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The origin of “Alpha” and “Beta” style yo-yoing

Connor Scholten, a yo-yo historian, recently asked me about the origin of the term “Alpha Style”, which I used to describe tricks like The Matrix and Skin The Gerbil. Here is my response:

As far as the terms go, I know I really loved the Matrix around that time, so I think Alpha and Beta just sounded techie to me. My trick “The Matrix” was maybe the first time I started thinking of the concept of what elements can be linked together and what can’t, so that kind of goes to prove that whole “this term sounds computery” origin story.

Doctor M. Popular

Alpha Style?

Some elements of yo-yo tricks can be linked together to form a single fluid chain of movement. This means allowing the movements of one element to carry momentum and flow into the next element without any pauses or redirections. This style of yo-yoing is called Alpha style. However, not all elements can be linked together. Some elements may necessitate a pause or a change in direction, which would bring the Alpha flow to an end. Some elements may require a pause or change in direction which would end the Alpha flow. The point between two elements that requires the yo-yo to change direction is called a Beta move.

The Matrix (seen above) can be put together almost entirely in Alpha Style, but Skin The Gerbil (below) is constructed of both Alpha and Beta moves.