Forums > Advanced Poi Moves > multi prop pros and cons...

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bluecatbluecatgeek, level 1
5,300 posts
Location: everywhere

just got thinking after a post of Sui's over on tribe...

why do i do so many different things? and what benefits do i get from it, and what negative aspects are there...

background info:

i spin poi, staff, juggle (5 clubs, 7 balls, neither particularly solidly at the mo), contact juggle, balance, and talk shite, all to performance level. i also do a load of other things to an ok level - hackysack, trombone (though i do get paid for that too....) bits of hula, devilstick, diabolo (learning 2), capoeira...

now there are some really obvious benefits to doing so much. but why aren't i like on of those sensible people who dedicates time and becomes really good at just one two things?? take ronan, for example. he can contact juggle, but have you ever seen him pick up anything that wasn't a contact ball, a poi or two, or a spliff? no. and look where that has got him.

the reason i do so much stuff has to be partly nature, partly nurture. firstly, i have and had no television growing up. and my family is very artistic, so i was forced (not in a bad way) to find ways of amusing myself, and doing physical stuff.

thing 2: it took e until i was 16 to get any kind of sticking power - most school stuff was too easy (sounds bigheaded, sorry, but its not meant like that - there're plenty of things i'm crap at, but the scottish school system is not on eof them) so i never had to work hard at anything. I learnt to juggle when i was 12, but my brother was better than me so i didn't do anything about it until i was 20. D'oh!. anyway, the point of that is that when i did get it, i got it with a vengeance - if you could do it well, i was going to do it as well as i could.

thing3: i like patterns. and limiting yourself to just one prop means soooo many patterns are left untouched! ubbcrying i couldn't let that happen.

4 - i juggled first. for most people this would exclude them from developing the spinning gene ubblol but thanks to thing 3, i not only wanted to learn them, i wanted to learn them ALL, but with the same analytical mindset that jugglers have.

5 - i hang out at conventions a lot, with a lot of people, and perform a lot, with whatever people want. i quickly realised that hanging out was more fun if you could swap tricks, whatever pprop, earning money performing was much easier if you could say "door frame balancing? sure, i have a 4 minute routine with a door frame smile "

so, there you have it....

the pros?

well, first and foremost, i must know thousands of manipulators accross the world accross many traditional prop boundaries. ubblove

the money earned through having the variety is nice - my door frame act is now my biggest seller. wink

the ability to cross over toys and tricks and movements. yum - i must have borrowed thousands upon thousands of tricks accross from one prop to another - big suns into poi, antispin into diabolo, hybrids into clubswinging, swinging into juggling, balances fromcontact into everythings... wow.

the lack of boredom - if its just not my day with poi; well, there's always something else. biggrin

the negatives... frown

hmmm. surprisingly large number here:

i have to carry a huge amount of props anywhere i go, just to make sure i have the one that works for me right now

I sometimes spend a whole day flitting between props, never settling into one, never connecting with the people at a meet because i'm just leaping about from contact to juggling to poi and so on. this is really crap when it happens...

i feel left behind. i'll never be a world class juggler, so its ok there, but i like to think i can spin ok redface so when i turn up at a meet and i've been spinning stick for 3 months, and everyone is doing mad dancy poi hybrids with one head making an infinity and the other an inverted trifoil i feel a bit silly. and usually do some negative space to make myself feel better ubblol equally i feel the same about staff when i spend a lot of time on poi. and then within a prop itself - i've been juggling staffs and making tasty patterns, but i can't do ANY complicated 1 staff contact any more. ARGH!!!!! this is good for my ego, but not for my sense of encyclopaedia or general skillz...

just as i feel i'm getting good at something i get switched on to something else - either through boredom, or more usually through inspiration. this happens even more so when i'm performing a prop heavily. can be exceptionally frustrating. especially when it links back to the previous negative...

some people are singleprop friends only. so if i'm at a convention, and i happen to be mostly juggling, i tend not to see a lot of the people i'd like to because they are all in a corner geeking out over trammels. not that i don't talk to them, just that i spend less time than i would like with them, cause my motor sense has gone juggling.

i'm sure i could think of more, but i want to leave it open for others to as well.

Single proppers - are you happy? why haven't you been tempted by other props? do you find it helps keep focus? anything i should know about? tongue

multi proppers - do you regret/love it? why. why did you start progressing through props. what benefits/negatives would you draw from spreading your load, as it were? wink



Holistic Spinner (I hope)

489 posts
Location: Perth

I guess I'd say I'm a multipropper.

#1 would be poi. I'd still say I'm best at poi, even though it would get the least amount of my attention. I think I am at the stage where I am happy to pick up poi to any song, any rhythm and I can dance to it and not get stuck and not hit myself, and make it look different everytime so I am quite pleased with where I am.

I don't try for the 'advanced' moves that an average joe wouldn't be able to notice the difference between. I'll try things that are different and interesting, but once I know the 3 beat and 5 beat weave.. is there really any point in knowing the 7beat?

Next I picked up chucks. I was really into them for a while and even made up firechucks.
But, with chucks, you let go of them all the time, and I'm just not confortable with this level of possibility for error. There's still that _% chance of them flying out of my hands and into the audience, even though I've spent x amount of hours paying with them.

So for me to get to a true performance level... I've decided that, for the best interests of the troupe, I'll spend my time elsewhere.

3. Staff I can do all the basics and corners etc etc, and I even taught double staff at Perth's SpunOut, but the four male members of our troupe are way better than me so there's not really a need for me to get better at it so.. I don't practice.

4. Fingers/fans/sticks/fire-eating
This just comes naturally as I love dancing. Fire eating i need to practice more because I'm used to small firefinger wicks now and a newly lit firestick makes me go "eeek!"

5. Hooping
Our new toy!! Hoop takes most of my time now. It's something completely different, and something only the gals can do, and something that can be in fire and glow shows, so it's the most important thing for me to be practicing. And I'm loving it. I haven't got bored of it because there's just so many new tricks to learn!

I love having a multiple of things to do. It's really useful because after a day of hooping, I'll have bruises on my knees/thighs/hip bones so then I can work on poi of something that doesn't have body contact.

Bad things...
Carrying hoops on trains/buses is really really annoying.
I'll never be best at anything (though I don't really care...)
If I find some move frustrating I'll just go to a different prop (because I'm lazy and bad like that..)

I love doing them all!!!
You can't do a show with just poi... We have poi and staff and fingers and sticks and orb and hoop and sword and snakes and whip and...
It makes things more interesting! There's always something more try! I'm never going to get to the 'end' of all these props and not have something to challenge me!
The more props I do, the more people I have to talk to and teach/learn off, the more social spinning is.

So to me it's a huge pro. If I had done just poi... I would be much better at it than I am now... but only other spinners would be able to tell the difference
I wouldn't be in a troupe because i wouldn't be versatile enough, so I wouldn't be able to earn money from it, and i wouldn't have met Mr HotStuff, and then I wouldn't have gone to Thailand, and wouldn't be going to Africa at the end of the year.. and I wouldn't be moving in with him...

So life would be a lot different and lamer without Jed... I mean multiple toys..


MuckyMuckySILVER Member
Rum-Swilling Combustioneer
227 posts
Location: Macungie, PA, USA

Why can't the fellas do hoop? I'd love to get one; in fact, I just found out one of my neighbors makes 'em so I may commission one from her!

I can't consider myself a multi-propper just because I'm not even good enough to consider myself a single-propper with poi! However, as others have mentioned, I find some skills carry over, and general honing of hand-eye coordination is apparent.

It's just fun, though! Since picking up devil sticks I've started doing poi (which has since become my favorite), juggling clubs, staff, and contact ball (well, a little, but I'm not good at it one bit!). I keep 'em all in my livingroom so they get pretty much equal use, every time I pass I tend to pick something up and spin it for a while. Honestly, I don't have the patience or dedication to focus on just one skill, as much as I envy those people who achieve technical greatness.

Bouncing Baby Pipe!

489 posts
Location: Perth

"Why can't the fellas do hoop?"
Ok, I meant the guys don't want to hoop, and have never tried, therefore can't hoop. :P

I'm sure there are many men in the world with 1337 hooping skills.

squidsquidBRONZE Member
382 posts
Location: sur, USA

Honestly, as a man, I would love to get into hooping. The circle just epitomizes spinniness to me. Only reason I have yet to pick it up is its size and portability factor.

Still, its the one tool in this arena which my wife has shown an interest in, and I would love to get her involved and spinning with me.

As for gentlemen hoopers, Ive always been inspired by Barry Clement, who lives in the same city as I do and operates He does some very interesting things with a hoop that has little to do with simply spinning it on his hips.

"to a man whose only tool is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail." Abraham Maslow

6,650 posts

Oh, hoop would be so nice...

I've been one kind of a hopeless monkey-minder...

When I started travelling I was free... Really I was one happy content guy who only needed a few skins, rolling tobacco and a sixpack.... I didn't know what I was missing.

Over the first years I picked up playing the Didj - here come 5 odd kgs of solid tubing on top of my clothes.
Next I was learning wire wrapping jewellery... tools, silver wire and crystals = some 10kgs more.
Got myself into photography, propped up 12kgs of camera equipment...
The DJ equipment I never really dragged around much and passed most of it to my friend anyway.
Went into staff and Poi... 6kgs more because I like heavy staff (1 long, 2 short) and heavy Poi...

When I travelled to Koh PhaNgan 6 years ago to stay for three months, I dragged some pathetic 60kgs of luggage across Buddha pier, receiving pitiful looks from fellow travellers who only went there for a full-moon party.
My 2 months stay in Rio two years later have not been much better: I replaced the 10kgs for wire wrapping with a 4kg Djembe and saved on clothing...

Over the time I gave up on analogue photography. Ecological and economical reasons. Rolls don't cope with the heat, foreign labs don't do the job right and in the end I double exposed some 10 rolls of film - simply because I failed to note exactly how many pictures I've already been taking with which roll - I just gave up on it.
Less 12kgs - but hey, contact staff and massive fireswords, three clubs and balls and compound bows as replacement.

So last year I travelled to India twice, once from Europe (70kgs) and once from Thailand (80kgs)... Hard to believe my luck that all in all I only had to pay 150 Euro in overweight on all four (inter/national) legs of the flights.

This may sound like the HOP single (male) auction but now I'm the despaired owner of a mountain of costume material, and costumes, 2 french Crepe and 2 Belgium Waffle irons,
(estimated) 5kgs of silver(wire) and 6kgs of nice crystals/gemstones + heeps of tools,
got 3 compound bows to shoot with (two right one left in India and Germany),
3 fire swords,
4 Nun Chucks (in India and Germany),
1 Caisa (Hang derivate),
6 Didjes (some of them still unfinished),
4 Boomerang,
10 firestaff (most of them unfinished),
4 Djembes (three in Germany, one in India),
2 compact Congas/ incl. stand (one in India one in Germany),
a full set of (analogue) camera equipment (incl. a full set of studio lights),
8 rings for juggling,
6 clubs, 2 leather whips, some 5 set of Poi,
some DJ decks, amplifier, 800 old CD's of House and Trance I would most likely never listen to again,
around 80 cotton bags left for staff that I had made in India and couldn't sell as Chinese fishing bags are on the market - way cheaper,
some 50 pair of ThaiPoi
a pair of Dura-stilts (the other 5 pair of woodlegs I donated to a kindergarden before leaving Goa)
and I'll not go into all the other (minor) stuff that is spread out between Munich and Anjuna, in my own car trailer, my friends shed and my home in India... I'm dedicated to let go of it asap.

But "asap" didn't come for some years already... Already I'm opting for a plastic slide Didj and Compact Congas, still they lean on my Enfield terribly...

Fact of the matter is that sometimes, somewhere along the way, someone told me that "you need to let go of something, if you want to pick up something new". Guess I ignored her statement so far.

I shalt become a singer... or a triangle player.

Nope at this point I'm not a happy 'multi-propper'...
"FireHoop" ubblol not even a collapsible one, my friend... Bring one to EJC and to Arambol and I will happily practice with them, but "owning".... help

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

MuckyMuckySILVER Member
Rum-Swilling Combustioneer
227 posts
Location: Macungie, PA, USA

Tom.... Wow. Waffle irons?? Haha I just keep my stuff in a duffel bag and carry my ghetto-staff!

But I hafta ask, are they the souvenir type boomerangs or the massive demolish-whatever-is-unfortunate-enough-to-get-in-its-way kind?

Also, what is the caisa like? I've always wanted to get my hands on one of those hang drums (if that's what you mean by hang derivative) but they're deucedly hard-to-get.

Bouncing Baby Pipe!

bls337bls337BRONZE Member
staff enthusiast
21 posts
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA

Since I've started spinning my focus has been on staff as it just seems natural to me. I've played with a few other toys, namely meteor and short doubles, but I usually ended up putting them down and going back to my staff.

Recently however I've picked up the short doubles again, it's nice to take a break and do something less strenuous after you tire yourself out. Plus I can make fancy poi like patterns and use fancy poi terminology like hybrids and such without having to learn poi. Also it helps to know a little doubles to learn triples, and triples involves contact so it brings me back to square one. Yay.

I have a contact juggling ball for in case I really really really can't bring my staff with me somewhere (I bring the thing everywhere) to develope some synergistic flow.

I'd say I am very happy and have found that the skills cross over from toy to toy. Especially when there's not much of a difference between them.

6,650 posts

@Mucky: It's the "massive demolish-whatever-is-unfortunate-enough-to-get-in-its-way kind" along with some "one-way-types"... devil

Caisa? Sorry to say but I'd only opt for the original Hang in the future.... shrug

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

meshunderlaymeshunderlayBRONZE Member
612 posts
Location: Hicksville, New York, USA


I'm certainly a multi-propper. Sounds like a type of airplane to me, but *shrug*, I'll fly with it... hah.

I started with juggling balls. I never really got into juggling rings.

Nowadays I can almost juggle 5 balls solidly, but as far as toss juggling goes, I stick to clubs. Personally I think clubs are alot more expressive, and easier to see also when performing. Aside from that, you have alot more options with catches, throws, spins etc, that you don't have with balls.

That being said, I still haven't mastered 4 clubs and I'm working towards 5. That might seem like reverse logic, but 5 is in a 3 pattern and 4 is just a bit awkward. I can do 4 balls, but you don't have to worry too much about how you spin balls... *shrug*

I starting picking up other things like Poi, Contact juggling (which I'm *#%^ at, but I think it's very pretty), contact staff, etc, because I enjoy learning.

I'm constantly trying to learn something new, mostly involving how my own body moves.

I only this year found out about contact staff, and I got to see a great one perform at a Juggling Fest in Rochester NY.

MCP, where are you? *looks around*, I'm sure you're hanging about here somewhere.

Anyhow, I still haven't gotten around to making my own staff, but you've inspired me, especially after watching your videos. It was too bad they didn't let you light anything on fire inside though, ah well, you're show was great.

I don't feel like listing pros because I think there are plenty listed already, and I for the most part agree with them.

The only REAL con I notice is that when learning a new trick or a new move.... Well, Since I've started playing with so many different props, I do notice I'm learning tricks a little slower.

I try to alternate, 1 day or even 1 week per prop, but you know how that goes. One minute I'm spinning, the next minute I get a great idea for club spinning, the next minute I want to work on my backcrosses.... *sigh*

Ah well, it's all fun, and I love to entertain, so it's worth it.



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