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- This article focuses on one aspect of toss juggling. For a more general discussion of juggling, see the main article: Juggling
Knife juggling is a variant of toss juggling using special knives which are thrown and caught. Although knives are sometimes juggled recreationally, it is generally a performance art. Knife juggling is typically seen performed by street entertainers as part of a routine.
Knife juggling is identical to club juggling in technique, consisting of throwing the clubs/knives upwards individually and then throwing and catching in a rhythmic pattern, usually with the objects crossing from hand to hand. The knives are thrown with vertical spin, lending them stability in the air, and are typically allowed to rotate once or twice before being caught. Knife juggling can, of course, be performed with any number of objects, but the vast majority of performers use three knives. Patterns used tend to be basic, or often consist solely of a cascade, the simplest of juggling tricks. This is partly due the unwieldy nature and increased weight of knives compared to clubs for juggling. Also, the performer is wary of spinning the knife incorrectly and thus catching the wrong end. Although this is perfectly safe with standard juggling knives it is to be avoided as it shatters the audience impression of severe risk.
Juggling is rarely performed with sharp knives, because there is little point in increasing the risk to performer for no aesthetic benefit. Specially balanced juggling knives are used (as in picture), usually with a bevelled edge to appear sharp. Performing with genuine machetes is not generally advised because the spin and balance are unfavourable, and tricks beyond the basics become much more difficult. Various bladed implements can be juggled, but many have a dangerous and unpredictable spin as seen on an axe or chainsaw. Such items are generally avoided, although chainsaws provide a preferable spin to axes if needs must.
Juggling knives are constructed with a blade of steel or sheet aluminium several millimeters thick and a wooden or composite handle such as found on juggling clubs. The blades are often scimitar shaped with a bevelled 'cutting' edge, and the other edges are rolled to prevent injury. The other common blade shape is an elongated diamond with all edges and the point rolled or otherwise made safe. While this makes knife juggling much safer than popularly assumed, knives can still cause severe trauma injuries to the head and body when falling from a height. Because of this, the juggling of large lumps of metal should only be attempted by competent club jugglers who understand the risks.