Here is "Blur" in Ben Job's notation, as a point of reference for the rest
of the tutorial:
clip > op in dex > op in dex > op toe
(1) Ben Job realized (and it wasn't so obvious before, believe it or not)
that moves basically start with one of two sets: either a toe or a clipper,
so each move in his notation is "clip >" or "toe >" meaning "clipper set
into" or "toe set into"; and moves basically end with one of two contacts
(toe or clipper).
So in the case of Blur, the move usually starts with a set out of a clipper
delay and ends with a toe.. Hence: "clip > ... > ... toe".
(2) The ">" can be read as "into" or "followed by", but is a special symbol
because if you say "into" or "followed by" people aren't sure if you mean
there's a contact in between or not. The ">" expressly means "without
contacting the bag between the things on either side of the > symbol". So
when we use ">" we are never talking about "strings" of moves; only about
"components" that go into the moves. Hence I tend to refer to each thing
after a ">" but before the next ">" as a "component".
(3) Ben further noticed that in a huge percentage of the moves (and all of
the basic ones), you can easily describe a move in terms of the dexterities
involved -- i.e., whether a leg goes "in-out" (mirage-style) around/over
the bag, or "out-in" (butterfly-style, reverse-mirage style). To avoid
verbosity, these are shortened to just "in" for "in-out" and "out" for
"out-in". And the word "dexterity" is shortened to "dex".
So in the case of Blur, the notation would give us "... in dex > ... in dex
..." to represent that there are two sequential in-out dexterities in the
For this tutorial, let's ignore moves like "pogo" and "symposium" and other
moves where plants and spins (gyrating, in-spinning, etc.) are significant.
They *are* handled by the notation, but it's best to understand the BASIC
form of the notation before getting into that stuff, so I'll leave it for
another tutorial. (Some of that notation is also open to debate as to
whether or not it covers every case.)
(4) The only other confusion might be "opposite" versus "same". We decided
that, to avoid having to write a move description twice, once for the left
side and one for the right, and since people aren't always in agreement
about which side is which (don't ask), everything would be "relative".
What I mean by "relative" is, when we say "opposite" ("op"), we mean
"opposite to the leg/foot referred to just before the ">", and when we say
"same", we mean "same as the leg/foot referred to just before the ">".
So Blur set from either clipper would be:
clip > op in dex > op in dex > op toe
(The non-setting foot does the first in-out dexterity; the foot that didn't
do that dexterity then does another in-out dexterity; and you catch the bag
on the toe of the foot that didn't just do that final dexterity.)
(5) Why do we use "relative" meanings for "op" and "same", and not use them
to refer to "opposite of setting foot" or "same as setting foot"? The
answer is, it really doesn't make a big difference which way we use them,
but we have to be consistent and agree to a particular meaning, and most
people have accepted the convention in (4) above.
I personally think the one we're using now is more sensible, and if you
want to spent 1 more minute, read this reasoning. Otherwise, skip it and
you're done with the tutorial. Reasoning: if we write everything relative
to the setting foot, it confuses the issue for variations on moves (such as
"paradox" or "gyrating") where the components are exactly the same, but the
set is different. So we (I?) prefer to be able to see the similarity in
two moves by comparing their inner components without having to go and
figure out which leg is which. If everything is relative ("opposite of or
same as leg referred to in the previous component") then things are
generally simpler to cut and paste in e-mail. :-)
NOTE: Moves can start and end with other surfaces than toes and clippers,
including insides (used like toes), dragons (used like clippers), and soles
(used either way depending on whether they're cross-body or not), but the
description would otherwise be identical. So a move could be "inside > ...
> dragon" if it started with an inside set and ended in a dragon, for
example. But the key is, regardless of which surface you use, all the
stuff in the middle (after the set and before the pick-up) is the same.
But let's ignore those cases for the sake of understanding the basic
notation. The terms at the beginning and end of the move description are
really the least interesting (especially since most of us agree the set
isn't really part of the move, again not wanting to open a can of worms
onto the great paradox debate :-)).