Stixguru owing to his trick videos may be one of the best known devilstick player. We also watched in amazement and disbelief, and then tried to learn his movements at the beginning of our acquaintance with devilsticks. Although since then we have learnt many tricks, the admiration has never faded.
Name: Michael Sather - Stixguru
Place of living: Temecula, CA
Your job: Sales (I sell sunshine for a living)
How many years have you been juggling with devilsticks: 19
Number of devilsticks you have: 50?
Your juggling achievements (prize / performance / trick that you are proud of / etc.):
2005 IJA Individual Prop Competition Champion - Devilstick
2008 IJA Individual Prop Competition Champion - 3 Ball
Other juggling equipments you play with:
Are you member of any team/group/club/association:
San Dieguito Manipulation Society (now defunct)
Please write some sentences of yourself in general:
I am a father and husband who has a normal job, enjoys spending time with his family, but also has an obsession with juggling.
Why did you choose this juggling tool and where did you first meet with it?
1993 - Tempe, AZ. I was a freshman at Arizona State University and one of my friends had a handmade set of flowersticks (aka devilsticks). When I first saw them and picked them up, I was immediately hooked. This was before you could really buy them in stores or online, so I remember finding out there was a guy who made them that worked at a local coffee shop. I tracked him down and he met me on his break, gave me a five minute lesson on the tick tock and sold me a set for $20. I played with them obsessively, my one friend only knew how to do the tick tock and a basic helicopter, so I pretty much just started making up tricks and patterns on my own. Then I broke them about six months later in a feverish jam. That's when I went on a quest to make my own sticks. It took me about two weeks of riding my bike all over town to find the right materials. My grandparents collected used tennis balls for me to use as the end pieces and I wrapped a tennis racquet grip around the handsticks and centerstick. I called them Infinisticks and started selling them to other students and friends.
About a year after I graduated college, in late 1998, a series of coincidences led me to Liston Concepts. I ended up working for them full time for about a year, doing Sales and Marketing. I sold stix to stores and head shops all over the country. I did tradeshows, in-store demos, workshops. I taught at local community after school programs and even volunteered teaching stixplay at mental hospitals and drug rehab centers, anywhere people wanted to learn. I sold stix at street festivals and craft fairs all over Southern California. I did this full time for about a year and have continued to do a few street festivals every year since. I also try to teach stixplay workshops at every juggling convention/festival I attend. In 2002 I came out with the film "Stixguru: The Art of Stixplay" made with the help of my brother, Kevin, and my wife, Sarah. I like to think this film has helped raise the level of the art and validated stixplay as an independent offshoot of the juggling universe.
Where did you learn playing with devilsticks?
In my imagination and possibly an alternate universe.
Which trick did you find the most difficult to learn?
Nova Pirhouette (still can only hit this one out of like ten times)
What are you practicing at the moments?
More subtle "static" type tricks and handstick flourishes. Thank you Adam Dipert for introducing me to the coriolis concept.
Do you have tricks that you invented?
Yes - see my DVD or my website or my YouTube Channel
What are your favorite tricks?
Levitation, Trilocopter, Anklet, Neckbrace, Turbulence, and can't forget the Chicken Wing. It all really depends on my mood.
What are the most difficult tricks you can do?
Depends on the day.
What is the most difficult trick that you would like to learn?
To control the stix with only my mind (telekinesis)
In what style do you play and what other styles do you like?
Do you play with firesticks as well?
What do you do on a normal day, how many hours do you practice?
I've had obsessive periods where I would jam for like 8-10 hours per day, especially when working demos or tradeshows. When preparing for IJA Individual Prop Competitions, I would run through my routin like ten times a day for many months before the competition. Currently, I play every day, but only for maybe fifteen minutes. It's my meditation at the end of the day. On Sunday afternoons, I try to get in an hour of juggling as part of my gym workout.
How and where do you practice?
Home and at the gym. I also always carry several sets in my car.
Do you perform with devilsticks?
I've only performed a few times to a choregraphed routine. I am not really into creating a stage routine, and the only time I really have done that was for IJA Individual Prop Competitions. I prefer stixplay as an active meditation, becoming one with the stix, and melting into the FLOW. Some of my best tricks were created by mistakes, and this only happens when you can stop thinking and analyzing. I am my peak when I am jamming alone, I don't need an audience.
Do you teach juggling?
In person I've taught tens of thousands of people the art of stixplay and have taught several hundred three ball juggling. I can't even guess at the number of people who have learned from the videos I have posted on the internet, as I've had my website up since 2002. I've also sold a fair amount of my DVDs over the years (released on VHS in 2002, rereleased on DVD with bonus footage in 2005).
Why do you like devilsticks?
It's an endless puzzle with infinite possibilities. I find it is very meditative for me. I have always enjoyed physical skills requiring coordination. It's also a creativity generator.
What are your strong/weak points?
Time. I have a full time job and a family. Being a good father and husband is most important to me in life. I also coach water polo. I try to find at least 15 minutes a day (usually before bed) to devote to the stix. It's my meditation. Sometimes, if I forget to touch the stix during the day, I will jump out of bed at like 3am and start playing, then go back to sleep. It's like an itch that has to be scratched everyday. The cure and the addiction.
How is juggling life in the USA? Are devilsticks popular?
Probably more people know how to do the stix than juggle 3 balls. That being said, the stix have never fully reached the tipping point in popular culture. Their day will come. I believe the sport aspect will take them to the next level. That's one of my future projects.
What is your goal related with devilsticks? What is a challenge for you?
My ultimate goal is to take them into popular culture, to create a special type of sport the world has not yet seen, a framework for skill, creativity, and emotion to be expressed.
How do you imagine yourself when you are old? Will you still juggle?
Till the day I die and then as a ghost.
Can you imagine not juggle devilsticks any more?
Not an option.
Who do you recommend devilsticks for?
Everyone should try them at least once. Probably one in 25 people will be into them as an ongoing activity, and one in 1,000 may become obsessed.
What do you advice to beginner/advanced devilstick players?
Play every day. Go with the FLOW!