The Chinese Yoyo is a toy from China that is made of two equally sized disks and connected with a long axle. Two sticks are used to keep the yo-yo spinning and mastering the skill requires a lost childhood, overbearing parents and long periods of isolation in a small windowless room.
It is believed that the yoyo was invented in China but evidence currently shows that it was used in Greece as early as 500 BCE. Historians have evidence that the Chinese yoyo was invented sometime during the Ming Dynasty between the 14th and 17th century. There must be a shortage of yoyo historians to research and provide conclusive evidence of the yoyo’s existence. Strange, I thought that Yoyo history was the leading major in most history departments.
The Chinese word for yoyo is kongzhu, which means hollow bamboo. Originally, the yoyo was made of wood or bamboo. Legend has it that a pack of rabid pandas once raided a Chinese yoyo factory, tied up the manager in Yoyo string and ate the whole bamboo stock. Needless to say, plastic has been used to make Chinese yoyos since.
This Chinese toy is akin to the Diabolo, another yoyo. Satan himself likes to perform with the Diabolo on weekends at Hell’s Kitchen in New York City because the toy bears resemblance to his name (see: diablo versus diabolo). Satan tried to perform in Chinatown NYC but Buddha claimed that was his territory and asserted that he knew how to use the Chinese Yoyo as a military weapon. Actually, the Diabolo varies from the Chinese Yoyo in that it has a longer axle and has bell shaped disks. Diabolos come in different shapes and are typically made of rubber which makes them more challenging to use compared to the Chinese yoyo.
Tricks with the Chinese Yoyo have been classified into throws, swings, body parts, stick releases, wraps, speed, and leg variations. Caution is recommended when attempting body part tricks because it actually may result in the loss of the body parts you do the tricks with or the breaking of your mother’s irreplaceable China set that she inherited from her great, great aunt, who was the most popular missionary in Suzhou in the 19th century.
Harvard University has a Chinese Yoyo club that hopes to develop a deeper appreciation of the art of performing with the toy. However, all members must have a minimum score SAT score of 99% percentile of the mathematics section and be able to solve a Rubik’s in less than 1 minute and 49 seconds.
The Chinese Yoyo has even been incorporated into Cirque de Solei performances. One performer lost control of his yoyo and it ended up toppling over a human totem pole and injuring the director of the show – no animals were hurt in the incident.