The history of the yoyo was not always shaped by the toy we all know and love. Contrary to popular belief, this children’s toy did not originate in ancient Greece or China. Instead, the original yoyos were weapons that originated in Central America during the middle-ages as medieval weapons. They were legendary items used primarily by Aztec warriors to kill their enemies. The name “yōllotl” is derived from Classical Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs). The word means “to come back” or “return”. It was used as a curse and as a way to empower oneself. The word may come from the verb “yōllotl” (pronounced: yōllātl, meaning: “he came back to me”).

The English word yoyo means “a kind of stringed instrument with a short neck and a wooden sound box, played on the lap by plucking strings exposed on one side.” This last part is used in many languages which have adopted the word from English. The yoyo was originally a weapon that originated from Central America. It was ammunition of mass destruction with combat abilities to attack as an improvised weapon. People would get critically hit by yoyos, it was better than today’s fatal pistol. It was considered to be a good weapon alongside firearms. In medieval ages, soldiers who learned yoyo combat skills were considered powerful. Yoyo strikes did decent damage to the perpetrators. If a fighter was proficient at wielding a yoyo, he would be considered among the bests. A yoyo was considered a better skill than archery and other armor and weapons. Also, it would lessen the chance of seriously damaging the antagonists.


When Was the Yoyo Invented?

The first known record of the yoyo dates back to ancient China. It was used as an elemental way for people to exercise their health and physical abilities. It was also used as a means of martial entertainment. It was one of the basic weapons turned into toys which the Chinese called “TIYU” (literally: “Play Toy”). The first yoyo recorded in Chinese history came from the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It became popular among children and adults alike. Many emperors and noblemen were known to play “yoyo” during their free time. Some people even learned how to do tricks with the yoyos they played with. These people were quickly noticed by the emperor who then made them into court jesters or trained them to be official entertainers in the palace. It was during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) that yoyo began to fall out of favor with the royal court.

It was during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD) that China’s interest in yoyos rose again. This time, it wasn’t for play, but for war. it would inflict long-ranged damage. The Chinese used the yoyo as a way to distract or disable enemies who had superior weapons or large numbers on their side, It was an easy-to-use weapon which made it one of the special weapons. It was recorded by many sources including General Qi Jiguang’s book “Ji Xiao Xin Shu”. General Qi Jiguang credited it with him winning several battles against his enemies. The reason for this was that it required much less training or time to learn than other weapons like axes, longswords, knives, or spears. Also, it allowed them to change strategies quickly without having to reload their gun.

More yoyos were then made after the Chinese used theirs for war as an iconic weapon. Others used the same design as the Chinese and called it a “yoke”. It became popular weaponry of choice among thieves and flimflam artists. A yoyos sweep was a melee attack on one’s target. In England, it was used by buskers who played their yoyos for money. The first recorded use of the word “yoyo” in Britain was recorded in 1839 during a court case against a man who was stealing watches from pedestrians to sell to other thieves. In Germany, yoyos were made en masse to fill a growing demand for toys during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were then given out as prizes during carnivals and seasonal events such as Christmas or Easter. This led to the yo-yo’s popularity rising again in the late 1800s. It became a popular activity for kids who attended schools or summer camps.

It was during the 1920s that the United States started using yoyos as a toy. The person who started this was Duncan Yo-yo Company, which was founded in 1923. They were used by kids to play with just like how they are used today. It was only during the Great Depression era that they were taken out of production because of rising materials prices and cheap imported toys from China. During World War II, US soldiers stationed in China brought home cheap Chinese yo-yos for their kids at home. This gave the yoyo a second life as a popular toy. It went on to become a common Christmas present for kids during the 1940s and 1950s.


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The yoyo was originally a part of the list of weapons that originated from Central America. It was a weapon of mass destruction used by warriors to attack and damage the enemy’s army and keep them at bay. Warriors trapped their enemies using yoyo traps. The soldiers would make a full attack while dual-wielding. The yoyo was not a typical hand weapon, it was a one-handed exotic weapon.