The Benefit of Playing Multiple Styles
If you say "yoyo" to the majority of the American yoyo community, chances are the image of 1A will pop up into their head. Back in the Hyper Yoyo boom, we didn't have the 5 division standard. In fact, I would say that yoyoing has just left it's infancy. Is this really deserved for people to think this way?
Let's think about it like this. Let's look at the current world champions:
1A: Shion Araya
2A: Shu Takada
3A: Hajime Miura
4A: Rei Iwakura
5A: Takuma Inoue
Shion is an established 1A player. Having won his second world title, and winning his first ever national title this year, there is no reason to doubt his ability in 1A. However, did you know that he also plays 5A?
Shu Takada is a 3 time 2A world champion. He approaches yoyo with an "athletic" style. He incorporates significantly more body movements than other players. He also has two signature 1a yoyos: Shuta and Shuta 2. He is an insane 1A player too.
Hajime Miura is a 4 time 3A world champion. He has a clean style, and also has extremely great control. He also is a top contender at contests in 4A, and has proficiency in 1A and 5A as well.
Rei Iwakura is a multiple time 4A world champion. He is the most consistent 4A player on the planet, having performed 6 minutes worth of worlds freestyles without a mistake. He also is proficient at 2A and 5A.
Takuma Inoue is a two time 5A world champion. He is known for tricks in 5A with high amplitude, with high consistency. He was also a finalist in 2017 WYYC in the 4A division.
Do you notice a pattern here? Every single world champion has proficiency in more than 1 style. Is this purely a coincidence, or is there actually some sort of causation?
I believe that playing multiple styles allows for a different vantage point on yoyoing. Let's view some examples.
Arata Imai was an up and coming player in 2015. He won the "extreme trick" award in 2015JN, with his double cross clione. A year later, he competed in 1A, and became one of the most innovative yoyo players out there. Why is this?
Because Arata is a 2A player, he has a 2A mentality. Their viewpoint of the strings would be significantly different from that of a strict 1A player. The types of thinking would be different because of the weaving motions that are involved in 2A. In addition, body stance is extremely important in 2A as well. This will translate over to 1A play, and although body stance plays less of a factor in 1A, it still has an impact.
Next, let's analyze Takeshi Matsuura. Let's view his peak performances in each style at the world yoyo contest.
1A: 2nd, 2014
3A: 3rd, 2010
5A: 1st, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
Takeshi entered 1A in 2012 and placed 9th. When he competed again in a properly sanctioned contest, (2014NJ) he performed a 3 minute freestyle with almost completely new tricks. (As far as I can remember, the only trick he repeated was his finger spin trick, which he combined with his horizontal bind.)
At that time, I had thought that he limitations of the Yoyojam yoyo he was using was lifted, so his full "potential" was harnessed. In retrospect, although this might be a factor, I have another interpretation on it.
Perhaps, he changed his approach to 1A. His style change was so significant that it's hardly due to chance. However, how could someone make such a large change? Keep in mind, in 2013, he was working on the tricks that he presented in 2014.
I believe it is because of his flexibility in styles. Because each style he does is so different, (actually, he can do all 5 styles) it is easy for him to be flexible in each division. This type of mental flexibility is crucial to be able to adapt to the meta. (Although, I would argue he sits outside of the meta, but is so good he can make it work.
In teaching theory, cognitive overload is a significant aspect of teaching young kids. Since all of the players mentioned above are young, (with the exception of Rei Iwakura, but he's also been in the game for a significantly longer amount of time) perhaps their young age is key. It is known that the younger mind is more flexible. Maybe their minds aren't hard wired yet to recognize the innate differences between each style, leading them to find associations that older players can not see.
Although I listed out examples of the correlation between high level players and their flexibility in styles, we must remember that correlation does not equal causation. It could simply be a coincidence, or maybe one characteristic of each of these players leads them to be successful at multiple styles. However, what can't be ignored, is that proficiency in multiple styles does yield more success in innovation and in prestige.