Flag Poi: In-Depth Review
On May 25, 2010, I bought my first pair of poi. More specifically, I bought a pair of dual color flag poi from Home of Poi. They arrived June 6 and I’ve been using them to learn poi since. Here I’ll explain what they are, how they work, as well as detail the pros and cons of using them.
Color – There are several other color choices, but I happened to order the one shown here. May not look like it here, but the colors are very bright. They also glow under UV light, which I haven’t tried out yet. Personally, I think I would prefer a more… graceful color. Glowing under UV is all well and good, but if I’m going to practice in the park, I don’t really want to blind the picnickers 20 feet away. Then again, if you’re performing in the absence of a black light, the neon colors will work great. If you use them in public, be prepared for comments on the color.
Handle – These flags feature a dual-loop handle. You can loop the two loops around any two fingers you wish, depending on what feels best to you. I loop them around my first and ring fingers. I tried first and middle, but found it felt awkward. The downside to the dual-loop leash is that your fingers must be curled to prevent the poi from falling off. If you’re performing or practice for an extended period of time, this can get very tiring. However, they are good for beginners, which is what I still consider myself. To counteract this downside, you can thread the loops back through your fingers, but I find that to be uncomfortable. I’m looking forward to getting single-loops handles in the future.
Swivel – If you spin anything, it’s going to get twisted up unless you have some sort of swivel in place to prevent it. There is a certain way these flags like to twist such that the nylon flag folds into thirds, nearly perfectly balancing the flag on the swivel. This means that the swivel doesn’t spin and the flag remains all twisted up. Eventually, if you keep spinning the twisted flag in the same direction, it might unravel itself. This is really frustrating while you’re practicing (and especially while performing). It looks messy and the weight ends up completely off. This makes changing direction tricky, as you’re likely to tangle the flag on itself.
Leash – The leash here is a chain. It bends freely, is fairly heavy, and hurts to hit yourself with. I don’t hit myself all that much anymore, but I used to hit my knuckles all the time. Of course, it hurts more the faster you’re spinning, and if you’re learning then you probably won’t be spinning all that fast anyways. My biggest problem with it is it’s too long for me. Leash should cover the distance from your underarm to your palm, but this chain is a few inches longer than that on me. All this means is I have to lean more when doing things like the corkscrew, and the bottom few links on the chain will hit the ground with other moves. Most leashes are adjustable, but this one is not. So you have to deal with whatever length it is.
Flag – The flag portion is made out of nylon. I’ve read other people saying that the noise of spinning these is the closes thing to the sound of fire from any non-fire poi they’ve used. The nylon cracks as it goes through the air and the sound makes a great effect.
The flags do ripple when they travel through the air, which means you have to adjust so they do not ripple into each other. If they do, you’ll hear it and probably feel it, too. Depending on how much the flags actually touched, it could just slow you down, or it could tangle the flags and ruin the move. I find the more I practice, the less I have issues with this. What I do have an issue with is wind. While the image below mostly sums it up (thanks to simian from HoP), there are times where not even the chain is heavy enough to cut through the wind. Days like that, you should either give it up, or just practice indoors.
There is air resistance with the flags, so they will not move as fast as something simpler like comet poi. You also cannot do wraps with the flags, and you cannot shorten them as many instructional videos will suggest you do to learn certain moves. However, the flags are very expressive and flow beautifully. Speed means nothing if you cannot flow, so I’d rather sacrifice speed for skill.
- Color is great for performances and under black lights.
- Dual-loop handle is good for beginners.
- Swivel moves smoothly and keeps most tangles at bay.
- Leash is durable.
- Flag is beautiful to spin and makes a nice crackling noise.
- Color can be obnoxiously bright.
- Dual-loop handle can be tiring after extended use.
- The flags do still tangle occasionally, even with the swivel.
- Leash is not adjustable.
- Cannot do wraps, shorten poi, or practice on a windy day.