Friday, 11 November 2016

Judging system idea (credits to Bula)

Bula's suggestion: To have separate judges for each criteria aspect, rather than each judge judging all criteria. For example, taichi and HAL would judge only execution, I would judge only difficulty, fel2fram or RPD would judge only creativity.

For effectiveness and presentation: it is probably fine if all judges graded them, as they do not require as specialised focus/knowledge/high skill level to evaluate, and are not weighted as highly as exec/diff/crea.

Whereas specialisation is old idea applied to many areas of life (medicine, manufacturing etc), this is probably first time I recall it mentioned to me (but I would not be surprised if it was discussed in passing by other spinners before). Nonetheless, credit goes to Bula for stating this idea, when I write this post.

Note: this post discusses his suggestion and related aspects rather than judging in PS in general (as applicability of number scoring to artform like spinning or whether PS can/should even be judged, the deficiencies in judging criteria regarding finesse and fine finger movements for execution, how strictly the original vs creative borderline should be applied, what difficulty is considered 'unbelievable', more than enough for pages and pages etc).

As skill levels in PS (in refinement, technical material, trick/linkage range, difficulty and variations) have increased hugely since typical judging allocations of 'each judge scores all categories' method, which has been used since WT07, specialisation is definitely needed to ensure proper evaluation of various aspects of spinning. Whereas most arts (performance types like music, ice skating etc) or sports do not use specialised judges for different criteria areas, it is quite clear in current PS environment (and has been so since around 2009) that level gap between good spinners' areas of focus compared to areas they do not focus on has increased, and that existing materials shown in PS have also increased enormously.

As spinners focused on creativity probably have better idea of existing concepts, they will have better assessments of creativity and be less likely to think old variations are new. Similarly, spinners who are very focused on technical material aspects probably underestimate the weight of errors in execution or deficiencies in finger positioning/finger movements; whereas spinners who do not focus on using unusual/hard variations are unlikely to be able to separate something that is truly difficult from something that is just a bit hard.

Of course, Bula's system also means each judge has less work to do (as they do not have to judge in all categories), which reduces workload and should increase consistency in scoring within each judge due to lower mental fatigue. As judges selected for each category are specialists/focus on those aspects, there will probably also be less variability in scoring and higher accuracy (i.e. no more menowa WT15 R3 9/10 execution from PSH judge saying combo was dynamic so score was justified, or something like that).

Largest 'problem' with this system is that it ends up narrowing perceptions (reducing open-minded approach to exec/diff/crea) to what the selected group of specialists think, which may decrease innovation. However, I feel small group of specialists in each area should give a better result than having -coughcough- 'strange ideas' contributed from large group of non-specialists.

Another issue with this system is determining which spinners are specialised enough to judge each category (but I feel spinners generally have good idea of who has good control, who is creative, who has hard material - because while individual preferences may be different, community gravitates towards admiring small group of a few dozen or so good spinners who are great at their respective focuses).

There's some spinners who will make combos that will confuse everyone, like fel2fram (who no doubt has top level creativity and difficulty, but his execution is hard to evaluate because we do not really have 'ideal image' that his direction of spinning should appear like), but such out-of-the-box geniuses will always go beyond existing logic.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

This is power V5 commentary

Hardest by fair margin and most filming time dedicated for this compilation, way more than any solo or previous ‘this is power’ videos. Just some comments about material used and frustration involved.

Estimation of success rate based on raw clips of attempts, which have one try every 4-6 seconds, so 10 min raw clip to get 1 successful draft → 100-150 attempts. As comparison, most of my 9 year's solo's combos could be landed once every 5 min or so (50-70 attempts) after my hand was fully warmed up.

0:00-0:08 - half tap aerial > pun kan with coffee packet, I find it easier to start pun kan on strange objects (like inktube, toothpick etc) this way than usual ta start. Just a funny introduction clip, kind of like solo introductions.

0:09-0:20 - [fl ia - spiderspin 2.0] x 4 and fl ia aerial 1.0 combo, added extra rotations to spiderspin and aerial variations, very fun and far harder. Usually fl around - topspin and aerials have 0.5 rotations, I have vid from 2 weeks ago of [fl ia - ss 1.0] x 15 (below) and I’d say it’s at least as hard as ordinary [fl ia - ss 0.5] x 100 (at least you’d need to master the technique to point where you can do 100+ perfectly and have very good idea and feeling of pen’s position and rotations). Aerial with 1.0 rotations rather than 0.5 doesn’t give as large difficulty boost, but I’d estimate [fl ia - ss] aerial 1.0 x 10 is about as hard as aerial 0.5 x 20.

Compared to rest of clips in V5, this one was easy to land (about 5 minutes excluding warmup time, so 50-80 attempts roughly).

0:21-0:27 - [knee bounce - spiderspin] combo, fairly difficult and more of ‘gimmick’ depending on some luck and calmness (skill needed to align hand for spiderspin, but luck needed to have pen spinning in horizontal plane and rising right up from knee bounce). A significant upgrade on the ta rel - knee bounce combo at 0:19-0:28  in ‘THIS IS POWER V3’ (below) from 2013.

Took about 10 minutes to land, 200 attempts roughly (as messups often happen on first knee bounce in 1 second so higher tries per time)

0:27-0:37 - [ex spiderspin - fl around spiderspin] x 2 fall variation, this was really hard to record, final segment not as controlled as I wanted. While I had mastered [fl ia - ss], [fl ta - fl ia - ss], [fl ma - ring ss] and [index mid mirr pp rev - ring ss] to high level while training them in past 2 ½ years, I am still developing way to do [mid ring mirr pp rev - pinky ss] and [fl ra - pinky ss], so I kept messing up on them. Easily one of the hardest clips in this video.

Took 95-100 minutes (most of a Saturday morning) recording to land twice, so 400-500 attempts per successful take.

0:38-0:44 - ringbak pop spin and pun kan rev - bakspin combo, inspired by vine clips from katts [JEB]. I had another take with 1.0 bakspin after pun kan rev, but control of ringbak pop in it was worse, so it was rejected. Very fun to try this sequence and many variations possible.

As I’m not that good at pun kan rev - bakspin yet, took 20 minutes to get decent take, so 200-250 attempts.

0:45-0:56 - [mirr pp rev - ring ss] and [fl ra - pinky ss] combo with bonus [fl ma - ring ss] aerial 1.0, using all my favourite craziest variations of ring and pinky ss. Transition from ring ss to fl ra pinky ss is strange due to ring finger movement. I had another 2 drafts filmed with the fl ma ring ss aerial 1.0 leading into fl ra pinky ss (instead of fl ma ring ss in the actual video), but control was worse overall so they were rejected. Difficulty of this sequence with aerial 1.0 - fl ra pinky ss nearly as high as the ex ss fall variation clip.

For the aerial 1.0 - fl ra pinky ss clips, landed twice in 60 minutes, so 350-400 attempts. The selected clip with aerial 1.0 - fl ma ring ss was easier, landed once every 10-15 min so roughly 120-160 attempts.

0:57-1:17 - 1p2h power + rev power combo with [mirr pp aerial - palmspin rev], [fl ta rev - ss rev], RH mirr pp - LH pun kan, and antigravity ‘hai tua’ variation. Wanted to try some new rev power on RH and linking LH palmspin fl ta cont in middle of combo, far harder than the 1:01-1:22 1p2h fl combo in my 8 year solo (below). Took way longer to land this than I should have as computer crashed 5 times 40-60 minutes into recording and wore my mind out even more T_T. Very frustrating to film this as left hand kept messing up the palmspin fl ta due to RH’s bakriser being slightly imperfect, even though I could do this exact transition consistently by itself.

Used an entire afternoon and early evening (4 hours) to get to half-passable control, after I’d calmed down. Roughly 30 min to land successful take, maybe (hard to specify as there were many 3 or 4 drafts with worse exec that I really didn’t want to use). Roughly 400 attempts per take I suppose.

1:18-1:24 - 2p1h [fl penaround aerial - fl penaround]? Feels strange to not have feeling of mod on hand. Not as hard as you may expect after you know what feeling and movements you need.

Took 10-15 min to learn and get x 3, got the x 4 2-3 min afterwards, so 100-150 attempts.

1:25-1:29 - [ss - pun kan] x 3. After ction's WT13 R1 [palmspin - pun kan], I suggested doing it with ss instead with sekai, who filmed a nice x 2 of it (below). Very hard to control, mastering ss variations and pun kan helps only a little bit as it’s based more on eye/pen/hand co-ordination level. Landed x 3 three times, used most controlled (comparatively) one.

Roughly 10 min each, so 120-150 attempts.

1:30-1:39 - fl combo with LH ‘assist’: RH [mirr pp rev - ring ss] - LH spiderspin rev - RH [fl ia ss - mirr pp rev ring ss] inspired by conversation I had with ohzers (old UPSB member) back in WC12 times, ta rel - wrist bounce - fl ia ss, and ction’s WT13 R5 finisher 2 arm pun kan idea. Quite happy with how this one turned out.

15-20 min per successful take, so 200-250 attempts.

1:40-1:45 - octuple pd ta, upgrade of 9 year solo’s 2:01-2:05 septuple pd ta with better control. Hard to teach people to do this trick.

8 min, so 80-120 attempts.

1:45-1:49 - 2p2h RH [fl ta - ss] x 4 LH [fl ta - palmspin] x 4, failed final one on either hand half a dozen times or so. Had to focus on left while keeping right on autopilot, but left does palmspins slightly slower than right’s spiderspins, so it felt strange.

15-20 min, so 200-250 attempts.

1:50-1:59 - fc fl combo with crossed index+middle fl indexmiddlearound - ring ss, technique needs improvement to reduce extent of ‘cheat’ aerial used. Very very hard to do as pen keeps getting stuck after fl around (far harder than fl ma - ring ss or fl ra - pinky ss). This was far harder than fc fl combo in 9 year solo which did not actually use the crossed fingers for spinning.

Practised this for hour practising before day I filmed this clip, so roughly 100-200 attempts.

2:00-2:07 - [fl ma ring ss 1.0 - fl ma ring ss 0.5] x 2 combo, adding 0.5 rotations to ring ss in fl ma ring ss is ridiculously hard. Difficulty jump for fl ma ring ss 1.0 vs fl ma ring ss 0.5 is bigger than fl ia ss 1.0 vs fl ia ss 0.5 (IMO bigger than jump between fl ia ss 1.5 and fl ia ss 0.5 even)

This clip as hard as [fl ma - ring ss] x 20-25 for me. Took 10 min ish, so 100-150 attempts.

2:07-2:16 - pun kan x 13 clip from before, probably one of hardest tricks to develop technique for.

2:17-2:20 - plush toys of Reimu and Marisa from Touhou project.

Monday, 24 October 2016

difficulty in PS

Wrote this after thinking about the pure idiocy in difficulty judging (and public perception) of difficulty of various combos and tricks in WT and WC. Like really, of course mediocre judge will consider things which are not that difficult to be 'difficult beyond imagination' because the scope of their skills and imagination are both mediocre; and since trick A and trick B are both hard 'beyond their imagination', judge will give both 10/10 difficulty even if there is enormous difference between them...

OTL. Anyway, time for actual discussion. *Sorry for wall of text rambling, but it's interesting I promise!*

For lazy people, tl;dr version is: difficulty determination should be based on practice time rather than rarity of the trick/linkage, but there's heaps of variables affecting practice time, so best thing to do is practice more to get better personal evaluation xD

Strongest finisher by fel2fram (2-hand interlaced around/twirl fall variation? unsure of naming conventions)

What are the most impressive feats or tricks in PS history? From before 2008: sunrise's perfect thumbspin 15.5 with pencil is probably craziest trick every recorded (I still am unsure how much practice or skill would be needed to replicate it), and cloud traveller's midbak 1.5 x 12 with mx deserves honorable mention. However, before 2008, index bust x 10-15 was considered incredibly difficult, with hunlanlin holding world record of x 17 before spinnerpeem joined the scene.

From peem's erasing of the boundaries of difficulty which everyone else was constrained by, his explore M fl combo and his WC10 finals combo stand out most. From 2010 until 2013, fel2fram rewrote the comprehension of creativity and possibilities in linkages entirely, making many variations and concepts that are still barely understood, much less explored. A13x's dual pass T4, fel2fram's interlaced 2-hand around variation, menowa's spiderspin variations, xound's fingercrosses in WT15 also stand out.

However, consider this: since 2008, why has no one even come close to sunrise's thumbspins, but many many spinners are able to do bust x 10-20 or more (with fair numbers of spinners reaching 25+ or more busts in their first year)? When TEK uploaded peem's video of 50+ palmspin fl ta, other hard trick experts at the time were still in the < 10 range, but it did not take long for spinners who'd spun less than 1 1/2 years to reach 300+ palmspin fl ta (tony from HKPSA and yaoss from MYPSC).

Is the typical 1 year spinner of now better than the experts of 2008? Does the typical 1 year spinner of now have some magical technique of training busts or have more practice time on that trick? Most likely not, but the seeming 'degradation' of power trick difficulty for more basic variations (index bust, fl ta, spread, fl ta palmspin, aerial hai tua, hai tua) is probably associated with world's 'belief' of what is possible and impossible; i.e. if spinners believe certain feats are achievable with certain practice amount, then it contributes to becoming self-fulfilling prophesy (and vice versa, if certain feats are believed to be impossible, then this belief is strong enough to deter people from trying or even increase their actual failing rate). Of course, more available resources (decent quality demonstration videos and tutorials) plays a part, but generally I do not consider the majority of tutorials to be that helpful or well made, and many spinners are unable to elicit maximum details from slow motion videos either.

The key point of contention in difficulty is 'practice time required to master the trick' versus 'how many people can do the trick' (or linkage) in question. Personally, 'how many people can do the trick' is not that relevant when considering tricks of high difficulty, and is further obscured by trends/popularity (e.g. rex trick is quite simple to do, but was considered amazing when rex showed it in WT11 R1; similarly menowa's WT15 R3 combo gained much attention for its angled around variations but is far easier than his WT15 R2 combo or even his WC14 R2 combo). Furthermore, if people believe trick is too hard, few people will attempt it, which reduces estimation of 'how many people can do the trick', leading to overestimation of the trick's difficulty. Therefore I prioritise 'practice time required to master the trick' as being of far greater importance in difficulty consideration than merely 'how many people can do the trick'.

Difficulty can also be considered in terms of spinners' ability to devise techniques for tricks that are not yet in their mastery. This is highly linked to the spinner's current skillset, and the similarity of the trick/linkage they are trying to learn. For example, pinkybak 2.0 cont is quite similar to pinkybak 1.5 cont, so mastery of pinkybak 1.5 will help greatly. This can be applied to linkages and more extreme examples, such as applying fl ta cont technique to do PD fl TA (which allowed me to reach pd ta > pd fl ta x 4 in my 5 year solo with less than 30 minutes experimentation, and increased to pd ta > pd fl ta x 7 in 'THIS IS POWER V5' despite me never devoting deliberate practice for this trick in the past few years). Certain tricks which are more different to existing tricks commonly done are harder to devise techniques for, but may not actually require as much practice time as expected (e.g. dual pass T4, which I managed x 13 of after training for 30 minutes; whereas fel2fram's 2-handed interlaced around variation seems impossible to do smoothly even though perfoming it sketchily is not that hard).

On the other hand, slight variations which are fairly common to mastered linkages are difficult because hand's muscle memory defaults to the common linkage instead of the desired variation (e.g. east sonic and west sonic variations used by iteza - see below video 0:04-0:05 linkage, and hash, slofis' inv shadow+arounds in Pearls 6th combo). Of course, spinner with very good ability to control fingers will not be set back by the defaulting muscle memory phenomenon, but generally even experienced spinners have trouble with understanding and performing these slight variations immediately, so they might take a while to master them completely. However, this raises the question of whether a spinner who was not as constrained or influenced by trends to do common material would find east and west sonic variations etc to be hard (we can probably never fully resolve this question, just as innate considerations of appeal in art and music are influenced the moment we learn language, by every comment and every person we interact with and so on).

Regarding practice time, it is possible to stumble across efficient technique quickly (usually by accident) which allows mastery of trick in short time (e.g. Vora's palmspin fl ta supposedly reached 100+ in several weeks or less, which might be a joke on his part; or nadhif's rapid learning or pinkybak 1.5 and palmspin fl ta). Practice time is also probably influenced by belief of what is possible, as said before. However, practice time varies greatly not just between spinners (even if generally we can come to agreement of what tricks/linkages are hard), but also within the same spinner in tricks he/she considers difficult.

While many spinners (and myself) consider dual pass T4 and say, fl ia - ss cont or fl ma - ring ss cont all to be quite difficult and rare tricks, the practice time required for these 3 is very different. For me, dual pass T4 to 10+ took half an hour, whereas fl ma - ring ss to 10+ took daily practice of 40 minutes for nearly an entire year (both tricks being trained in 2014-2016 period, after I'd spun over 7 years), so clearly there is vast difference in difficulty despite both tricks being rightly considered 'hard'. Of course, maybe someone else would not find the difference as large as I do, but it would require more spinners to master both these unusual hard tricks, which is unlikely to occur to any significant extent.

Of course, placement of trick/linkage in combo impacts difficulty, as doing harder trick/linkage later is more difficult than doing it earlier. Logically, one should practice the hard trick/linkage itself separately quite well before trying to use it later in combo (if you do not, you will have less chances to practice it when recording as you reach later point in combo more rarely than earlier point, and your mental stress will also be increased).

The role of innate finger flexibility and muscle memory in difficulty is also interesting. For example, mastering one or two flush sonic and side flush sonic variations makes learning other linkages in 14 slot far easier. Furthermore, as a spinner with below average middle and ring independence (I cannot make spock sign which separates middle and ring finger properly on right hand), I can still perform most flush sonic and side flush sonic variations in 14 without thumb 'assistance' cheating, so innate flexibility is not necessary for these, even if it is helpful. Also, fact that left hand which hardly trains deliberately can do many 24 and 14 linkages by using muscle memory of right hand reinforces idea that 24/14 linkages are based on muscle memory rather than finger flexibility. Of course, training to acquire the muscle memory and appropriate pen rotation angle/speed/finger movement requires significant time.

In contrast to this, fingercross most likely requires innate finger flexibility (which can be trained by stretching, but risk of injury and takes long, long time) and also muscle memory, but I cannot fully comment on this as I cannot do fingercross of ring+pinky or middle+ring on my right without my left hand forcing the fingers to cross.

Anyway tl;dr version is: difficulty determination should be based on practice time, but there's heaps of confounding factors and other variables affecting practice time, so best thing to do is practice more to get better personal evaluation.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Solo breakdown and commentary

Brief commentary on my solo's clips in order of appearance ^^

Above folder has full video, individual combos and breakdown document. If you’re unsure of what happened, or you want to learn some linkages, then this will be helpful.

0:00 - 0:04 Bottle flip (cap landing) - only took 3-4 minutes trying total including adjusting water level, a lot easier than expected.

0:04 - 0:07 PD fl around fall variation - PD TA > handbust rev on index, index+middle, index+middle+ring, then index+middle+ring+pinky > PD fl TA, got lucky and landed within 25 sec of filming

0:07 - 0:11 Knife pun kan x 3 - Definitely riskiest thing with knife so far.

0:11 - 0:29 FS236 - starter from ‘annoying linkage vol 1’, had inspiration from menowa’s WT15 R6, also uses angled pinkyaround ~ pd fl ia to 14. Ringbak counter for finisher feels fun to do.

0:29 - 0:47 FS226 - old combo from January originally filmed for laye 3rd (which never came out), then sent for UPSB 4th (which was downgraded to normal UPSB spinfest due to lack of good submissions, still hasn't come out), one of favourite combos I’ve ever recorded. Slight lag/error before PD MA is annoying.

0:47 - 1:04 FS238 - with personal G3 and left hand cam, turned out pretty nicely (if only wiper in ending sequence was done better, oh well). Exec of angled middlearound from 12 was nice, has some good sonic + pass variations inspired by iteza.

1:04 - 1:10 [PD fl TA - handbust rev] fall - similar to opening minicombo, but with PD fl TA between each handbust rev, which makes it far harder to control - took over 40 minutes filming this sequence

1:10 - 1:30 FS239 - highlight is definitely angled around from 12 > fl ra ~ mid spiderspin rev > angled TA > wiper 23-24, probably combo with strongest material level in this solo, also one I filmed most drafts of (over a dozen on a free afternoon/evening I had). Originally intended to have slightly different starting with PD fl around rev after the wipers, but ended up being too unsmooth.

1:30 - 1:47 FS234 - with personal G3, invitation combo for san noken’s CV, some linkages inspired by iteza, also reused PD IA from 14 (middle curled, ring raised) that I came up with back in 2012 but did not use much recently. More focus on performance than pure material level, linking into the PD fl TA rev could be done better.

1:47 - 1:58 FC fl combo - I had idea of doing aerial adv SS like this long time ago (back in 2012), but never ended up using it anywhere. I only remembered I could use this when someone on UPSB shoutbox asked me if I would use fingercross in my solo. One day I’ll try index-middle crossed FL IMA ~> ring SS, perhaps…

1:58 - 2:01 - Owari no Seraph anime clip for music change

2:01 - 2:05 PD TA > PD fl TA x 6 - fun trick, hard to control properly

2:05 - 2:26 FS237 - technical combo with more power, found this one easier to film than most of the other solo combos.

2:26 - 2:41 Vain Japen 11th copy - turned out decent enough, hand stability during middle pass sequence could be improved

2:41 - 2:44 - short counter sequence inspired by mesi

2:41 - 2:45 MX aerial adv SS > [fl ma - ring ss] x 4 - catch wasn’t as clean as I wanted, extremely hard to record

2:45 - 3:02 FS242 - something with different feeling and content than rest of vid, using various counters

3:02 - 3:21 FS240 - filmed in a rush on night before leaving nurses’ accommodation at hospital, highlight is the rev sequence after starter

3:21 - 3:25 PD [fl ta - hand bust rev] x 3 - difficult to control, I see potential to integrate this into rev fl sequences or 1p2h fl combo

3:25 - 3:49 fl combo 2016 Feb 3rd - one of nicest 15-30 sec fl combos I’ve recorded, shows use of large range of power tricks and power transitions (fl ma - ring ss, fl ma - ring ss aerial, aerial adv ss, mirr pp rev - ring ss, fl ta - ring ss, fl ta - fl ia - ss, fl ia - ss, fl ta - multiple spin ss in addition to everyday stuff)

3:49 - 3:51 Ending pic - random photo of suburban street and trees I took when on rural hospital placement

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


Hello everyone, this is i.suk’s pen spinning blog. This resulted from UPSB shoutbox discussion where people were talking about pen spinning blogs, and I said ‘maybe I’ll make one, but I wonder if anyone would read it’, to which Tigres replied ‘anyone with a brain would read it’. And so, this blog was created to compile various thoughts on spinning-related subjects - controversial WT and WC matchups, combo breakdowns, comments on spinning videos, ideas of difficulty, creativity, execution etc, nature of practice and learning, favourite combos and collabs, linkage creation etc.

If you have any suggestions of what to discuss, feel free to comment.

Note: 9 year solo commentary and breakdowns post coming soon (will be up on day solo is released, probably mid August-ish?)