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Posted: Hey there everyone. I'm new to the site and to fire spinning. I bought my first set of practice poi this past week and have fallen in love. I am learning fast because of my experience twirling flags in colorguard, poi reminds me quite a bit of swing flags. (I guess there are swing flag poi, we always put pvc pipe up our flags and cut them short, but we could have put them on chains just the same).
I always figured that the fire staff was more like twirling a batton, so I never watched the videos. But, sitting here at work I got bored and decided to watch the free lessons, and most of the moves for the staff look just like moves I used to do back in my days in the colorguard.
So, I'm just curious, how many of you staff twirlers used to twirl flags for marching band? Is it similar, the same, or completely different? Twirling the flags in college gave me carpal tunnel, and one of the reasons I picked up the poi was because I thought it would help strengthen the muscles in my wrists and help my C.T. out. I don't want to twirl the staff if it is going to have the same effect as the flags did. (i think the reason the flags gave me CT was because of the added weight from the flag itself and from the weights we added to them to make them toss better).
I'm sorry if this has been discussed somewhere else on the boards, but I did a search for colorguard and it didn't pull up anything. I'm just wondering if I should try twirling the staff since I've got quite a few years under my belt with the flags.
Contact staff is a whole different kettle of balancy-fish to staff spinning, and I guarantee colourguard won't have taught you much, if any, of this.
As for those poi (know you didn't ask specifically, but poi is my thing ) and flags, the bendiness will be the biggest difference. Wraps, airwraps+hyperloops, changing length and probably a few more things I can't think of are all poi-sible, that are not so easy with a rigid toy.
They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings.
So, the hand work isn't like colorguard? Because, from what I'm watching on the videos, most of those basic moves look exactly like twirling a marching flag, the only difference being rather than using your palm, it looks like the spinner is spinning between the thumb and fore finger.
for example, the very first move on the lessons, just the simple spinning of the staff, looks like triple time. It starts out in a single drop spin and then moves into what we called triple time. I could always do triple time without the flag, but with the flag on, I could never get it to spin fast enough due to weight and weak wrists, especially if I was trying to march a double step and twirl in triple time.
I don't know colorguard moves, I came to staff from a baton background, which shares a lot of similarities too-- I do a lot of the same twirls and finger spins I learned on baton. But try going into the video section, or order the C.O.L videos from here and see what people are doing, far beyond the basic spins.
I got back into spinning partly to save my forearms, shoulders and hands from repetitive stress injury from being a full time painter. I haven't had the problems I used to at all when I spin for 15 minutes frequently between being at my desk. In my studio I use a light baton, outside I'm using a substantially heavy short metal fire staff. And poi as well. All great for staying loose.
colourguard is a fantastic treatment to furnish floors and walls with vibrancy, but i doubt that it will be a safe way to colour staves too - the flames may melt and flake the paint, and the fumes from the mixed chems may not be too healthy!
i was on the colorgaurd for a while and it teaches youi the very basics. It's easier to learn just becasue you've alright got somewhat of a feel for a staff. My practice staff is my old fiberglass colorgarud pole minus the flag. As for more than the basics, such as the contact moves, that's not my area, I'm mostly a poi spinner, but I can do a few tricks with a staff simply because of being a "gaurdie" Maybe a tad off topic but i noticed wing doing it, so other uses for poi. I've been a swimmer forever and use poi before and after practice and races, even a few minutes will work out your arms and shoulders and get you loose. But that's what the Maroi used them for too, staying loose and strong.
I used to do Rifles and Flags way back in high school. I definitely agree with you that the moves for staff are very similar to both. Without the flag and possibly having a shorter length staff make it possible to do both types of moves easily. I also can't say much for the contact moves as I have not had much exposure to them yet. https://www.fireninja.com has some fire staff skills up that he came up with on his own but they are pretty much the same thing one would do with a rifle or saber. Lots of spins and tosses.
Thanks so much for the input everyone. I guess I should have been a little more specific in saying that I do understand that there will be major differences between the two. I know how a pole with a flag feels compared to one with out it. I think it sounds like something I would be pretty good at, and probably something I'll be interested in later. I just wanted to hear the opinions of those of you who had done both. I think the biggest thing I worry about is how the staff will affect my wrists. Working with the poi hasn't caused me any pain and I really feel that it's helping with the carpal tunnel. That really makes all the practice worth it for me, because with stronger wrists I can pick up some of my other hobbies that I have let lapse. Thanks so much for sharing your opinions.
there are a couple of different colorguards. There are those that are for the military or ROTC programs. Those carrying rifles may get to spin, but at my high school the ROTC only carried flags, and they had huge straps that held it for them. Then you have colorguard for marching band/drum corp. It's one thing to twirl flags in high school, but in drum corps and college it's a whole different boat. We had 2 fire spinners at my college when I was in the band, they were baton twirlers. I've worked with flags that are regular size all the way up to 30 feet tall. (They were so big you could literally hold both ends, run and jump and take off for a little glide). So, from what I can see, if a person has twirled flags for a couple of years and was lucky enough to have a good colorguard with good instructors, then they probably have many of the basics down. I am pretty good at adjusting to different balances, lengths of poles, and most importantly the wind. Marching with a flag taught me about wall planes, how to throw some seriously cool tosses and catch them. The general hand work. Changing to fire staff wouldn't be too hard of a transition I imagine, as long as one has the right respect for the fire and understands that there is going to be some major differences. Like Pele mentioned, we did hold the end of the poles for certain poisitions, and you can't do that with fire there For me, I think I'm going to work with the practice poi for a very long time before I pick up anything else. I think I would be really good at the fire staff, but I've got a lot of other firey things going on as well. So, I'll let the poi strengthen my wrists for awhile before I pick up anything else. I certainly appreciate the medical qualities of spinning the poi, they will help me play the piano again, and I can imagine that strengthening my arms and wrists will be very helpful in glass blowing.
Late post, but I, too, was in flag corp in high school. We marched corp style, and I'm finding that indeed, many of the old moves are very usable with a fire staff. Can't grab the ends, of course, and you have to be careful about wraps with the fire. I'm spinning a 66" wood staff, and the length gives a good momentum and rhythm. Got to adjust for the new balance, and tosses have a VERY different rhythm, without the off balanced flag at the end. I actually got interested in fire play by getting into poi, but once I saw someone with a staff, I *knew* I could spin it right away, even lit, because the muscles don't forget, even after 20+ years away from the flag. I'm learning contact now, and practicing tosses with the new balance (not to mention spotting the pole in the dark with fire on both ends!) As for wrists...some strain on the wrists, but not overly so. After a session with my staff, it's my shoulders and arms that are tellin' me all about it! I think the lessened wrist strain is due to the equal balance of the fire staff, as opposed to the flag.
21 posts Location: North California, USA
I spun a tall flag in color guard for 7 years, and loved it. The first time I saw someone spinning a fire staff I knew I could do it, and did no problem. Like shelcat said your muscles just remember. I also have had trouble with my wrists too. A light wieght unlit staff doesn't seem to bother them to much, but when you light up, the fire creates alot of drag and it feels similar to the drag with the flag only now you have it coming from both ends of the staff, so you might find that bothering your wrists.
I've had people ask me if I were shipwrecked on a deserted island, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat.'
I too was in (band) colorguard and has really helped learn learn the basics of poi extremly quickly. It gave me flexibility in the wrists and it helped me understand how things were supposed to flow spatially. I was happy to see that there are others out there who thought the same as I do!!