Monday, April 22, 2013

On Confidence

by Crazy Ivan

One of the hardest things to learn for new Myachi Masters is what tricks to teach to who.  It's a pretty delicate balance when you're introducing somebody to the game; It the tricks you give them are too easy, they won't be challenged and they won't have fun; If the tricks you give them are too hard, they won't be able to do them and they won't have fun.

Clearly, what you're looking for is a good middle ground where the tricks are challenging enough that they might not master it right away, but easy enough that they won't get frustrated.  Now this would be relatively easy if every person you met had the same skills going into it, but people don't come out of cookie cutters and no two are ever alike.

There are, of course, some basic cues you can look to.  Age is the biggest one, obviously.  If I'm teaching a six year old to play for the first time, I'm not gonna start off with foot tricks.  Similarly, if I'm teaching a 16 year old, I'm not gonna start off with a bunch of trap moves.

But even among the same age there's a lot of variance when it comes to skills.  I could teach two people and they could both be, say, 12 years old, guys, baseball players and the same basic height.  That doesn't mean that they'll have the same skill level.  Heck, they might not even be close.  One of them might be able to hit an Under the Leg 360 on the first try, while the other might struggle to do a Hulk.

There are a lot of clues that you learn to pick up on as a Myachi Master.  You can learn a lot just from the way a person catches.  You can learn a lot by whether they're paying close attention to what you're saying or just tackling the trick full-speed-ahead.  You can learn a lot by how they respond to the first trick.  But if you really want to know how good somebody's going to be at the game, there's one factor that tells you more than all the others combined: Confidence.

The thing about confidence is that if you have enough of that, the skill comes naturally.  If I'm teaching, say, a 13 year old girl to play and she has a "I'm going to get this" attitude, I know I can teach her some tougher tricks because even if she doesn't get them right away, she's not going to give up.  But if I'm teaching, say, a 21 year old man with a "This looks hard" attitude, it might not matter that he's actually naturally better at the game than the 13 year old.  He's going to give up the second time he drops it so I have to give him super-easy moves that I know he'll hit.

I only bring it up because I probably hear "I'll never be able to do that" fifty times for every time I hear "I'm going to get this".  I hate hearing the never and I love hearing the going because I know that both of these statements are true and the only thing you have to do to switch from "never" to "going" is changing what you say.

I know you've heard it before: "Whether you say you can or say you can't, you're right".  Far be it from me to drill an old cliche into your head, but honestly, it's the most important thing a person can learn in my opinion.  Confidence makes the difference no matter what you're trying to accomplish.  And if there's nothing you're confident about, odds are nothing is exactly what you'll accomplish.

And the coolest thing about confidence is that it's free.  It's the only thing I know of the you can get just by pretending that you have it.  One of the main reasons that I've been able to stay stoked about Myachi for the past ten years is that I know that every day I'm helping people, both young and old, to build confidence.  And it doesn't matter if it's confidence in their Myachi skills, their social skills or their ability to learn new stuff, because confidence is "fungible".  If you get confidence in one area, you automatically get it in the other.

I've talked a lot about confidence before on this blog and, word of warning, I'm quite confident that I'll talk about it again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Finding Your Signature Trick

by Crazy Ivan

It obviously takes a certain type of person to be a Myachi Master.  Like any job, there are certain personality characteristics that you kind of have to have if you want to be good at this job; you need to be outgoing, you have to be a good teacher, you have to have mad skills, you have to be talkative, you have to be patient...

As a consequence of all that, when we bring on a new Myachi Master in training, there are a few things you can count on.  Sure, not everyone will react the same way when they start doing this job, but most of the people who have that "Myachi Master Personality Type" will.  In fact, we can usually get a pretty good idea how effective somebody is going to be at the job based entirely on how they act when they get there the second day.

If a second day Myachi Master Trainee comes in and shows you all the new tricks he or she is working on and how close they got to (insert awesome trick here), odds are good that they're going to work out well for us.  If they show up on the second day and they tell us stories about when they were teaching their friends to play last night, odds are they're going to work out well for us.  If they come in showing us how broken in they got their demo sacks and asking us about a rare one they saw referenced on some video or another, odds are that they're going to work out well for us.  And if they're already thinking about their signature trick on day two, odds are really good that they're going to work out well for us.

As I mentioned yesterday, we have exactly such a trainee working with us now.  He's been with us for over a month, but he hurt his hand pretty bad a week after he started (he slipped coming up his stairs.  It was completely unrelated to Myachi) so he's only had a few weeks of practice.  And he's doing all the things a really promising new Myachi Master should be doing.  He's working on tough foot tricks, locking down his Matrix, asking a lot of questions, tweaking his coaching style, taking bits and pieces from all the guys and working hard at coming up with his signature trick.

Of course, everything I just said about a Myachi Master is equally true of a Myachi Maniac.  The only real difference between the two is that we pay the Masters.  If I meet somebody and teach them the game and they come back the next day showing me all the cool stuff they worked on and trying to come up with a nickname and a signature trick, I know I'm dealing with a serious Myachi Maniac.  Heck, I probably know it better than the Maniac I'm talking to.

So as I watch Genaro (still haven't given him a nickname) struggle for something original for his signature trick, I think about all the Myachi Masters I've watched evolve over the years.  I think back on some of the different signature tricks and I couldn't help but think about how they were all similar and how they were, at the same time, all unique.

My signature trick just sort of happened.  The Crazy Ivan was a trick I learned while I was still Hackey-Sacking, so it was only natural that I used it when I started with Myachi.  For the first week or so, it was the only impressive thing I could really do with the thing, so I did it a lot.  Once I was named after it, I figured I was stuck with it as a signature trick from then on.

The same was true of Maverick.  I don't think he ever set out to make the "Maverick" his signature trick.  It was just a really impressive trick that he was really good at.  Heck, I don't even think he was the one that started calling it the Maverick.  That might have been Animal or Monk... heck, it might even have been me.

Speaking of Monk, his signature trick was also settled quick.  In fact, we knew what his signature trick was before we hired him.  When we first met him, he'd already come up with the Flying Fish and we were all so enamored with that move that he had no choice in the matter either.  It was awesome, it was original and it was a perfect signature trick, especially since he was crazy good at it.

But I shouldn't give the impression that coming up with your signature trick is always easy.  For most people it's a bit of a struggle.  Animal spent years waffling between a couple different tricks.  For the first several years he was with the company he seemed to have a new "signature trick" every week.  And if you have a lot of signature tricks, that means you really don't have any.

After a while he settled on the "Smooth Criminal" and that was his signature trick for a couple of years, but then as he perfected the Matrix Unleashed, his signature move evolved to one of the quintessential Myachi tricks and even though it took him a long time to settle on it, he probably ended up with the coolest signature move in the game because of it.

In some ways, Lucky is still in the middle of that struggle.  He has a signature move, but I'm not going to name it here, because if I do, he'll change it in a few months and I'll have out-of-date information on the blog.  I think that he's on the verge of something amazing, so I don't want to paint him into a corner with what he's doing now.

Bones was a particularly creative guy and he had so many awesome creations that it was hard to say anything was ever his "signature trick".  If pressed, I'd say his was the Stop Watch and I would imagine he'd tell you the same, but he's known for so many moves it's hard to pick a single one.

Bamboo, on the other hand, is every bit as creative and skilled, but there's no question in anyone's mind that the Armageddon is his signature move.  He came up with several more afterward, but his affinity (and ability) with that trick made it clear that it was his move.

I could keep going, of course, but what I'm trying to illustrate with this list is how intensely personal choosing a signature trick is.  There's no right way or wrong way to do it.  Some people pick a signature trick and stick with it for a decade (guilty) and some people let their signature move evolve as they get better and better at the game.  Some people create whole new tricks for their signature move while others just get really, really good at a trick somebody else invented.  Or others, like Kid Myach, just find a really cool new way of fitting some existing tricks together and create a signature combo like the Wavy Gravy.

It's also not something that you have to have to be a Myachi Master.  In a lot of ways, Myachi Man doesn't have a signature trick and I can't imagine anybody would deny that he's a Myachi Master.  Sure, you could call the Flow or the Fist of Lightening his signature trick, but he's also fond of pointing out that in a sense, all the tricks are his signature trick.

Since it's such a personal choice, it's hard for me to offer any advice on choosing your signature trick, but there are a few things that I can say that might help:

  • The trick doesn't have to be ridiculously hard.  In fact, it shouldn't be because it should be something you can hit 100% of the time.  It should be something that you can toss out in any situation, ideally.
  • It doesn't have to be something nobody's ever done before.  There are way too many Myachi Maniacs for everyone to have a brand new signature trick.
  • It isn't set in stone when you choose it so if you get way better, don't hesitate to revamp your signature move.  Just because I've never done it doesn't mean that you shouldn't.
  • Your signature trick should be a reflection of your style of Myachi.  My style is super-energetic so I chose a physically demanding trick.  Mav's style is flashy and really difficult so he chose a big, tough, impressive trick.  Monk's style was light-hearted, precise and strike heavy so he had a silly, difficult strike trick.
  • It shouldn't be too common.  Don't select a move that everyone does all the time or it can't really be your 'signature'.  You don't want the 360 or the Wolverine as a signature trick, although if you really like those moves, you can use them in a combo to devise your signature trick.
If you have any additional advice, feel free to leave a comment below.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Shout Out to a STWAKOJeer

by Crazy Ivan

It's always nice to meet a Myachi Maniac.  It's even nicer to meet a Myachi Maniac who has been doing such a good job spreading the word that we've already noticed a huge spike in online orders from his hometown.  It's even nicer when that Maniac has ridiculous skills.  And it's even nicer when he shows up to throw down some of those skills at the perfect moment.

So first, the story:

We have a new Myachi Master in Training, Genaro, at FAO (more details when we come up with a nickname for the dude).  He and I were at the store together Saturday morning rocking it out.  He's got a big family of people playing and the two brothers, two sisters and two cousins are all loving it.  They're pretty athletic so he was able to teach them some tougher stuff right away and the oldest of them was working on the Wolverine after only a couple of minutes.

But dad was skeptical.  After all, he says, "You do this for a living though!  These kids are never gonna get as good as you."

Of course, I could have stepped in and pointed out that Genaro had only been doing it for a living for a few weeks.  I could have pointed out that I know at least 200 kids younger than his kids that are better at the game than a brand new Myachi Master.  And that's not a knock on Genaro's skills.  He's really good.  But I know some 10 year olds that have been in this game for 3 years and have the skills to show it.

But I didn't need to say anything.  Because literally seconds after dad says this, a cat walks up that I've never met before.  And he throws down a picture-perfect Matrix.  Keep in mind that Genaro still doesn't have that move.  He's maybe 1 out of 8 on it.  But this kid who's about the same age as the skeptical dad's kids, just wanders up and throws it down like it's nothing.

Turns out he'd learned the game from Lucky a few weeks earlier and somehow he managed to get his hands on a 3.2 Finish Line (and had no idea how rare or awesome that was).  He's infected his whole school with Myachi Mania, so much so that when I started to tell Kid Myach this story he was able to tell me what town the dude lived in just based on where our website orders have been going.

So to Irish in Connecticut, thanks for your spectacular timing this weekend.  And thanks for helping us spread the word out there.  It's because of people like you that this game has grown from an idea to a multinational corporation.  Keep up the good work!