Yin: So from what I know so far. You are Jon Rob. I got that. You are from Virginia. From there you moved to Delaware?
Jon: Well I actually moved from Virginia and went to a small school in West Virginia. There I ran track and field, played football, and met my wife. I went there for about two years and she graduated from there and we moved here to Delaware so she could get her Masters Degree.
Yin: There are people who are "veterans" in the yo-yoing community as far as competing. Yet, your fairly new and have made quite the impact in the competition circuit. So, when did you actually first pick up yo-yoing?
Jon: I was actually yo-yoing back in 98-99 whenever that Yomega BOOM was. I learned all the basics from the Yomega video and I stopped around there at the SB2 or whatever yo-yo that was at the time. I was on and off for about 5 or 6 years. I wasn't on the internet or anything like that I was yo-yoing at parties or football practice. Just doing it where ever. It was just something I did not something I took seriously. I was just playing football or running track just doing the dumb stuff teenagers do.
Yin: So you were running track and playing ball and doing your thing. But when did yo-yoing become a big thing to you? How did you learn more about yo-yoing as what it is today?
Jon: Well when I moved up here to Delaware there was a yo-yo contest. I think it was the ECC contest in 02 or 03. I just happened to go because Big show was there. There just happened to be a competition and I thought "Man I yo-yo I could probably kick all they asses." I wet over there and there started doing all kinds of crazy stuff. So I bought a yo-yo and wondered where I could get them. Little did I know there was Mitchells on 202 and Wilmington and they had a yo-yo club and everything. Yet, at the time I was still on some other stuff. I didn't really have a car or anything. I wasn't about to get my girl to drop me off at no yo-yo club and pick me up. So I bought a Patriot, and I was going hard doing the same tricks I was doing I just had better tools. I yo-yoed by myself every now and then for about a year or two. Then I saw a Duncan commercial on TV and saw freehand and was like "DAMN". So I went right up the road that day and bought myself a freehand 2 and started going hard right out the package. No clean bearing, no mods. Fresh Stickers right out of the package busting my knuckles with it, learned everything on the DVD, and then I finally started going to yo-yo club cause I learned all the tricks on the DVD. I got help from Aj Kirk among other people. At the time Tyler Severance was just starting out too so we were all just trying to learn some new tricks.
Yin: Now you seem to have a solid ground of fundamentals that you built up from. A lot of newer players start yo-yoing after two or three weeks they already want to yo-yo un-responsive. How important do you feel the fundamentals of yo-yoing and stuff like playing responsive are?
Jon: I dunno man. I mean, I'm a teacher too. So I know how people learn. Everyone is different. One person can't learn like another. There are plenty of players that have learned to throw unresponsive and they are smooth and as smooth as I am. I can't say that throwing a un-responsive yo-yo is going to make you better or make you smoother because it's just not true. Everyone is different and everyone learns things at a different pace. I mean if you want to smoothen up get a responsive yo-yo and just throw it all day and go hard on it.
Yin: When was the first time that you competed Freehand? What was the first contest that you actually felt confident enough to go up there and kill it?
Jon: Well I competed in 5A before I did 1A. I think I competed in 5A two years before I even competed in 1A. The first competition I ever did was a 5A comp and I got third place. Virginia States I think like 06. You might still be able to find i around out there. It wasn't all that great but i still had some pretty original tricks for the time.
Yin: A lot of people stress out to much about competing. Some feel like they have to do THIS or THAT or be like Yuuki or try and hit the string as many times as they can. What would you suggest is a good thing to do before you go on stage when your going to compete? What would you suggest is a good way to go about competing?
Jon: Just Practice. Just Practice man. I mean I don't even get to practice that much. You just have to put in the work. If you don't put in the work your not going to get anything out of it. There ain't a whole lot of talking to it. You just gotta practice. All the tools are there. You got the internet. You got books. There is no reason why someone can't learn a trick. There is no reason why someone can't make a freestyle. You just have to put in the work. The more time you put in the more you'll get out of it.
Yin: Didn't you used to throw for Anti-Yo for a while? They were a company for a while. I think they are still doing some stuff. Tell us about that.
Jon: Yeah I think I joined up with Anti-Yo at nationals '07. The way it worked out was at Worlds that year Kiya wanted to work out some deal-type-stuff. He wanted to fly me out to Cali. I wasn't even trying to go to Nationals that year cause I didn't have the money. So he flew me out there just on some friendly type stuff. When we got to his house he was like "Will you be on the team?". At the time I thought to myself "Eeehhhhhh" because I wasn't really feeling no teams. The yo-yos were ok, and like I really couldn't say no to someone who just flew me out there while i'm sleeping in their house. So I took it. I yo-yoed with them for a little while.
It was cool, but he won't listen to the players really and make what people wanted to use. Like everyone knows that Bape is the best yo-yo. Ain't nothing like the Bape since. Who knows. At NYYA I went up to them and said, "Look you guys need to step up, you need to do something. I can't use a product that's this old and behind the times." They kept saying stuff was in production or whatever. Like the Y WET yo-yo. Honestly, I don't even like it. It's to big. Why wait for a yo-yo that I don't even like? So I just said "Peace." and left.
Yin: A lot of people have difficulties supporting companies. Like Tyler Severence has openely stated he doesn't really want to be sponsored. Spyy made him that yo-yo but he isn't necessarily affiliated with them. It's actually really difficult. Sometimes not even fun. It's not as glamourous as people think it is.
Jon: There isn't anything glamourous about it. You might get a couple free yo-yos depending on the company. I think I got three yo-yos total from Anti-Yo and only one of them was brand new. People don't even know that. I got 3 total, two were used and beat up. One you couldn't even throw it. It was an all gold Business. The day they gave it to me it was messed up. Even from the jump-start with Anti-Yo it wasn't glamourous or exciting. Yeah he flew me into Cali and everything. I ain't even made at him it was a cool deal at the time. he got what he wanted and I...well I don't even know what I wanted at the time. It was just a good look. So I took it and ran with it until it died off.
Yin: Now your rolling with SPYY. SPYY doesn't even really have any players. They did a two runs for Tyler, but he has always been kind of an independent company. He's picked you up though and has this new yo-yo coming out. We'll talk about that later. How did you become a part of SPYY?
Jon: Well after Worlds, I talked to him a little while after my performance and we were just talking on some friendly-type-stuff it wasn't really a big deal. I just talked to him like I talked to everyone else. Although a day or two after Worlds he sends me an E-Mail saying "Look you can have whatever you want, a yo-yo, a clothing line." All kinds of crazy stuff. At the time again I was like "Ehhhhh" because Kiya was hooking me up I didn't want to quit before a year was up. I was really waiting for Anti-Yo to come out with the Y WET or come out with the new BAPE. All that stuff they had been talking about. After a couple months Kiya keep saying the same couples lines over and over and over and over again. I was like screw this noise. Called Steve up and asked him if he was still up for it, he said yup and here we are.
Yin: So some people have referred to you as many things. Trick innovator. Most amazing 5A player ever. A couple of people have used the word arrogance. Now it seems like your very into Hip Hop and one of the things about the Hip Hop culture is always being ahead of yourself. Do you ever feel like you get ahead of yourself or that you have worked for everything you've earned?
Jon: Oh Hell Yeah! Like I said the more you put into it the more you get out of it. I practice my ass off, you know what I'm saying? If anything I should have a lot more I'm trying to get paid. My time is valuable I have two degrees. I work for a living. Yo-yoing is on the side and I put a lot of time into this. People owe me. YO-YOS owe me! I put a lot of time and a lot of effort into this sport and I'm trying to get paid.
Yin: I feel ya. Yo-yoing is really tough to make money out of as a player. Although I think YoYoFactory is trying to set a standard as to how players are treated now a days. They even have a new YoYoFactory Spring Catalog!
Jon: Man, you can write this down in the article now. Man, I always wanted to be a part of YoYoFactory from the get go. Then Kiya asked me to be on the team and I took it even though I wasn't really feelin' it. I was all about YYF it was amazing but it's not a good look for me now because out of all those dudes on the team they have for 5A I know I'm better than all of them. I don't want to be on a team with people who I know I'm better than I would rather have my own thing. No disrespect to Miggy, Sterling or the others but...I don't want to be on your team. I would love to be a part of YYF and fly around the world and get free yo-yos and all that junk but I'm not down with no team stuff. When I got on Anti-Yo it seemed like all those cats on the team where better than me. They were all doing their thing at the time and it was real cool. Jake Bullock was cool at the time and I took the look but YYF is an official look. Yet for me, SPYY is where it's at. I don't need a team to define me. I define a team. If I were to throw with YYF I don't know if it would make me look better or them look better. I don't want to be caught up in all the hype.
Yin: So let's talk music for a second. What do you use when your practicing? Do you even listen to music?
Jon: Nah, I don't listen to music at all when I practice I watch TV. I watch a lot of TV. I watch sports, reality television, & a lot of politics. Basically I watch ALL reality TV: Sports, MTV, VH1, CNN, CSPAN, FOX, etc. I watch TV when I yo-yo that's what I do.
Yin: Now when your making up tricks do you ever stop and look away from the television for a second or can you just multi task and do it all?
Jon: I set my mind to make up tricks. Most of them time though I only make up tricks in the off season. After Worlds until January is the off season to me and that's when I make up tricks. After January I only work on freestyling. When I practice I don't try to make up tricks. I only work on what I'm working on. I yo-yo yo freestyle, so I only work on my freestyle and my combinations.
Yin: How do you decide what music your going to use? Is there a certain tempo you go for? Or do you like hear a song that's hot during a certain point in time? OR do you sit around going through your songs that you haven't been able to use those years not yo-yoing? Like "Dude I really need to do a freestyle to 'My Adidas' by RUN DMC."
Jon: Well usually I use whatever is popular at the time. Like a real catchy song, whatever is poppin at the time. Yet lately, like my music always gets messed up. Something always happens to my CD or somethings wrong with the DJ or something. So now a days I don't even care. I just pick random stuff for competitions or I just tell the DJ to pick something I don't even care. As long as it's poppy and good music I don't care. I don't practice to music I only worry about tricks. Musics nothing. Tricks win contests. Music don't do nothing.
Yin: Some yoyoers say they draw their influence from strange places. Doc said when he first started he got some of his from the music scene. David Ung recently stated he finds it in very obscure locals. What would you say influences you and your tricks?
Jon: Hold on one second I gotta get something. (In the background) I'm doing an interview with Yin. Everything in there? Chord and all that? Aight talk to you later. *mumbling* Yin, doing this Yin interview. Trying to do it for my yo-yo thing. Yeah Yin. You know Yin Yo did interviews for The YO? Yeah. Ima holla at you though.
Jon: Sorry man I had to pick something up from. Tyler...you know him. Um, but to answer your question. I try and take influence from like other people I see and other divisions. Just mistakes I do when I'm just practicing. People I yo-yo with. Here in Delaware like Justin Weber, Tyler, and all the good people. Like Yuuki I tried to steal Yuukis style. Like I go through phases. When I first, first, first, started. I was trying to steal stuff from Mark Montgomery. Then Yuuki. Then like Paul Han. I was on Paul Han for a long time. Trying to do all that crazy stuff and under the leg things. Now a days those I take it from whatever. I'll steal from anybody I don't care.
Yin: Let's talk about your new yo-yo coming out. It's called the PURE did you come out with that name?
Jon: Yup, yup. Pure. We'll have a lot of different versions that's just the name of it.
Yin: So was their an influence as far as the name of the yo-yo goes?
Jon: Mhmmm. Well we wanted something clean, something classic, and something that we could use for a lot of different stuff. Like PURE just goes with a lot of stuff. My main goal was that I didn't want to have just one yo-yo. I wanted to have like 5 or 6 different versions. Like just to match my outfit or match my mood or something with just a different vibe you know? I really like Hennessy and stuff so the first model is going to be the X.O. model. PURE X.O. Just cause I wanted a real high class real expensive something that looked good and just says money. Then our next yo-yo. Like I don't know if you should write this in the article but it's going to be called PURE (censored) just cause that name works it's going to be a (censored) yo-yo. Then their will be a couple PURE other stuff. It's always going to be just "PURE" and then the name and the version of the yo-yo.
Yin: So PURE isn't really a name as much as it is a prefix.
Jon: Basically. It's more of a prefix then it is a name. Every yo-yo is going to be individual and totally different. I would call the RAW yo-yo just a PURE. That's what that is. The RAW is the PURE. Yet, as soon as we coat it with something it's PURE...white...PURE whatever. Whatever we make. That's how I think about it.
Yin: I gotta say man this design it appeals to me. I love FHZ and I love that it doesn't for the first time in metal yo-yos, have a thumb grind lip. It has the sheet over it and it's just you know straight to the point with string tricks and very in your face. I mean I really love it. What made you just throw all the standards out the window and say. Nope I don't want lips on my yo-yo. I just want it to be a yo-yo.
Jon: Well I mean no one who competes does thumb grinds. I mean who in their right mind does thumbs grinds in a freestyle. So there is no need for it. All a thumb grind lip is, is a selling point. So I mean I knew we had to make another selling point and something different if we wanted to make money in selling this yo-yo. I didn't want to be a part of making another metal yo-yo that looked like every other metal yo-yo. So like Steve saw the samurai and thought it would make a good selling point on a yo-yo. I thought if you man make it look good why not. I didn't want a thumb grind lip it wasn't that serious. I was going to tell him not to do it anyway I didn't want it that much. I don't do thumb grinds. Like putting the flat caps on there I was really excited about because I knew it would look official. It would give people a reason to want to buy it. Then after we did it. It just turned out WAY better than we ever thought. Like even while Steve was machining it he didn't think it was going to be as good as it was. A lot of stuff happened that we didn't plan on happening and we just did it. So in turn it came out even better than the original brain child.
Yin: As far as the other yo-yos that SPYY comes out with, how do you feel about them. Are they just not really your style? Do you like dig them? One of the good things about SPYY. Is that none of their yo-yos have any of those things that new players complain about like vibe, or slow spin times and not being able to grind. The are very precision yo-yos they stick to their name. So how do you feel about all their other yo-yos?
Jon: That's one of the reasons why I even rocked with them. One of the first metal yo-yos I owned was a PYRO. HSPIN and SPYY and they used the same size bearings forever. I thought o-k they use the small bearings the EXACT one I like. Of course Tyler Severance was on with them last year. Not really with them but they made his yo-yo. I know they make solid yo-yos that play good. It's just classic and smooth and you can't argue with it.
Yin: Recently you went to MD States and killed it. How do you feel like your year is going to pan out? I mean I don't want to jinx you.
Jon: I have been saying every year that the goal is to win. I have never gone to a contest not wanting to win. My main goal is to win Worlds. Like skip every other contest. I honestly don't care. Like every contest I'm doing something to work on for Worlds. I got my mind focused on Worlds. Say I'm working on one trick or I'm working on what a trick will look like on stage or film. I'm not even thinking about contests. The only thing I think about every day is Worlds. MD states it was fun winning it and everything just so I can talk a little more smack but I know deep down it don't mean anything. It's just MD States. Noone cares about MD states.
Yin: Now there has been some controversy. For a while BUKO (Maya Nakamura) hasn't graced Worlds with her presence. That was a big thing her not going. A lot of players were glad cause they said now they have a chance of winning. Do you feel like if she comes this year that she is just going to throw it down? She is definitely one of the top 5A players in the world and she has come up with some pretty creative stuff throughout the years. Do you think that if she were to come back from her "retirement" that you would still be able to dominate with your unique style of 5A?
Jon: Like to be totally honest I don't even think about BUKO. Honestly she is nobody to me. Of course she won Worlds and everything. Although, every competition I go to I got Tyler Severance like he rides in the car with me. I ain't worried about BUKO. I got enough people to worry about at the competitions I go to. Like I don't even think about those Japanese players. They are not even on our level honestly. Like just in Delaware alone we got better players than all of Japan. You can quote me on that and write in big print.
"Just in Delaware alone. We got better 5A than the whole country of Japan."
SO honestly I don't think about none of them dudes. Like I don't even think about anybody. Like I said I just went to Tyler Severances house to pick up a camera. Like he lives in driving distance. that's my competition. If I beat Tyler I beat everybody else.
Yin: Let's get into some more obscure things. Like, if you one day had to give up 5A. Out of some weird occurrence and you had to choose a different division that you would be able to be the equivalent of what you are now. Of course you can't choose 1A because that's to similar. What division would you choose?
Jon: Probably none of them. Like 2A is WAY too hard. Way too hard. I think 3A is boring and ugly and there are already good enough people. Like ain't nobody gonna catch Kentaro or Paul Yath. 4A is just ugly and dead so I would rather not even do any of them honestly.
Yin: How do you usually set up your yo-yos? I know we were talking about your Freehand 2 on how you just ran it stock for the longest. Is there a certain way when you get a yo-yo you try and set it up like "this way." Or some people try and break in the bearing. How do you like your yo-yos set up?
Jon: Um, back in the day it had to be broken in. Like I never ever ever clean bearings back in the day. they just always had to be broken in naturally. I love pads though. I don't like silicone. I used to play with silicone too. Now I only really plays with pads. I try and keep like 20 or 30 of them at the house. So it's just a mixture of everything. As long as the yo-yo binds tight I don't care. That's the only thing I care about. If the bind starts slipping or it's not acting right i'll put a new sticker in there. Or change the sticker or I dunno. As long as it binds tight. Like reallyreallyreally tight. That's why I like a small gap. It has to be a small gap and it has to bind tight and be smooth. That's it.
Yin: Now what kind of stickers do you use on your yo-yos?
Jon: I use a combination of a lot of stuff I go through phases. like for a long time I was really into red silicone stickers from Infinite Illusions. Like it had to be that. Then I switched over to a blue AnY Pad and combining those with the silicone stickers. I just starting using Chaz Pads very recently. It's always always a mix of one of those. A Blue AnY Pad, a red silicone sticker, or a black Dif. Any combination of all of them is good just depending on the gap or whatever. I use all of them I like to mix it up as long as the yo-yo plays good it doesn't matter to much.
Yin: Alright. As far as difficulty of tricks. I'm not sure if you remember this it's foggy to me. Maybe like 2 years ago possibly a year and a half. they used to have a ladder in order for you to make it into finals for Worlds. Like you had to do certain tricks like 5 suicides. 5 consecutive Iron Whips. Preliminary tricks. On those there was some pretty tough tricks to do over and over. I think Whip classified them as B style tricks. Just redundant tricks that just happen over and over and over again. Certain tricks Pros still have difficulty doing. Like really consistent Suicides or Shockwave. Is there a trick That you kinda just said "Screw that" and you didn't even try it anymore it was just kind of a pointless trick and it was a fairly beginner trick like a double Iron Whip. Was there a trick like that to you?
Jon: One 5A trick that I don't like very much is Helicopter. I can't do it. I can't do A LOT of 1A tricks. I can't do Iron Whip. I can't do Suicides at will. I don't even know most 1A tricks. Like I'll get to maybe like the middle part of the YoYoeXpert.com tutorials. I know hardly any 1A tricks. I know most 5A tricks. There aren't many 5A tricks I can't do. Except Helicopter. Other than that I can't do every single 5A trick better than most people. 1A is where I really do suck. If you gave me a 1A yo-yo ad compared me to most kids on the internet. I beat all of them could kick my ass.
Yin: What would you say that your most grateful about yo-yoing? Or what yo-yoing has done for you. Mainly as a community. Not just like one person. Like the whole act of yo-yoing and just the sport of it. What are you most thankful for that yo-yoing has given to you?
Jon: Grateful? I wouldn't use the word grateful. Like grateful is something you've been blessed with like god gave you. I worked real hard for all this stuff. I feel like yo-yos still owe me something. Like I'm still trying to get my dollar out of this thing. So I'm not grateful at all I'm still hungry as hell. Honestly speaking. That's why I practice so much. I'm trying to get my yo-yo money up.
Yin: So you still feel like you haven't reached the top your still trying to do your MJ game. Your trying to get your 5 championships.
Jon: Hell yeah. I'm trying to raid the industry for as much money as I possibly can. Or win about 3 or 4 World titles in a row. Then, raid the industry for more money. I ain't gonna stop until my pockets are too big to walk around. I don't even think that day is going to come so I'm going to keep coming at people and keep talking reckless.
Yin: Let's say you do finally make it on top and you do finally do your own thing and you have your own yo-yo money and all that kinda stuff. Do you think you'll stop yo-yoing?
Jon: No. Never. I'm pretty sure i'll just start wanting Bentleys and stuff. Instead of regular Cadillacs. You can never have enough money. There is not enough money in yo-yos for me right now so i'm just going to keep racing until I get everything.
Yin: Ok. So as far as anything else coming out in the future. We heard about SPYY and all the different things you have planned for the PURE. You slightly tapped on a clothing line. Is there anything coming out your endorsing that is going to be a surprise or anything like that?
Jon: I mean, people shouldn't be to surprised with the PURE. Hopefully we'll have a couple of different versions. they'll probably be surprised about the price of it. We are pushing $300 for just a regular metal yo-yo but it's going to look good. I want people to get more excited about my tricks rather than stuff I sell you. Like my tricks speak for themselves. I'm not going to do a clothing line that's just weird. I really want to keep with SPYY my PURE look my PURE yo-yo real limited real hard to find. You gotta know somebody who knows somebody to get one. I mean I want to make a lot of yo-yo money and everything, but at the same time I want to do it my way.
Yin: It's gotta be difficult sometimes when your sitting and watching other people compete. I mean you have really in a way, created your own style. Which is hard to do. 5A is probably one of the more lenient ones because it's still a new division to create. Yet, to completely create your one style is a difficult thing to do. How difficult is it for you as a player when you sit back and you have what I call "Yuuki Syndrome" when you sit back and just watch people do your tricks? What do you do at that point? Are you happy? Are you angry?
Jon: Nah. Honestly speaking, I didn't come up with this "style" people talk about. I stole all this stuff from JD (Johnnie Delvalle). If you go back and find the right video I want to say it's Lion Flo.
Yin: LION FLO! Good Video.
Jon: Yeah at the end of the video he had like two or three tricks and that's tech 5A as we know it today.
Yin: I don't even know why he didn't pick up 5A. That was a good couple of seconds he had there.
Jon: Yeah, but i've been saying this since jump street. I can't even take much credit for it. I might have put my foot it or made it known or something. I totally jacked that. I jack most of my tricks from someone but my thing is to make it look better. Make it look good. People want to call me innovator and say I came up with all this. That's cool. I ain't gonna say no I didn't but I'm not that good. My only thing is to make it look better. I like it when I see people do tech 5A it makes me want to come up with new stuff. I love it when people steal my stuff, cause I stole it from someone anyway so it gives me a reason to come up with something new. Or try to come up with something someone can't steal. I do a trick, and if I know someone can do it on the first 2 or 3 tries I don' do it ever ever again. I only do tricks I know people can't do. Or it's really hard to do. That's what I try and think of in my head when I try and do stuff. If it's easy I don't wanna do it.
Yin: So a good analogy for it would be like your coming out with a new album every year. Your new album is a series of tricks you do in freestyle.
Jon: Basically I try and make it look like that. It's harder now because I don't have the much time. Being a teacher and everything. My other job was a lot less serious I could just yo-yo there. That's how I got good. Just yo-yoing on the job cause I was getting paid and yo-yoing at the same time. Now, I gotta work. Now I gotta yo-yo when I get home after working for 9 hours.
Yin: How does your wife feel about your yo-yoing is she really supportive about it? Is she cool?
Jon: Yeah, she's cool. She gets annoyed with it. Especially when I travel she doesn't want me to leave the house cause I work so much and we don't see each other that often. She's cool. Thought I was yo-yoing before I met her. It's something i've always had in me i've just been taking it more seriously the last couple of years.
Yin: Ok so to close this whole thing out thank you for your time. If you had the whole yo-yoing community in front of you. Japan. Brazil. America. Russia. Everyone! You had your moment. Spotlight on you. You can say whatever you want to the whole yo-yoing community. What would you say?
Jon: Step your game up. That's it.
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