Category Archives: News

One Year Later – State of Yo

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Today is what would have been the 6 year mark of YoYoSkills and nearly the 1 year mark of YoYoSkills being on hiatus.  I can’t tell you how much I have missed you all.

Last September I decided to hang up my proverbial Keyboard and Mouse. My wife and I started Foster Care certification classes to hopefully, increase our family.  Leaving YoYoSkills was a move that was hard to make and I was humbled by the a significant amount of support you guys gave me.   5 years of my life and 5 years of dedication.  As much as I miss it I still feel it was the right decision to make.

As today is the 1 year mark,  I felt I owed you an update as to where I am in the progress of my life changes.  I also wanted to take the opportunity to speak to the state of our community as I have observed it.

Family:

We finished our classes to get our Foster certification in October.  It took several months to then get the house certified, and then the search began.  My wife and I went to several interviews, saw several case files and talked to many, many social workers.  Looking for a child to adopt is a surreal experience.  You look at so many case files they start to blur together.  Initially the Foster Agency has you create a “Target Range” with specifications when you are looking;  Boy or Girl,  Age range,   Ethnicity,   Siblings,   Temperament, ect.   In a way, it is like choosing a yo-yo but one million percent more serious.  My wife and I already have a natural daughter so our target specifications were primarily based on what would be the healthiest for her. Rylie is a very strong kid, but she is just a kid after all and it was very important that we set her up for success.  Being a big sister is no small feat.  We wanted a boy, but were open to a girl if there was a good fit.  We wanted to stay within a few years of the age of my daughter.  We wanted a child that would fit well temperament wise in our family.  The rest of it was not important to us.  We looked so many case files, had so many interviews and saw so many kids in need.  It was hard to not take them all.  This process took so long that I found myself seeing kids in our target range in public and wondering if they were available to adopt!

In March, we were blessed with an interview that fell out of our requirements, but felt right in every way possible.  They were brothers,  aged 3 and 4.   They were younger than we were looking for and both came with challenges.  I will level with you, never in my life had I ever considered three children but these two stole my heart immediately and my wife felt the same way.  After a month of visits we moved onto overnights, and then in May they moved in.  For the last four months these two boys have transformed my heart and family and it honestly has felt like they were always part of my life.   Before all of this, I never considered life with three kids and now I can never see my life without them.

These two boys bring my child count up to three, and one is still a toddler.  They demand all my free time and I am more than willing to give it to them.  At the end of my day when my wife and I collapse in exhaustion into an unmade bed with the mornings unfolded laundry,  when my office job goes immediately to a fatherhood referee upon coming in the front door, when there is enough fighting among siblings that we could have a WWE ladder match in the family room and when I only get to throw a yo-yo for those sweet quiet 15 minutes after everything is all done before I have to get ready to do it all again in the morning, it is worth every single moment.

YoYoing:

Though I don’t get much time any more to be part of the yo-yo world  I do still manage to squeeze in participation where I can.  MonkeyfingeR was kind enough to offer me a position on the team as a Brand Manager and I have been doing my best to help Ray keep the MonkeyfingeR brand focused and on track.  This arrangement is great.   MonkeyfingeR is an amazing indie brand and being a brand manager is similar to program management which I do for a living anyway.  I also got to help design a new yo-yo, the Gelada 2 which is the best yo-yo I have every played.  I am thrilled at the reception  the MonkeyfingeR brand and the Gelada 2 has been getting and with throws like the Apex, Co-Lab, and Gelada 2 receiving positive feedback I get the same feeling I got when I ran YoYoSkills.  I am extremely excited for the future of MonkeyfingeR and can’t wait to show you guys what we have coming up next.  MonkeyfingeR has allowed me to take a step back from YoYoSkills but still be active in the community, and I can never repay Ray and the team for that chance.

That said, YoYoSkills is something I miss daily.  I miss reviewing yoyos from around the world.  I miss covering yo-yo news.  I miss having time to watch hundreds of throw videos from players all over the world and highlighting them on the worlds largest yo-yo news website.  While prepping this write-up, I was shocked to see that YoYoSkills STILL gets a few hundred views a day.  I was expecting maybe dozens, but hundreds?  I miss you guys too.  Not a week has gone by without someone asking me to start up YoYoSkills again.  As much as I want to I would not be able to dedicate the time to the website that you guys deserve.  I have also been asked to hand it off to another party but honestly it would take the right person with the right track record and the right circumstances to make that happen.  As it stands, I have not been presented anything that gives me confidence that YoYoSkills will continue to be run with my vision in mind.

On that, there is nothing that is keeping you  from starting your own blog.  When it comes right down to it, YoYoSkills is just a name, brand, and web domain.   If I could grow it organically with zero web franchise experience, you can too.

The Players:

This has been a banner year for yo-yo players.  The evolution of tricks is absolutely  amazing.  The tricks I see online and from friends are absolutely amazing and we are not exactly talking about a huge amount of time.  Zac Rubino, who first started getting into 4a seriously a few years ago is now considered to be one of the best in the world.  Tessa Piccillo whom I campaigned in 2010 for a spot on the YoYojam team has captured the top female yo-yoer position.  Gentry Stein, who I called out in 2009 as one of 5 players that NEEDED to be sponsored, is now the World Champion.  These guys are not the only ones but I mention these three specifically because they are players who I have been cheering for and supported for years.  They have grown into world level performers.  Don’t get me wrong,  I had ZERO to do with these three incredible players successes, but it is amazing to see three players whom I cheered and rooted for become so successful.   I admire them as a fan, applaud them as a friend, and am very proud of them.

The Community:

It is amazing what happens when you step back and take a look from a 10,000 foot view.

For the majority, the community is kind, welcoming, and inviting, but there are very vocal outliers that don’t seem to want to sport to grow, or only want to target a certain demographic with a certain style and attitude.  While I know that this has existed forever my new focus as a brand manager seems to reveal it with more clarity.  Instead of calling out names and incidents, I feel it would be more constructive to share my personal architecture of community success.

1: Build the next generation – YoYoing will grow and evolve as the community grows and evolves.  Without a generation of players to replace those that are graduating to different roles in the community, the only result will be stale contentment.

2: Respect the work of the last generation – You are here because of them, whether you want to admit it or not.

3: Welcome new opinions and ideas – This industry can never be run by one person or one group of people successfully.  It takes a constant flow of talent and ideas, just like it takes a constant flow of water and sunlight to grow a forest.

4: If you want something, start something – Want another YoYoskills?  Start one.  Want a club in your city?  Start one.  Want another place to buy yoyos?  Start one.  Want a yo-yo company to make a certain kind of throw?  Start one.  This community is run by the constant steam and power of people who started something, and it will continue when you start something also.

Lastly-  YoYoing is for everyone, and everyone should be welcome to yo-yo – If you exclude someone or something, you prevent yourself from becoming smarter, stronger, and loving more.  Much like how I never considered having three kids, now I can’t imagine my life without them.

- Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen

YoYoSkills.com – Indefinite Hiatus

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I have been sitting at my computer now for an hour trying to figure out how to write this out. The best way is to just be straight forward and come from the heart… it’s not you, its me.

(ha)

No but really. I really love all of you guys. The readers, fans, and yes even “teh haters.” For 5 years YoYoSkills.com has been my passion and my drive in the yo-yo world. When I started there were only a handful of yoyo web blogs but now…. now there are HUNDREDS. The landscape is changing and the time has come for me to realign my hobbies to my lifestyle. I am a father who is getting ready to add to our family through adoption, I have a full time career that is very demanding of my energy, and I am quickly approaching a few specialty training courses followed up by a Masters program. I am a busy guy and as much as I love bringing everyone in the yo-yo world news, reviews and videos I just don’t have enough time to juggle everything effectively. I have to focus on my family, my career, and my education and to do that unfortunately I have to make responsible sacrifices. That’s right, being an adult can suck.

So I am placing YoYoSkills.com on indefinite hiatus. That is a fancy way of saying YoYoSkills is on hold, and maybe if things align or change I may re-launch YoYoSkills.

A few questions I expect:

Are you quitting yoyoing?
No, Just the website, and its not quitting its just on hold. I still plan to come to contests and be part of the community.

Are you going to sell the domain?
No, and I won’t autoforward it either. There may be a few tweaks to the front page but the main site will stay up in archive mode.

Can we still comment on stuff?
Sure.

What about YoYoNation?
The YoYonation project turned into a giant cluster of programmers rage. I am still picking apart the code to dig for the the online content from the store. If I come up with anything salvageable I will upload it. The forum is at YoYoNation.net is up but in all forms of reality should be considered “For reference use only.”

Will you still be selling the Skill Life Shirt and the Throw Game?
Yes, links are in the side bar.

Was that a shameless plug?
Your mother…

Where will you go now?
Wherever there is new content… I’ll be there. Wherever there is a new video… I’ll be there. Wherever there is El Guapo, the Three Amigos will be there…. I’ll be around also. I may find another role in the yo-yo world that doesn’t require daily site updates, but we shall see. In the mean time there is always Facebook and Twitter

Any other questions, feel free to hit me up. I do really love this site and all of you. 5 years of my blood, sweat and tears are embedded in this PHP and HTML script bag along with a ton of time and dedication but the professional career world is calling, the kids need help with homework, and I have a book report due on Tuesday.

Love you all

- Chris Allen

So you want to enter a contest…

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So you want to enter a contest.

It may be your first contest, it may be your fiftieth.  Either way, the prep is the same.  Everyone has a different learning style, so by all means, embrace what works for you.  Here are a few tips that may help.

1. Song choice.  This drives your performance.  Know the rules of your contest so you know how much
choreography you need to worry about. Don’t just pick your favourite song, as it may not be the best for
your style.  Choose a song that has a beat that is a little slower than your fastest yo-yoing.  When you
get up on stage the stress and nerves will make you rush and make mistakes; choosing the right song
will keep you to a speed where you can land tricks with few errors.

2. Trick choice.  Don’t use your newest trick.  Use the ones you can land Every Single Time.  Mistakes
cost you double, the negative point and the point you didn’t get.  Chose tricks that flow well together as
the smoothness of your routine counts (do your tricks start and end nicely? Are the pauses or
unexpected stops? etc).  If you can, include some variety (some front style, some side style, horizontal,
under the leg, behind the back), but work within what you have mastered.

3. Choreography.  Don’t go overboard.  If its prelim, pick a couple points where starting or finishing a trick
in time to the music works.  If it’s a final, work in some movement, more timing points, try to have at
least one or two tricks where you can make eye contact with the audience.  Again, missed tricks cost
you more than they choreography was worth, so make sure you can land the trick while doing whatever
else you are doing.  I yoyo while walking to work, so I can move and yoyo at the same time.

4. Professionalism.  Find space to acknowledge your audience. If you can be wearing an outfit that
matches the music, all the better.  Those few pauses to indicate the audience should cheer count.  Just
keep them short.

When you practice, make time to run your routine start to finish multiple times every day.      Make mistakes and practice getting past the mistake to your next trick.  Have those spare yoyos ready and run the routine through yoyo changes so you are ready for if it happens on stage.  Practice your audience interaction and choreography, and if you can, do it in front of people.

When you do get up on stage, remember that it’s a contest, one moment in time.  You are there for the love of yo-yoing. Focus not on beating the other guy, but on landing your tricks and sharing what you have created; don’t worry if you make mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes at contests, and we all have a laugh and smile afterwards and move on to improving for next time.  Please don’t forget to have fun!

Old Favorites Friday – BLACK

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Ok, so Fasano’s out of commission from getting his wisdom teeth out, and this video is barely old enough to consider it an “old favorite” but none of that matters when you’re talking about Black. If even half of us could match his intensity, yoyoing would be in the Olympics by now. This guy is my ultimate yoyoing role model.

Feel better soon, buddy. Enjoy having four less teeth to take care of.

So You want to Make Money Yo-yoing

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“I’m going to be a Professional Yo-yoer for a living…sort of, kind of…maybe?”

So what does it mean to be a professional Yo-yoer?  Is it possible to make this a full time job?  If I work really hard, with there be fame and riches awaiting me?

Um…no.  Take note: the world champion gets what, 500 dollars?  There isn’t a lot of money to be made as a yo-yoer.  For the rare few it can be a career, mostly those that make yoyos, or are spectacular entertainers and business managers.

Very few of us have what it takes to be John Higby.

For the rest, the yo-yo is a fun hobby that gives you a skill and social group to relate to.

But fear not!  While you probably aren’t going to make a living yo-yoing, you can make enough money to get that new yoyo you wanted, or help pay your way to nationals, or worlds, or that trip to Vancouver to meet me.  Because I know that’s everyone’s dream.  Here are a few ways to scare up some pocket change:
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3 days to win a $100 YYBB gift card

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Just a reminder, 3 days left to have a chance to win $100 at YoYoBestBuy.com and a handful of other goodies.


Using the #yys5bday and @dryoyo, post a picture on Instagram of your favorite yo-yo along with your favorite yo-yo accessory. It can be a yo-yo strap, a bundle of string, Hi Chew, a string cutter, whatever you like. ENTER AS MANY TIMES AS YOU LIKE.
On 31 August I will choose an Instagram post at random, and the winner will receive a YoYoSkills sticker, a copy of Throw the YoYo Card Game, a Skill Life shirt, and a $100 gift card to YoYoBestBuy.
10 other winners will receive a YoYoSkills sticker.

A Very Merry Birthday to my bestest buddy Chris Allen! You know, the guy that MADE THIS SITE AND ALL

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Well, it’s that time of the year again, so it’s time we all got together and sang songs and told stories about how cool Chris is and how much he has meant to all of us over these five yearsJUST KIDDING SILLY PICTURE OF CHRIS GO

loooooooooool
yeeeesssss carry me like one of your satchelsssssss

lol but seriously, Chris has been the greatest friend to me for over ten years now. Better yet, he introduced me to the only hobby my goofy ADHD brain will stay entertained with. For that, I am always grateful. Thanks, buddy!

If you guys want (you should) to say something nice to Chris, drop a line here in the comments or on his Facebooks or Twitterpages.

Or, if you want to say something nice with your wallet, you should buy his Skill Life shirt!

The folks at Terra Kendama made a wood yoyo??

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I spotted this on /r/throwers on the reddits. Apparently the guys over at Terra Kendama tried out making an unresponsive wooden yoyo with what looks like a large bearing and .555 pads. Groovy.

Terra Wood Yoyo

In case you haven’t caught the kendama bug yet, Terra Kendama is the company behind the Pill, and easily the best kendamas I’ve played so far. Opinions on kendamas vary wildly, and my experience with them is admittedly limited, but I seriously doubt anyone would argue with their woodworking abilities on a purely objective level. Terra Kendama has said nothing past simply posting the picture with the most simple of titles “Handmade Unresponsive Wooden Yoyo”, so who knows if they were just playing around or if they plan on making the leap to having a few yoyos.

I can only speak for me, but if they do make some, they’re probably going to be really good. What do you guys think?