones and Bamboo have earned the top spot?  Do you think Monk's Myachi and Cup shred should make the top 10?  How about Sack Center?

You can, of course, help to decide.  I'm not sure all the metrics that enter in to it, but I'm willing to bet that you can influence the top 10 just by watching, liking and sharing the video that you think most deserves the top honor.  If you have a blog, you can embed it.  If you have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you can share it.  If you have a Google Plus account... let me know how that's working out for you.

Anyway, I'll be updating this top 10 standing from time to time and hopefully some new entries will find their way into the honored spots.  If nothing else, I'd love to see both Bones and Mav make follow up videos to these classics.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 4 Essential Tricks for Myachi Fu

by Crazy Ivan

One of the many ways we track the evolution of Myachi is through the popular games that we play with it.  As the game gets bigger, the preeminent Myachi game has shifted 3 times and we seem to be in the middle of a fourth epic shift.  Over the years Chaos gave way to Golf and Golf gave way to MYACH and now it seems clear that Fu is sweeping in and overtaking MYACH as the most popular game in Myachi.

I don't think the shift is complete quite yet.  I would guess that there are still more MYACH players than Myachi Fu players, if for no other reason than the game is spread out and you can't play Fu over your webcam, but there are many indicators that the Fu will soon supplant MYACH.

The first place that we've seen this shift historically is within the Myachi movement.  When I joined the company, Golf was still the most popular Myachi game but Animal, Butter and I favored MYACH.  It might be hard to believe now, but back then, we represented the younger generation of Myachi Masters (even though I'm 10 years older than Animal).

Today we're seeing a similar shift as our newest generation of masters slowly gravitate more to Fu than MYACH.  Again, we're not talking about a transition that has happened, but rather about one that is happening currently.  I'm actually having a lot of fun watching the signposts that are marking this shift and I saw one the other day at FAO.  For the first time, I met a dude who played Myachi.  When I asked him what his favorite trick was, he said, "I don't really do tricks, but I'm good at Fu."

And he was.  I played him 3 rounds on the spot (it was slow) and he was quick with super-fast hand switches and really competent leg work.  But he couldn't do a 360 and when I showed him an under the leg, he was trying it for the first time.

In the past that would be unthinkable... somebody who plays Myachi but doesn't know tricks?  Even when the game was primarily Chaos and it was all about the toss and catch, everyone still knew the Under the Leg and the 360.  But this dude had clearly spent some serious time with a Myachi on his hand and it had never really occurred to him to do an Under the Leg.

I was really fired up about this.  He'd seen people doing tricks and that hadn't interested him, but when he saw a few friends playing Fu, he wanted in.  He's a martial artist and he saw the benefits (and point) of the game right away.  And (I can't emphasize this enough) he was good.  Not just "I'm-a-grown-up-and-he's-14-so-I'm-being-nice" good, but actually, genuinely good.  He scored a solid point on me when I wasn't even close to "going easy" mode.

So now that I know that there's at least one person who just plays Fu and doesn't focus on the tricks, I think it's a safe assumption that there are more.  And if not, there will be.  So it's about time to start representing them here on the Myachi Blog.

Obviously, if you want to be good at Fu, there are a few tricks you will have to know.  Even if freestyle isn't your thing, you can no more master Fu without these tricks than you could master basketball without learning to dribble.  These aren't usually the 4 basics we teach because they're not the most important moves to learn first if you're going to do a bunch of freestyle shredding, but if your only goal is to be a great Fu player, here's where you should start:

 #1) The Half Pipe 

This move is essentially the "dribble" of Fu.  You can never afford to let your hand rest in a game of Fu.  It should almost always be in motion and you need control during that motion.  The Half Pipe is a super-easy move to do, sure, but it isn't as easy to master.  You need to be able to Half Pipe really quickly and, just as important, you need how to stop the Half Pipe motion on a dime to react to your opponents attack.

Just as important is being ambidextrous.  In Fu, everybody has to be a South Paw from time to time and you've got to have equal control with both hands.  After all, if you're protecting your Myachi with your dominant hand, you'll never have it free for attacks.

And, of course, that same motion will be employed in the next move, which is actually more important, but not as easy to learn right away.

 #2) The Vert 

If you can't Vert, you can't win against someone who can.  Being able to raise your Myachi up and out of trouble without losing control of it is essential if you're going against an experienced opponent.  In fact, mastering a lefty and righty Vert can be enough to completely wipe out a height advantage in a game against a player without a Vert.

The reason is obvious.  If you can't Vert, you're in serious trouble every time you have to raise the Myachi above your chest.  That just gives you less space in which to work your defense.  A quick Vert will also allow you to correct a bad catch without leaving yourself open to attack.

If I had to list a single, quintessential move for mastering Fu, this would be it.  Practice this one a lot and go for speed.  Use both hands (obviously) and try to do as many full Verts as you can in 60 seconds.  Then try to do more.  Then try to do more.  If you can Vert fast enough, you'll find yourself making attacks with the hand you have your Myachi on.  That makes for a nearly unbeatable offense... unless your opponent has a Vert as fast as yours.

 #3) The Fu 

Pretty obvious that in a game called "Myachi Fu", you're going to have to know how to do the move called "The Fu", but despite that, a lot of players underestimate its importance.  To illustrate it, let me start with something really obvious.  If your opponent is attacking your right hand, the best defense is to have the Myachi in your left hand.

Considering that, you need to have a super fast way to switch from one hand to another.  The Fu is the swap move that offers you the most control.  A Fusion move relies on gravity so you have to wait for the Myachi to come to you, but a Fu uses centrifugal force so you can move as fast as your hands will allow without sacrificing control of the Myachi.

Now, usually when people think about the Fu, they think of it as a continuous swap back and forth.  That's useful in a game because you can stand back from your opponent quickly swapping so they don't know what hand you're going to attack with.  Once they commit, you can come out of your furiously fast Fu and attack with whichever hand suits you.  But even more important than having a fast back and forth is having a single, quick, controlled exchange.

I know it sounds weird, but don't just practice going back and forth.  You also need to practice just doing one Fu and then going into some lefty centrifugals (and, of course, going back and going straight into some righty centrifugals).  You have to be able to instantaneously switch hands and have control of that Myachi right away.  Good Half-Pipe and Vert work will help you defensively, but a fast enough Fu will set you up for some great offense as well.

 #4) The Slash 

This is definitely the most underestimated move in Fu and that's odd because it's probably also the most common.  It is so common and so rarely talked about that a lot of Fu players probably do that move without even realizing that it is a move.

The reason is clear.  The Slash is virtually never used in freestyle.  It's a utilitarian move; you use it because you need to, not because you want to.  You would never call a Slash in a MYACH combo.  You would never add it to your freestyle program.  But if you want to master the game of Fu, you'll need it to be as natural as walking.

I don't want to over-emphasize the importance of a good slash, but I've played several games of Fu where a Slash has made the difference between winning and losing.  If you move in close to your opponent, it can be easy to isolate their "attack" hand.  Basically you just move one of your shoulders in between their shoulders.  This allows you to focus in on their defensive hand and it doesn't allow them to pull off a hand switch (unless they go crazy and do a Dare Devil).

Of course, if you have a solid Slash, it's easy to get out of this.  You can move the Myachi to the opposing side of your body quickly without switching hands at all and this completely negates such an attack.  In fact, in a sense it reverses it, since now both of your hands are on the side opposite your opponent's attacking hand.

If you doubt the utility of this move, just watch two friends playing Fu and count up the times you see it.  Odds are that even if they've never heard of such a move, they'll use it several times.  But of course, if they haven't practiced it, it might be to their detriment.  It's easy to overdo this move and not stop the forward momentum of the Myachi.  This results in the Myachi flying off your hand at the end and scoring a point against you.  Thus the importance of practicing.

 Honorable Mention) Behind the Back 

I hesitate to mention this one because you could play a dozen rounds of Fu without ever using a Behind the Back, but the effect is so devastating when you do that it's worth inclusion on this list.  Some people accuse you of "show boating" if you do a Behind the Back in the middle of a Fu battle.  It just looks so good and seems so flashy that it almost has to be show boating right?

Well, to be honest, a lot of the time it is.  I would say that only about 1 out of 3 Behind the Backs I see in Fu are legitimately strategic moves.  After all, you're taking your eye off the ball no matter how you look at it.  It's a dangerous move for a lot of reasons, but foremost of these is that it is a move that relies on gravity.  You have to wait for the Myachi to come to you and that means you're at a serious momentary disadvantage.

So why would you ever do it?  Well, if you're good enough at it and you do it at the right time, it will all but guarantee you a point.  Here's how: you get your opponent to a point where they're defending with the hand that mirrors you.  Let's say they're defending lefty and you're defending righty.  You're in a pretty standard position, doing Verts out behind you with your left hand in front and your opponent is circling around toward your right hand.

Now here's the kill shot: You let him or her in.  They see an opportunity that they think was a mistake and as they pursue it they step past your offensive hand.  If you can snap a quick behind the back here, they're chasing an empty hand and, if you can bring your Myachi under control fast enough to spin out of it, they're standing with their back to you and their Myachi out behind them.

It is a devastating blow that almost always earns a point, but that's not the only time you'll find a need for a Behind the Back.  Any time you're in serious trouble it's an option worth considering.  It negates any advantage someone might have gained on you immediately, but only if you're really fast and really accurate.  You have to really snap that behind the back over your shoulder and your left hand has to be able to go straight into some defensive work, but if you master it, it will drive your opponents crazy.


There are, of course, plenty of other moves that we could add to this list.  A solid Heartbeat, a really solid Daredevil, Cross-Overs, Ninjas, etc.  But ultimately anything you learn freestyling will benefit you when you're playing Fu.  Because when all the chips are down and your Myachi is flying through the air undefended, the only thing that matters is if you can catch it when things go wrong.  And that's something freestylers have to learn early.