The Linear Extension Companion

A couple months ago I was sent a request for more intermediate-level tutorials via Facebook and I had kind of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I knew I could provide the content, but I also knew that I considered intermediate spinning to have slightly different qualities than the person requesting the tutorials may have had in mind. To me, intermediates begin seeing poi as being composed of smaller and more fundamental pieces of movement. Because of this, they have a vista on a much wider range of possible moves than beginners and most importantly now have the potential to create their own tricks. This also makes the gains at intermediate level much more difficult to obtain and it takes longer to make said gains.

With all that said, I was also looking forward to the challenge because I knew it would require me to approach creating tutorials differently: giving much more intuitive instruction, building upon the work of previous videos, and also taking much of the knowledge of Adobe After Effects I'd been accruing the past few months out for a spin. Now, these tutorials are available to the general public as a complete set of work. Here I want to include material that either couldn't fit into those tutorials or goes further into depth than I could with them.

Before I go any further, I'd like to take the opporunity to thank those whose knowledge I am passing on with these tutorials. I am not the origin of most of it--I am merely a conduit for more comprehensive lessons that these teachers have given me. First to Noel Yee for originally showing me the depth to which linear extensions could be used for understanding poi movement with his workshop on this topic that I took years ago when he was touring with Spinagogue. Also to Cyrille Humen for his seminal work on the geometry of poi that hugely influenced my explorations of these concepts as well as how to think about the symmetries inherent in timing and direction. And finally to Damien Boisbouvier, the man who codified our understanding of CAPs and third-order motions.

Part 1: The Basics

Fundamentally, the idea behind this whole series is that if you can perform static spin (holding your hand more or less still and rotating the poi around it in wall plane), with a bit of practice you can create nearly any shape you want out of the moving your hand around in straight lines. I'm indebted to Noel Yee's instruction on this point and for many of the basic shapes this line of thinking can help in the composition of.

The transition exercise here is one of my own design, meant to work out each of the transitions necessary for performing third-order motions in each orientation but it also is extremely helpful on a more basic level. Seriously, if you can get this exercise down with both hands individually you'll find almost everything else in this series to be vastly easier by comparison.

Part 2: Single Poi Patterns

I should note here that the shape overlays I'm using here are a visualization tool and that most flowers turn out to be significantly more rounded than what's seen here. Alien Jon has written on the topic of composing flowers via straight lines vs curves such to frame them as "yin" and "yang" types of movements. For more information on how to model poi moves closer to how we actually perform them, here is an exploration of the mathematics of roulettes that shows how these curves can be mapped.

One can treat flowers in this extreme to the point that the poi are always traveling perpendicular to straight lines, creating so called "float flowers". You can see this technique demonstrated here. Suffice it to say, it's an intriguing looking technique but absolutely not a requirement for getting your flowers down.

Part 3: Timing and Direction

Here's where the possibilities of what we can create really take off! My approach here to describing the effects of each timing and direction combination is taken directly from Cyrille's wonderfully in-depth paper Poi Spinning and Geometry, which goes more deeply into the ramifications of this perspective than I ever could hope to in a 5 minute video.

Another great source of information on timing and direction (especially when it comes to hybrids) is the Vulcan Tech Gospel. Its initial iterations cover some of the same material mentioned here, but also go further into depth about transition points between them.

Part 4: Polyrhythm Hybrids

Again, I'm indebted to Noel for the method shown here for working through the Mercedes. Technically any two incongruent patterns that are completed by each hand simultaneously can be thought of as a hybrid. Polyrhythm hybrids represent a specific case wherein the downbeats of one pattern do not match the downbeats of the other. I first encountered the controversial classification years ago on Tribe and have attempted to contribute my own thoughts to the matter.

As a fun bit of trivia, working out how to chain together the Mercedes with a number of other tricks was a fun collaboration in the early days of my tech blog that brought me back into contact with one of my favorite tech poi gods: Christian Medina.

Part 5: Third-Order Motions

I'll confess that it is with this chapter that I take the greatest liberties in presenting an easy visualization vs an actual in-depth understanding of the concept referenced here. Many people from Pierre Baudin to Ronan have visualized third-order motions in this fashion, but to actually learn the proper approach to these patterns, there can be no greater resource than Damien Boisbouvier's tour de force explanation of the concept posted now three years ago on the Home of Poi forums. Damien's approach has more to do with thinking about sources of rotation than it does chaining patterns together. Whichever approach to learning these patterns you employ, the overall shape will not be wrong.

Also, here are the hand patterns listed for breaking down Zan's diamond in all timing and direction combinations:

Together-Same:
D, R, L, D, U, L, R, U

Together-Opposites:
D, X, O, D, U, O, X, U

Split time-Opposites:
RT, R, L, RT, LT, L, R, LT

Split time-Same:
LT, O, X, LT, RT, X, O, RT

That's it! Thanks so much for watching. Please send me your feedback and let me know if you'd like to see another series like this in the future.

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