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Poi originates from Maori culture in New Zealand where the word ‘poi’ translates as ‘ball’. They were originally used as a strengthening tool for warriors. Nowadays, poi has pervaded many cultures around the world and are used for fun and as an aesthetic performance prop. Classic poi are generally brightly coloured and often have tails which trail behind the poi head when spun creating a beautiful visual effect.
Classic poi are also known as practice poi as they are a safe way to practise moves and tricks before using fire poi. They are also great for children and for circus workshops as the simplest moves, like reels and the butterfly, are very easy to learn but still look great with these brightly coloured props. The next tricks people learn tend to be things like the three beat weave and threading the needle.
Poi spinning is a great thing to learn as it helps develop coordination, flexibility and can help to keep you fit and active in a non-competitive way. It also has a good social side as there is now an extensive online and ‘real life’ poi spinning community and is a good way to meet like-minded people.
As your skills develop you will probably move on to sock poi, contact poi or fire poi because the tails of classic poi can make the more technical and complex moves difficult because the tails can get tangled up.