29 different Skill Toys
Updated: Jan 6
Do you know any flow artists?
The flow arts are some of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities I’ve found. There is something to be said for focusing on object manipulation. It takes enough concentration that you can’t think too much about other matters while you do it, but it doesn’t take so much focus that you can’t talk or relax while you do it.
I’ve found flow artists to be really relaxed and inviting people. I’ll definitely say they are usually weird (though aren’t we all a bit weird?), but because of that, they tend to be very open and accepting people.
Working at the Carolina Renaissance Festival for a few years exposed me to a lot of performing arts. I had already been involved with musical theater, improv, dance, and gymnastics for quite some time, but this is where I learned about contact juggling, diabolo, devil sticks, and more. I was even finally making progress on learning to juggle.
I adored my friends at the Renaissance Festival. The cast was full of amazing, talented, and accepting individuals that wouldn’t blink twice if you ate fire or contorted yourself into a pretzel. They really inspired me to develop my talents, both back then and later on.
I started college after my last year working at the Renaissance Festival. I quit gymnastics due to injuries and shifted my focus to Ballroom Dance. But then an ankle injury made me have to give that up as well.
Once I was done with undergrad, I had 8 months home before I started graduate school. I had been obsessing over aerial silks for some time (a skill one of my Ren Faire friends inspired me to pursue). After all, aerial silks mostly require upper-body strength, so I could do that with my ankle injury. I wanted to get back into performance, so when I got home, I told everyone in my family to pick a flow toy or performance skill so that we could perform together.
I chose aerial silks and contact juggling, my mom chose poi, my dad chose fire staff, Michelle chose flow wand, and Scott chose magic and devil sticks.
We formed a performance team called the Tricky Trio. I was Trixie the Gypsy, Mom was Pixie Poi, Scott was Gavin the Great, and Dad was Staff. You can see a few of our videos here (I didn’t really keep up our channel though, so there isn't much).
Magic Man, the Prince of Magic, who unfortunately passed away, was a great help in teaching me many of these flow arts and helping me create the Tricky Trio. He was also Scott’s mentor and inspiration in pursuing magic. He had many skills, helped me develop several skills of my own, and gave me exposure to a variety of performing arts. Before he died, I got to be his assistant in a show. You can see us doing the Metamorphosis here.
A list of flow arts
I’ve dabbled in most of these, but there are a few I haven’t tried. I’ve categorized these skill toys as either somewhat simple or mostly moderate, but there are several that are drastically difficult. However, this is based on my experience, and since there are some toys here that I haven’t tried, I don’t feel like I have the basis to assign the drastically difficult ones.
Disclaimer on the somewhat simple ones: There are very difficult advanced moves to work on, but I was able to learn the basics without much difficulty (given proper instruction).
Toroflux - Post coming soon!
Plate spinning - Post coming soon!
Ribbon dance - Post coming soon!
Fire orb - Post coming soon!
Balisong - Post coming soon!
Diabolo - Post coming soon!
Juggling - Post coming soon!
Contact juggling - Post coming soon!
Poi - Post coming soon!
Fire fans - Post coming soon!
Whip cracking - Post coming soon!
Fire staff - Post coming soon!
Devil sticks - Post coming soon!
Flow wand - Post coming soon!
Contact poi - Post coming soon!
Sword dancing - (I haven’t used the right apparatus for this.)
Yoyo - (I don’t have the skill to speak on this.)
Hooping - (I don’t have the skill to speak on this.)
Card manipulation - (I don’t have the skill to speak on this.)
Pen spinning - (I have not tried this out.)
Torch swinging - (I have not tried this out.)
Contact staff - (I have not tried this out.)
Pixel whip - (I have not tried this out.)
Fan dance - (I have not tried this out.)
Ring isolations - (I have not tried this out.)
Nunchaku - (I have not tried this out.)
Rope dart - (I have not tried this out.)
S staff - (I have not tried this out.)
Meteor - (I have not tried this out.)
The apparatus can be a bit pricey, so I’d recommend watching a lot of videos of people doing these different skills before you decide on the one you want to pursue.
These are not technically flow arts, but still skills with apparatus (I had to add these!)
Flow toys or skill toys are great ways to pass the time, meditate, enjoy nature, work on your coordination, bond with others, and much more. I would highly recommend the flow arts to everyone. They are not necessarily that difficult, at least to attain a basic flow with. Some are small enough to keep in your pocket. I often bring a contact juggling ball to work for stress relief and extra practice on my breaks. It’s amazing how relaxing these activities are, once you nail the basics. It is so worth it!
I highly recommend you look into getting a skill toy. They are good for the body and soul. If you hate learning new skills, at least get the Toroflux - I promise you can use that! It’s the easiest on the list! Though, I will say that the most satisfying skill toys are generally the harder ones. Try one out and see how it feels!