UniQuest - Tutorial Series For Beginners

Kia ora koutou katoa, hello everyone!

This is my first post in these forums for a few years now! I haven’t used these forums since before the community mostly moved over to facebook. Anyway! I hope the community is as friendly as I remember it!

My names Chris Huriwai, primarily known for Street Unicycling in Aotearoa/New Zealand, though I enjoy flatland and trials as well!

Along with friends of mine, we started the Pretty Good Channel on youtube, organized national events at the height of unicyclings popularity in Aotearoa and started Hippo Unicycles, a unicycle retailer that’s now no longer active.

Today I’m mostly just unicycling for fun and less for progression, but I’ve decided I’d like to make a series of indepth tutorials to help beginners reach their potential as Street/Flatland unicyclists- because for me, at the height of learning and mastering tricks, it was one of the- if not THE most enjoyable time of my life, and I’d love to pass on a bit of that.

The idea for the video series is essentially to give the viewer a walkthrough guide of how to improve/learn new tricks, released with the tricks/levels getting progressively harder and aiming to provide enough diversely challenging/fun tricks/skills to ensure there’s always something new to do and try.

Here’s the full playlist of the series so far which has about 12 episodes released so far, starting from the VERY beginning!

The first episode now has 80k+ views, so I guess its been helpful to some people :slight_smile:

There are 4 beginner levels, breaking down things as small as possible.
Then I’ve broken the levels into 3 separate categories: Street, Flatland and General. Each of these levels will progress separately based on skills/tricks that will assist each respective style, with General taking a broad stand-in for ‘Freestyle’. The idea here is to give people as much to try and learn at the same time, to keep things interesting, but also split so people can focus on their favorite riding style.

I love unicycling!
It’s been a great sport for me… and the community has always been so great to me! So consider this my gift back to yall, I plan to continue making episodes until the more pro/expert realms, so if the levels online aren’t doing it for you- stick around :slight_smile: My goal is to make over 100 episodes!

For future episodes, I’ll release them in their own threat in the ‘Unicycle Videos’ section. However, if you have questions regarding the episodes so far in the playlist, I’m happy to give further tips here/to take comments.

Thanks!

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Hello Chris, welcome to the forum. Keep on the good work.

Welcome to this forum! Great to see you here officially as your videos are already pretty popular among riders!

Welcome! As a recent beginner I had quite some help (and motivation) from your videos already!
Keep up the good work!

Hi Chris, I watched a few of your vidz. I wish you had them when I first started to learn unicycling. They are very good and interesting. I can see you are very well attuned to your unicycles. I’ve just had a few sessions of learning to ride backwards, while holding a fence. When I think too much about it, I noticed I slow down. Just like other skills, I am letting my body get used to the feeling. I don’t know how to idle yet, but I feel I will be able to ride backwards with just a few more sessions.

Thanks everyone!

@Setonix,
For backwards riding you’re spot on, for the tutorials I made regarding backwards riding I should have focused more on this idea of ‘trying it slow’, dipping the toes in, I do that to a degree by encouraging assisted backwards riding. But I could have had something in there talking about the different ways to learn, using a slower- less ‘dive in’ approach.

Eventually I’ll release some further beginner tutorials with all the tips I’ve missed!

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Welcome Chris!
I am one of the many who have watched and enjoyed your videos - good work!

I’ll send you a PM with some thoughts :wink:

Thanks for making these videos! I like the encouragement you give at the end of each segment. Have you considered picking a particular skill and focusing only on that for the duration of the video? That way, beginners could search for “free mount” and find your video of teaching a free mount, for example.

For struggling beginners, I think it’s important to demonstrate maximum empathy towards them. You tend to make stuff look too easy, IMHO. When you demonstrated what happens when a rider starts pedaling too fast, you dismounted gracefully off the back. In my experience as a beginner, I always UPDd off the front in those situations (and the uni came crashing to the ground). I wonder how many riders on this forum learned a static mount, from the get go, in a 3/9 position. For me, I progressed from something closer to 12/6 toward 3/9. If you demonstrate what happens to a beginner when they try the 3/9 mount the first time (uni shoots out the back), then your viewers will know that you understand what they’re going through. After riding off a curb, you ride and hop backwards, back to the sidewalk. I suppose some beginners will find this cool and it will encourage them to keep practicing. As a beginner, I might have felt frustrated and distracted watching you do that.

There was some discussion on the forum recently about what the best video or tutorial was for beginners. Some users said they liked the advice and videos from beginners. It was also suggested that more advanced riders may have lost touch with the process of learning and might only explain the product of learning. An example of this might be asking riders to put more weight in the seat when they are not yet ready.

I should probably stop being an armchair quarterback about other people’s videos and make a few myself. My suggestions are a matter of my own personal taste, so take them with a grain of salt. Keep up the good work, Chris!

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You have some good points there elpuebloUNIdo, The videos show how the skills are done and Chris gives good pointers. But there could be a bit more emphasis on that it can take quite some hours (days?) to get to that level of skill. I also thought hopping backward on the steps looked very cool and at the same time I was well aware I would never get that far. I guess people take from the tutorials what they need. Not all tips work for all people.
By watching the 3/9 position mounting, I figured what I’d been doing wrong with my mounts for the last few years. I roll too much and often end up with my non-dominant foot at the dead zone (6). Today with the 19" it was very easy to actually mount 3/9 by putting my weight on the seat. I think normally I would just hop on, but have the weight at the front pedal first. This way of mounting will help tremendously when mounting single track, because I have less of a swerve. I also tried with the 26", but that is slightly more diffi, because it is higher.

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Ahhhh the forums, where people actually leave feedback that’s more than a simple sentence with a few emojis. Thank you all so much! This is the only way my videos will improve :slight_smile:

Making complete videos for single tricks:
I have to do this, for accessibility… The idea with the UniQuest episodes, is that I give the rider multiple things to try- within the realms of their skill levels. For example, each beginner episode 1-4 contains multiple things to try that are all within the same difficulty level, based on the experience I’ve had teaching children of various levels. So, each video, you get multiple things to try at your current level- if you can’t participate in that level because its too hard, the suggestion is to go back a level and master the prerequisite skills before moving on.

On the point about accessibility… I mean for example, my tips/lesson on freemounting spans a few episodes, we learn assisted freemount in the first episode, where I talk about 3/9 and 6/12, I believe I also give a failed example of what happens when doing 3/9 incorrectly, I do it in one of the beginner levels I’m sure.

But yes… I may need to reedit them all and release separated videos that cover specific skills, maybe I’ll do this after a long time when I’ve received more feedback so I can add additional tips. But also have the uniquest levels/series continue as it is, because the idea like I say is to find what level you are, and work from there, it’s broken into street/flatland/general with ‘general’ being a bit of a rip-off for ‘everything else’ as street/flat is my speciality/desired focus.

It’s really hard to turn this whole series into separate videos based on individual tricks… Because for example, 180unispin, I’ve put 180unispin mount in a previous level, and 180unispin NOT AS A MOUNT will not come for a few more episodes, because doing an easier version of the trick is easier than the actual trick… There’s no point me showing someone how to do a 180unispin if they haven’t mastered all the prerequisities which can take a long time. BUT… I’m interested in this idea of reediting them once a trick feels completed within the series, those chapters can be closed off kind of thing.

Weight on seat, most important tip for a beginner and I’ll continue to argue for this until I see a good response from someone, which I’m yet to see :slight_smile:
For example, you should be able to ride around comfortably before you can actually freemount, and riding comfortably requires weight on the seat. It’s pretty simp.

And you’re so right, I should be more supportive and encouraging to people, though- I don’t like to make things sound hard, maybe I sound ableist but… the tricks I’ve demonstrated are beginner, super beginner, which people need to understand. These videos are within the context that I’m comparing them to the most difficult skills I can do- and yes I’m not the best rider in the world, but I do believe I can list my top 10 or so tricks and be considered a ‘professional’, but to be honest, I’m not in the top 10 of riders that can do the upper-tier tricks, however I include the difficulty of their tricks within the context of the videos. The videos need to be seen in the context that if you follow the levels/series and I continue to make videos, you’ll eventually be learning top-tier tricks.

I know its disheartening for people that have been riding for a long time, having me come in and saying ‘this is a beginner trick’ then having people with 20+ years experience saying ‘that’s not beginner… its hard!’ rararara… Please understand, it is within the context of Street/Flatland unicycling, the basis of Street/Flatland unicycling is doing tricks, is bunny hopping on things you shouldn’t be bunny hopping on, it’s doing things that would have been called impossible 20 years ago.

The comment around whether me being blazay around ‘making things look too easy’ and ‘showing off’, whether its inspiring or frustrating is an interesting discussion… I fall on the side that likes to think its inspiring, and plus its just my personality/nature to … not ‘show off’ but I certainly enjoy using my energy, I was made to express myself and limiting what I do all the time is frustrating for myself, so theres a trade-off :stuck_out_tongue:

Love the feedback, thank you so much!

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And yes, I FAILED on the UPD, I was just being laaaaaazy and plus I wanted to stay in the shot of the camera hahaha. I was editing it and tried to convince myself to refilm it, forgetting that the nuance would be lost… Dam it

What you could do is create a single video on a 180 unispin and start with the easier variations in that same video first. Most important thing for learning something is being motivated and focused. It might be very well possible that someone wants to learn a 180 unispin before they can freemount, idle or ride backwards.
In that way if someone wants to learn the 180unispin, they don’t have to go through various videos, watch or even attempt all kinds of other tricks before they have gathered all the info required to learn this trick.

Uhm… I don’t agree here :smiley:
Speaking from personal experience, I could freemount (3/9 & 6/12, jump mount and suicide mount) before I could consistently make controlled turns. I just started to hop as soon as I mounted the uni.
This might be partially due to my background as a street trials and mtb rider, but it’s also because that’s what I wanted to learn first (if you find an empty parking space to practice, freemounting is critical to keep up the pace in the practice without having to walk back all the time).

The reason why you would normally use this approach in a classroom is that you have many different students all with different interests and baselines to start from.
You don’t have that now, since your audience is completely different. It’s great if this is what YOU want to do. In that case just keep doing it like you do of course!
But if it’s your goal to help as many people as possible, then you have to consider the possibility that it might work better if someone can choose their own order of tricks to learn.
When I started with street trials riding (biking), I learned all kinds of tricks before I even started to learn the most basic one in trials riding, the back hop. Heck, I could already ride a slackline with my bike before I could do a decent back hop. I simply wasn’t motivated to do so yet.
And only after maybe 6-7 months or so, I started to practice the back hops. I learned them really fast because I was motivated to do so, and because all the previous tricks that I’ve learned somehow already helped learning the basic one as well.
Therefore I believe encouraging people to choose their own order in which they want to learn certain tricks will be much more benificial to their overall progression than deciding it for them (although you might be technically 100% right about the order that you’ve made :wink: )

For me this is motivation/inspiration. I don’t bother looking at people doing stuff which is just above or at my own level, I only look at people doing stuff that I actually want to learn :wink:
Therefore I’ve watched most of your other videos as well. including videos from guys like Pierre Sturny, Mark Fabian, Kris Holm and many others. :wink:

I remember when I was getting into trials street and flat, and this forum was the most active place of discussion for those disciplines. I wish structured videos like this had been around then, because “what is the next trick to learn”- was a common question for me, and also one that was commonly asked on here. Not that one needs to follow a strict list, but it is good to have some rough idea of the relative difficulty.

I think the tutorials are great as they are - not necessarily everything is the way I would do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are many ways to approach the same problems, and the more people share their way, the better.

Different people do need different pacing, which is why I think if you find the time some more detailled videos on individual skills would be helpful - but also just linking this forum, and the relevant facebook groups there might be a good idea. If people are stuck at some point, they can ask for more specific advice there, since even if you make videos on single tricks, it will be impossible to cover everything that could ever be asked about those tricks in those.

I like to be inspired by seeing people around my level progress, and sharing that – top level riders were always also motivational, but having someone on my level makes it more obtainable. I remember progressing my flatland riding “together” with people on the other side of the globe in out the games or just random flatland edits on here, and it has always been a source of motivation.
That being said, I’ve seen tutorials by people that make easy things look hard (because they have just learned them themselves), and I much prefer it the other way around. I like tutorials from riders that are much better than me.

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Hi Chris

I had just (re-)watched your “top-ten” videos the day before you started this thread so it was a surprise to see it. I have found your videos very useful and I like your style of presentation. I also like your approach of combining multiple activities into the same video.

As they say, there are many ways to skin a cat. It is interesting to observe some of the recurring ‘discussions’ on here (sometimes quite passionate) as to the best way to approach teaching/learning a particular skill (for example, whether using a wall to initially learn is preferable to ‘launching’ yourself into free-space). There is likely no right answer to the best way to teach everyone.

You are a very skilled rider with a talent to explain and motivate, I’d say just do what you have found to be successful in your previous experience, it is as valid as anyone else’s approach. As for you being blazay and ‘making things look easy’ – I don’t think that is at all valid. – I for one want to know my teacher is a lot more skillful. Long ago when I went to music lessons I wouldn’t have had a lot of confidence in my teacher if they had mashed up the keys when playing something just because I was finding it difficult. If you were teaching one-on-one you could adapt and tailor to your approach to the student and their learning style, but you are basically broadcasting this to the world, so just do what you think is best.

I really like what you are doing – thanks for the videos.

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@DrD thank you :slight_smile:

@mark.vogels I disagree on this idea you should free-mount before learning to ride, I mean before you learn turns… hmmm maybe, but if you can’t RIDE then there is absolutely no point learning to freemount haha, why would you want to freemount into a UPD- all that is, is a failed free mount, if you freemount but then can’t ride with control- it’s a failed free mount. It’s much more practical to learn to ride, before you learn to mount. Just for a little example, I met a guy at a skatepark once that- like you maybe had bunny hop experience on a trials bike, he jumped on my uni, hopping in place, and almost pulled out a 180unispin- he could not ride at all. Hopping is piss easy and worlds different to actually riding. But hey, disagreeing is fine. But really, largely I think, if you can’t ride it yet- don’t bother learning anything else- it may not be for you.

And yes @finnspin “what do I learn next” is exactly the question I wanted to combat with this series, its the #1 question I used to put out as a beginner. The endless videos I’d watch of riders around my level, to try skills they were doing that I have never thought to try.

But yes I love the idea of separate videos for individual skills. It will definitely be a thing eventually.

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I don’t consider you showing off in the videos. You’re clearly a skillful rider and like DrD says a teacher is supposed to be better than the student. So keep up the good work, all of us on the forum can learn something from your tutorials.

@finnspin that is because you are good enough to know what you’re looking at. You can appreciate Chris’ riding for all its fine points. A beginner might be amazed or inspired by great riding, but they don’t have much experience in the saddle and they won’t understand what they are looking at. Their understanding will be similar to a lay person’s. They will decide whether Chris made it look hard or easy.

@mark.vogels thanks for raising the issue of when to learn mounts. The only good explanation I have for people learning to ride first, then learning to mount, is hedonism. Riding is the part that makes beginners feel good. I personally think of mounting and riding as two separate things that converge later in our progress. So, I don’t think learning to ride first helps with learning to mount. Every minute we practice riding is one less minute practicing mounts. Not to say it’s wrong to learn to ride first. You can’t blame people for being weak and undisciplined, after all. And since this is not facebook, you will have to decide if I’m being ironic, sans emoji.

Regarding the format, Chris makes a good argument for lumping together different techniques in each installment. Throughout my unicycling progress, I have been working on at least a few different techniques at any time, and I assume the same applies to most other riders.

I think the tendency of some tutorials is to focus on what’s unique or specific to a particular trick, rather than diffusely talking about all the component skills that go into a trick. If a trick is presented broadly enough, it can be instructive to riders of different levels, whether or not they can do the specific trick.

Thanks, Chris, for starting this thread. The most interesting threads on this forum, in my opinion, are those related to the teaching of beginners.

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Exactly why I don’t look at videos of someone who is just above or at my level.
The tiny little details can make a huge difference and learning it incorrectly because you had a bad example is just a waste of time :wink:

If you learn something new, like unicycling, you have to do more then just learning the skill.
You also have to overcome fear of falling and building confidence. Directly starting to ride you have the chance to loose control of the uni, gain speed and get an UPD.
If you have no idea how to react to a UPD you might fall, freeze up, fall hard and even quit thinking it’s too dangerous or not for you.
But starting with freemounting gave me the chance to get a lot of UPD’s in a very short time, while moving relatively slow, so there was plenty of chance to learn how to catch myself when UPD-ing.
Once you’ve built enough confidence and skill to UPD safely, starting to ride becomes much easier because you take away the fear of falling.
As I said in my PM, it’s been 23 days now, and I’ve been able to ride down stairsets, hop down them, ride down slopes of loose gravel, mount and ride a 27,5" muni and yes, in most cases I can control the direction pretty well. Although I do still have UPD’s quite often, depending on the uneven surface that I’m riding on. But I’m not afraid to fail, so I just try over and over until I can get through or over an obstacle…

As you said in your PM you’ve trained a lot of kids. What I notice from training kids and training adults is that kids are hardly afraid of anything ,and if they do fall, they hardly hurt themselves (closer to the ground, lower body mass, less impact).
So working with adults you have to consider fear as a very important driver to work with. And therefore for me (and I’m sure it will apply to some others as well) freemounting (and most importantly, UPD-ing) is the most useful to learn first :wink:

That wasn’t a comment on liking this tutorial or not, I’m fully aware that I won’t be able to share a complete beginners perspective on it. However, I have seen other tutorials as more of a beginner, and liked the ones by riders much better than me (Hugo Dugays rolling hop tutorial comes to mind), and I couldn’t appreciate any finer points then. I watched the things he demonstrated on a 2 meter (ish) long jump, and applied it to the 30-40cm ones I was doing.