Pen Spinning Terms

Finger Slot Numbering

For convenience pen spinners have adopted a common numbering of fingers and the spaces between them (“Finger Slots”). The fingers are numbered sequentially from “1” the index finger, to “4” pinky. The thumb is the letter “T”. Finger slots are represented by combining any two of these. For instance the space between the middle and ring fingers is “23”. A pen held between index and pinky is in slot “14”. (Sometimes the space between the thumb and index fingers is called “TF” (thumbflap).)

General Terms

  • Trick: The subsequent movement of the pen through space, generated by a one-time external force, with this external force originating usually from parts of the hand, such as the fingers.
  • Combination: The action of performing two or more “Tricks” in succession
  • Family: A name given to tricks that categorized together in Pen Spinning nomenclature
  • Normal (trick): The variation of trick in a given family of tricks that is considered to be the easiest variation to learn. When learned, it serves as a solid foundation for learning other tricks within the same family. The Normal variation of tricks has the same name as its family name.
  • Default trick: A normal trick that has a special fingering designation. The default is the easiest to learn among the normals
  • Optional: words that describe how the trick deviates from the standard
  • Family Name: the name of the family of tricks in which a particular trick is categorized into
  • Numbers: numbers used to denote the fingers involved, and/or the number of spins the trick would contain

Optional Terms Examples (terms used to modify the Family name – I.e. Reverse Thumb Around)

  • Normal: default direction and method of a trick (usually the easiest method)
  • Reverse: performed with opposite direction of that of normal
  • Inverse: performed with opposite side of the same hand
  • Fingerless: performed without push by any of the fingers or thumb
  • Double: trick with two rotations, or 720 degrees, in a 2-dimensional plane

The above information is an excerpt from The Troposphere.

A-Z of Pen Spinning Terms

A

  • Aerial spin: Aerial Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has aerial spin when it is launched into the air during a portion of the trick. Aerial spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has an aerial spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.
  • Around spin: Around Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has around spin when it is rotating freely (not held by part of the hand) over a finger(s) and/or another part of the hand (palm, back of the hand). While the pen is not being during the main portion of the trick, the pen must be touching the part of the hand that it is rotating around. Around spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has an around spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.

B

  • Breakdown: Describing a combo follows a simple “breakdown” convention. Breakdowns give the order of the tricks involved along with the finger slots used. In between each trick is placed the “>” (greater than) symbol to act as a connection from one trick to another. The information given in a breakdown can range from the bare minimum to using the Full trick name convention that describes every detail of each trick. Below are breakdown examples of the same combo using increasing amounts of information to make the breakdown more explicitly clear each time.

C

  • COP: COP stands for “center of pen” and was the original acronym used when talking about the balance point of a pen or pen mod. While the correct term to use would be either balance point or center of gravity, the widespread use of “COP” has kept it around.
  • Catch: Catch is the final force applied on the pen during a pen spinning trick. The catch can either stop the motion of the pen entirely (during the execution of a single trick) or bring the pen into the final position of a trick in preparation for starting another trick (during the execution of a combination / combo of tricks together).
  • Collaboration: Collaborations, or “Collabs” are videos consisting of two or more pen spinners. Collab videos may or may not have a specific theme. Official community collabs, for example, showcase the talent of a specific pen spinning community.
  • Combo: A pen spinning combination (combo) is a string of two or more complete pen spinning tricks. When partial tricks are involved with complete tricks or other partial tricks, the result is a hybrid combo or “hybrid”.
  • Conic spin: Conic Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has conic spin when it is rotating between fingers and manipulated in a way that makes the ends of the pen rotate in small, conical paths. Conic spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has a conic spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.
  • Continuous: Continuous is a pen spinning term for the performing of the same trick more than once in quick succession. In regard to continuous tricks, pen spinners work towards the smoothest performance possible of each successive trick: trying to reduce the amount of noticable transition from the end of one trick to the beginning of the next.
  • Counter: The Counter concept of tricks was invented by Zombo of UPSB. The idea is to perform a trick as normal, then interrupt that trick halfway through with a reverse motion (usually a fingerless push) to bring the pen back to the starting position. This results in a hybrid of a trick in one direction plus another trick in the opposite direction. The aim of counters is to look as though you are performing a full single trick as normal, but then abruptly interrupt the trick by moving the pen in the opposite direction, back to the catch.

E

  • Extended: Extended is a seldom-used Modifier that has currently beem used in an inconsistent way to describe adding more rotation to a hybrid/combo. The two official examples of its use would be with “Extended Thumbaround” and the “Extended Infinity” combos, which differ in the tricks added and rotation added.

F

  • Finger slot: Finger Slot is a pen spinning term for the position of a pen in between 2 or more fingers during a trick. The use of notating groups of fingers allows pen spinners to easily spell out where a trick is taking place on the hand. The notation also allows spinners to more specifically explain where certain parts of tricks are taking place during hybrid combos. When notating groups of fingers, the fingers are listed in a simple and specific order: when the hand is held with the fingers aligned vertically, the order of fingers listed will be from top to bottom (thumb, thumflap, index, middle, ring, pinky).
  • Fingerless: Fingerless is a pen spinning term for a modifier that involves a performing of a trick with a different kind of push. Most tricks use the fingers and/or thumb to move the pen. A fingerless push uses the movement of the entire hand, as a single unit, to move the pen.
  • Fundamentals: The Fundamentals are considered the basics of pen spinning. They consist of three tricks:
  1. Charge
  2. Sonic
  3. Thumbaround

And one combination:

  1. Fingerpass

The Fundamentals are relatively easy to learn and help build a foundation for many other tricks, combos and hybrids that follow. For example, the Pass and Charge can be combined into the Twisted Sonic hybrid, while Sonic and Charge are used for the Sonic Clip hybrid. Many mistakenly count the Infinity as a Fundamental.

G

  • Gunman: Gunman had two different meanings for a time due to a mistranslation of trick name/description on the pen spinning website by Hideaki Kondoh.

H

  • Hand notation:
  1. 1 = index finger
  2. 2 = middle finger
  3. 3 = ring finger
  4. 4 = pinky finger
  5. T = thumb
  6. TF = thumb flap (area between the thumb and index finger)
  7. P = palm of the hand
  8. B = back of the hand (opposite the palm)
  • Harmonic: Harmonic is the historical naming of a short combo consisting of two tricks: one trick in one direction, immediately followed by the reverse direction of that trick. The pen thus starts and ends the combo in the same finger slot.
  • Historical naming: n the earlier days of pen spinning within online communities, it was very common to give names to new combos/hybrids that showed a new aspect of pen spinning or expanded on an existing idea. With the currently more mature naming systems and wider variety of known individual tricks, giving names to new combos no longer makes sense. The amount of names a pen spinner would need to know if this continued would be immense. Many lesser-known names of combos that current pen spinners may no longer know about most likely orginated in this birthing period where many new tricks/combo/ideas were born and every new discovery needed a name. Not all historically named combos were of any particular significance, but were named during a period where doing so was the norm.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid is a pen spinning combination (combo) involving one or more partial tricks. By current definition, a complete combo is a sequence of two or more tricks (always assumed to be complete). This makes a “hybrid combo” something that falls in between a single trick and a combo. Orginally, a few well-known hybrids were classified as tricks and given names. As the amount of known hybrids and possible variations of those hybrids began to build up, the need for expressing hybrids without new names became increasingly larger.

I

  • Insert: Insert is the pen spinning term for a piece of paper that is rolled up and inserted into the barrel of a clear pen. Inserts can be used for both the decoration of a pen mod and for marking the COP of the mod. Inserts are also referred to as Inlays.
  • Inverse: Inverse is a pen spinning term relating to the position and movement of a pen during certain trick variations. The modifier, “Inverse”, is added to a trick variation when the pen travels along the opposite side the finger(s)s/hand than it would during the normal variation.

K

  • Korean style: Korean style is a now commonly used style of pen spinning. The focus is to create combos with good execution of tricks and smoothness. Combos tend to be 10-30 seconds long, though in rare cases even longer! Combos usually feature technically difficult, smooth, well executed spinning. Tricks are often ‘cut short’ in combos (ie, a new trick is done before the current one is finished). Such tricks are known as hybrids. This allows for increased smoothness in the combo. Some common combos/hybrids used in Korean style are Extended Thumbaround > Fingerless Indexaround and Fingerless Indexaround Reverse ~ Fingerless Thumbaround Reverse. Freestyling is a major part of Korean style spinning, and many Korean style spinners are known to be some of the best freestylers in the world. Korean style tends to focus on tricks from the Conic, Around, Pass and Through spin types (the use of spin tricks has increased as time has passed).

L

  • Loop: Loop is synonymous with rotation, in pen spinning terms, yet has so far only been used in historically named combos such as Kam’s 4 Loop Combo. Loop was used to describe the overall amount of rotations involved in the combo.

M

  • Modifier: Modifier is a pen spinning term for tricks. The term denotes an addition or a change to the original trick. Fingerless and Inverse are two common examples of a modifier. The modifier is an optional addition depending on the trick performed.

N

  • Naming conventions: Naming Conventions are agreed upon terms of a community for expressing tricks, among other things, in pen spinning. This term is mainly applied to how trick performances are explained and how to properly describe the tricks themselves.
  • Normal: Normal is a pen spinning term that refers to the default direction that a trick travels in: how the base trick that a family of tricks are built from moves. Example: Thumbaround Normal travels around the thumb in a counter-clockwise (right-handed performance) motion. The opposite of the “Normal” direction is the “Reverse” direction. From the example, Thumbaround Reverse travels around the thumb in a clockwise motion.

O

  • Old school style: This is a style of pen spinning in which the focus is creativity. This style was most prominant during the time of UPSB v2. Typical combos are around 10 seconds long, and almost always include a new concept, new trick, or something that has never/rarely been seen. Combos are often not hugely technically demanding. Smoothness and execution is usually average, rarely great. This is due to the style coming from a time when most pen spinners were not as technically advanced as nowadays.
  • Outsert: Outsert is the pen spinning term for a sticker that is applied to the entire visible area of the barrel of a pen mod. Outserts can be used for both the decoration of a mod and for marking the COP of the mod.

P

  • Pass spin: Pass Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has pass spin when it is rotating around a finger, being moved from one finger slot to another. A pass spin can be seen as half of an around spin, but with the pen being held by at least two fingers at all times (around spins let the pen spin freely around a finger without being held). Pass spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has a pass spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.
  • Pen:

A writing utensil used for pen spinning. Mostly, a beginner will use an un-altered pen (or pencil) as he begins to learn tricks. As progress continues, one may choose to move away from the basic pen and start to look into pen modifications as way to more easily accomplish more difficult tricks and combos.

  1. Pen modification: Pen modification refers to two main subjects in pen spinning:
  2. Any deliberate, additive/subtractive change to a stock pen to improve pen spinning performance.
  3. The end result of any changes to a pen, referred to as a pen(cil) modification (“pen mod” or just “mod” for short).
  4. Push: Push in the intial force on a pen during a pen spinning trick. The push starts the trick whil directing the pen’s motion. The push can vary from anywhere between a quick tap (Halftap) to a prolonged push that includes a partial spin (Charge).

R

  • Retractable: Retractable is the common term to describe a pen (or pen modification) whose tip of the ink tube can be either exposed or hidden depending on how the pen is set. Retractable pens have two settings, one with the tip exposed for writing and one with the tip drawn up into the pen body to hide the tip not allow the pen to write. Retractable pen mods use this idea to allow pen spinners an option for using a pen modification that can be used for both spinning and writing without placing the ink tube in an awkward position.
  • Reverse: Reverse is a modifier that refers to the direction of the pen during a trick. Every family of tricks has a “base” trick that the family is built around. The base trick has the directional title of “Normal”. The “Reverse” is the most basic variation that has the pen traveling in the opposite direction of the “Normal” trick. For example, the Thumbaround Reverse travels clockwise around the thumb, while Thumbaround Normal travels counter-clockwise.
  • Roll spin: Roll Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has roll spin when it is rolling freely down a slanted surface (finger(s), hand, arm, etc…). Roll spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has a roll spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.
  • Rotation: Rotation mainly refers to any turning of the pen during a pen spinning trick. Rotation can also refer to the turning of the hand during a trick, as is common during the execution of the Backaround.

S

  • Spin: Spin has a few meanings in pen spinning terms:
  1. Spin can refer to the portion of a trick in between the push and the catch. Certain tricks combine the push/catch with the spin portion, as in the Charge and similar Conic tricks.
  2. Spin can be used interchangably with rotation in describing the motion of the pen during a trick.
  3. Spin can refer to the type of motion that is most characteristic of a particular trick (see below for Spin Type articles).
  • Stall: Stall is a type of trick that involves the stopping of the pen and balancing it on top of a finger, part of hand or other body part.

T

  • Through spin: Through Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has through spin when it is rotating between fingers. The pen is held at one end while the other end rotates in a fan shape. Through spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has a through spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the tricks.
  • Thunder: “Thunder” is a fake trick modifier that changes the way a trick is observed by an audience in videos or live performances. Any trick can have the Thunder modifier applied to it simply by performing the trick while yelling very loudly. The Thunder modifier was “invented” as a joke by pen spinner wlid.
  • Top spin: Top Spin is a pen spinning term for a type of spin that the pen performs during a trick. A pen has top spin when it is rotating freely on top of a finger(s) and/or another part of the hand (palm, back of the hand). Top spin is also a classification for a group of tricks. This group has a top spin rotation as a main portion and/or characteristic of the trick.
  • Trick: Tricks are specific, deliberate movements of the pen. Tricks are split up into three specific parts: Push, Spin and Catch. Every trick must have these three components, either quite separately (Thumbaround) or a combination of push-spin and/or spin-catch (Charge).

U

  • Utility trick: Utility trick is a little-used term for a trick that is almost always (or most often associated with) another trick(s) performed in a well-known mini-combo. The two tricks often termed “utility tricks” are the Wiper and the Pass.

W

  • Writing position: The writing position is a standard hand & pen orientation in pen spinning. The front of the pen rests between the thumb, index and middle fingers. The front of the pen is sitting on the side of the middle finger with the thumb above and the index finger to the side. The back of the pen sits in the middle of the thumbflap, the bit of skin between the thumb and index finger.

The A-Z of Pen Spinning Terms is an excerpt from penspinners.com

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