Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Do Yamawakis exist?

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I'm an absolute pleasure to be around. My friends and family can attest to this. In order to feign gratefulness for an entire 24-hour period, I have to unleash all my crabbiness beforehand, and you, Gymternet, get to experience a little bit of my holiday cheer.

There's one high bar combination that I cannot stand:

Stoop (sometimes called an Adler) to a full pirouette on one arm



If this combination were a dude, I'd kick it in the junk. I hate it that much.

I hate it for two reasons. First, almost every male gymnast competed this combination. (For women's gymnastics fans: it was the aerial front walkover + back handspring stepout + layout stepout of the last quad.) Second, I'm not convinced that anyone really does a Yamawaki.

What is a Yamawaki? you ask. That's a darn good question. I have a feeling they might be mythical creatures like unicorns or centaurs because they seem to exist only in books. Like this one:

Normally, I find these drawings confusing, but this one actually clarifies a lot for me. First, it shows that a Yamawaki should be done with a straight body. Second, it shows that the Yamawaki should be executed as if it were a laid-out Markelov. This means that the half twist should happen before the gymnast's body crosses the bar. In other words, when he flies over the bar, he should not be able to see the bar for a brief moment because he is doing something like a laid-out reverse hecht over the bar.

Now, let's take a look at a few stills from the high bar finals in London. Do any of these men fit those criteria?

I'm sorry, but 


Just No.

Is anyone stretched? No. Did anyone turn before his feet crossed the bar? No. Yet, somehow, all of these gymnasts received credit for a Yamawaki (a D), when some of them probably should have received credit for a Voronin (a B).

A Voronin is similar to the Yamawaki in that the release comes from a back uprise. But instead of being stretched like the Yamawaki, the Voronin is piked. Furthermore, the twist does not have to be completed before the gymnast crosses over the bar, meaning the gymnast can see the bar the entire time during a Voronin.

Above, all of the offenders were looking at the bar the entire freakin' time, and honestly, on a frame to frame basis, I see more similarities between the Imaginary-Yamawakis-Being-Performed and a Voronin. I mean, just look at the beginning of Garibov's "Yamawaki"!

His butt screams, "Voronin!!!!" 

I mean, c'mon! That butt position does not appear anywhere in the diagram of the Yamawaki! It does, however, show up in the diagram of a Voronin...

Dear Mr. Judge,

I get it. These gymnasts are putting you in a very hard position. A Voronin is not considered a very flighty release, and these gymnasts are getting a lot of hang time. Plus, their chests are in an in-between position--not really a Voronin and not really a Yamawaki. So, it is hard to decide what the gymnasts are doing, but in my mind, what I'm seeing is clearly not a Yamawaki.

I mean, you have to ask yourself whether the gymnasts are really doing Yamawakis. Like, really? Do their "Yamawakis" look anything like the picture in the Code of Points? Is what they're doing really a D skill?

The gymnasts, I'm sure, thank you for your generosity during the last quadrennium. But I don't. I'm tired of watching this crap. It's time to put on your mean face, Mr. Judge, (GRR!) and stop giving credit to pseudo-Yamawakis.

Uncle Tim

Thankfully, the new Code of Points disincentivized the Adler-Yamawaki combination a bit. Whereas in the past the gymnasts received two tenths for the connection of the two skills, they will receive only an extra tenth during the upcoming quad. So, maybe--if the gym gods do exist--we will see fewer of these so-called Yamawakis.

By the way...

I'm not the only one who thinks that a Yamawaki's turn should happen before the gymnast crosses the bar. Carlos Vazquez said the same thing in a high bar clinic video.

Further Reading:

Rick at Gymnasticscoaching.com also talks about the Yamawaki in his open letter to Steve Butcher.


  1. I didn't even know a Voronin is a thing. So strange that a non laid-out, late turn D skill looks so much like good execution of a B skill. If you have more such examples, I would read. just sayin

  2. Thanks for posting this! I watch men's gymnastics, and I've been hearing people gripe about Yamawakis for a while now, but for some reason I never bothered to look up what it was. Now that I know, I totally understand all the hate. I've hated that skill this whole quad, not just because it's WAY overused, but because it's always executed so poorly! Even though I didn't know what the skill was exactly, it's never looked properly executed to me, and I'm glad I wasn't imagining that. And I'm no code expert, but there's no way I would have ever given these examples credit as a Yamawaki...they are totally Voronins! Let's hope this type of judging nonsense ends (or at least is more accurate) in the upcoming quad...

  3. Check out Charlie tamayo's yamawaki

    1. Charlie's is impressive in terms of height, but he does only a 1/4 turn before crossing the bar. Again, not truly a Yamawaki. :(

  4. I think Koji Yamamuro comes pretty close to the real thing...


  5. K Tanaka has a nice high one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6ibt3Ap4UE&feature=related (though the turn is not fully completed before he crosses the bar). Overall I would say the Japanese men have a less "pikey" shape, but like the others they don't finish the half befre they cross the bar

  6. At the FIG Judging course right now.

    Yamawaki becomes a Voronin IF the hips are the highest point of the body. There's no requirement for stretch or timing of twist.

    That's the decision of the FIG MTC member responsible for Horizontal Bar.

    The mass of judges disagree.