Play with Fire

Play with Fire

Yes, literally!

A few years ago, I saw a person spinning fire poi at a medieval festival. It was beautiful and impressive. My immediate thought was: “I am going to do that too.” This video link can give you an idea of what it looked like.

A few web searches later, I found the outstanding Home Of Poi site which offers excellent videos for learning all these fantastic spinning moves and sells all the equipment needed. I highly recommend HOP, more than a shop with great quality products, they strive to build and support a dynamic spinning community and provide excellent learning material.

For any purchase on HOP, you get 15% off with this discount code: Fifteen4U.

Practice Gear

I first practiced with poi I made myself with strings and tennis balls, but learn from my mistakes and don’t do that. I would rather recommend that you use haki balls inside long socks. The tennis balls are way too painful when you hit yourself, which happens a lot when learning new moves. I you prefer to buy ready made poi, HOP has many.

For training and even for performing, alternatives to fire include flag poifabric poi and led light poi, which are great for day time spinning and/or inside venues. I love the ninja led poi from HOP, they can make so many great light patterns!

First Moves

To get started, I recommend mastering spinning in forward (and then backward) circles on each side of your body first. Then, you can try crossing both poi in front of you, complete the turn and bring them back to the sides.

Ok, are you getting comfortable with these things? Now, we move to the low wave. You will alternate between spinning a circle on the plane in front of you and the one behind you. Try it one hand at the time and when you are confident enough, you can try both hands at the same time.

To learn more moves, you can follow the great tutorials on HOP (this is what I did). You can also look at this channel which offers nice beginner and intermediate lessons.

Finally, I highly recommend the book below for learning beginner to advanced moves. It’s a great companion to bringing with you to practice outdoors with no internet connection. I own it and even bought one to a friend for her birthday.

Spinning with Fire

Wow! You are now a spinner! Congratulations. Are you ready to try fire? Fire spinning is a very special experience for me. It’s hard to describe the fantastic energy that fills you when hearing the loud “whooosh” of fire poi flying around you. It feels great every single time.

Spinning with actual fire requires a bit more equipment. First, you’ll need fire poi made of kevlar fabric. My advice is: don’t buy fire poi that are too big. The larger poi are heavier and they’ll burn for a longer time. This can be great for a fire performance, but not so much when you are beginning and get tired fast. Here is what my fire poi look like:

It is possible to build the poi yourself, but please, use the appropriate kevlar fabric. The first poi I used when I started fire spinning where homemade with normal fabric. It worked for a few minutes before the design broke and one the fire balls went flying into my neighbor’s backyard! Fortunately, it was winter and it fell in the snow. Learn from my failure and avoid dangerous sketchy designs. HOP sells all the parts you may need too.

Next, you’ll need a container to pour kerosene in and soak your poi. A metal bucket should do it. Kerosene is easily found in the camping section of your nearby outdoor store and while you’re there, get a funnel for pouring back left over fuel into the container. Now that we have covered fire gear, it’s time for a few satefy tips. Always have a trusted friend with a fire blanket or a wet towel to spot you. You want someone that can be trusted not to panic or get distracted. Also, what you wear is important as some fabric are more flammable than others. Prefer tight clothes made from heavy natural fabrics (you don’t want melted plastic in your wound if you get burned). HOP has very good articles about fire safety. Just to make sure you’re all covered, have a look at their fire safety checklist. Always limit yourself to moves you have first mastered without fire. It’s not the time to try new moves!

Challenge for YOU

Make basic sock poi and start praticing moves. Tell us about your experience in the comments. Did you hit yourself a lot? Were you able to master the forward weave?

What’s in it for you?

  • Improved strengh, flexibility, balance and coordination (see research on poi)
  • Increased spatial awareness and concentration
  • Nice performance skills to entertain your friends and familly
  • A hard to express thrill from feeling the fire pass by with a deep “whooosh”
  • Fun!

Spinning can be a lifelong activity once you get the sting. I hope you’ll like it too.

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