Juggling Mad. History & Technique

It’s so much more than just catching juggling balls. It’s the key to unlocking your super powers. It increases your power of concentration, develops your mental and physical agility, improves your Hand-eye coordination, calms an over active mind and eases your worries. And you thought it was just to look cool. Which it also does.

Brief History

Did you know that Juggling has been depicted in art dating back to as early as 1990BC! Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and Chinese civilizations were full of keen jugglers. Paintings, carvings and pottery began to depict the wild feats of jugglers, including the arrival of multiple ball juggling and the introduction of juggling swords…7 of them…while stood on stilts. And so the legend of the juggler as an entertainer began.

In 603 BC, during a battle between states in China, a warrior stepped out and approached the enemy. It’s said that he juggled 9 balls and so impressed they were by this that all 500 of the enemy fled. That’s right, Juggling can end wars.

Other cultures all developed their own styles of juggling, with their feet, with unusual objects, for ceremonies and parties and just as these traditions have been passed through the generations they’ve finally reach today. Now isn’t it time we have a go?

Getting started

The excitement and prestige that surround juggling lead us to view it as very difficult but, at its core Juggling is just throwing an object and catching it. It’s a sequence of simple and easily controllable movements that once learnt will never leave you, just like riding a bike. The basic 3 ball pattern, known as the ‘cascade’ can be learned in an hour. These video below is a perfect introduction to the skill and break down all the important steps.

If you initially struggle with the timing and coordination of juggling balls then you can use juggling scarves to ease yourself into the skill. Their slower descent will allow you a clearer view of when exactly to throw and more time to catch.

Types of Juggling Balls

Beanbags, MMX & Leather Balls

These are the most common type you’ll find. Their seed filling makes them easier to handle, they land more softly and when dropped they’re less likely to roll away (this is often referred to by the word ‘thud’ juggling balls). The differentiating factor is the material the balls are coated with, Cloth beanbags are often better value and machine washable, leather beanbags are very durable and available in many designs, PU beanbags are polyurethane-coated fabric and are a good vegan option, MMX balls have a moulded PVC outer casing that’s tough.

Stage balls

These balls are designed for the stage. Available in a variety of stunning, vivid colours, their hollow construction from semi-soft PVC plastic make these perfect for precise and accurate throws. The firm, solid feel also translates into a smoother catch. You’ll often find these in glossy and matte finishes which are both wonderful, but PRO TIP, the glossy ones need a bit of breaking in compared to their matte finish counterpart.

Russian juggling balls

These balls are made with a hollow shell that’s only partially filled. The filling sits at the bottom of the ball giving them a lower centre of gravity and a more instantaneous stop when landing. This ‘Russian Effect’ allows the ball to be balanced more easily and caught on otherwise awkward surfaces like your neck or elbow. Different balls have different weights of shell and filling contributing to different strengths of the ‘Russian Effect’, the lighter the shell and heavier the filling, the stronger the effect.

LED Glow Balls

Ranging from the wallet friendly battery operated versions to the more advanced USB chargeable or remote controlled versions. LED balls are available in single LED colours or as multifunction units that include different lighting effects and multiple colour transitions. Their semi-soft silicone exteriors make them easy to handle but due to their weight may need some getting used to if you’re new to juggling.

Other forms of Juggling

Contact Ball Juggling is like a mystical art. The crystal clear balls are rolled across parts of the body and hands to give the appearance of the ball levitating. This skill takes a great deal of concentration, coordination and balance, but hey, if you cracked regular juggling you can do this too! We stock practice Contact Balls made from a heavy silicone rubber that are perfect for when you’re in training.

Club Juggling is the natural progression from balls. The larger heavier target allows you to make much bigger throws but where as a ball can be caught at any point in its cycle, Clubs need to be timed correctly.

Juggling rings are found to be easier by some people. Their larger shape make them easier to catch and give them a more stable flight that’s easier to track.  It’s also a great way of getting your hands used to gripping vertically perfect for when you want to move on from balls.

Bounce Juggling uses the floor instead of the air, requiring you to drop your balls rather than throw. The same patterns can be used like a ‘cascade’. Advanced bounce jugglers can juggle against a wall and the floor combining vertical and horizontal juggling. It’s no easy feat but it’s very impressive when cracked.

Juggling Knives, its as dangerous as it sounds and as cool as it looks. It requires a huge amount of skill and dedication and should only be attempted by those with experience.  

Now get out there and start Juggling! Stay tuned for our next article about the wonderful world of POI. Make sure to follow us so you can find out all the latest in the world of Juggling and Circus equipment and toys.

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