Content of the material
A Little More About Juggling
There are many different reasons to learn how to juggle. First of all, juggling is a lot of fun, but beyond that it makes you smarter, helps you concentrate, relieves stress, gives you a physical workout, entertains people, gives you a sense of accomplishment, etc. If you want to learn more about the benefits of juggling, I’ve written a very informative article on the topic.
I have always encouraged people to learn how to juggle when they show an interest. People are usually surprised at how easy it is to learn. You can learn the basics in just a few hours of practice. It doesn’t take much to get started because you can usually find what you need laying around. Just grab some old baseballs, tennis balls, or ball up some socks. You don’t need anything special to get started.
The Common Perception of Juggling
Most people associate juggling with the circus and clowns. Sure there are people who juggle in the circus – performers. Clowns can juggle too, but every juggler is not a clown and not every juggler is a performer.
Juggling has evolved. I would even go so far as to say it’s cool. Just like skateboarding has its own culture, juggling has its own culture. It also has many specialties that fit into the general culture. There are so many different types of juggling equipment, different styles, and interests. Just take a look at some of the latest juggling videos that are showing up on Youtube and you’ll see what I mean. Juggler does not = circus or clown.
So what are you waiting for? Get started learning how to juggle now.
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Learning how to juggle
Beanbags are usually the object of choice for instructors, since they do not bounce. Instructors start out by teaching a beginner the proper keys of consistency and repetition. The basics consist of learning how to three-ball juggle, because it is the usual beginning point in learning how to become a master at the activity. After mastering three-ball juggling, the student can usually learn how to bounce juggle, and juggle with more objects and tricks.
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Clubs are probably the second-most-common juggling prop behind balls (or bean bags, which are often lumped into the same category). To juggle clubs, a juggler will usually rotate the club with each toss. Tossing and catching a club after one full rotation is considered a single flip. Doubles, triples and quads are tosses that include multiple flips (two, three and four, respectively). It’s also possible to catch the body of the club with a half rotation. Jugglers can toss the club from one hand to the other without rotating it at all, which is called floating the club.
Clubs come in several styles, though the two most common are European and American. European clubs have a narrower body and are very popular among professional jugglers. For one thing, it’s much easier to recover after a bad spin with a European club, and it’s easier to catch it by the body and give it a half or one-and-a-half spin on the next toss. The Juggling Information Service Committee recognizes a record of nine clubs or sticks juggled at once.
Some props are easier to juggle in large numbers than others. Here’s a brief list of the more common juggling props and how they translate into numbers juggling.
Several common juggling props are closely related to clubs. These include knives and torches, as well as other unorthodox juggling props such as axes and chainsaws. Obviously, with these items it’s more important for a juggler to make sure he catches the object by the handle. Most of these dangerous items are designed in such a way as to minimize injury should a juggler mistakenly under- or over-rotate a toss.
Rings are also common juggling props. A ring is a circular hoop, usually at least a foot in diameter. Rings tend to have very stable flight paths due to a gyroscopic effect. It’s easier for a skilled juggler to manipulate a greater number of rings than other objects. The official record for the most rings juggled at once is 13, though some claim to juggle as many as 14. Jugglers can throw more than one ring at a time from the same hand with relative ease — throwing multiple props at the same time from one hand is called multiplexing.
Another popular form of juggling takes place in bars. Bartenders specializing in flair juggling, manipulating bottles and cocktail cups in flashy displays of dexterity and showmanship. Bartender flair can involve toss juggling, bounce juggling and twirling displays, among other techniques.
Three-ball Juggling Variations
Bean bags are suggested to learn to juggle. Photo used in the public domain
The cascade provides the basis for hundreds of three-ball juggling tricks and variations. The most common variation is the reverse cascade. In a reverse cascade, ascending balls go over the arcs of the descending balls instead of under them. Your hands move in the opposite direction they would for a normal cascade — counterclockwise for your right hand and clockwise for your left. In other words, instead of scooping your hands inward, you scoop them outward. Most new jugglers find the pattern a little more challenging and less natural than the basic cascade.
Another variation is the halfshower. In a half shower, the juggler tosses the balls from one hand in a reverse cascade pattern (scooping outwards) and uses a regular cascade pattern with the other hand (scooping inwards). The pattern can go clockwise or counterclockwise, and, it’s quite easy to shift from one to the other with a little practice.
Tennis is another variation that is between the reverse cascade and the normal cascade. In tennis, the juggler tosses one ball in a reverse cascade while tossing the other two balls in a regular cascade pattern. The ball in the reverse cascade passes over the other two balls, much like a ball over the net in a tennis match.
The shower is one of the more difficult basic variations. A shower pattern is circular — one hand throws the balls in an arc while the other catches and feeds them back to the first hand. Some jugglers use a very low, fast toss from the catching hand to the tossing hand, while others actually put the ball into the tossing hand. Most people naturally gravitate to this pattern when practicing with two balls, but once you get up to three it becomes pretty challenging.
Other variations require the juggler to cross his arms and make throws under the other arm. Doing this once is simple, but there are complex patterns that require jugglers to constantly cross and uncross their arms while keeping a juggling pattern going. One such pattern is called Mills Mess, invented by Steve Mills. In this pattern, the juggler’s arms do all the crossing — the balls actually never cross paths at all. There are many other variations of three-ball routines with equally interesting names. Burke’s Barrage and Rubenstein’s Revenge are two other well-known variations.
You can even juggle balls upside down. Bounce juggling is just what it sounds like. Instead of tossing balls up into the air, you bounce them against the ground and catch them on the rebound. Jugglers can use a lift bounce by lightly tossing each ball upward and letting it fall to the ground, or they can use a force bounce by throwing the ball at the ground. Force bouncing is faster but gives jugglers more control and accuracy.
Common tricks with three-ball juggling include tossing balls behind the back or under the leg as well as bouncing a ball off a body part like the knee, foot or forehead. You might also see a juggler catch objects using a fast, downward grabbing motion, called clawing. Or, he might move an object in a fast, diagonal slash across the pattern and toss it under his other arm, which is called a chop. Other old standbys include juggling an apple and taking the occasional bite or making a face by holding one ball in the mouth and the other two over the eyes. Many modern jugglers look on these tricks with contempt, feeling that tricks such as these keep juggling in the realm of the sideshow. To see examples of these variations, please refer to the video on the first page of the article.Props and Balls
While the term "prop" is used to cover any object a juggler juggles, in this article we’ll talk primarily about juggling balls. Just remember that almost everything that can apply to juggling balls can apply to any other prop.
Step 4: Three Balls
now that you have mastered an exchange it is time to try three balls. This takes time and patience but eventually you will get it. It is the same as step three but this time you have another ball. Start with the hand that has 2 balls in it. Now instead of catching the second ball throw the third just as you did the second (unless it was a bad throw). Now catch the second ball. Then repeat all of this step as if ball three were ball one. Juggling is a simple pattern repeated over and over again. Note-the pattern is step 3.
Juggling notation systems
Juggling tricks and patterns can become very complex, and hence can be very difficult to communicate using everyday language. To get around this problem, various notation systems have been developed for communication of existing patterns, as well as for investigating and discovering new patterns.
Diagram-based notations are the clearest way to show juggling patterns on paper, but as they are based on images, their use is limited in text based communication (email and the internet). Ladder Diagrams track the path of all the props through time, where the less complicated Causal Diagrams only track the props that are in the air, and assumes that a juggle has a prop in each hand. Numeric based notation systems are more popular and standardized than diagram-based notations. They are used extensively in both a written form, and for those “fluent” in juggle-speak, in normal conversation.
Animation of Siteswap 3, also known as a 3 ball cascade
Siteswap is by far the most common juggling notation. In its most basic form, Vanilla Siteswap, it is very easy to use, as each pattern is reduced to a simple sequence of numbers, such as “3,” “97531,” or “744.” However, vanilla siteswap can only notate the most basic alternating two-handed patterns, with no deviations from a very strict set of rules. If one of these rules is broken, if, for example, an extra hand is added, the same string of numbers will result in a wildly different pattern than first conceived. For slightly more complicated patterns, extra rules and syntax are added to create Synchronous Siteswap, to notate patterns where both hands throw at the same time, and Multiplex Siteswap, to notate patterns where one hand holds or throws two balls on the same beat. Other extensions to siteswap have been developed for specific purposes, including Passing Siteswap, Multi-Hand Notation (MHN), and General Siteswap (GS).
Beatmap is a relatively new numeric notation which can notate any number of hands or juggling prop, and in any rhythm, with no added complexity to its basic structure. Within beatmap it is also possible and easy to notate not only the balls in a pattern, but also the hands or arms of the juggler, as well as the position, location or orientation of the body of a juggler. Luke Burrage, the inventor of beatmap, claims that beatmap can more accurately describe more patterns than all ladder diagrams, causal diagrams, mills mess state transition diagrams, vanilla siteswap, synch siteswap, passing siteswap and multi-hand notation combined. So far use of beatmap is very limited, as most jugglers and all juggling software understand only variations of siteswap.
Step 1: Learn About the Ball
Before I start you have to know that you WILL drop the ball a lot as you learn. Everyone does and you cannon let this get you down. If you have to practice dropping it until it doesn’t bother you but if you dont then follow the first step. The first step is to familiarize yourself with your tool. Toss it around and decide if the ball is the right size for your hand. Note- if you have a square bean bag type thing use that as balls tend to roll away if you drop them but cubes do not.
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