Poi isolations are a challenging, but rewarding, technique to learn. They’re also visually impressive, even to people from outside the world of poi spinning. This is probably due to the seemingly gravity-defying motion of the poi heads as they follow the performer’s hands and hover in the air.
After learning how to do poi isolations, you can incorporate them into many different move sets. They are extremely versatile tricks once you get the hang of them, and they can be performed in either buzzsaw or wall plane. So get creative! Ultimately, it’s the creative options which poi isolations grant you that make them worth learning.
Before you can begin learning poi isolations, you’ll need a pair of poi balls. We think contact poi work best, especially if you’re a beginner.
HOW TO PERFORM POI ISOLATIONS
Poi isolations require lots of time and patience to perform with consistency and elegance. As such, you should set your expectations appropriately before practicing this move.
There are no shortcuts for learning poi isolations. You’ll just have to be persistent and dedicated. We recommend incorporating poi isolations into your routine training, so that you can gradually become comfortable performing the move. This method is far easier than practicing isolations exclusively, since you’ll be able to hone your spinning skills with simple moves as well.
The following three-step tutorial for how to do poi isolations was created by DrexFactor, so be sure to watch his video tutorial. Afterwards, you can use our written guide for reference as you practice isolations on your own.
STEP 1: HAND AND ARM COORDINATION
The fundamental motion of poi isolations can be practiced by resting your poi tether across the width of your arm and spinning the poi heads with your opposite hand. Basically, you’ll be using one hand to control the poi and your opposite arm to hold the tether. Let’s delve into this training method further.
First, stick one of your arms outward with your elbow bent approximately 90-degrees. Your forearm should align parallel with your chest, as if you’re holding a shield. Try to leave enough room between your arm and chest for your poi head and tether. A quick way to measure this is to dangle your poi in front of your bent arm and raise or lower the poi until the center of its tether is touching your arm. Then, extend your poi head toward your chin (this is how much room you’ll have for your poi to spin). Give yourself an extra poi head’s length to ensure your poi doesn’t strike your chin during poi isolations.
Next, dangle your poi behind your arm (between your arm and your chest) so that the tether rests against your arm. Rotate your hand in circles around your forearm while keeping the tether in contact. The poi should follow the path your hand creates and rotate around your forearm as well. You’ll need to determine an appropriate speed at which to rotate your poi, so that it maintains enough momentum to rotate consistently. If you move your hand too quickly, your poi will slip off of your forearm, and if you move it too slowly, it will wrap around your arm.
Continue rotating the poi away from your body until you’re comfortable with the movement. Then, practice rotating the poi toward your body by dangling the poi in front of your arm. Once you’ve achieved forward and backward rotation, switch arms, and practice them again.
STEP 2: ISOLATIONS
By now, your hands and arms should be acclimated to the motion required to achieve poi isolations, so you can proceed to the isolations themselves. For this method of training, Drex recommends using a piece of colored gaff tape as visual aid, and standing in front of a mirror.
Begin by wrapping a piece of tape (preferably colored tape that’s easy for you to see), around the midpoint of your poi tether.
Now, try to keep that piece of tape locked in place as you spin your poi in a circle. Imagine the tape at the center of your tether is floating in mid air, and pretend there is a wall in front of you preventing the poi from swinging forward (or practice in front of an actual wall if you prefer). This technique is called an isolation, because it appears as though your poi is isolated (or unmoving) in the air as it spins in circles.
Practice poi isolations with both hands individually, and then together to ensure that you have complete control of your poi.
STEP 3: FOUR QUADRANTS
For this method, you can either use your imagination, or your tape again. The goal is to expand upon the hand and arm coordination you’ve gained from practicing isolations by incorporating body rotation.
Let’s start by establishing four quadrants around your body. If you have tape, use it to create a line between your feet, running from your back to your front side. Create another line running perpendicular to the first line, from one of your hips to the other. If you don’t have tape, imagine it being on the floor beneath you.
Practice poi isolations in each of the four quadrants separated by the tape. Start by practicing within one quadrant at a time. Then, once you’re able to perform poi isolations in each quadrant consistently, you can try rotating in a circle and performing isolations in each quadrant consecutively. Doing this will teach you how to adjust your poi spin at different angles.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
The road to mastery is long and hard, but it’s also fun. With this guide as reference, you’ll be able to conquer poi isolations and permanently add them to your move set.
It’s true that practice makes perfect, so continual practice should be the next step you take. After that, let your creativity run wild. Create your own performances using poi isolations or other eye-catching tricks. Now that you have a high-quality pair of contact poi, and a valuable skill set, the only limitation is your imagination.
We hope you find this guide helpful, and motivational too. As you continue progressing as a flow artist, you may want to upgrade your equipment. Lucky for you, we have a wide variety of poi balls to choose from. Here at UltraPoi, we are dedicated to providing the best experience for spinners of all skill levels.