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TED2013

BLACK: My journey to yo-yo mastery

February 27, 2013

Remember the days you struggled just to make a yo-yo spin, and if you were really fancy, to “walk the dog”? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Japanese yo-yo world champion BLACK tells the inspiring story of finding his life's passion, and gives an awesome performance that will make you want to pull your yo-yo back out of the closet.

BLACK - Yo-yo champion
Twice the world yo-yo champion, BLACK mixes dance, sport and performance to create unforgettable yo-yo moments. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
When I was 14 years old,
00:20
I had low self-esteem.
00:23
I felt I was not talented at anything.
00:26
One day, I bought a yo-yo.
00:30
When I tried my first trick, it looked like this.
00:34
I couldn't even do the simplest trick,
00:45
but it was very natural for me,
00:48
because I was not dextrous, and hated all sports.
00:50
But after one week of practicing,
00:55
my throws became more like this.
00:58
A bit better.
01:05
I thought, the yo-yo is something for me to be good at,
01:08
for the first time in my life.
01:12
I found my passion.
01:15
I was spending all my time practicing.
01:18
It took me hours and hours a day
01:21
to build my skills up to the next level.
01:23
And then, four years later, when I was 18 years old,
01:26
I was standing onstage at the World Yo-Yo Contest.
01:31
And I won.
01:35
I was so excited. "Yes, I did it! I became a hero.
01:36
I may get many sponsors, a lot of money,
01:40
tons of interviews, and be on TV!" I thought. (Laughter)
01:42
But after coming back to Japan,
01:47
totally nothing changed in my life.
01:50
I realized society didn't value my passion.
01:54
So I went back to my college
01:59
and became a typical Japanese worker
02:02
as a systems engineer.
02:04
I felt my passion, heart and soul, had left my body.
02:06
I felt I was not alive anymore.
02:13
So I started to consider what I should do,
02:16
and I thought, I wanted to make my performance better,
02:19
and to show onstage how spectacular the yo-yo could be
02:24
to change the public's image of the yo-yo.
02:28
So I quit my company
02:32
and started a career as a professional performer.
02:35
I started to learn classic ballet, jazz dance,
02:39
acrobatics and other things
02:42
to make my performance better.
02:44
As a result of these efforts, and the help of many others,
02:47
it happened.
02:50
I won the World Yo-Yo Contest again
02:52
in the artistic performance division.
02:54
I passed an audition for Cirque du Soleil.
02:57
Today, I am standing on the TED stage
03:00
with the yo-yo in front of you.
03:03
(Applause)
03:07
What I learned from the yo-yo is,
03:11
if I make enough effort with huge passion,
03:14
there is no impossible.
03:19
Could you let me share my passion with you
03:21
through my performance?
03:24
(Applause)
03:26
(Water Sounds)
03:57
(Music)
04:05
(Applause)
07:49
(Music)
07:56
(Music) (Applause)
09:13
(Applause)
09:20
(Music) (Applause)
09:29
(Applause)
09:37
(Music)
09:45
(Applause)
10:16
Translator:Joseph Geni
Reviewer:Morton Bast

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BLACK - Yo-yo champion
Twice the world yo-yo champion, BLACK mixes dance, sport and performance to create unforgettable yo-yo moments.

Why you should listen

At 14, BLACK picked up his first yo-yo. Initially he couldn't do even the easiest trick -- but after one week of practicing, he realized: I could be good at this. Very good. Four years later (and 10,000 hours of practicing), he took the title of 2001 world champion. And then ... he gave it up. Went to school, got a job. But he missed the passion of performing. He realized: "I want to do this: Entertain, and bring excitement and joy to people with the yo-yo."

Returning to competition after six years, he won the 2007 World Yo-Yo Contest in the artistic performance category. After that, he started dance and acrobatic training to create a new form of performing and art. Imagine a yo-yo performance graceful and thrilling enough to pass the audition for Cirque du Soleil ... while being fast and precise enough to pull a tablecloth out from under a stack of champagne glasses!

The original video is available on TED.com
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