Yendor Martikonis is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in freestyle. A staple at nearly every major freestyle event over the past decade, Martikonis has chronicled freestyle yet remained elusive. Everpresent but hard to spot, Martikonis more than anyone has offered the perspective of a freestyle observer, albeit an observer with an astounding knowledge of the sport. Always in the right place at the right time, Martikonis has seen many of the pivotal moments in freestyle and overheard countless revealing conversations among elite players. In a rare, exclusive interview for Shrednow, Martikonis shares his thoughts about freestyle.
(Yendor walking with the trees in Dharamsala, India.)
New readers may not be familiar with you. What can you tell them about yourself?
I came into existence in the Spring of 1992 during a Masters Seminar in English Literature.
When did you first get involved in freestyle?
When I first saw Keith Armstrong and Rodney Sanchez jamming in Golden Gate park in San Francisco, I was immediately hooked.
You are a man of divergent pursuits, scouring the globe in search of truth, love and boundless spirit. In the midst of it all, how do you rejoin the freestyle community so regularly?
I have found that my spiritual path and the path of freestyle frisbee are one and the same. Actually, I have found that all my pursuits in life, when viewed in a clear and skillful way, are one and the same with my spiritual path. And when it comes to physical activity, freestyle frisbee has brought me to the greatest heights and depths of experience, so I make a point of attending as many jams and tournaments as I can.
You have seen generations of young freestylers rise through the ranks of the sport. What is the difference between today’s rookies and those throughout the years?
From listening to Rodney and others tell stories of their coming up, and viewing those of today, one major difference I see is the openness of the “old guard” to help out. In the past, it was difficult from time to time to get the attention of the top players as they were consumed by their own search for the perfect move. Now, however, the older folks seem to understand the responsibility that they, as wisdom holders, have in passing down the knowledge so the way of freestyle can continue to evolve and grow.
In this new light of enthusiasm from the elders, the newcomers are really taking off. Especially in Europe, where there seems to be such camaraderie amongst all levels of players, it feels like the main purpose is to have fun, while at the same time trying as hard as possible to shred up a storm. So that appears to be a big difference, the deepening of clan awareness.
What old school freestyle would you like to see more of?
Shorter moves and quick catches. Many times I see folks do, say four consecutive and different modes of play, then re-brush the disc, continue some more, then end with a spinning catch. I would like to see that spinning catch follow the four initial modes of play a bit more often. Sometimes, not much is gained in a super extended move, and to finish after the initial movement has as much, if not more, impact than going on and on. Doing shorter moves results in more catching and throwing which creates more energy and is more entertaining to the general public.
Quick catching has so much potential. It’s almost a lost art, and I would love to see more of that as well.
What new school freestyle excites you the most?
The combination of theater with high difficulty. The super spontaneity of formless routines.
Working the inbetween angles, that is, between right-side-up and up-side-down. Upside down brushing.
Watching Matt Gauthier go off.
What advice would you have for any freestyler who wants to be a turbo force in the sport?
Develop a daily stretching and strengthening regimen; a daily meditation practice; play as much as possible; and make pilgrimages to jamming meccas. The first allows the body to move more effortlessly and with grace and power; the second results in greater concentration, an awareness of the present moment, and a letting go of results; the third builds up the chops; and the fourth can result in a steep learning curve, a quick ascent into places you were not aware you were capable of attaining, so visit the Sheriff in San Diego, Eagle Spotter in Seattle, The Man in NYC, Cuff Master in Colorado, Air King in Idaho, Turbo Shred in Rimini, to name just a few of the many people and places available to develop your game to the highest possible skill.
What advice would you have for a new freestyler who wants to win the worlds?
First off, to let go of wanting to win the worlds. Secondly, to work as hard as one can on the four points above. Thirdly, to let go of wanting to win the worlds.
What are some of your enduring memories from Rimini’s red carpet at last year’s Worlds?
People jamming into the night under the lights after the day’s events had ended.
Kids running up to jammers after finishing their routines and asking for their autographs.
Too many to name, really, the list is very long.
Dinners with the jammers
The main square at midnight
Casa Colonica (restaurant)
Will you be attending this year’s World Championships?
What would you like to see happen on the red stage this year?
Dropless routines of high drama and great difficulty.
Europeans schooling North Americans.
Who do you see as the prime contenders in Rimini this year?
The Europeans are unknown factors as I have not seen them since last year, but I would imagine that we will see some folks break through with tremendous energy, grace, power and speed.
Randy Silvey and Matt Gauthier. (If these guys are playing together in pairs, watch out.)