Juggling club

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A set of juggling clubs

Juggling clubs, or simply clubs are a prop used by jugglers, as are other props such as balls or rings. A typical club is in the range of 50 centimetres (20 in) long, weighs between 200 and 300 grams (7.1 and 10.6 oz), is slim at the "handle" end, and has its center of balance nearer the wider "body" end. The definition of a club is somewhat ambiguous; sticks or rods are allowed under the current Juggling Information Service (JIS) rules for juggling world records.[1]

The term "juggling club" can also mean a social organization where jugglers meet to practice and socialize.

Clubs are sometimes referred to as "pins" due to their resemblance to bowling pins. They also resemble the shape of the Indian club. However, modern juggling clubs are distinct from both bowling pins and Indian clubs as they vary greatly in construction, weight and weight distribution, and are not interchangeable for most purposes. [2]

Types[edit]

Juggling clubs are divided into categories based on facets of their construction and body diameters.

Wood clubs[edit]

Early turn of the century clubs were made entirely of wood—solid handles with large bodies which were hollowed to reduce weight. This style of club was manufactured by Edward Van Wyck and Harry Lind. These were large diameter American styled clubs. In Europe, construction using solid cork bodies with wood handles was seen along with very thin profiled solid wood clubs which were actually more stick-like in their construction.

One-piece clubs[edit]

One piece clubs are constructed from a single material, usually plastic and are hollow. One piece clubs are very durable and are cheaper than composite clubs/multi-piece. Despite these virtues, one piece clubs are less popular among jugglers than multi-piece, who complain that they are hard on their hands and particularly painful when accidentally hit.

Multi-piece clubs[edit]

Multi-piece clubs are the most popular clubs. The club is built along an internal rod, providing a base on which a handle made of polyolefin plastic is wrapped, providing an airspace between it and the internal rod. This airspace provides flex, cushioning impact, making the club softer on the hands. Foam ends and knobs further cushion the club. This design was pioneered by Jay Green in the 1960s with off the shelf components and refined by Brian Dube, beginning in 1975 with the first custom production molds. Multi-piece clubs are made in both a thin European style or larger bodied American style and in various lengths, generally ranging from 19 to 21 inches (480 to 530 mm). The handles and bodies are typically wrapped with decorative plastics and tapes.

Basic juggling[edit]

The basic pattern of club juggling, as in ball juggling, is the cascade. Clubs are thrown from alternate hands; each passes underneath the other clubs and is caught in the opposite hand to the one from which it was thrown. At its simplest, each club rotates once per throw, the handle moving down and away from the throwing hand at first. However, double and triple spins are frequently performed, allowing the club to be thrown higher for more advanced patterns and to allow tricks such as 360s to be performed underneath.

It is also possible to throw "flats", which mean pushing the handle up as the club is thrown to prevent it spinning at all. Taken further, "reverse" throws can be thrown, causing the club to rotate in the opposite direction to normal. Although much more difficult, five-club cascades on reverse double-spins have been performed.

Passing[edit]

Clubs are the object of choice for passing between jugglers. Juggling clubs are much larger than balls, so they require less accuracy to catch when thrown by another person.

When making a pass to another juggler, the club usually completes one-half extra rotation more than a self throw. This is because a passed club rotates in the opposite direction from a self throw. In passing clubs, the club rotates in the opposite direction as a rolling wheel. For a reverse throw the club rotates the same direction as a rolling wheel—rolling in the same direction—would rotate, such that the handle comes down into the catcher's upturned hand. In a 'normal' throw the hand catches the club with the hand turned palm downwards. This is opposite of the way a club is caught when thrown to oneself.

Beginning club passing is generally done with six clubs between two jugglers, each passing every fourth beat. The passes are made from one juggler's right hand to the other juggler's left hand, so the clubs travel perpendicular to both jugglers. This basic pattern is called four count or every-others. The four-count (pass—two—three—four, pass—two—three—four, pass—two—three—four) is well suited to juggling to music.

More advanced club passing can involve more objects, more jugglers and more intricate patterns. A notation for describing club passing patterns, called causal notation was developed by Martin Frost of the Stanford Juggling Research Institute.

Tricks[edit]

Most ball-juggling tricks can be performed with clubs, though they are generally more difficult because of the size of the clubs and the extra complexity added by their rotation. However, for tricks involving juggling a basic cascade under other constraints, such as while unicycling or blindfolded, club juggling is easier, given the lower accuracy required to make each catch.

Combat/gladiators[edit]

Combat, often known as Gladiators in Europe, is a popular competitive group juggling activity. A "last man standing" competition, the participating jugglers agree to maintain a base level of juggling, normally a three club cascade, within a certain area. Participants who drop a club, or go out of bounds, have lost the round and are expected to remove themselves (and their clubs if necessary) from the competition area. Although participants are not allowed to deliberately come into body to body contact with each other unless previously specified, they are allowed to use their clubs to interfere with other participants' cascades through juggling tricks. Stealing a club out of another participant's cascade, in order to replace one's own dropped or discarded club, is a common tactic. Multiple rounds may be played, with the winner being the first to win a set number of rounds, or the person with the most wins by a set end time.

Records[edit]

The world record for most clubs juggled (i.e., longest time or most catches with each club at minimum being thrown and caught at least twice without dropping) is eight clubs for 16 catches, achieved by Anthony Gatto in 2006.[3] The record for most clubs/sticks flashed (i.e., each prop thrown and caught only once) is nine, achieved by Bruce Tiemann (boppo) in 1996 and since equaled by Scott Sorensen in 1997, Chris Fowler in 2003 and Daniel Eaker in 2009.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ JIS FAQ regarding sticks as clubs.
  2. ^ Dancey, Charlie (1995). Compendium of Club Juggling. Bath: Butterfingers. pp. 99–102. ISBN 1-898591-14-8. 
  3. ^ a b JISCON Juggling Records.

External links[edit]