Articles, Blog

Are You a Hedgehog or a Fox? Flow Arts Personality Types

October 2, 2019


Hey gang! Drex here from Drexfactor.com and today I
wanted to talk a little bit about the difference between being specialized versus being diverse. So, by and large I feel like people in the
Flow Arts community fit into one of two categories: those that want to pick up all the props and
those that want to get really good at just a few or even one. I’m going to borrow an idea that first appears
in an ancient Greek poem by Archilochus in which he describes the difference between
these two personalities as being analogous to the temperaments of foxes and hedgehogs. As Archilochus says: “a fox knows many things,
but a hedgehog one important thing.” The idea has been resurrected in the modern
era through the works of philosopher Isaiah Berlin and political psychologist Phil Tetlock
to describe the difference between people who like to be diverse in their interests
and ideas versus those who zero in on a few or just one. So which one is it better to be? A jack of all trades but master of none or
a focused discipline who sometimes misses the forest for the trees? Before we dive in, I just want to take a moment
to give a shout out to the friends of the channel! Big thanks to Dark Monk, Spinballs, and Ultra
Poi for helping to make the videos on this channel possible. You can visit them all on the web by following
the links down in the description. Now on with the show! Okay, so just to say this up front: whenever
you split human beings into binary categories, it’s never perfectly clean. People are complicated and rarely does classifying
them like this turn out to be terribly accurate. Also: there are lots of people who enjoy finding
labels to define them while others find them restrictive or oversimplifications. Both sides are right. Take it all with a grain of salt. Now, I’ll go ahead and confess: I’m totally
a hedgehog. I made a choice many years ago that I was
going to focus on poi more or less exclusively in my flow journey. I didn’t just want to spin poi–I wanted
to master it. I’ve made a couple exceptions over the years:
devoting time to double staff and hooping, but by and large I’ve stayed on that course. This recently came up in a Facebook conversation:
there are more than a few prop manufacturers that have tried to get me to try out other
tools and my first thought is always: “But…that’s going to take time away from poi.” I love that focus because I feel like I don’t
just engage with the tool–it becomes an extension of me. We meld together and become one and the same. It can also be frustrating to see someone
with more of a fox mentality walk into class and rather than take the time to really drill
down all the work they need to the next plateau with their poi spinning, they’d rather run
off and have the excitement of getting to know a new tool. There’s also kind of a cultural divide I
see frequently between hedgehogs and foxes where the hedgehogs of the flow world tend
to see the foxes as being unfocused and undisciplined. We hedgehogs look at the foxes jumping from
prop to prop and think: “Yes, but I’m a real artist because I’m devoted to exploring
this prop deeply.” So here’s the thing: we need foxes. Every single prop that any of us hedgehogs
ever pick up exists because at some point a bunch of foxes jumped onboard. Every prop starts with no movement vocabulary
to speak of, so the only people to pick it up are those only interested in the newness
of it. It takes a certain number of people picking
that prop up before it’s worth it for prop companies to make it or there’s enough of
a saturation of artists using it to really deepen the vocabulary of it and make it enticing
to us hedgehogs. And personally: I think at some point we all
start as foxes. I remember first getting into fire spinning
and wanting to learn all the things! Picking up poi, rope dart, staff, anything
that looked intriguing. I had to make a conscious choice at a certain
point that I wanted to master just one of those props, but I’m glad that I took the
time to explore a little and find a prop that I was going to enjoy devoting that time to. It’s fun picking up a new prop! It’s fun to explore the new ways it may
make you move or the new ideas it brings to mind. Sometimes this can inspire you and keep you
engaged or even give you ideas that can be applied to other props. And foxes: I know that we hedgehogs can seem
really dour and stuck in the mud. It doesn’t seem like we have very much fun
as we drill a trick over and over and over again, beating back frustration, exhaustion,
and our wearing patience. And I’ll admit it: we can also be real dicks
about what we do. We’ve got a bad habit of judging people
who don’t seem to share our discipline, no matter how masochistic it appears to the
people around us. Be patient with us: we just find our satisfaction
in conquering these long-term goals. And the things we discover on those deep dives
inspire new people to come into our world. Maybe even you! So when all’s said and done: which is it
better to be? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the
thrill of learning something new, but also make sure you’re honest with yourself: if
you’re amazed by a difficult trick just know that you’re going to have to get through
a whole lot of painful and dedicated practice to get there. There are no shortcuts and if you’re not
ready to do the work yet it can be frustrating to a teacher to spend the time with you only
to see you run off to find your next thrill. By the same token: those of us who are on
that path to mastering our individual tools really need to stay humble. It’s okay for other people to pick up a
lot of different tools and it doesn’t take anything away from our dedication or discipline. And more than likely the art we’ve learned
was only possible because of a whole lot of fox early adopters. Is it better to be a hedgehog or a fox? Well, the question really is: which a better
fit for you? Thanks so much for watching and enjoy the
flow! Peace. Hey! Thanks so much for watching my video! If you got anything out of it, please leave
it a like and subscribe to help my channel grow. Special thanks to all my wonderful backers
on Patreon–you guys are the ones that make my videos possible! If you’re not current a backer and would
like to sign up to support my channel, please visit patreon.com/drexfactorpoi. Thanks so much in advance!

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12 Comments

  • Reply Christina Webster April 14, 2017 at 2:35 am

    i feel like i'm more of a hedgehog, but that's mostly because any time i try something new i get frustrated and then go back to poi because i enjoy the feeling of being good at something

  • Reply Kenzie Mitzner April 14, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Great topic! Did your experience at flame bring this up? I'm a fox 1000% even though I've been hooping for almost a decade. I find that I really love dancing with or without props and seeing the way each new prop interacts with my body is really fun. I also love how picking up different props changes the possibilities I see with my main prop. I also think many of you hedgehogs were never that comfortable with the idea of dancing in the first place so drilling stunning manipulations is a way to make up for what one lacks in the groove dept. just some more thoughts, thanks for the interesting topic!

  • Reply Serious sAm April 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Ima firely fire fly

  • Reply ken hill April 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    This is great. It reminds me of the business books I read. The two strongest pursuits to strengthen a business is innovation and optimization. Either we are bringing in new ideas or refining old ones. It seems that foxes and hedgehogs have varying degrees of focus on both of those qualities.

  • Reply Kenneth Pickerel April 18, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I'm hedgehog with fox tendencies. Poi is my ,Ian but I am dedicated an hour a day to hoops and doubles. I would also like to add and hour for juggling pins and juggle tech next. I work 6 hours a day and flow 6. Prince was a fox with hedgehog focus, he could see how every instrument was tied together and mastered them all. I feel like if there's is enough dedication you can be both. Not all foxes are not dedicated

  • Reply Domerciful April 24, 2017 at 1:25 am

    great work man, love the effort that goes into your videos, thanks

  • Reply Mister Mackey May 11, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I started with flowersticks 3 years ago and recently just dropped the hand sticks because it felt better. I went from struggling to do 10 minutes some days to taking my prop literally everywhere and feeling sick if I don't get at least an hour in. I've tried a few other props but none within the stick family so I just wasn't too interested. Long staff, escrima, sword, and nunchaku all seem like good candidates that might help me see a trick I already know a bit differently but it's not really a priority as I still have countless hours to put in mastering this prop. Need summer to get here so I can be outside with zero distraction days, house too busy sometimes to get deep into flow.

  • Reply Kitty Blendz October 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I am Jack of all trades master of none

  • Reply EchoNightfield October 20, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    I'M just some weird hybrid of Fox and Hedgehog. I want to learn many, but I want to learn it well! Started on long staff, made the decision to learn more (slowly) but I mainly stick with the staff

  • Reply Bloodsong13T April 10, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    so… contact poi came from foxes, then? ;D couldn't decide between contact juggling and poi spinning, so let's do both!

    i enjoy both of those arts/skills/toys/tools, but i wasn't interested in trying to mix them. although now, i may be beginning to change my mind… i think my next poi will be contact poi.

    good talk, drex! 🙂

  • Reply Julia Gardenhire May 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I am a hedgehog.

  • Reply Wave Storm March 14, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    first time I've ever liked and subscribed

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