Begleri Manipulation, Grips, and Tricks
Grips and Positions
The begleri can be held in a variety of ways, and thinking in terms of grips and positions is useful for understanding how to manipulate (and talk about manipulating) the toy. In general, the begleri is held between fingers, usually between the first and second knuckles (rather than towards the base of the fingers), as this provides more range of motion during tricks.
Basic grips involve grasping one bead, or the string adjacent to one bead, while the other bead is free to move. All basic grips except the bottom grip can be done in a standard (bead on the palm side of the hand) or fakie (bead on the back side of the hand) position. Sample video on basic grips
- Top Grip: Bead or adjacent string is grasped between the thumb and index finger
- High Grip: Bead or adjacent string is grasped between the index finger and middle finger
- Mid Grip: Bead or adjacent string is grasped between the middle finger and ring finger
- Low Grip: Bead or adjacent string is grasped between the ring finger and pinkie finger. Sample video on low grip basics
- Bottom Grip: Bead or adjacent string is grasped by the pinkie finger
Tension grips involve grasping two beads simultaneously, usually with the string partially wrapped or stretched, in such a way that there is tension created on the string. In this way, when one bead is released it will move quickly from its position.
Tension grips allow the player to go from a static position into a dynamic move without physically swinging the begleri. Examples of tricks that involve tension grips include:
- The Gunslinger, which uses a tension grip referred to as a "trigger grip"
- The Spring, which uses a unique tension grip where only one bead is grasped, and the other bead is wrapped and hanging to counter the tension on the other end
- Mic drop, which uses a two finger tension grip to launch the beads into motion
As begleri play has developed, many advanced players have found it increasingly hard and cumbersome to describe their tricks using basic grip names. In response, many experienced players use the following notation: T (thumb); 1 (index finger); 2 (middle finger); 3 (ring finger); 4 (pinkie finger); and P (palm). This notation allows for a more concise and flexible way of naming grips by referencing the digits involved, in any combination. The apostrophe is used to denote “fakie” grips. For example, high grip (with the string between the index and middle fingers) would be described as 23 in this notation, and 23’ would be high fakie. Gripping a bead with the ring finger (3) against the palm (P) would be described as 3P. This system extends the ability of players to transcribe their tricks, but the preferred method of communicating tricks and grips is through video and photos, as this notation has its own limitations. For example, tension grips and other complex grips involving multiple fingers, and sometimes also incorporating full or partial wraps around fingers, remain difficult to communicate in any succinct way.
Tricks and Types of Movements
Basic begleri play involves swinging and flipping the beads to move between grips, and these movements between grips are referred to as transitions. Simple transitions involve, essentially, holding the begleri in one grip, swinging the other bead so that it can be caught in another grip, and releasing the first bead so that it is free to swing. In many cases, transitions can be done either **static** (slower, with an optional pause between catching the moving bead and releasing the first bead), or **dynamic** (with continuous momentum, often releasing or partially releasing the first bead before the moving bead is caught). Sample video of basic transitions
Rebounds are the term used to describe what happens when the moving bead comes into contact with the hand or fingers and is bounced or rebounded back in the opposite direction. The term "caged rebounds" is used to refer to rebounds which are carried out while part of the string beyond the anchor bead is held in a grip, resulting in a shorter string for the swinging and rebounding motion of the other bead. Sample video on basic rebounds
Wraps involve holding one bead, and allowing the moving bead to wind around one or more fingers. If the first bead remains held, the moving bead will wrap until there is no more free string, resulting in a stall or rebound. If the first bead is, instead, released partway through the wrap, it will tend to follow the movement of the moving bead, resulting in a roll. Sample videos (1) two finger wraps; and (2) one finger wraps
Slips involve allowing the swinging bead to pass freely on the opposite side of the hand on which the anchor bead is being held. This is commonly done by holding the anchor bead in any standard grip, and closing a fist during its motion, which allows it to pass on the back side of the hand past the knuckles, rather than rebounding.
Slides involve shifting the grip, either from standard to fakie, or from fakie to standard, by letting the string pass through the same two fingers. Slides can be seen in tricks like the Slip and Slide, Mic Drop, and Cascade.
Rolls involve having both begleri beads circle around one or more fingers. Rolls can be carried out in a partially wrapped position (sometimes referred to as a closed roll), or in an open position (with the string straight or almost straight during the roll). Depending on the string length, it is possible to roll around one or more fingers. An open string position (not wrapped) will allow the begleri to roll around more fingers than a closed string position. Sample videos on (1) outside rolls; (2) inside rolls; and (3) two finger rolls
Gap transfers or just "gaps" involve releasing one bead from a grip, and catching the other bead in the same grip position. This is done by swinging the begleri so that it partially wraps around the outside of two fingers. As the moving bead completes its circular path, the fingers are spread apart creating a gap, and sending the first bead out in a motion that follows the path of the moving bead. Closing the gap again (pinching the fingers together) allows the player to capture the moving bead. Sample video of gap transfers.
Bead Rolls and Half Cabs
Bead rolls are closely related to rolls and transfers, but involve manipulating the position of the bead one position at a time, from the back to the front of the hand (standard to fakie grip), or vice versa. Full bead rolls will start in either a high grip or a low grip, and will progress through two half steps, switching first to mid grip on the opposite side of the hand from the starting position, and then continuing through the motion to the following grip, ending on the same start of the hand where the move began. The term "half cab" refers to one of the half steps in the bead roll (i.e., from standard high grip to fakie mid grip, for example). Half cabs can be performed on their own.
Aerials/ Release Moves
Aerials refer to tricks in which the begleri are released from the hands and are airborne momentarily before resuming play. Players have developed many different ways to launch into an aerial, and to catch the begleri, without breaking the flow of movement. One of the common techniques involves catching the begleri on one finger in a rolling motion, rather than an open handed catch that would break the flow.
The real fun in begleri play comes when a player is able to start linking different moves together into combos. Combos are only limited by the creativity and skill of the player. Sample videos (1) easy low top combo; (2) inside roll combo
As begleri play becomes more sophisticated, players are increasingly involving their off hand in play. A wide range of transitions are possible between hands, including continuous rolls where a roll is initiated on one hand, and transferred to the other hand. Sample video on two-handed play
Planes and Directions
As with other swinging toys, begleri can be played in any orientation. This can be described most easily in terms of three planes of space:
- Bike plane/ Wheel plane: The begleri is played vertically, in the up/ down/ forward/ backward plane, similar to the plane on which a bike is pedalled.
- Wall plane: The begleri is played vertically, in the up/ down/ left/ right plane--the plane of a wall if the player had their back against it.
- Floor plane: The begleri is played horizontally, in the left/ right/ forward/ backward plane--the plane of the floor.
Because begleri is played in different planes, common terms like clockwise and counter-clockwise can create confusion about the direction of movement. Plain language such as upward/ downward work fine for most swinging/ flipping movements, but rolls are a special case because at any given moment, the two beads are travelling in opposite directions. In addition, the plane of rotation affects the perceived direction of the beads. Therefore, the terms inside and outside are more suitable:
- Inside roll/ movement: The direction of movement when the bead is farthest away from the body is upwards, towards the head/ body/ thumb.
- Outside roll/ movement: The direction of movement when the bead is farthest away from the body is downwards, away from the head/ body/ thumb.
Named Tricks and Tutorials
The terms used above for grips and types of movement can be used to describe most tricks and combinations of tricks. However, this can become cumbersome, and many tricks and combinations have been named as a kind of shorthand, as well as giving creative players an opportunity to claim and name a trick that they have developed and mastered. The largest catalogue of trick tutorials can be found on Aroundsquare's YouTube channel. Players may also be interested in the depth and detail provided by Musclebones and Begleri n00btorials
Below is a small sampling of the videos currently available in the Aroundsquare tutorial playlist.