Yo-yo tricking with a twist

Senior Jude Mendoza is in love. In love with the polished whip and crisp revolutions of the yo-yo. No stranger to this aesthetic, Mendoza juggles a searing passion for yo-yo tricking.

Mendoza acquired his interest for the toy during his freshmen year after being inspired by famous yo-yo champions Gentry Stein and Zach Gormling. After watching tutorial videos on the Internet and learning basic knowledge of core yo-yo tricks, Mendoza’s journey began.

“I took on this hobby because it’s something people don’t see too often. I have the justification to say that I do something other people don’t. It feels unique; I stand out from the crowd,” Mendoza said.

Since his freshmen year, Mendoza developed an inseparable bond with the yo-yo. Practicing over an hour a day, he doesn’t view the yo-yo tricking as another ordinary hobby; it is his passion, and he’s good at it.

“Sometimes people have this strong feeling about something. For me, it’s about the yo-yo. I see the intricacy and beauty of it, but it’s something you can’t see with the common eye,” Mendoza said. “I love it because it gives me a sense of creativity. I could manipulate a toy to match a song and make it something of my own imagination.”

Despite making much progress on his hobby, Mendoza is still faced with challenges. The standards for uniqueness escalate with skill level and demand more challenging moves than common ones such as “Around the World” and “Rock the Baby.” Mendoza himself has created countless unnamed tricks, yet he still cherishes generic moves like the “Banana Turnover,” which is one of his favorites.

“Beating these challenges requires inspiration. To get inspiration [for new tricks], I dedicate myself to watching others perform on video or occasionally in person,” Mendoza said. “I then commit myself to listening to random songs and imagining hitting the beats.”

After graduating high school, Mendoza hopes to continue yo-yo tricking as a side career or become sponsored by a yo-yo company. He is currently preparing for his first competition at the International Yo-Yo competition that will be hosted in Downtown Disney during the summer.

“Preparing for competition gets overwhelming; I have to make three minute choreographies,” Mendoza said. “It may look easy because all it seems like you’re doing is manipulating a toy, but you have to have body control, concentration and a skill set good enough to impress the judges.”

Mendoza hopes his passion for yo-yo tricking can inspire others and views the activity as a form of self-made art.

“You could watch throwing videos and learn from their styles, but in the end, you are the one who creates your own style, a style where imagination is the only limit,” Mendoza said.

By Richard Zhang, Staff writer

Video edited by Brandon Ng, Editor-in-Chief