Beginning Poi: A Few Tips for Starting Out

An old friend of mine from my early “raver” days contacted me about glow sticking and poi moves with glowsticks. He’s just starting out and wanted a few pointers. Here’s what I had to say to him and I thought would be useful for anyone starting out themselves. Especially if you’re a glow sticker, I want to first recommend you get something softer than glow sticks — they bruise. We use practice poi here at Temple of Poi made much like a bean bag, only we don’t use beans. Also, if you’re a “glow sticker” starting out, I have to recommend LED lights instead of glow sticks. Beginning Poi: A Few Tips For Getting StartedThese lights from our partner company FlowToys are awesome because they use rechargeable batteries best (they are optimized for that), they come in lots of colors, and they have many different types of blinking modes which offer lots of fun. They are also great for camping and other times you might needs lights. If you’re a glowsticker, you’ll likely enjoy the speed of the Crystal Poi though the Ogg Poi, pictured here, are also a great choice.

Anyway, here are some basic concepts of poi:

  • velocity. there’s pretty much either stillness or movement. when moving it, you’ll need enough velocity to keep the poi swinging in a circle and momentum is key. You can also do pendulums and other partial circles — again, use of velocity helps make that happen.
  • planes. to start out with, think of 6 planes, like you’re standing inside a die. there’s the floor, ceiling, front, back, left side and right side. Once you’ve mastered those six with confidence, it’s time to focus on the infinite other possible planes. ;)
  • timing. that is how the poi turn relative to each other — both hit the bottom at the same time, one then the other (called split time), one hits 1 time during the same interval the other hits 2 times (one type of poly-rhythmic, though there are many other types of poly-rhythmic as well) and so on.
  • direction. there are, for each of the 6 planes, 4 different directions. each hand can go forward/overhand or reverse/underhand/backward on the side plane and clockwise or counterclockwise on the floor, ceiling, front and back planes. Put them together and you have 4 different combinations. In general, every move can be done in 4 directions (though not everyone does every move in every direction and in fact most people favor a direction).

Here’s a few thoughts when starting:

  • The most basic movement is a circle.
  • Try circles in each direction with each hand in each plane.
  • The next most basic movement is a figure 8 — cross from a plane to it’s partner plane — that is, front to back, left to right, or floor to ceiling.
  • In general, practice everything one handed first.
  • Start your practice with your weaker hand.
  • If you want to turn, you need to know the move in two directions that are opposite each other — as in, both hands clockwise and the opposite, both hands counterclockwise. of course, that turn theory is way beyond basic stuff.

If you’re looking for some guided drills beyond that, check out the Temple of Poi Computer Based Training, available at a dramatic discount when purchased with the Archer Weave DVD at this special link.