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Jobs 101: Yo-yo trainer

Being a yo-yo trainer is more than just pulling off impressing tricks.

Grace Neo
Grace Neo

Published: 20 August 2015, 12:00 AM

Japanese manga series Super Yo-Yo might have ended ages ago, but the yo-yo community in Singapore is thriving. Home-grown yo-yo prodigy Hans Wong Jensen showed Youth.SG a glimpse of his daily life as a yo-yo trainer.

Who: Hans Wong Jensen, 28

Occupation: Yo-yo trainer

Studied: Computer engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Tell us more about yourself.

I started playing the yo-yo since 2000 when I witnessed yo-yo tricks in a yo-yo campaign held in Singapore. As those tricks did not look easy, I wanted to challenge myself and do even better.

I like to work with students who are interested in the yo-yo, but are uncertain about playing it. It is particularly satisfying when my students are able to perform tricks at the end of my workshops, which they had trouble doing initially. Ultimately, the happiness I get from teaching is priceless.

What is your job scope like?

At Spinworkx, I work as the business development manager. Besides taking care of the physical store’s stocks and accounts, I run hourly workshops, ranging from one-on-one lessons to a crowd of 200 students.

I also run local competitions such as our quarterly showcase, and the ‘Asia Pacific Yo-Yo Championships’ held last month.

 

You can walk into any spinworkx shop and play with the yo-yos provided.

 

Do you have any tips on dealing with difficult students?

There are students who are adamant in learning hard tricks. Instead of solely teaching them that one trick, I teach them a similar, easier trick instead. This trains them to perfect the trick before they can move up to the next level.

Learning yo-yo is a step-by-step process, and I always emphasise that when I teach.

Any difficult phases during your career so far?

I considered giving tuition as an alternative source of income in late 2012 to early 2013 because there wasn’t much interest in yo-yos and kendamas then. While giving tuition, more students wanted to take up one-on-one yo-yo workshops with me. Eventually, I helped these kids with their school work, on top of teaching them the yo-yo.

It was also difficult to garner the interest of our target group of secondary and primary school students, as holding workshops in schools require approvals and what not.

 

The shop is also stocked with plenty of kendamas.

 

How long have you been in the industry, and how has the industry changed?

I have been in the industry for 15 years. Back then, I could only dream that Singapore would have a world champion.

In 2011, Singapore had her first world champion in the single handed category during the World Yo-Yo Contest.

Today, Singapore is known globally as one of the countries that produces the best players across all divisions. I do hope that the local yo-yo scene will sustain itself and create while more world champions.

 

Creating tricks and calling it his own keeps Hans going in this field.

 

What advice do you have for youths who are interested in pursuing this career?

Patience. Kids nowadays tend to give up easily because instant gratification is part and parcel of their life. You need a positive attitude when teaching them.

Passion is also essential, as this is an underpaid career. If you are unable to go without a salary for several months or even a year, it will be difficult for you to stay in this field as full-timer in the long run.

Education requirements: Having your own skill set and uniqueness outweighs the importance of formal education.

Qualities: Perseverance and patience.

Salary range: Ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, based on your skills and experience.

Working hours: Thoroughly flexible, as you will have to take care of all aspects such as managing the community and organising events. Just like Superman.


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