Juggling Tricks With Juggling Clubs
Copyright 2019, Jeff Napier
In this website I will attempt to describe various artistic club passing techniques so you can learn them, and I’ll provide hints to make these techniques easier. I’ve covered everything from the very basics of club passing to super-advanced stuff that you may think is theoretical only, although everything here has actually been performed by your author or others. Putting some of this stuff into English is not easy, especially if you are from Santa Cruz. Therefore, you may have difficulty understanding some of what I have written. But that’s OK, because if you screw a trick up, you have probably invented something else anyway.
In fact, many of these tricks are born out of accidents. When you maintain a playful attitude while juggling, you might see something that doesn’t work, but it will give you ideas. You may catch a club backwards, it may bounce off another club weirdly, or you may struggle to fix a messed up pattern in a unique way. These strange occurrences can be duplicated and made more visual.
If you do want to learn a trick precisely as described, refer to the terminology section often. I have tried to list the standard taxonomy of club juggling, or I have tried to standardize it, where necessary. You and I may not be using the same understandings of certain words, unless you look them up.
This website is aimed at advanced passers, although anyone who can pass will find easy and fun stuff mixed into these pages. In case you’re interested in artistic club passing, even though you’ve never tried it, you’ll find that the first section does teach the basics.
Initially, I thought I might sort this stuff into various counts, and complexities. But, I didn’t. I don’t think it would have helped. Instead, this material is presented in haphazard arrangement because I think you’ll find it more interesting, and because you can pick and choose without having to limit your choices by first deciding on a category.
I would like to suggest a different approach to artistic passing than you may use to learn your solo and show juggling. Instead of working on the same stuff over and over again to get specific improvements, enjoy yourself. Play! Be free! It’s not important to “get tricks down.” It is much more important to laugh and have fun. Do a trick once or do it a hundred times, but do it only when you feel like it. This allows creative freedom. It also teaches you and your partner flexibility regarding weird catches. Eventually you will perfect tricks by association. Learning one trick teaches another. I have seen people practicing shoulder throws very hard every day until they finally give up in frustration. Others, when adding a shoulder throw now and then as a suffix to a series of tricks, learn the same shoulder throw in about the same amount of time. It’s painless the second way.
About clubs: I suggest soft clubs of the European style because you are less likely to get hurt with a wrong catch, and you can more easily do knob balancing and bash tricks. For those who don’t know, European style is a type of club made from several pieces – a plastic club shell, an internal wooden dowel or plastic tube, rubber knobs and bottoms, and usually some tape to hold things together, for a better grip, and as decoration.
The other common variety is the American club. It is made from a single, hollow piece of plastic. American clubs are generally larger in diameter than European clubs. Because the American clubs don’t have rubber ends, they are more difficult to do tricks that require friction, such as balances. Keep in mind too, that most other passers will be used to European clubs and would have trouble with different clubs.
Most jugglers and especially club passers in America, and perhaps elsewhere, seem to gravitate toward Renegade clubs, available at renegadejuggling.com. Renegade makes normal and also very strange clubs. In order to match what other jugglers are most used to, you’ll probably want to go with ordinary design and dimensions.
The second most common clubs are Play PX3s – oddly also available at Renegadejuggling.com. These have a big advantage, and a big disadvantage over Renegades. The advantage is durability. A serious passer will wear out a set of Renegades in six months. (Later in this website, you’ll see some photographs of my current clubs, which are nearing the end of their lifespan.) The PX3s under the same circumstances will last for years. About the only failure I have seen, which I have seen unfortunately often, is that the screw that secures the knob will break, and the knob will fall off. The disadvantage is that the PX3s flex a bit, making accuracy, especially in any sort of bashing tricks, difficult.
Avoid the temptation to get clubs with dark handles. You’ll appreciate this advice after sunset when the passers using light-handled clubs can go fifteen minutes longer into the darkness. Should jugglers go into darkness? I don’t know.
I have not yet made a final decision for my own use, as
to long or short handle size. Short handle clubs are easier
to juggle for longer periods of time because there is less
energy needed to accelerate them. They also hurt less if
something goes wrong. Some people worry that short-handle
clubs will not do body throws as well because you don’t have
the same reach. This is not true because the reach is
actually the same. (The question is: From where are you
releasing the knob?)
I think I feel more control with long handle clubs,
however. They go where you throw them more accurately than
shorts. Long handle clubs are more standard. If you carry
just three clubs to the park, and meet another juggler
there, chances are the other juggler will have long handles.
One thing I am sure of: head spins and regular kick-ups are
less failure prone with longs.
Since this is artistic passing we are talking about, I
would like to mention that you should strive to express
every trick fully. A big arm circle is really a BIG arm
circle, for instance. Try to remember your feet are not
glued to the floor. Arsene and Mark Neisser are great
examples of how much you can add to juggling with dance.
Teaching is part of club passing for most jugglers. We’re generally a bit evangelical in our zeal. And, for good reason. Teaching club passing, or juggling, or any unique skill, imparts a ‘can-do’ attitude in those who learn. Once you have learned club passing, you feel like you can master other things. You have learned how valuable patience is. And you feel more energetic toward new situations. This is especially important for children. Once they build their self-esteem by learning club passing, everything becomes easier, even their academic pursuits. It’s as if their subconscious programming gets modified to include, “Hey, if I can learn club passing, then algebra ought to be easy.”
But why club passing, rather than basketball, figure skating or piano? These too, build a can-do attitude, but have less power. What’s the difference? If someone practices guitar for a couple of years, or gets really serious about soccer, that person may find that even though they’ve become good, they’re lost in the crowd. There are a million other people who have learned the same thing. The chances of standing out in your field are not good if you studied piano or ice skating.
In any competition there can be only one winner. What does that make everyone else? Right. Losers! But, if you take up unicycling, saxophone, or juggling, your chances of becoming a recognized specialist are much greater, and that’s just wonderful for building self-esteem.
Some of these pursuits don’t require competition, although competing in club passing right up through the international level is available if you want it. The point is, the accomplished pianist only gets to enjoy playing piano for its own sake – not a bad thing. But the accomplished club passer is somebody special. Other people, even if only other club passers, will take note. This builds self-esteem in a big way, and self-esteem is like money in the bank. It’s transferrable to other pursuits.
That kind of reminds me of parents who are delighted when their child takes up guitar, but then they’re horrified when the kid announces that he wants to become a rock ‘n roll star.
What they’re not understanding is that he may grow into an adult who never plays the guitar again, but the attitude of patient growth he learned while he was studying guitar will help him tremendously in medical school. Do you suppose that’s one reason such a high percentage of club passers are PhDs, programmers, and medical professionals?
Your author has taught scores of people to pass clubs who couldn’t juggle three balls. Juggling is not a prerequisite. So, let me tell you how I do it. Of course there are other ways. But, you may find this way works pretty well. Furthermore, if you are a reader who has not yet passed clubs, you can use this information to learn it by yourself or actually, along with a friend, since it takes two to pass.
1. Have the student throw a single club from hand to hand with a single spin. Let the student see and practice low, wide throws, showing how the club describes an infinity sign in its movement.
2. Show the student how to hold out the left hand, with the thumb pointing toward the face, and the fingers away. This way, if a club hits the hand, it won’t hurt as it would if the club hits an extended finger or thumb.
3. Throw a pass to the student. If the student has trouble catching the club after multiple attempts, tell the student not to move her hand. Tell the student to just close her hand around the club once it arrives.
4. Have the student toss the club from left hand to right.
5. Have the student pass a club from right hand to your left.
5a. Perhaps you can gauge the student’s involvement and style at this point. Some will want to practice these one-club steps over and over and over and over. These are the meditative types of people. They enjoy perfecting things (or at least throwing a club), and don’t get bored easily. Others, will get bored and never take the next steps, unless you move the learning along quickly. For them, perfection is not important. They want to know ‘how it’s done’ right away.
6. So, when your student is ready, have him hold a club in his left hand while you throw a pass to his left hand. Work with the student to throw the held club at the last possible moment as the pass is arriving, until the student is somewhat proficient in catching your club, then a moment later, catching the club that he threw to his own right hand. It is important at this step to understand the timing.
7. Have the student hold one club in each hand. When you throw a pass, the student should throw a club to his own right hand, and then a pass from his right hand to your left. Once again, timing may have to be emphasized, so the student understands and actually feels in his body that everything doesn’t happen at once. Each step is a distinct point in time. Accuracy of the pass is not important at this time. As the teacher, you may have to skip around quite a bit to catch the passes, but it’s worth the effort, isn’t it? The accuracy of passes will straighten out automatically in time.
8. Once the student can adequately catch your pass, catch her own self-throw, and pass a club to you, your can delight her by actually passing clubs. Give your student two clubs, one in each hand, and you start with three. You juggle for a moment, then pass a club to your student. Your student does the thing she’s just learned: She catches your club, does a self-throw, and passes you a club. You wait until her pass comes to you, then juggle several self-throws, and pass another club. Your student is now passing clubs!
9. Repeat step eight, gradually bringing up the speed until your student is juggling at two-count speed. Expect a lot of laughter during Step Nine as you keep accelerating the pace. At first, you might be doing six-count or even eight-count. Soon, you can do four-count, eventually a sort of modified, slowed-down two-count, and finally, since you only have five clubs, but you want your student to master two-count speed, you are just handing off clubs as passes in two-count time.
10. Show your student how to do a quick-start pass while holding three clubs.
11. Pass in two-count with your student.
12. Depending on the nature of your student, start showing other counts such as four-count, and tricks, to your heart’s content. Early on, you’ll want to focus on various pickups, so you and your student won’t have to deal with a lot of starting and stopping.
An “Albert,” named after Albert Lucas who has it down to perfection, is a throw that goes between the legs, but without lifting a foot off the floor. For this to work, you need to throw the club by the very end holding just the knob between thumb and first finger. Alberts can be thrown from behind the legs to the front or from front to back.
To do an Attack Catch, bring your catching
hand forward and meet the incoming club fast, before it has
rotated fully. You will have therefore caught it upside
down. This can also be done with solo throws. Attack catches are commonly followed with flourishes.
Many passing techniques involve bashes – hitting one club with another. Keep in mind that super-hard bashes to the middle of a club can break the dowel, and hard hits to the body, especially on a cold day, can fracture the plastic shell.
The “bashee” refers not to the catcher, but to the club that gets hit. The “basher” is the club that does the hitting.
Hold a club by the knob and swing it
around in the biggest hacksaw plane circle you can. This is usually done with the right hand during a left-to-left double-spin pass in two-count, or during four-count with a multiplex or demultiplex.
There are times when the best way to deal with an incoming club is to “body catch” it. This means you catch it in your elbow, or between an arm and the side or front of your body. Body catches are most often used to deal with simultaneous arrivals, but can also be an artistic move in themselves. To recover from a body catch, pass the clubs you are holding in your hands normally first, then let the body catch fall to a place where you can catch it in a hand. The most important thing in learning body catches is to stay calm.
The “knob” is obviously, well, the knob, the skinny end. The “bottom” is the fat end of the club.
Chops is the former name for Tomahawks. The name was changed due to ambiguity with an entirely different solo trick, also called “chops,” in which the juggler makes under-arm throws with rapid exaggerated movement as each throw is set up, resulting in what might look somewhat like martial arts ‘chops.’ So, for club passing, as computer programming manuals like to say, “chops” has been deprecated.
The most common passing pattern in the world, and perhaps the most artistic is often called “four-count.” It is also known as “every-others,” or just “others” since every other right hand throw goes to your partner. If you think about every throw from both hands, there are three throws between each pass, plus the pass itself, for four throws per cycle.
“Two-count,” in which every right-hand throw goes to your partner, also allows for considerable art, and it all seems faster to the audience. Two-count is also known as “showers” and “express.”
“Three-count” is a pattern in which every third throw, counting both hands, goes to your partner. This results in alternating passes from the right and and left hand. That 11.11 percent of the population who are left-handed (yup, that’s really the percentage) particularly like three-count because it levels the playing field.
“One-count,” also known as “ultimates,” or “onesies,” is a somewhat difficult pattern to learn. In this, every throw goes to your partner. To make it much easier, every pass can be thrown from low and inside, to be caught high and outside. By concentrating on low-inside to high-outside for every throw, you’ll find that throwing is not only more consistent, but collisions, which are otherwise common in this pattern, are avoided. You may notice that the three clubs on your right side never mix with the three clubs on your left. This is like two independent three-club passing patterns.
“Six-count” is rare. Every sixth throw, counting both hands, is a pass. This used to be taught to beginners as their first passing count, but as teachers, we have learned that two-count or four-count are easier for beginners. Six count will sometimes be used for patterns involving more than two jugglers, and it is the beginning of Three-Three-Ten.
Far more rare than six-count, we have “five-count.” This pattern is fun to play with, for a minute or two. There are four self-throws between each pass, resulting in alternating passes from both hands.
There is no limit to the number of counts you can have per cycle. In some large group feeds, you may run into eight-count or even twelve-count. Seventeen-count is possible, although I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want that.
To ditch a club means to take it out of circulation. Several techniques exist for ditching a club. You can place it between your legs in preparation for a crotch bash. You can set it or drop it to the floor, or onto your foot for a later kick-up. A nice way to ditch a club for a kick-up is to bring it behind your back, slip it between your legs, and let it drop or slide down on top of your foot, all in one smooth move. Or, you can drop it to the floor horizontally in front of your body, and as it lands, step on it, so it is trapped (lightly) under your foot.
The first throw when beginning is a pass – not a self-throw.
A flat is a throw with no spin. The club can remain vertical or horizontal in any plane. The throw can be of any height. Flats equivalent of single and triple-spins are common.
A pass, or way of passing in which the club goes higher, and spins more slowly than normal.
A flourish is any twisty-wrist-type maneuver
of a club that is done without letting go of the club. A
common flourish is started with an Attack Catch and then you turn your wrist in a small figure eight while holding the
club loosely. Inertia makes the club appear to rotate two
turns in your hand. You grip changes to a regular grasp as
the flourish is completed.
If you can imagine using a hacksaw, you can picture the front-to-back movement as it cuts down through material. This motion is occurring on the “hacksaw” plane, so any club spinning or moving in the front-to-back orientation is said to be in the hacksaw plane.
Multiplex refers to holding two or more clubs in one hand. Multiplex catches generally mean to hold one club while catching a second club in the same hand. A multiplex throw means releasing two or more clubs simultaneously from one hand.
The typical multiplex grip for a pass
When you study a face, it is most often right in front of you. You see it from top to bottom and left to right. A club spinning or moving in this orientation is said to be in the face plane. Transverse throws spin in the face plane.
In solo juggling, manipulating more than three objects is called “numbers juggling,” or just “numbers.” In passing, any more than six objects is “numbers passing,” or just “numbers.”
“Pairs” is just like one-count, except both hands work in unison, throwing a pair of clubs at a time.
The movement of a club happens on three planes. In order to discuss club manipulation intelligently, it is often necessary to refer to these planes. They have names, the face, hacksaw, and water planes.
In a typical feed, where you have two four-count passers facing a two-count passer, the two-count passer is called the “point.”
To set a club is to hold it in position. Often this means hold it exactly horizontally, but it can also mean hold it vertically, or in whatever way is required for whatever comes next. The main idea of a set is that it is specific and pre-meditated, generally getting all your focus for at least a split-second.
This is when the thrower has done something in which the catcher has to deal with two incoming clubs at the same time. The worst case is when there is a high throw and a low throw coming together. The catcher has to look up for the high throw, but has to look straight across for the other throw, which pretty much defeats human design. Pre-meditated high and low simultaneous arrivals are considered bad etiquette, unless discussed beforehand. Simultaneous arrivals at the same height are just fine, if the catcher is experienced.
The normal way to catch simultaneous arrivals is to catch whichever one is more inside in the normal way, and use an elbow or body catch to get a hold of the other one. Pass from your other hand as needed while you sort things out into a manageable situation, then resume passing as normal.
Another approach is to multiplex catch in one hand, while catching normally in the free hand. You can even multiplex catch in both hands at the same time, if you let go of a self throw before you understood the situation.
A slow start is usually the third right hand throw. In other words, everyone starts together with a right hand throw. Everyone throws that first right hand club to themselves, then the next right-hand club also goes to themselves, and finally, the next right hand club is a pass. You might think of this as a five-count start, with the first four throws – counting both hands, being self-throws.
Throwers and Catchers
Most passers become fairly good at both catching and throwing, but most also tend to specialize. Holly Greeley is one of the great catchers. She has a way of ever so calmly standing in one place, yet catching things that are seemingly well out of her ZOC. Whereas she can throw elegant tomahawks and shoulder throws all day long, she seldom does. It seems she really enjoys the challenge of catching. It kind of reminds me of a bass player in a band. This is an individual that doesn’t need to stand out with intricate solos, instead enjoying being the “rock” in rock ‘n roll. Other passers can’t catch clubs even with a butterfly net, but they are willing to try all sorts of throws, and often invent wonderful new tricks. This kind of thrower needs a good catcher. When two throwers get together it can be a little maddening, because neither wants to slow down and let the other one learn or dial in something new. Furthermore, with two throwers, you see a lot of things falling to the ground. When two catchers get together, nothing falls, but nothing happens either. Some catchers would be happy to throw no tricks whatsoever, all day long. But what makes most real catchers happiest is when they have a thrower to challenge their catching skill. A good catcher just loves a thrower who is inaccurately trying one new thing after another. Good catchers seem to be in their element when the thrower who’s just thrown a turkey doesn’t give the catcher a chance to stabilize, and instead throws more out-of-control tricks immediately.
Transverse means clubs that spin in the face plane.
When you pour water on a flat surface, it runs out equally in all directions. A cup of coffee or a lake’s surface are in the water plane. A club spinning or moving from left to right and front to back is said to be in the “water” plane.
ZOC (rhymes with sock) is the acronym for Zone Of Catchability, the four
dimensional area (three dimensions plus time) in which a club can be caught. ZOC extension is a goal of good catchers.
There have been some unwritten (until now) rules established
to insure a good time and help prevent injuries. These are
* Better never than late. This means if you miss a pick-up
or if you seem to stop juggling, don’t restart or throw a
club late. Your partner’s attention may have already
wandered, resulting in an trick called a face bounce.
* Try to throw a little bit outside when you are working on
something that has limited accuracy.
* Never expect the juggling to stop. Nothing is more
embarrassing than to stop juggling (such as to turn and pick
up a club) and then perform a face bounce. It’s entertaining, but it hurts!
* Never throw a club until you know by eye contact that your
partner is ready for it. Beginners often ask what you are
watching exactly when passing. I watch my partner’s eyes
more than anything else.
* Try to stay in the expected timing. Do not throw an extra
club that your partner doesn’t expect.
* This is important: Keep your catching hand fully open. If
you have your hand half open, you can get a direct hit on
the end of a finger that will hurt. I’m sure you know this.
Still, practice always keeping your fingers open, they will
merely flex when hit by a bad club, and not get jabbed.
It seems to take about one year between learning to
pass and getting so good that you almost never hurt your hands.
Have patience, in time, hurt hands rarely happen.
* Learn to pick up clubs quickly. Partners get bored waiting
for you to pick up.
* Some jugglers will just let a club drop rather than making
an effort to get it. These are called Ken Catches, named after a fellow who figured it was the thrower’s own fault if a club was not placed properly in the ZOC, and that was that! Ken Catches
are poor etiquette. Work on moving and extending your reach.
In time you will be capable of fantastic saves. Try to learn
early to catch upside down clubs and fix them, usually done
with a 1-1/2 spin (1-1/2 spin in metric) self throw.
* When starting a new pattern, expect your partner to use
the wrong timing, and you will soon be able to learn to fix
it. If you are thinking four-count and your partner is thinking
two-count, you should be able to multiplex catch your way out
of trouble. In the opposite situation, you can watch eyes,
and throw late.
* Follow a pass that is especially short, long or outside
with another similar throw to give your partner time to
reach the bad throw and return to the regular position.
* Lots of beginners love the right-to-right double, called
the “California Twist,” or more colorfully, the “California Dirt-bag Throw.” Avoid this because it is a pattern
crasher. This will make it hard for your partner to complete
big arm circles, flourishes, swings and other right hand
* There is a phenomenon that you may already be aware of,
called Karlos Throws. Most beginners and some experienced
passers have this idiosyncrasy. Karlos Throws are thrown
from in front of your body instead of from the side. The
clubs come to the catcher spinning fast, and sort of nervous.
If the thrower brings the arm down near the side of the body
there is more wind-up of the throwing arm which allows for
greater accuracy and smoothness. This is because you get
more time to accelerate into the throwing plane.
* When a club has fallen where your partner will have to move to pick it up, you should follow the partner with your passes, or perhaps with your entire body, so that the passer doesn’t have to move super-fast to get the club, and instantly return to the former position. So, if your partner has to back up ten feet (three meters), you can advance ten feet, keeping the distance between passers the same. If the club fell to the passer’s left, you can pass outside to the passer’s left, making life easier all around. If the passer has to squat down to get a club, and doesn’t seem able to get back up in time, you can pass low, so the catcher doesn’t have to make an extraordinary reach to maintain the pattern.
Taking it to the next level, if a club has fallen behind your partner, you can guide the partner by passing to where the club is. Experienced passers don’t even have to look around for a missing club. Their partners tell them where it is by passing to the right place.
The exception to following or guiding your partner to a fallen club is when you need to do inside throws to move a beginning passer to his right. He may surprise you and do a face bounce.
* If your partner is getting too near a wall, a pile of props on the floor, or any other troublesome situation, you can move the partner over by slowly throwing passes farther and farther to the right or left, or short, or long – whatever way you want the partner to move. The partner will move in the desired direction automatically in order to maintain the proper orientation to the passing pattern. (Beginners, however, will face bounce on inside passes.)
* You can work on tricks as your partner catches, the
opposite, or you can both throw stuff at the same time.
Ideally, you are both good enough to throw and catch
anything, anytime. All this is good etiquette, but it is
best to discuss your plan first.
* Remember that club passing is a social intercourse,
just like chess, but more so. I still remember from my early
days, passing with the ‘big guys,’ how easily I could be
crushed by off-hand remarks about my throwing and catching,
my stance, or my sense of humor (actually, lack thereof).
The worst was the ultimate “no” when I asked to pass with a ‘big guy.’
I have passed with people who are so intent on showing me everything they’ve got, that I can’t get an artistic pass in edgewise. (In fact, I probably do that to others, but am too thick to realize it.) I have seen jugglers talking and acting crass when passing with or entertaining children. I have seen jugglers insist on two-count when their partner wants to do something else. I have seen jugglers break lights and mirrors, because they just didn’t have consideration for the space they were in. I have seen passers ignore members of the public who have questions or would like to learn something about juggling. We all know jugglers who exhibit some of these behaviors. We have all done some ‘wrong’ things ourselves from time to time. This stuff is not doing our sport any favors. So dudes, do your best to act right!
Here are the tricks I will discuss in this website. It is by no
means all of the tricks that can be done, but I hope it will
give you some stuff to work with. About fifty percent of these
are Jeff originals, the rest are (I hope) public domain. Most jugglers I have spoken with feel that any and all juggling techniques or tricks are by default public domain. They can’t be copyrighted or patented. On the other hand, spoken comedy is the property of the inventors. As a performing juggler you are free to do any tricks you like, but need to restrict your comedy to material you have created, or very old stuff, like from the W. C. Fields days.
They are all yours for the taking. Enjoy!
It’s good to be proficient with right hand triple-spin back
throws (often called “back-crosses”) in solo juggling and regular triple-spin passes before attempting this trick. The pass itself replaces a
triple-spin pass in any count. It is thrown
like a solo triple back throw but you lean forward just
slightly and project it to your partner. There is a strong
tendency to throw it to your partner’s right side, but it
should cross all the way to partner’s left hand. Like many throwing tricks, if you try to visualize where the club should land, it will tend to go
If the throw doesn’t go well for you, make sure you’re getting it fully into face plane. A 45-degree angle throw generally goes wild.
If you are throwing this in four-count, it is thrown
instead of a right hand self throw to land in your partner’s
hand at the correct time. In two-count, you must follow it
with another triple, or do one cycle of four-count after
the triple. Otherwise, your next single-spin pass would
arrive at the same time that the triple finally arrives, a “simultaneous arrival.”
For an interesting variation, try a triple-spin back
throw to your own left hand instead of a pass in every
others. You will pass a beat late. This is a variation of a four-club steal.
A standard bash trick: After a pass in four-count,
throw the next right club to you own left hand with a double-spin. This gives you a little more time to hold (“set”) the
left club and hit it with your next right. In two-count, you
don’t need this double, because there is no right-to-left self throw, so there is time to simply set
any left club and hit it.
The basics: Try pushing the club you are “bashing” more than
hitting it. Accelerate the bashee and the basher clubs
together. Watch the bashee to see exactly where you are
hitting it. If you hit it near the middle, it will fly flat.
For spins you can learn to hit it in the right place. The
set of a bashee should be very controlled. In other words,
you should place the bashee fully into the correct position
and let it go at the last possible instant. You cannot bash
a club accurately if the bashee is a moving target.
For variety: Try setting a left in front of
your body as usual, but bash it from behind, as in “under
These are some of the most graphic passing tricks and great
for shows, because they are very reliable. Using any of the
standard approaches to buy some right hand time (multiplex
or left doubles for instance), you can swing a club held in your right hand around in a big circle in the hacksaw plane. You can go clockwise or counter-clockwise. It
is important to start the swing early as possible, in fact
before your multiplex catch or double-spin, in order to get a clean, smooth
circle. For best appearance, work on holding the club by the
very knob and swinging as large as possible. It is wise to
consider people who may be walking behind you. They will not
expect a big arm circle, which can have far-reaching
consequences. (See, I told you about the problem with sense of humor.)
Variations include a forward swing followed by a
shoulder throw, or double circles. (Be careful not to over-tax your shoulder with the centrifugal force generated.)
The basic maneuver is like a tomahawk (chop pass). The club should hit the ground with a forward spin in the hacksaw plane. The knob should be forward. In other words, when the club hits the floor, the knob should be pointing away from you, and the bottom toward you. It must hit flat. If the bottom
hits, the club shell can become broken. You’ll find that American style clubs, and Renegades don’t hold up well to this trick, especially in cold weather. However, you can do it on carpeting all day long, so long as the knobs and bottoms don’t hit the floor. Dowels tend to break. I don’t know what can be done to protect dowels. Although this trick is harder to do with PX3 clubs because the bounce is variable and weak due to the flexible handles, the PX3s mostly won’t break. I believe if you try to bounce a PX3 and the knob hits, you may break the screw that holds the knob. I have broken off several PX3 knobs.
The standard approach is to bounce the right club to your left hand
following the pass in four-count.
A very weird Jeff trick is a right multiplex bounce – I bounce two clubs at once,
followed by a left double-spin pass to the catcher’s left hand
while trying to recover the bounced clubs. Use the same grip
as for multiplex passes.
One time I met up with Michael Marlin at a Hawaiian Juggling Festival. We decided to pass with his brand new Renegade clubs that he had purchased five minutes earlier. I wanted to show off my new multiplex bounce trick, so I did it. Except, one of the clubs didn’t come back up. It just stayed on the floor, looking kind of sad. I picked it up, and that’s when I noticed that I broke one of Michael’s brand new clubs. Fortunately, the Renegades were there at the convention, and replaced the club. They said their warranty “does not include abuse, except for passing with Jeff.” Years later, I believe they amended their warranty to “does not include abuse, especially passing with Jeff.”
The word “chops” seems to have two different meanings in the
passing world. Everyone knows chops in three club solo. In
passing it cam also mean a forward-spinning overhead throw, which is more often called “tomahawks.”
This is a difficult trick to learn. The most trouble seems
to come from having the pass crash into the next self throw
coming to your right hand. This is overcome by juggling your
self throws low and wide and by throwing your tomahawk up over the
top of your pattern, to fall gently in front of the catcher. Think too, about throwing the tomahawk from close to the side of your face, so it will actually pass through the inside of your self throw’s trajectory. By doing these things, the tomahawk avoids collisions in three ways, by being thrown over, after, and inside the self-throw.
There are actually two schools of thought regarding where the
tomahawk should be thrown. Most good passers from twenty or more
years ago seem to prefer throwing the tomahawk to the same place
a regular throw would be caught. This requires a higher
level of skill in your catcher however, because it arrives
upside down, or actually, spinning backward. If you watch old videos of the Karamatsov Brothers, you’ll see they always threw tomahawks that way.
Most passers today throw the tomahawk to be caught inside, short, and low because the catch is natural and a beginner can deal with it. Ordinary passes are thrown to the catcher’s left, to avoid facial contact. Since the tomahawk is falling short, with little energy, the catcher’s face is safe. However, if it were thrown outside in the usual way, the catcher would have to hold her hand in an awkward position to catch the club. Try it, throw some low, short, but outside tomahawks, and watch your catcher struggle.
To make the throw, hold the club an inch or so closer to the knob than you normally would. You might feel the knob against the edge of the palm of your hand. Put your thumb on the club, the way you would put your thumb on the back of a hammer handle.
Throw the club not so much forward, as up, to fall gently. If you aim for a place
in front of your partner’s (ahem!) crotch, it will come in
under the pattern and your partner will not need to use a
strange hand position for the catch. Most people throw tomahawks
too hard at first. It is a very wimpy throw when done
right. I know it doesn’t look that way. If the catcher were
to simply ignore a proper incoming tomahawk, the club would poop
out on the floor in front of the catcher’s feet.
Normally, the tomahawk is thrown entirely on the face plane, but an interesting variation is to throw them halfway between the face plane and the water plane. In other words, at a 45-degree angle.
In four-count, put any self throw between your legs and
hold it there until your next pass. In two-count, put any club in your left hand between your legs. The fattest part of the
club should be between the fattest part of your legs, so the knob end is pointing forward. To
pass, hit it from behind with the club in your right hand.
In four-count, there is time to line up the basher with
the bashee using a little test tap just before you whale on
it. This helps your accuracy. The problem is not the pass
itself, but preventing hitting yourself!
To make the trick
more noticeable to the crowd, you may want to wait with it
for a cycle or two, make a regular pass, and then bash it out.
If the crotch bash doesn’t work for you, the most likely problem is that the club is too low, or not far enough forward.
The late Mark Richardson (“Markus Marconi”) had a remarkable variation:
His version was like a regular crotch bash, but before bashing it, he would pass an Albert throw as a pass from back to front underneath. Then, in the next cycle, Marcus would bash the club. Flexibility is helpful, as are tight-fitting pants.
The most common option for buying time to do right-handed tricks in four-count passing is multiplex, in which two clubs are caught and held temporarily in the left hand. This is sort of cheating. While most of a general audience won’t notice (or care), the thrower is not juggling for a brief time.
Demultiplex is a great basic for four-count. It allows you to
keep juggling while simultaneously performing a time-consuming right hand trick such as big arm circle, flourish,
swing, etc. If you ever get a chance to watch Bob Vandegrift
of the Renegades, you will see lots of excellent use made of
this fundamental move for thousands of artistic right hand antics.
As a pass is coming in, throw the left club up for a
double-spin, but so that it will return to your left hand.
While it is in the air you can do your right hand trick and
catch the incoming pass in your left. The usual way to end
is to throw that incoming pass to your right with a single
spin. If you need more right hand time, throw the incoming pass club
with a double-spin to your partner’s left and throw the next left
club as a double-spin to your own left hand again. There is
sometimes a problem with the pattern getting tangled up. It
is best to throw the demultiplex self double a little bit
outside of the rest of the pattern, and more-or-less in the face plane. Some people throw it up right in the
middle. This looks better because it doesn’t look like a
trick in itself, which would detract from the right hand
trick you may be doing. Watch Waldo to see good straight up
Very difficult stuff. There are two basics that work well
for four-count passing, and can work in two-count if you are very fast. With practice in solo work you can
do a “one handstick” spin. This is one club spinning in the face plane around
another held on your right hand. Set a left club horizontally
over the right club, let it fall and lift it back up, for one revolution around the club you’re holding.
When it is horizontal again push it off toward your
partner. It helps if you can spin it around the middle of the club, close to your hand and thumb. (You can also use two revolutions, but you must
The other devilstick technique is like one handstick half turns, also in the face plane.
Set a left club, hit it once, twice, and the third hit goes
to your partner. For each hit, use the middle of the basher club, striking the bashee very gently near it’s bottom. This has great potential as a solo trick. With practice, you can bash it back and forth endlessly. You can also learn one-and-a-half spin bashes, using two clubs as handsticks, and pretty much all the basic devilstick maneuvers.
Variations include starting a handstick trick with a club balanced vertically on the one you’re holding. Just let vertical club fall, giving it a slight nudge so it is horizontal when you start the trick.
Another variation is after the devilstick trick, bash the club to your partner. It can be flat, or have as many spins as you like.
There are two tricks I would like to see
someday. How about a one handstick spin around the right
club, which you interrupt with the left club so that you can
then do another single spin around the left club, and then pass? The
other would be continuous one
handstick spin around the right club while doing continuous
demultiplex in four-count, or left-to-left double-spin passes to the catcher’s left.
Originated by Arsene DuPin, these are like
ordinary tomahawks, but you pass them from the left side
of you head using your right hand. Timing is important. If your throws are awkward at first, try holding the club back behind your ear as far as you can before you throw it.
Catch an incoming pass with your left hand inverted – held upside down. This
way you can flourish the club as you bring it back to a regular
situation. Your arm and hand will look like a frog’s front
arm because your elbow is bent and forward. While this doesn’t look like much by itself, it is a fundamental for other tricks.
You can take it a step further, with a cross-over froggie catch. Use your right arm in the froggie catch position to catch an incoming pass to your left. Barack demonstrates:
President Obama trying the froggie catch. As you can see, he isn’t very good at keeping his sleeve organized while he does it.
You must be barefoot. For the regular version, simply pick up a
dropped club between your big toe and the other toes. Pass
it to your partner as a flat, using only your foot. the more
difficult variation as done by Salty Scott Pruitt is picked
up the same way, but pass it with a rear-ward kick that
brings it up behind your body and sends it over your head to
Set a club on your head with your left hand and immediately
take it off with your right. The club can be horizontal or
vertical. Vertical looks harder, but I think it’s not,
because it doesn’t really need to balance, you take it off
before it gets a chance to fall. You can also bash the club off with the club held
in your right hand. In four-count, I throw the next right
club after the pass with a double-spin to my own left hand, to buy the necessary time,
and then set the left club vertical. I then bash it to my
partner and catch the left double to keep juggling.
Try setting a left club vertically on your head with
your left hand, then take it off with your right hand
for an inverted grasp. Throw a Tim Chop.
The standard head spin is not an easy trick, but it sure is
graphic. I feel it looks much better if only done once. If
you do it many times in a row, the magic of it disappears.
In four-count, grab the next right club after a pass close to
the middle of the club (the fattest part of the handle and the first part of the body). Put
this club on your head and spin it gently in the water plane. This part of the
trick should be practiced by itself considerably. After the
club spins one turn, grab it in your left hand and take it off your head. Try to put
the club way on the top of your head, not forward, because
the spin will look better. Also try to grab it while still
on your head, don’t let it fall and then catch it.
If you are having trouble with the head spin, make sure you are setting the club on
your head carefully in just the right place and spin it
gently. There is a tendency to push it right off your head
instead. Make sure you grab the club near the middle. This
is a difficult trick if done from the end of the handle.
In other words, your hand should be over the axis of the spin when you set the club.
The grasp for a headspin, over the axis of spin
And, keep the rest of your pattern low, so these clubs
don’t crash into your spinning club.
Variations: Let the club spin two turns (very
difficult). You can spin a left club in two-count. In four-count, you can spin a club with your right hand, make a
pass, then re-spin the same club with your left hand in the
opposite direction just after the pass. You can also throw a
fake head spin that spins in the same plane but a couple of
inches above your head. It never actually touches.
You can combine two head tricks. In others, after
a pass, do a left hand, vertical head balance, and take it off
with your right hand, but put the same club back on your
head again horizontally and do a head spin, which you then
remove with your left hand.
Believe it or not, you can do a double headspin with two clubs spinning in opposite directions in the water plane. Set and spin a right-hand club in the usual way, except with your hand a bit down the handle from the axis of the spin. At the same time, set a club from your left hand on top of axis of the right one, and spin it in the opposite direction.
This is just a pick-up technique that you can use while passing,
but it is very good for solo juggling too. Walk past a club
that has fallen on the floor. You should be coming from the
direction of the knob and pass the fat end (“bottom”) of the club. As
you go past, rub your heel on the bottom end of the club and press
down. the club will spin up in the hacksaw plane to your hand, to be caught just to the side of and behind your body as you continue walking forward. I think Craig
Barnes invented this one. If you have trouble with it hitting the back of your leg, curve to your left as you walk by and kick up the club.
Position of foot and club just prior to a heel kick-up
As a passing trick, you can’t really walk anywhere, so instead, you can optionally combine it with a pirouette. Do the heel kick-up in place, then in one smooth motion before you pass, continue the natural counter-clockwise spin of your body, completing a pirouette.
Oh, Oh, this one! Warn your catcher first. In four-count,
after a pass, throw yourself a right double-spin to your left
hand. Set the left club horizontal and bash the bottom of it
with the right club. Hit it hard for lots of spin in the face plane, but be careful to avoid excessive forward velocity to your partner.
If you do it right, partner will be able to catch it by
simply holding her hand in the catching position and closing on the
club when it hits. It is important to keep your hand open
and flexible, to prevent hurt fingertips. In two-count, just
go for it, no special preparation throws are necessary.
The height of the suicide catch may vary. You may find it easier to catch, and better-looking to the audience, to make it a high pass. The thrower then has to wait a bit, since the cycle will run late.
This can also be done in the hacksaw plane, but does not have quite the same visual impact.
There is also a self suicide catch, if you don’t want to
risk your partner’s hand. In four-count, after a pass, throw a
double-spin right to left self throw, set and bash the left
club sort of high and back to your own right hand, keeping it well outside (to your right). Pass the basher club, catch the bashee and resume juggling.
A better self suicide catch is done immediately after a
pass. Bash the right hand club as high as a triple, again in the face plane, pass the next right hand club while the bashee is still spinning, and
then catch the bashee.
Kicks can be done in four-count, two-count, pretty much any count. The basic move
is to set (hold) a club low and horizontal in front of your
body and kick it to you partner. The variations are endless.
You can set with left hand and kick with right or left foot
about equally well. Setting with right hand is more
difficult, but not impossible. The kick itself should be
more of a lift than a hit. Accelerate the club and your foot
together. The usual part of your foot is the toe or the top
of your ankle. You may want to use the front of the sole of
your shoe instead. This requires greater flexibility. In
four-count, it is easier to throw yourself a right to left
double before you set the left club. This gives you more
time to get the set accurate.
When doing a ‘normal’ kick, use the top of your foot near the ankle, so you will not hurt your toes or metatarsal bones. It is best to wear shoes and socks until you are secure in this trick, knowing that the proper part of your foot will contact the club every time. Also, pay attention to which part of the club you contact. If you kick the handle, not only will it hurt, but the club will go off with a spin that will make it hard to catch. Look at the photo, it shows the foot aligned with the axis of the club, so you’ll end up with a flat kick pass.
You will probably discover that lowering the club quite a bit with your hand results in greater accuracy than bringing your foot way up.
This is the same trick as in solo juggling, where you roll a
club onto your foot and by bending your knee, the club spins
up to where you can catch it.
The position of the club prior to a kick-up
In passing it can be a self throw, or a pass to your partner. It works in all standard counts. All you have to do is figure out the timing. In others, I recommend kicking it from your right foot to your right hand directly
after throwing a pass, while you hold a left club instead of throwing it to your right hand. So, your hold happens in that part of the pattern where a club is missing – during the time your partner won’t pass a club. You can also drop a club into an immediate kick-up, Michael Kass-style. Drop a club so it lands in just about the right orientation on on your foot, just as you are bring your foot up and back, and you’ll have a kick-up that doesn’t even need to touch the ground.
If kick ups won’t work for you, make sure you are bending your knee quite a bit. Also, imagine you are trying to kick yourself in the butt. The idea is not to lift the club up with your foot, but to kick back, causing the leverage of the spin to lift the club. To practice, you might try rolling a club onto your foot, catching the knob end of the handle against the lower part of your shin, and lifting the club slowly off the ground, so the junction of the handle and knob – approximately the axis of the club’s spin, is resting on the outer edge of your foot. You’ll find this lift maneuver is rather difficult, more difficult than the kick-up itself, but if you can start the lift, then with a bit of acceleration, you can actually launch the kick-up, rather than trying to just balance the club.
Once you learn kick-ups, you might double-spin and triple-spin kick-ups.
I have seen passers struggle to turn the club around 180 degrees so they can do a kick-up. There is no need. The reverse version, as shown below, works just as well, and it tends to impress other jugglers. The only difference is you have to snap it up just a bit more to get the same lift.
Position of club for reverse kick-up
This is a great four-count trick but looks a bit fast in
two-count. Set the next left club after a pass horizontal and
very low. As you let it drop to the floor, you also lift
your right foot and step lightly on the club. The foot and the club
should come to a stop on the floor together. With the club
trapped under your foot thus, it can’t bounce out of
position as it hits the floor. You can hold the club under
your foot as long as you like. Just before you are ready to
kick pass it, move your foot off the club and position your
toe just behind the middle of the club. To pass, swing your
foot up in a gradually accelerating arc. Your foot and the
club should accelerate together.
Same as a foot kick, but you use your knee instead. The club
is usually set horizontally (in the water plane) with the left hand. If you wish to send it from a
vertical set, use the fleshy part of your thigh, not the
bony part of your knee, or it will hurt!
This one was invented by numbers juggler, Andrew Denton.
In any pattern, catch a club backwards that you will pass,
as if you were going to flourish it, but closer to the knob.
Pass it as a shoulder throw. With this inverted grasp, you
will have to be quite flexible to make this throw work.
In two-count, simply throw a French chop, but use your left
hand. There is a tendency to underspin, so wind up you wrist
well to get the momentum for a proper spin. The club should
float somewhat. In four-count, throw a right to left self
double and then the left French chop.
This one is strictly art. Perhaps you know the multiplex
pirouette trick, where you catch an extra club in your left
hand, reach around and take the next incoming pass with your
right hand, continue turning around slowly and then throw
off the same club as a flat pass. The difference here, is
that you go down to your knees and hold the subject club
(incoming pass) about 3″ above the floor as you pirouette.
Then rise up again to standing position and pass it flat. If
you do this whole operation smoothly, it will get a laugh because it just looks goofy.
The “multiplex catch” is often just called “multiplexing.” This is a four-count fundamental. With multiplex you can buy
time to do tricks in your right hand. The most common variation is to grab an incoming pass
in your left hand without letting go of the club that’s
already there. This stops your juggling pattern momentarily,
so you can do a trick without having to deal with
other clubs in the air. There are two ways to end multiplex.
You can hand two clubs to your right hand, and then it’s
like starting all over again, or hold one left club while
throwing the other left club to your right hand with a
single-spin, to resume juggling. For right hand multiplex,
after any pass, hand the left club to your right hand
Your right hand will now have two clubs while your left hand
can do a trick. Restart by throwing one of the right hand
clubs to your partner. Multiplexes can be done other ways
too, just make up whatever you need.
If you are having trouble getting the catch to work
properly, try angling the “bottom” (fat end, which is actually pointing up) of the first club in your hand toward your face as you catch the second one.
Open your hand wide, so you don’t hurt your fingers. When
done properly, the handles will hit together, making a loud
snap, unless you want to buffer this sound for show reasons.
This is a two-count trick only. Well, that’s not entirely true. Like so many passing tricks, a good catcher can learn to handle just about any ZOC or timing violation. After any pass, as fast as you
can, hand the left club into your right hand along with the
club already there. The handles should be gripped the
opposite orientation as most people normally hold two clubs prior to
starting three club juggling. I mean, the handle of the
second, inside club should be under the first.
Catch the next
incoming pass and throw it to your right hand. Wait as long
as you can with this self throw in the air before throwing
the multiplex. What I’m trying to say is: throw the
multiplex as late as possible, and then it should float
quite high to arrive late to your partner, so it can be
dealt with. There is a tendency for these two clubs to foul
with the partner’s last pass to you. You can throw these
spun or flat. You can pass them as a chop or double- or
triple-spins. Catchers should not hesitate in continuing to
pass clubs as they see a multiplex developing.
When teaching a catcher how to handle this, you need to remind them as you are setting up the throw that they must keep passing, even when they aren’t getting anything from you. Otherwise, their natural tendency is to stop, which will make it impossible (for them) to catch the multiplex pass.
This is less important for experienced catchers, because if they don’t notice you setting up, they’ll easily handle the surprise by multiplex catching in one hand.
There is another way to get two clubs in your right
hand. You can do a regular self throw from your left hand,
and multiplex catch in your right, but you must sort of turn
your wrist to get the second club handle to come in under
the first club handle.
A couple of interesting variations can be performed. You can put the second club in your right hand backwards, so you are grabbing both clubs by the handles, but the bottoms stick out in opposite directions. With an overhead overhand throw, toss them up flat, to about triple-spin height. They will each make a slow transverse single-spin in the face plane as they fall, perfectly aligned for your parter to catch them.
Another variation is to simply throw the multiplex to triple-spin height.
Yet another variation is to throw them as transverse double-spins in the face plane. For transverse multiplex passes, you’ll want to put one club’s handle about four inches (10cm) in front of the other. OK, you want more? How about transverse back-cross double multiplex?
Oh gosh, here comes two more variations: You can throw a multiplex tomahawk. You don’t need to do anything different. Use the same catch as you would for an ordinary multiplex pass. Throw the two clubs from the tomahawk position in the normal way, making sure to add as much float as you can. It should work out fine. If not, sorry.
And then there’s multiplex shoulder throws. In this case, like a regular shoulder throw, you’ll want to let both clubs slip down to the knobs, so your final grip is on the edges of the knobs with your index finger and thumb. The club knobs will be kind of locked together naturally. Make sure to bend your elbow as much as you can. This, too, should be a floaty pass.
Just when you thought you were done, you can also throw transverse back-cross multiplexes.
Now that you can do multiplex passes, you might consider putting the inside club far forward of the outside club in your right hand. Throw it high to your partner, right over the midline of your partner’s body so that one club comes down as a double-spin to the partner’s left hand, and the other comes down as a triple to the right hand. This is pass is thrown on the hacksaw plane.
There is a very advanced four-count thing you may
like to try. Do you know the three club start in solo juggling where you
throw all three clubs up at the same time, two of these do
double-spins and the middle one goes up for a triple? If you
can do this, you can set it up in four-count between
passes, if you are fast.
The grip for a multiplex triple throw
The same grip, seen from below
Throw the whole works sort of aimed
at your partner. If you get it right, the triple will come
to your partner and the two doubles will come down to you (well,
maybe you’ll have to reach a little bit forward). You catch the incoming pass,
throw it up again double spun to yourself, being careful not
to foul the pattern with it, and then catch the two from the
multiplex. Finish the four-count cycle and then resume as usual.
Your partner will have to juggle a six-count, or just hold still for a moment to maintain the proper timing. This is otherwise a natural move for the catcher, similar to catching a triple thrown at the time a single-spin pass
is normally thrown.
Another version of this is to throw all three clubs to yourself, so that you’ll be catching a pair of double-spun clubs, and then the triple-spun club. The only problem is your partner has to realize not to throw you a club before you are finished, or you’ll end up with simultaneous arrivals at a difficult time.
The craziest version is done in two-count. Gather three clubs as you would to do the three-high solo start. Step forward, and launch all three in the air to fall just in front of your catcher. Catching it can be a challenge. Hopefully, your catcher will know enough to keep passing in the regular timing as you are setting it up. Sometimes, multiplex catching in one hand is helpful. Since the two lower clubs are going to undoubtedly be spun wrong (1-1/2 or 2-1/2 spins) anyway, you might reach up and catch them in whatever orientation as soon as you can, allowing the third to fall farther if needed, when you can then catch it low. This buys a lot of time.
Additional variations include throwing the bunch of three as a tomahawk pass, or do a big arm circle on the face plane while holding all three, then pass them as a back-cross pass.
Five-high is actually easier to throw and to catch than four-high, so we’ll consider that first.
Once you can throw a multiplex triple out of two-count so that your catcher can absorb all three clubs, you might try five-high. Set up the three clubs in your right hand in the normal way. Now, multiplex catch a second club in your left hand. You might have to twist your wrist a bit so that the inside club lands with its handle under the outside club. The next step is to throw a regular two-club multiplex pass to your catcher, but from your left hand. Remember, like all two-club multiplex throws, you ought to float your clubs a bit. Wait until your partner catches them, and starts passing them back, then throw the multiplex triple from your right hand at the last possible moment. Interestingly, this buys some right hand time, and you can actually throw a more controlled multiplex triple from within five-high, than you can as an independent trick. The only thing is, it takes so long to learn to set this up, you’ll probably want to learn to throw the regular multiplex triple first.
Four high is a very advanced trick if you do it the hard way. It’s not so bad if you do it the easy way.
Set up an ordinary two-club multiplex in your right hand. Before you throw those, set up a two-club multiplex grip in your left hand as well. So, you have two clubs ready to multiplex pass in your right hand, and two more in your left. Catching the second club in your left hand with the handle under the club you were already holding may take some practice, but you’ll get it eventually,
The easy way to do Four High is to throw the two clubs in your left hand as floaty single-spin passes. Just as your catcher is absorbing those, throw the two from your right hand as triples or quads.
The hard way is far more interesting, but nearly impossible to get right. You throw all four clubs simultaneously. A pair of singles from your left hand, and at the exact same time, a pair of quads from your right. The tendency you’ll need to over come is to throw the pair from the left with too much spin, resulting in one-and-a-half spin passes, and the pair from the right too low, so they come down too soon and kill the catcher.
After a pass in four-count, drop a club to the floor and
put your foot on it to hold it transverse in front of you.
After the next pass, stoop down and place another club
parallel to the first and about 12 inches (30 cm) in front of it.
Place another club parallel again and another 12 inches in front
of that one. Pick up the first floor club, pass it, and
catch the next incoming. Place the incoming parallel to and
in front of the latest one you have on the floor, pick up
the farthest back one, put it in front, pick up the now
farthest back one and pass it. Repeat. What makes it look
particularly funny is that after a few cycles, you will back
your partner into the wall.
Everybody hates learning these, but I have a couple of
suggestions that may help. Learn tomahawks first or
simultaneously. Much of the basics are the same. Throw shoulder
passes from the very knob, not the handle. Keep your self
throws low and wide. Try to hear the wind off the shoulder
pass, meaning pass it as close to your ear as possible, which will make sure your passes stay in the hacksaw plane. Your
grip on the clubs you are going to shoulder pass should be
loose until the last moment to allow the club to slip from
the handle to the knob. The grip for the throw itself is
only two fingers, your thumb and the side of the outermost
joint of your index finger.
Here is a sequence for learning shoulder throws which
seems weird, but is remarkably effective for getting you to
do this trick well, in a fairly short period of time:
1. Learn to multiplex catch an incoming pass in your left
hand, hand them to your right hand, then re-start. Notice how much time this buys.
2. Learn a forward big arm circle (hacksaw plane) using your right arm while
multiplex catching. Forward means clockwise as seen by someone
standing to your right.
3. Learn to shoulder throw the club at the end of the big
arm circle. This should be done as one smooth motion. As the
big arm circle is happening, let the club slip in your grip
from the handle to the knob. The shoulder throw is easier as
a suffix to a big arm circle than as a trick in itself
because the big circle sets the club momentum in the proper
4. After you are good at step three, you can learn the
shoulder throw without the big arm circle, and eventually without the multiplex.
If you were to forget to close your hand while catching a
club, the club would hit your palm and then bounce off,
spinning backward. After a half or full turn, you could catch it
again, and then do whatever you like with it. You can
exaggerate the bounce by sort of hitting the club with your
open palm. A favorite of mine is to do a slapback before a
shoulder throw pass.
In San Jose you may find people who do this in two-count, but
is is usually done only in four-count, because your
partner may not understand unless by prior arrangement.
Have you ever done triple-singles with four clubs? The
basics are the same. If you haven’t, don’t despair, this is
a good way to learn a four club solo pattern. Instead of a
pass, throw a triple-spin throw from your right to your own
left hand. Let it float, in other words, it should be quite
high and spinning slowly. While this club is up, you will catch the incoming
pass and pass the next club in your right hand. Now catch
the high throw and resume. Instead of resuming, you can send
up another self triple. This is four club juggling!
You can also use back-cross throws, transverses or flats for
the high self throws.
Another four club steal: throw a right
double back to your own right hand, and more same-hand self
doubles with both hands, using all clubs that you have (four).
Let me expound on etiquette here. It is generally not
cool to do lots of long steals. On the other hand, its not
cool to complain about partner doing steals. You can always
practice swinging and flourishes while your partner is performing a long steal.
Oh, before I forget, here’s a great four-club steal, which will work in two-count or four-count: As with an ordinary four-club steal, throw a triple from your right hand to your left instead of a pass. Then throw a triple from your left to your right, and two more triples, one from each hand. So, you will have thrown four clubs in the air in rapid succession, resulting in a four-high. The succession isn’t all that rapid. If you have trouble with this trick, slow it down, and float your throws. As the four high comes down, resume passing. Your partner will wait. With just two clubs, what else can she do? Belay that. You know she can throw a club to you at any time, but in general, an experienced catcher won’t throw one of two, but will wait until passing is necessary.
If a club has fallen so that is laying in front of you and more or less transverse, with the knob pointing to your left and the bottom to your right, you can do a toe pick-up pass. While idling with your partner using the five remaining clubs, position your toe behind the middle of the club.
Whenever you are ready, you can accelerate your foot and the club together instead of a pass. It will come up as a nice flat pass to your partner, where it can be easily caught.
If the club isn’t in the exact right orientation, you can move it around with your feet a bit first. It can be done with the knob facing your right, but you’ll find this orientation is easier to kick up accurately at first. And of course, you can reverse the whole thing, using your right foot.
You may have trouble with toe pick-ups if you have shows that are tall at the front. You might try it barefoot. You’ll find it is much easier on grass than on a solid surface.
If you have a club on the floor with the fat end facing you,
rub the bottom of your toe against the end of the club while
pressing down and the club will spin up in the hacksaw plane. If you do this with
enough force, the club will come up to where you can catch
it. But this trick is different. Use less force, just enough
to get the club vertical in front of your foot, then kick-
pass it to your partner.
Invented by Tim King in London, this is kind of weird.
Catch a right club upside down (“attack catch“) and throw it tomahawk style anyway. Even though your hand is sort of
backward, you can learn easily enough to get a club that
arrives to partner like a regular tomahawk. In order for it to
work right, you have to hold the club loosely and cock your
hand back over your shoulder before throwing. Since this
stance is time consuming to get into, you may want to do
this out of a multiplex or demultiplex at first.
Grab the club that you are going to pass backwards as you
would for a flourish. This is called an attack catch. Throw
it flat, but with some float, to your partner.
Waffle is more of a silly non-competitive game than a trick. In four-count, you
throw a flat as high as a double-spin to your partner’s
right hand. Your partner has to throw the same club back to
your right hand as a flat. Then you throw it back flat
again, etc. The important part is that you must both scream
in falsetto, “WAFFLE!” each time you throw the flat.
ZOC is an acronym for Zone Of Catchability.
If you get bored you can play with zoc extension. You can
make your partner dance! With practice, you’ll be amazed how far out of the ZOC you can throw a club that your catcher can still absorb.
If you’ve done any artistic passing at all, you’ve seen the occasional triple that goes way long behind the catcher. The solution is a “hero catch.” If the club is going so far behind you that you can’t easily step back to catch it, you can slam the club you’re holding in your right hand into your left hand along with the club it is already holding. At the same time, you turn a half-turn counter-clockwise and run backward, while keeping an eye on that errant triple. Catch it in your right hand in front of you as it travels over your shoulder. Continue your counter-clockwise turn so you are now facing your partner, and even though you may be a considerable distance away, pass the club. Hand or throw one of the two clubs in your left hand to your right, walk back to the proper position, and you’re back in the game as if nothing happened. Ideally, your partner will understand what is going on, and will throw the pass to you wherever you are in the process, meaning, generally, a long pass.
To the audience, this looks absolutely amazing, although you’ll find it is quite easy. Sometimes jugglers throw this on purpose, just in order to make their catcher look amazing.
In every others, after a pass, set the club which is in your
left hand onto the club in your right hand so that it is
balanced vertically (knob end down). This must be done fast,
before you receive the incoming pass. When it is time for
your next pass, hit the balanced club with the club that is
now in your left hand. Hitting the balanced club
approximately in the middle will result in a flat pass. Hit
it low for a regular spin. If you have trouble maintaining
balance, try paying attention only to the top of the
balanced club for the whole time it is there. This balance
is easier if the knob of the balanced club is very close to
your right hand, not on the fat part of the club you are
Move the club you are holding in your right hand slightly to the left so the balanced club will start to fall. As the balanced club becomes horizontal, bash pass it.
Suddenly move the club you are holding in your right hand upward a bit and pull it back a bit so the balanced club jumps into the air and spins one-half turn in the reverse direction. When the bottom end comes around, bash it to your partner.
Let the balanced club fall off, but before it hits the floor, kick it to your partner. For this to work, you’ll want to practice setting up the fall so that the club spins in the right plane and for the right amount of spin. The two obvious ways are for it to land transverse and horizontal on your foot (easy), or with the bottom aligned with your toe (hard).
Set a club in a balance as described in the last trick, but
instead of hitting the balanced club, lift it straight up
about ten inches (25 cm) and pass the club it was balanced on. Then
catch it in your right hand and keep juggling.
Set a club in a balance as above. After allowing it to start
falling forward in the hacksaw plane, push it toward your partner using the club
it is balanced on.
Throw an ordinary tomahawk pass from your right hand. Catch the
left to right self throw in the usual way, but just hold it in your right hand.
Catch the next incoming pass in your left and pass it back
right away, from the left hand, as a tomahawk. Remember to wind
your wrist back before throwing or you won’t get enough
spin. Catch the next incoming club and throw it to your right
hand. While this club is in the air, pass the next right
hand tomahawk, then catch the left to right self throw. Repeat.
It helps to throw the left passes a little bit high and
floaty, to keep the timing more or less correct for the
catcher. This trick runs more slowly than you might think. Also try to catch the clubs you will tomahawk from your left hand
close to the knobs, just as you do with your right hand
At first, you’ll have some accuracy issues, especially with your left hand, and you may have some timing issues. Notice what your catcher is doing, and try to make the catcher’s job easier. That may mean you need to shorten your left tomahawks, or modify the timing, so the catcher isn’t running like a Harley-Davidson engine: thump-thump, thump-thump, etc. You ultimately want each catch to come in the ordinary two-count rhythm.
After you learn this one you may want to try the same
trick with all flats. Try all shoulder throws.
In every others, after any pass, with both hands at once,
throw double-spin transverse throws in the face plane to the opposite hands.
This is sort of like “One-up, Two-up,” except the ‘two’
cross in front of your face. One club must be slightly in
front of the other. While these two are in the air, you will
have to catch an incoming pass and return it to your partner
with a left to left double. Some people will use a left to
left double before the trick, too. A variation: Instead of
double-spins, use flats. However you do it, decide in
advance which club will cross in front of the other, or you
will crash them.
This graphic four-count trick was invented by Debra
Moorestein. After a pass, throw a double-spin windmill
underhand transverse in the face plane from your left to your right hand,
created by winding up your wrist a bit. Just after this,
throw a transverse double from right to left over the top of
the windmill. Pass, and resume. It looks especially nice if you continue for several cycles.
Named after Josh Anselmo, a fellow who did this particularly well: In two-count, pass a right club between your legs from behind
with your right hand. Do not lift a foot off the ground if
you want to do this the hard way. The next pass is thrown
with your left hand in the same way. See continuous chops.
Every other left catch will be thrown to your right hand
while your right hand is throwing the between legs pass. The
alternating left catches will be thrown directly back from
the left hand, but also from between the legs. Try to get
the clubs passed from the left hand to float almost to the
height of double-spin passes. This will help the catcher because
otherwise the left clubs arrive early.
See Crossover Flowers, the only difference is that the clubs are both thrown as double-spin back-crosses in the face plane. Simultaneously.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Try it! I have been working (not
too seriously) for two years on this one, ever since I saw
Izzy Tooinsky do it with four club solo juggling! One thing
helps, cheat. Instead of truly simultaneous, try throwing
one club just a fraction later than the other. Another thing that helps is to decide in advance which club will pass in front of the other. After you
learn it out of time, you can work on your “simultaneouity”
Here’s a very showy trick invented by Jordan Saturen of Ashland, Oregon:
Lift up your right leg and bend your knee, and at the same time place a club behind your knee, so it is trapped there. You are now standing with one leg held high and bent sufficiently so the club stays there. If you have trouble holding the club, make sure it is caught by the handle, not the fatter area of the club.
When there’s an opening in the cycle to pass a club, Jump in the air, and straighten your bent leg so the club falls down, onto your lower foot which just jumped. The momentum of your jump should kick the club to your catcher.
The stance is reminiscent of the pose used as the ultimate maneuver, called The Crane, in the first Karate Kid movie. To make it more like The Crane, you can hold your hands up with wrists bent down, and the clubs you are holding can be angled so as to enhance the look.
To pass to someone who is standing back to back with you, avoid the temptation to chuck the club way behind you. In fact, you want to throw the clubs up, generally for double-spins almost to fall on your own shoulder if the other person doesn’t catch them. Sometimes, you need to communicate when to start, but with practice, you can feel the movement of when the other person starts, starting yourself a split-second later. In two-count, and four-count, there is a lot of room for imprecision.
You’ll find that true back-to-back is easier than one person facing forward and the other backward, since that requires that one of the passers pass left-handed.
Do not do this without an experienced coach until you learn the techniques entirely. For all you know, I’ve left something important out, or you may misinterpret my instructions, which could result in an injury.
To stand on someone’s shoulders, the most important thing for stability is to get your feet and legs oriented correctly.
* Put the balls of your feet on the shoulders, not the arches.
* Bend your knees.
* Pinch your heels together.
With these three factors taken care of, you can pretty press against the back of the bottom person’s head with your lower shins, while countering that forward pressure with your feet pressing back against the shoulders. It takes some practice to learn this position, but once you ‘get it,’ you’ll be amazed at the stability.
With that connection, you can actually drive the lower person. If you lean to the left, the bottom person pretty much has to take a step to the left or even turn to the left. If you lean forward, the bottom person advances. If you lean back, the bottom person stops or even backs up.
The first times you try this, have lots of padding on the floor or a nice soggy lawn. Be barefoot. Make sure the bottom person is aware that the back needs to be kept straight to avoid injury.
Have spotters, people who will catch you if you fall. The spotters, and the bottom person, must absolutely let go of your lower legs or feet, and catch you above the waist. Otherwise, as you fall, you’ll crash face-first to the ground. At minimum, you’ll hurt your wrists when the spotters try to help by grabbing you below the waist, as you tip over, and reach for the ground to break your fall.
There are two typical approaches to getting on. Both should be tried without holding clubs, at first.
The first is to stand behind the bottom person who reaches over her head, and firmly holds hands with you. The bottom person bends her knees quite a bit, with one foot in front of the other. You step behind the bottom person’s farther back knee, or upper calf, or side of the waist, then immediately step with your other foot onto her shoulder. Finally, you move your first foot from the back of the knee, or waist, to the other shoulder, while still holding hands. Using the handholds, you take a few little steps until you gain a good footing, the rise up, letting go of the hands.
The other way is to face the bottom person, grasp hands firmly, with the arms crossed, so that when you walk behind the person, the arms will uncross. In one smooth move, you walk around the back of the person, while placing one foot on the waist, stepping firmly so you gain altitude, and place the other foot on the person’s far shoulder. Then you move the foot from the waist to the other shoulder. While still holding hands, take some small steps to put your feet in the right place, grasp the head between your lower shins. Let go of the hands when you feel stable. Oddly, once you stand up almost fully, allowing quite a bit of flex at the knees, you’ll feel more stable than when holding hands and not fully upright.
When learning this, after you have let go of the bottom person’s hands, that person can put her hands on the back of your calves, pulling you sort of down and forward to help lock you into position. It is important that the bottom person let go if you start to fall. This is counter-reflexive. The bottom person would normally want to hold onto your calves, to ‘help’ you. But it makes matters worse, since you can’t land on your feet if your legs are held.
Dismounting should be done boldly. At first, when you are just learning, and have lots of padding on the floor, you can just jump forward and land, making sure to entirely clear the bottom person’s body. You don’t want to come down right on top of the bottom person for a whole variety of reasons. Matters are complicated by the fact that as you try to jump forward, the action pushes the bottom person’s shoulders back. Ideally, the bottom person will know what’s happening, and lean forward a bit.
If for any reason you’re going to get off backward, staying clear of the bottom person is still important. Getting off backward is not recommended, so maintain your balance. If necessary, it is better to lean too far forward, pressing hard against the bottom person’s head, than to tip backward, losing contact with the head. Because if you let that happen, it’s all over!
Once you are comfortable with the forward dismount, you can grasp hands with the bottom person. Keeping your arms fairly stiff, but not locked solid, the lower person can use arm strength to guide you down smoothly and slowly. As the bottom person is guiding you down, the bottom person is lowering into a crouch position while keeping her back straight. This is much more comfortable on your feet and ankles.
Once you’re gaining confidence with all this, you and the bottom person can each hold three clubs as you mount. Grab wrists instead of hands when holding clubs.
You’ll find it is much easier to do a feed with someone standing on the ground, or on a giraffe unicycle or stilts, than to pass just up and down with the person you’re standing on. There are three reasons. One is that one of you has to pass left-handed.
Another is that while the bottom person only has to throw up to you, which is easy, you have to learn a new kind of pass – a drop. One of the easier ways to do that is with flats. The more important reason is that the bottom person cannot look up, so you’d have to drop your passes quite accurately.
When you’re the top person, you have to reduce the spin on your passes, so they’ll fall naturally to a passer standing on the ground. If you’re the bottom person, nothing changes except that your shoulders feel somewhat restricted, so of course the person you’re passing with should be accurate.
If you drop a club, the person you’re standing on can do the usual kick-up, even though you’re standing on her shoulders. The only difference is the kick-up should be high enough that you can reach it, typically with two spins.
Tweezers is a pickup. You can do it as a solo or passing trick. It’s easier in slow counts, such as four-count.
If you have a club on the ground with the knob more-or-less facing you, and the bottom facing away, you can do this:
1. Hold a club in each hand.
2. Gently squeeze the club on the ground between the two clubs you are holding, so that the fattest part of the three clubs are in contact.
3. Squeeze a bit harder as you lift your two clubs fairly quickly into the air. The trapped club will be lifted with them. However, it will naturally rotate as you lift it, since the points of contact between the three clubs are behind the axis of spin.
4. Let go of the trapped club as it continues to spin up into the air and then start juggling or passing.
In any normal count, you can just guide the middle club as it spins into a pass to your catcher. Or, you can let it spin up to yourself as a self-throw, and pass the club you are holding in your right hand. This second version looks better.
Tweezers: The middle club is just starting to be lifted. Can you see how it will naturally spin in the hacksaw plane?
I believe David Kha is the inventor of Wine Bottles, or perhaps you might call them “overhead bottom bashes.” In four-count, throw a right to left double-spin self-throw. While it is in the air, hold a left club overhead on the right side of your body so the bottom is facing you, then tap it with the club in your right hand. It will sail to your catcher as a flat pass.
In two-count, you may be able to squeeze into the normal timing, or you can preceed the wine bottle with a left-to-left double-spin pass.
You say potato, and I say potato. . . never mind.
Put two clubs in your right and so that the handle of the inside club is under the handle of the outside club. Squeeze them a bit tightly. Pass the pair of clubs flat (no spin) to your partner as a bunch. Just as you pass, let off the pressure so you are not squeezing at all. This will (hopefully) cause the club handles to stay in close proximity to each other. Your partner will catch them both in a single grasp if all goes well. If not, the catcher may have to catch one in each hand, possibly even involving a multiplex or body catch. You can sneak this in pretty much any time in any count. It is up to the catcher to resume normally. Most of the time, unless the catcher over-thinks it, all the catcher has to do is throw one, then the other club to her own right hand in the normal timing. This ought to be easy, because since you’ve thrown two clubs at once, you will not be sending a pass in the next cycle.
In two-count, as you see the incoming club rotate to just a bit less than vertical, using your left hand, with a closed fist, punch it back to your partner’s left hand.
It is important to punch the soft part of the club just beyond the handle. This way it will go off as a flat pass, and will not hurt your hand.
In four-count and other patterns, you have several options, such as punching an incoming pass up to triple-height – so the timing will work right, or throwing a flat or slowly spinning self-throw to your right hand, and punch it with your right hand.
Turn slightly to your left. Place the left club on your right knee with the bottom facing your catcher. Actually, the club should be a couple inches (5 cm) above your knee, on a fleshy area of your upper leg. Bash down on the bottom of the club on your knee with the club in your right hand. At the same time, raise your knee. If all goes well, this results in a pass with an explosive start that spins like a tomahawk. The ideal pass will go fairly high in the air and fall gracefully to your catcher.
You can also bash directly on the middle of the club above your knee with your right club, so that it bounces up, and goes to your catcher as a flat.
In any count, you can throw your left-to-right self throw with an extra half-spin, so it is caught by the bottom (fat end) of the club in your right hand. Holding it as close as you can to the very bottom end, shoulder throw it in the normal way, except let it float higher, or spin faster, to make up for the extra half-spin. This requires quite a bit of flexibility. It helps to bend your elbow quite a bit. When I do it, it feels like I’m snapping my wrist around quite a bit faster than normal.
An easier version is to do backward tomahawks. Using the same set-up, throw a tomahawk with an extra half-spin while holding the club by the bottom.
The audience, even if it includes other jugglers, won’t see the difference. Rather than put all the hard work of learning this trick to waste, you can do a couple of Pseudo Tomahawks before letting the club go. This applies for shoulder throws as well as tomahawks. You can show off the backward grip before you pass it.
In four-count, instead of a pass, throw a floaty single-spin pass from your left to your right hand, but don’t catch it. Instead, step back a bit, and when it is vertical, or just a bit tipped back, kick it with the flat of your foot to your partner. In order to get it to go to your partner’s left, rather than midline, you might want to step to your left a bit as you step back. Generally, you’ll want to kick quite high so the flat part of your foot will contact the club, rather than the toe area.
In two-count and some other patterns, you can just return an incoming pass with a full-monte kick. Step, or maybe even jump back, so you’ll be sufficiently behind the incoming pass to kick it properly. Make your move at the last possible split second, otherwise you’ll telegraph to your partner that you’re moving, and the partner is likely to ‘help’ you by passing longer and farther to your left.
The reverse monte kick is like the full monte kick except instead of kicking in front of your body, you bend your right knee, and kick from behind your body, so the bottom of your right foot (with your toe pointing down) reaches behind the left side of your body to make the kick pass.
If in four-count, you’ll want to experiment with the spin of the self-throw to get the kick to engage the club at the right time. Let the self-throw drop very close to your body. Turn your body a bit to the right as you make the kick. If the kicks go too much to your partner’s centerline, turn your body even further to the right before you kick.
Catch an incoming pass between your thighs by suddenly jumping up and to your left. Before doing this, take a split-second to analyze the pass. If it is too high, spun badly, or has other problems, abandon your plan, because at best you’ll make a mess, and at worst, you’ll hurt something you don’t want to hurt.
Once you have made the catch, you can loosen your grip a bit and the club will fall to the floor. You can move your left foot in front as it is falling, causing the club to align perfectly on your right foot for a kick-up.
You now have the basics. These can and probably should be
put together in any and every combination you can think of.
Charlie Brown, G.W. Moss, Bob Vandegrift, David Kha, and Jordan Saturen all do
fantastic combination passes. Here are some possibilities:
This ia a great show trick, graphic and easy to do reliably.
You throw a tomahawk at the same time your partner throws a
regular pass. The next pass alternates, you throw a regular
pass and your partner throws the tomahawk. Continue for a while. If you both are good at shoulder throws, you can substitute these for the regular
Three-three-ten is an old show standard. It is three cycles of six-count, three cycles of four-count, and ten cycles of two-count. It has evolved to a specific routine over time, which is great, because everyone knows what to do and knows what everyone else is going to do.
This is often used by two jugglers in a show when they want something reliable, something that impresses the crowd, and something that runs for a reasonable length of time. It is especially useful for two jugglers who have not worked out a show together, being something that they can do the first time together, since they have probably done it with a thousand other jugglers in the past.
It starts with a slow start. The only part that is not totally standardized is the end, and you’ll notice that when you see passers end kind of irregular or clunky. One juggler may just grab his clubs and stop after the tenth two-count pass, while the other may throw a double-spin self throw, and then stop.
I’d like to propose that we, the readers of this very website, help to standardize the ending by deciding that directly after the tenth two-count pass, we’ll throw a right to left self double, then stop. This is a rather nice-looking coordinated ending.
Even with an experienced partner, audibly counting will help keep the routine on track. Counting actually enhances the audience’s experience of three-three-ten. When your author has done the routine, he usually just says “Faster!” immediately after the third six-count pass, then “Real fast!” after the third four-count pass, then
counts out the ten two-count passes.
Approximately thirteen quadrillion times, entertainers have used three-three-ten to knock a cigarette or carrot out of a volunteer’s mouth. In this variation, they hit the object on the fourth or fifth pass, then they usually stop, not completing all ten two-count passes. In another version, while counting the passes out loud, they wait until the tenth two-count pass to attempt hitting the object, and if they don’t get it, they say “ten” on the eleventh pass, “ten” on the twelth pass, and so on, until they hit the object, then they stop passing. Even though it is a tired old routine, it still impresses audiences, and is easy and reliable to perform.
A cycle is the time, or the throws, between one pass and the next. So, in four-count, considering both hands, there are four throws per juggler per cycle.
In two-count, throw a regular tomahawk from your right hand. Then throw a French chop from your right hand. Then throw another regular tomahawk from your right hand. Finally, throw a shoulder throw from your right hand. Repeat the whole sequence until done. If you and your catcher can do this, then you can experiment with synchronous and asynchronous combinations of both doing it at the same time.
This is a two-count trick. Hold one club low and horizontal with your
left hand and kick pass it along the water plane with your right foot. Then throw
a regular pass. Set another left club and now kick pass it
with your left foot. Etc. If you speed this up, ie. every
pass is a kick, it doesn’t look as good, you will have a
club in your right hand that does not move. (You can
continuous flourish this idle right hand club.)
Some passers use their right hand to set the clubs and
therefore in continuous mode, there is not a still club in
the right hand.
The version your author has been using lately is to kick the first pass with the right foot. Then bash pass the next club, using the right club as the basher, and of course the left club as the bashee. Then a kick pass from the left foot, then another bash. Repeat this pattern for as long as you can keep it together.
Set a club in a balance. Let it fall off in the face plane, but instead of
hitting the ground, you will kick it to your partner. In
order to do this well, the club should be horizontal as you
kick it. Start the fall by moving the club held in your
right hand suddenly to the left. If you watch the club fall,
you will be able to see your foot contact the club in the
center, which is important to get a non-spinning, catchable
A more precise variation is to let it fall forward in the hacksaw plane, and as the bottom of the club is facing the floor, kick it to your partner.
Millions of jugglers do this series, but I have never seen
anyone do it better than Benji Marantz. In every others,
after any pass, do three chops (solo juggling style “chops”) in a row, then another
pass. Now do three single-spin back-crosses and then a pass.
If you are interested in a further step, try adding
three Alberts after the second part, to make this a three
Or you might try a repeating series consisting of three chops followed by a tomahawk or shoulder throw.
In four-count, using multiplex or demultiplex, make a big
arm circle in the hacksaw plane, then a swing from the knob and finally a
shoulder throw all in a smooth motion. This will stretch
your available right hand time to the max.
In this four-count hacksaw plane trick, you start with two clubs held in the right hand and bash a left to your partner. As you catch
the incoming pass in your left hand (as usual) do two
backward big arm circles with the two clubs still in your
right hand. These will appear as counter-clockwise to someone
viewing from your right. Set the left and bash pass it, then
repeat the two big arm circles. Etc. With practice you can
get the speed of the circles just right to have the basheer
clubs in place to hit the bashee at the right time. Try to
hit the bashee softly to get an accurate pass every time. In fact, they are really pushes more than bashes.
The circles should be as smooth as possible. I mean, don’t
stop after every bash. A good way to end this series is to
do two final big arm circles and then release one of the
multiplexed clubs as a pass instead of bashing a left club.
This trick is done like a regular Crotch Bash except you
place two clubs between your legs instead of just one. When
you hit the two clubs, only one will fly out to your partner
and the other tends to stay put. At the time of the next
pass, you bash out the remaining club. Practice will be
required to understand how to place the two clubs exactly
properly for this effect to work. The general idea is that the lower club is about an inch (2.5 cm) farther back than the top club.
In four-count: Throw a double left to left pass to your
partner. Then throw a right to left triple to yourself.
Reach over with your right hand and grab the incoming pass.
It will be caught upside down. Flourish, and throw it back
to your partner. If possible, the pass can be a shoulder
throw preceeded by a flourish. If you have trouble with this trick, it may be
because you are trying to get everything in the air too
quickly. There is a little hesitation time between the
double-spin pass and the triple self throw. Also make sure
the triple is sort of high, called float.
In two-count: Give your partner a double-spin pass from left to
left. Follow this with a right to left triple-spin pass.
Now, reach over, catch, flourish and shoulder pass the
incoming pass. Or, do the double triple pass, reach over
catch and flourish, but hold the right club. Instead of
passing it, pass the left double and now the right as a
triple and repeat the trick.
In four-count, take advantage of the loud snap of a good
multiplex catch while pretending to hit your head with your
right club. Actually, the hit can be real, but not very
hard. Well, it can be hard. That’s your choice. Try to get the multiplex catch to occur at the exact time you hit your head. If you move your left hand forward
at the time of the catch, the snap will be louder. For theatrics, you might look dazed and shake your head for a moment.
After a multiplex in every others, make the right hand club
describe the flip flop pattern of a fish swimming in the face plane before you
In four-count, after a pass, throw your left and right
clubs at the same time, double spun, but outside to
yourself. In other words, transverse in the face plane. Then pass the left one
double spun to you partner. This is like “one up, two up”
but you do it with the clubs spinning transverse to make it
more graphic. If you want to go a step further, a trick that
looks quite different but is similar can be tried. This is
cross over flowers. The only difference is that the clubs
are thrown to cross over to the opposite hands. They usually
crash into each other if you don’t make a specific plan to
throw one slightly in front, and the other behind.
Four-count: Froggie catch and hold the incoming pass (with
your left hand). Throw your partner a triple-spin pass. Catch the next
right club upside down, ready to flourish. Now, flourish
both clubs simultaneously. Resume the regular pattern or repeat
Two-count: Throw a left to left double-spin pass. Froggie
catch. Throw a right to left triple pass. Reach over with
your right hand and catch the next incoming pass. Flourish
both clubs simultaneously and then pass in regular manner.
This is a difficult trick.
This trick is as the name might imply, somewhat
difficult to do. Read about the Froggie Catch, Double
Flourish above and practice it. Read about the Crossover Flowers
and practice that using double-spins. Now, in four-count, all
you have to do is put the two tricks together. So, the
Crossover Flowers, the ones that will cross in front of your
face, are the same two clubs that are flourished. As soon as
you flourish them, as per the first trick, you throw them
double spun to yourself, but to opposite hands.
I do this simple little trick with a twist. Instead of
a straight up triple-spin pass to start the combination, I
use a back-cross triple in the face plane. Sometimes it works.
Warn your catcher! In two-count, multiplex catch two in your
left hand. Reach over and catch another pass in your right
hand, but don’t throw it. Instead, kick the two clubs from
your left hand to your partner. (The set is regular, no need
to hold them in a special manner.) The clubs and your foot
should accelerate together. Be gentle, don’t really kill your
partner. Kick the two clubs almost as high as a double-spin
in order to give your catcher time to sort out how to grab
them both. Advanced (and perhaps crazy) catchers only should
be offered this, others are likely to get injured. If you
kick a little bit toward the fat end of the clubs, they will
spin one turn parallel as they reach the catcher. This is
harder to catch, but looks great.
Here is a four-count trick that is named after the
smoothest performer of it, Ken Martin, aka Mr. Miraculous. While passing in
four-count, set a club on another club as in the trick,
balance Bash. Immediately flip it over one-half turn in the hacksaw plane and
catch it in another balance. As soon as this second balance
is established, it will be time to pass. Generally the pass
is done by pushing the club off to your partner with the
club it is balanced on. You can also bash it off with the
right club. Other options exist (of course!) such as sending
it straight up and passing the club it was balanced on
instead, or trying to squeeze in an third half-turn before
you pass it. After this third half-turn, you will not have
time to really balance it again. Just pass it right away by
hitting it with the club it was to land on.
This trick was inspired by Mr. Miraculous. He saw the parts,
and suggested putting them together.
You start with a left hand multiplex catch while doing
two small forward knob swings and a foot interruption bash.
Pass the bashee under your leg and hand over the multiplexed
clubs to your right hand. Immediately throw these right hand
clubs to yourself straight up as double-spins, and then
throw a double spun left to left pass. Then catch the
incoming pass in your left hand. Now you catch the two
multiplex self throws, one in each hand. Set the right one
in a head spin while just catching the left club. The last
part of the trick is to grab the head spin after one
revolution with your left hand and set it vertically on your
head. Before it falls off, take it off with your right hand
held upside down (as if you were going to flourish it, sort
of a froggie catch) and pass it to your partner as a tomahawk,
but thrown with your hand inverted (“inverted tomahawk,” also known as “Tim chops”).
If you do not understand this trick fully, that’s ok,
just invent something similar to what I am attempting to
describe here and you will probably have something equal or
This is a classy way to pick up in two-count, probably also
the easiest way to pick up once you understand it. The pass
to your partner immediately following a drop should be very
high, perhaps three or four spins, thrown from your left or
right hand, it doesn’t matter, but typically to be caught in your partner’s left hand. Your partner will of course
throw you a single-spin pass, but then will wait for this
high throw to come down before throwing any more passes.
During this break, you can go get the fallen club. Wait for
your partner to make the catch of that high throw, if you
are ready before it comes down. Then resume passing in the
usual manner. This pick up looks better than many others,
because the crowd tends to watch the high pass, and
therefore will not see you messing with the club on the
These fit anywhere, anytime, if you are fast enough. Or you
can make time with multiplex, high throws, etc. If you are
really good, think of a pirouette not as a trick in itself,
but as a part of combinations, or multi-part passing tricks.
A rather common variation is to do a somewhat slow clockwise turn (as seen from above), and catch an incoming pass behind your back. Continue the turn after you catch it, resulting in a smooth full pirouette during which you have caught a club. To enhance this effect, you can jump as you make the catch. Unless the pass was extraordinarily high, the jump is just for visual effect.
One of my favorites in four-count is a double-pirouette. You need to be fast, and you’ll probably want to keep your arms in close to your body, so you’re not fighting inertia. The general idea is as soon as you multiplex catch the incoming club in your left hand – so you’ll be holding two clubs in your left hand, and one in your right, start the turn. As I come out, I extend my right arm, and throw a vertical flat pass in the hacksaw plane, which is far more graphic than just throwing an ordinary pass, plus, it actually utilizes some of the momentum from the turn. If you’re a bit late coming around, you can throw this flat brutally fast, as long as your catcher is experienced.
One time, playing in the crowded gym at a juggling convention, I finished my double pirouette a bit late and figured I should really chuck the flat, to make up for the lateness. Only problem was, I only turned about 1-7/8 turns. The club I threw took out about six people’s juggling patterns across the gym. It’s stuff like that which people remember me for.
In two-count, hold a right club that should have been a pass,
bring it to your left side and hit the incoming pass like a
tennis backhand. Swing up a little bit. This will give the
pass some float. Try to see the rotation of the incoming
pass, and bash it at just the right moment. In four-count,
you can multiplex the “should have been the pass” club into your
right hand and bash the incoming with both clubs in your right hand. You’ll find using two clubs as bashers is more accurate than one.
Multiplex three clubs into both hands, held like a baseball
bat and hit the pass with these. This is a good place to
sneak in a pirouette for more effect. Pirouettes in either direction look good with the “Baseball Bash.” Remember that you’re aiming for your catcher’s left hand, not the midline.
One of my favorite self bashes is a four-count
trick. After a pass, toss a right to left self double, then
set and bash the left club with the right. Hit it at the
bottom so it spins a million turns in the air in the face plane before you re-
catch it in your right hand. Actually, it spins sixteen turns. No, actually, it spins an indeterminate bunch of turns. You just stick your hand out to catch it. Either the bottom or handle will hit your hand. Close your hand, and you’ve caught it. More often than not, you get the handle, because the handle sticks out further from the axis of the spin than the bottom.
It is important to keep the spinning club outside so that it doesn’t foul your pattern. Your next pass will occur before or after catching the
bashee, depending on how high it went.
I used to use a solo version of “sixteen turns” as part of my crowd-gathering routine for street performing. I’d have a few people in front of me, who I would engage with casual conversation. I’d place a club vertically in a balance on a club held in my right hand and hold it for quite a while. I’d mostly be watching the top of the balanced club, but would glance briefly at my initial few audience members, to make them feel very acknowledged. I’d tell them that I’m going to try a trick for their amusement. I’d tell them that this is something I sometimes do before the show, and their reward for being there so early is to see this “sixteen turn” trick that those arriving later won’t get to see. I’d then tell them, “I’m going to let the balanced club fall off the other, but before it hits the ground, I’m going to bash it into the air, it’s going to spin sixteen turns. I’m going to catch it, and keep juggling.” While still holding the balance, and before actually doing the trick, I’d mess around a bit as the crowd continued to build. For instance, I might say, “But you don’t really want to see that, do you?” At which point, I’d drop all three clubs to the ground. Then I’d pick them up, setting a vertical balance again. I might also tell them, “This usually takes three times to get it right.” Of course, I’d pretty much always nail it on the first try, but that gave me some room to screw it up without losing the crowd, should it be necessary. Finally, I’d do the trick. Sometimes it would spin ten turns, other times, it might spin twelve revolutions. I’d have no idea how many times it actually turned, but the crowd never complained that they didn’t get their full sixteen turns.
It would be hard to find someone who will refer to this one
as a technical trick, but it is: After a pass in every
others, put a horizontal club with your right hand against
your stomach and crouch down, to hold the club with your
stomach. Actually it is trapped horizontally between your upper thighs
and your chest. When it is time to pass, stand up and the
club will fall flat and horizontally to your feet. Just step back a little and
kick pass it.
If possible, you might rather have it roll down your legs to your feet, although with this version, it is difficult to keep the club in the horizontal plane.
This is a fascinating but dangerous two-count trick. Warn your
catcher first. Put a club between your legs, and then
transverse pass a club from each hand at the same time in the face plane. They
will be double-spin throws. They should cross in mid-air
(optional) and arrive cleanly to your partner. This is the
hard part. After partner catches these, crotch bash the club
between your legs. If the passes are to cross, you’ll want to decide in advance which one goes slightly in front of the other. If you are a right-hander, you’ll want to focus on sending off a clean double-spin left-to-left pass.
In every others (four-count), after a pass, juggle your self throws real
fast so you can get two extra throws in before you have to
pass again, so you will have done a cycle of thirds (six-count) while your partner continues to do four-count. You can repeat this six-count variation for as many cycles as you wish.
The obvious variation is to squeeze four-count into two-count in the same way.
In two-count, throw a left double to your partner’s left and
then set your left club onto the right-hand club in a vertical
balance. For your next pass, bash it off with your left club. Throw another left
to left double and hold the right-hand club as if you are
going to balance another club on it. Hold the left club as
if you were going to set it in another end balance on the
right club, but move it slightly further to your right. Let
this left club drop to your right foot, which will kick-pass
it to your surprised partner.
This one gets a laugh. In four-count, throw your partner a
triple-spin pass and pretend to flourish the clubs in each
hand simultaneously. This is not a real flourish, merely
shake the clubs back and forth, then resume passing. This
one was invented by one of the Renegades, Tom Kidwell.
In two-count, you can throw continuous left-to-left double-spin passes, while Tom flourishing as long as you wish in your right hand.
Buy right hand time with multiplex, demultiplex, or use a
left-to-left double-spin pass if you are in two-count. Let the right hand
club slip down to the knob and swing it two turns in the hacksaw plane with your
wrist before passing it. The smoothest way is to swing it
is clockwise as seen be someone standing to your right, and
then shoulder pass it.
Do two swings as above, and then interrupt the motion of the
club by putting your right foot in the way. You should bend
up your leg at the knee, so that the fat part of the club
will smash into the bottom of the arch of your foot. The
club will then spin backward if you let it. Keep your leg up
and pass the club under your leg. All of this happens in the hacksaw plane.
A weird Jeff trick is a double interruption. After only
one swing, I do an interruption as described above, but then
as the club swings backward, I interrupt again with my left
foot this time, causing the club to spin in the original
direction. Then I shoulder pass it.
Yet another variation is a triple interruption. After one swing, I do an interruption as described above, but then
as the club swings backward, I interrupt again with my left
foot, causing the club to spin in the original
direction. Then I interrupt it again with my right foot, and finally pass it under my leg.
After a pass in others, you can put two clubs into your
right hand and multiplex throw them to yourself, behind your back in the face plane. I usually use a fast, low double-spin. You can also do
this straight up, under your leg, (either leg), over the top, etc. For over the top, put the inside club slightly ahead of the outside club. In mid-air, they’ll separate into two pretty side-by-side parallel spins.
In two-count, throw a left-to-left double-spin pass, and froggie catch the next incoming pass. Flourish it, and throw it as a left-to-left double-spin pass, while simultaneously reaching over to your left with your right hand and froggie catch the next incoming pass. Flourish that right hand club, and throw it to your partner as a right-to-left double-spin pass. Then froggie catch the next left club, and repeat, so that you are continuously catching a club in each hand, and flourishing it before sending it back. Once you start, there are no self-throws in this pattern.
In four-count, ditch a club by putting it on the floor,
under your foot, or set up for a crotch bash. In between
subsequent passes, you may sort of let one club fall over
the top of the other in the hacksaw plane as you are holding them. You can also
roll a club up over, from under the other club. I usually
hold the left club out in front of me horizontally and roll
the right club over it. I often do the move and variations
several times before resuming with all six clubs.
Four-count: You can ditch a club, or throw a right-to-left double-spin self throw to buy time. Hold the left club horizontally and high in front of your body, a little toward your right side. Throw a tomahawk pass over the club, or drop, or sort of flop, the right club over the horizontal left club in the hacksaw plane, catch it as it falls, then pass it, or throw it as a triple-spin right to left self throw (a steal).
Two-count: Just hold any left club up high and horizontally in front of you as you tomahawk pass the right club over it.
There is an equal and opposite maneuver which mixes well with flop-overs in series: While holding the left club horizontally, this time a little lower, roll the right club over it in the hacksaw plane, catch it, then pass it any way you’d like. The club may, or may not touch the horizontal club – your choice.
Instead of a pass, bring a club behind your legs, and drop it between your legs so it ends up on your foot, with the bottom facing forward, and the handle, near the knob, resting against your lower shin, ready to kick up. This can be a kick-up to yourself or as a pass.
Using something like the Ditch Kick-Up, described above, have a club resting on your foot ready to kick-up. Kick it less high than you normally would, so it falls back to your foot, then kick it up again, at which point you can pass it, or whatever you want to do with it.
A variation is to kick it up the first time in the normal way, but instead of grabbing it with your hand, kick-pass it to your partner.
Another variation, is to kick-pass it with your other foot.
Yet another variation is to kick it up high enough to bounce off either knee as a pass or self throw.
Put two clubs on your foot the way you would normally put one for a kick-up. The handle of the inside club should be under the handle of the outside club. You can do the kick-up in the normal way, and both clubs will come up, spinning parallel, and you can catch one in each hand.
This is probably a four-count trick, since you probably won’t find the time to do it in two-count, three-count, pairs, etc.
1. After any pass, set the left club on the right club. The right club is held horizontally with the bottom pointing forward. The left club is put on the right club horizontally at a ninety degree angle, with the knob pointing to your left, and the bottom to your right. The middle of the left club, now called the “second club,” is over the area where the handle of the right club joins the body, or just a bit closer to your hand. In order to maintain this “balance” you need to extend the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, so three fingers are wrapped around the handle of the first club, but your thumb and forefinger are supporting the second club.
This could be a trick in itself. For your next pass, you could push off the second (top) club to your catcher. But no, this has to be more complicated.
2. Place the next club that comes to your right hand, which we’ll call the “third” club, vertically on the second club. The knob of this third club will be parked on the approximate middle of the second club, and you’ll want to focus your attention on the “bottom” (now the top) of this third club, maintaining it a balance.
Triple balance. Notice how the thumb and index finger are extended under the second club.
3. Optionally, if your partner continues to pass, which he may not do, since you have three clubs and are not passing, you can continue to pass as long as you want by catching passes in your left hand, and sending them back as left-to-left double-spin passes.
4. When you are ready, suddenly lift the first club up, so the other two rise into the air where you can then catch them and continue juggling or passing.
An interesting option that looks more precarious is to use your stomach (Not your stomach actually. That would be gross, and you’d probably get an infection. Use your belly.), to slide the second club, as soon as you set it, a couple of inches (perhaps 6 cm) farther away from your body. Normally, this club would fall off, but instead, at the same time as you have pushed it forward, you set the knob of the third club onto the knob of the second, so you have a stable, balanced arrangement.
Triple offset balance.
In four-count, you can demultiplex to get enough time, or in two-count, you can throw a left-to-left double-spin pass.
As soon as you can get some right-hand time, hold the club up as if you were going to throw a tomahawk pass. Since you are early, bend your wrist as if you were going to throw, but instead, hang onto the club, and bring your wrist back. Then throw your tomahawk. The first part is the “pseudo” part.
Variations include holding the club in Tim Chop fashion, and finishing with a shoulder throw.
In four-count, catch a second club in your left hand (multiplex catch) and begin a slow counter-clockwise pirouette as seen from the top, while holding the right club out as if it were a trophy, but hold it horizontally. As you turn around, lower the right club almost to the ground, then bring it back up before you pass it. Pass it with the normal spin. This is very untechnical, but looks goofy enough to get a laugh.
Hold a club in your right hand vertically, with the knob end down. Bring your arm around in a big half-circle on the hacksaw plane and let the club go when your arm is behind you. Throw the club high and flat. You can use this anywhere you’d throw a normal triple-spin pass, but you need to set it up a bit early in order to have time for the roundhouse effect.
In four-count, as you are getting ready to catch an incoming pass, tuck the club in your right hand along the left side of your neck. The knob will be facing forward, and the bottom facing behind you. Raise your shoulder, and possibly tip your head to trap the club.
As soon as you catch the pass, tuck it along right side of your neck, trapping it with your other shoulder. Grab the remaining club in your right hand across the access of spin, and place it on your head. At the same time, give the club a little spin, just as you would for an ordinary headspin. As soon as the club spins one revolution, since time will be very limited at this point, push the club on your head off as a flat pass to your catcher. Take the two tucked clubs out, and resume passing as normal.
Invented by G. W. Moss, this is a two-count trick that looks especially nice to the audience, especially if they are seeing your right-hand side.
Start throwing left-to-left double-spin passes. This entirely frees up your right hand. Start circling the club you are holding in your right hand around in big backward circles on the hacksaw plane. As seen from your right, these circles will be counter-clockwise. You should make one circle for each pass, so it looks somehow as if your big circles are launching each pass, even though the passes and circles are entirely independent. Keep doing it until hell freezes over, or until you lose interest.
In four-count, put two clubs into your right hand. Take the next incoming pass and place it on top of the two clubs with the knob facing toward you. Lower the angle of your right hand, then raise it fairly quickly. This will cause the club on top to slide off as a pass to your partner.
The grip for the steamshovel.
Buy some right hand time with multiplex or demultiplex in four-count, or continuous left-to-left double-spin passes in two-count or other patterns.
Holding the club that’s in your right hand in an inverted tomahawk grip, bring your arm behind your head, so the club is situated near the left side of your face. Wiggle your the club back and forth. Keep doing it until you are done, then throw the club as an inverted tomahawk from where it is, or bring it back, and resume passing in the normal way.
Anytime you can throw a triple-spin pass, you can kick one to the same height instead. If you kick near the middle of the club, it will stay flat, and look quite nice as it floats back down to the catcher.
Be careful, there is a very good chance that if you don’t kick it right, instead of going up to triple height, it will go straight at your catcher’s face, with the same velocity.
This is mostly a four-count trick. While multiplexing or demultiplexing in your left hand, set a club vertically so you are holding it by the knob, and just the first part of the handle, and the bottom is resting on the ground in front of your right foot. Just before the normal time to pass, kick with your toe near the bottom of the club, while holding the knob in a ball-and-socket grip. The club will spin around backward in the hacksaw plane, at which point you can release it as a pass.
A simpler version is just to kick-pass it from that position. You can also continue the spin for two, three, or more revolutions, and pass instead from your left hand.
If you are more confident kicking with your left foot, go ahead. It’s all the same.
Set a club vertically on the ground in front of your right foot, so for a moment the club is balanced on its bottom. In most cases, the club won’t stay like that for long. As soon as the club is set, back away from it a little bit, and then go ahead and gently kick pass it to your partner before it tips over.
In two-count, gather two clubs in your right hand, with the handle of the inside club under the outside club, and the inside club a few inches (eight cm or so) in front of the other. Before you throw that multiplex pass, gather two more clubs in your left hand the same way. The second left-hand catch may be difficult until you get used to getting that inside handle under the other, and the inside club forward of the outside club. Throw the two clubs in your right hand as a multiplex double-spin transverse (face plane) pass. Wait until the catcher absorbs those, then throw the other two from your left hand in the same way. When you’re good, the pairs of clubs separate in mid-air with parallel spins to be caught one in each catcher’s hand.
While multiplexing, demultiplexing or throwing left-to-left double-spin passes from your left hand, hold the right club by the very knob, and spin it in water plane over your head for two revolutions. At the end of the last revolution, still tugging it by the knob, bring it into hacksaw plane and throw it as a tomahawk.
In any count, instead of catching a club with your left hand, you can catch it under your arm, often called an “elbow catch,” or “body catch.” Then, you can raise your arm quickly, and if it works out as you’d like, it becomes a single-spin pass back to your partner.
In four-count, you can do a left-side body catch, while holding a club in each hand. Then, when it is time to pass, body pass that with a single spin, diagonally back to your partner’s left hand. Now, quickly move to your left, and when the next pass comes, catch it with a right side body catch, and after a moment’s pause to fit the proper timing, body pass it back to your catcher’s right hand. You can now move back to your right, and repeat the body passes for as long as you like.
One thing that might be important: Many good catchers will follow you if you telegraph your first quick move to the left. You will have lined yourself up to catch on the right side of your body, but your passer, not knowing your plan, will pass it more outside, to your new left position. To avoid telegraphing, make the move suddenly, at the last possible moment.
You can do the same thing in two-count, but you might want some regular passes between each body catch.
You can do a self body catch by starting with a shoulder throw. Typically, you might throw left-to-left double-spin passes if in two-count, or demultiplex if in four-count, then throw a right-hand shoulder throw. But, instead of that shoulder throw being a pass, it goes almost straight up, with one or two spins – your choice. Catch it yourself as a right-side body catch. Then you can do some other things, such as letting the club slide forward while you stoop forward, catching the sliding club at the last second by the knob. (This makes a great solo or passing finish, by the way.) Or, you can body throw it up to yourself, and body catch it again. I’m sure you can think of other ways to utilize body passes as well.
In four-count, kneel down on one knee while throwing a tomahawk pass. The next right hand self throw is a double-spin self tomahawk, overhead. The next pass is another tomahawk, and the next right self-throw is a self tomahawk again. Repeat this pattern for a while, then as you stand up, your pass can be a shoulder throw, just to make the routine look smooth and complete.
If you are a really good thrower, in each cycle, you might throw a tomahawk pass, followed by three self tomahawks, using both hands.
Pass a club in water plane with as much spin as you can. Assuming you are passing from your right hand, make it an outside spin, meaning clockwise as seen from above. The pass should be just a bit higher than single-spin height. This is particularly hard to catch because the spin is contrary to the grasp. The club wants to crawl out of the catcher’s hand.
The reverse spin, in other words counterclockwise as seen from the top, is easier to catch.
You can also throw these at triple-spin height, but those aren’t ‘impossible’ to catch. At triple-height, passes in water plane are called “helicopters.”
After any pass in four-count, or after a left-to-left double-spin pass to your partner in two-count, you can set the club held in your right hand on your right shoulder with the bottom facing to the back, and let it fall. As it slides over the back of your shoulder, grab it with your right hand behind your back. Bring it forward and do whatever you’re going to do next – a pass, a spin, a self-throw, whatever.
You can throw a triple-spin pass in four count, and drop both clubs over both shoulders.
Place a club on your head with your left hand so that it is horizontal, and the handle is facing forward. Almost immediately take it off with your right hand, so it doesn’t really have to balance. The audience will perceive this as having been balanced, and having stayed longer than it did.
In the next cycle do it again. Do it a few more times. Then, set a club almost the same way, but farther back on your head, so it slips off, behind your back. As it falls, reach behind, catch it, and then pass it in the usual way.
While buying right hand time with left-to-left double-spin passes, multiplex or demultiplex, throw a shoulder throw from your right hand. This will be a self shoulder throw, so throw it without much forward trajectory, so it falls just in front of you. As it comes within reach, catch it near the knob, and then shoulder pass it in the normal way. One could repeat the self shoulder throws indefinitely.
It is inevitable. Here you are passing six clubs with another artistic passer. You’re in the rhythm. Everything is going well. Few drops. You and the other passer are having a great time. Then someone comes up and wants to know if they can join you. How can you say “no?” So, sure, you let this other person into a classic three-person feed.
The standard three-person feed is two people facing one. The two are each doing four-count, in offset timing, and the one is doing two-count, giving alternating passes to the two four-count people.
If you are one of the two four-count passers, you can just do all your usual artistic stuff. If you get bored with that, or if the point is having a hard time, or if the rhythm just isn’t what it was, you can play with the point, expanding her catching ability.
Using NLP or whatever, you can read the point’s physiology, or just ask the point whether s/he wants to play with some exercises to increase the skill. Most people enjoy this sort of game, and all three passers can end up in fits of laughter.
One of my favorites is simultaneous arrivals. You can decide whether you’re going to warn the point or not – generally based on how good and safe a catcher this person is. Then, purposely throw a club out of time. In other words, suddenly throw a pass after two counts instead of four. Ideally, you will have been noticing where the other four-count passer’s throws go, and pass yours the same way with the same amount of spin, so your club very nearly comes to the exact same place. A very good catcher can eat this up, either catching both clubs in the left hand, or catching one in the normal way, while doing an elbow or body catch to absorb the other.
Once a point becomes good at catching these, it is great accident recovery, because out-of-time clubs are very common in feeds, and a point looks great upon making a recovery. One of the best recoveries is when the point has simultaneous arrivals, but one is too low, or too outside. The point catches the easy club, and at the same time, kicks the out-of-ZOC club back as a pass.
A slight variation, which a less-than-expert point might appreciate is slightly out-of-time passes. Not quite simultaneous arrivals, you throw every pass just a bit late, or a bit early, on purpose, to see how well the point can handle them.
Another fun game is high-low, in which you and the other four-count passer agree that you will throw high passes, and the other person will throw low – or vice versa. See how far you can stretch the point’s ZOC.
If your point hasn’t expired yet, you might flat-pass a bunch of two clubs, to be caught together in the point’s left hand. A good point will make a big show of absorbing these and returning them in proper timing, without breaking a sweat.
If your point isn’t such a great passer, you can mess around with right-to-right double-spin passes, or right-to-left triple-spin passes, or worse, high transverse passes.
People who are new to feeds finding picking up as the point is difficult. There are several ways to make it easier.
The first is to throw a triple-spin pass to each passer. Expect one more incoming pass, then while the triples are landing, you can pick up the errant club. If it is too far away to pick up easily, the triples don’t have to be triples. They can be four, five, or even more spins. It is important that they have the same height, otherwise, the passers facing you will come back out of time, and you’ll get near simultaneous arrivals.
Another way that works well is to do a toe-kick up instead of a pass. This works better on grass, if you are barefoot or have low-cut shoes, and are experienced in toe kick-ups.
What is probably the most common feed pickup is to maneuver so you’ll be able to pickup the club in your right hand. While doing so, start passing with your left hand. You can keep passing left-to-left as long as you need. Once you have recovered the club in your right hand, you can resume passing normally.
For a point, this is probably the easiest trick in �feeddom,� except for maybe tomahawks or right-to-right double passes. (But those aren’t really tricks, are they?) Throw a right-to-left triple-spin pass to one of the passers. In order not to get a simultaneous arrival, also throw a triple-spin pass to the other passer. You can continue these triples as long as you want, so long as you end with an even number of triple-spin passes. At the end, you’ll need to do a four-count cycle, so you don’t plague one of your guys with a two-count surprise when s/he was expecting a four-count.
Put yourself at the point of a regular three-person
feed. You are passing to two people facing you who are doing
four-count. You are doing two-count, but every other of your
passes goes to one person and the alternate passes are going
to the other person.
At any time you are ready, quickly put two clubs
in your right hand (the club on the left as you hold them in
front of yourself will have its handle under the club on the
right) and throw them multiplexed together as a
Aim the pair of clubs at a point between
the two people facing you. If you do it right, the clubs
will separate in the air and one will go to the
left hand of the catcher on your left, the other will go to the right hand of the catcher on your right.
What happens next can be amusing. You may get a simultaneous arrival. If you are expecting that, it is twice as easy to absorb as when you are not. The catchers may also try to fix the timing. If they both try to fix it, anything can happen, but you can deal with it, right?
Interestingly, if you try a more difficult pass, you can get better results. The pass is a multiplex back-cross triple. The advantage is that the clubs can separate more completely in mid-air, each going to a catcher’s left hand.
Getting the proper amount of separation is almost
automatic, but you will need some practice aiming to the
right place so that both people will be able to catch these
clubs without moving very much. If you do it inaccurately,
one catcher will have to reach about to the place where the
other person’s face was. I say was, because as long as the
clubs do separate in the air, if your placement is
not right, the one who’s face was in danger will have moved
out of the way in order to grab the other club.
You can tell the catchers one thing before starting
this trick if you don’t want to deal with simultaneous arrivals. They should be told to stop passing after catching the multiplex back-crosses, and just juggle self throws. This is because they will both catch the passes at
the same time, and then there would be confusion about who
passes to you when. As soon as possible make eye contact
with the person to your left as a signal to pass again, and
the person on the right will see the pass and know to resume
passing on the next beat.
With a bit of practice you can create a timing that
flows smoothly so the passing will not stop. For instance
the person on the right can pass as soon as the back-cross
triple is caught and the person on the left will do a self-throw before the next pass. It may be better for one
of the catchers to do a four-count cycle and the catcher next to
him to do a six-count cycle. This is slower, but the gap in timing
won’t be noticeable to the audience.
This would be just like Continuous Flourishes except that you are in an ordinary feed, alternating to two passers. This looks quite spectacular to other jugglers. But once you try it, you may find it’s not all that hard.
This is just like Two Hand Tomahawks but you are the point in a feed. There are two ways to do this. The stupid way is to pass the tomahawks from your right hand to the passer on your right, and the left ones go to the passer on your left. The ‘right’ way, the way that looks much better, is to reverse it, so your left tomahawks go to the passer on your right, and the rights to to the passer on your left.
At any time, gather two clubs in your right hand for a multiplex pass. The handle of the inside club be under the handle of the outside, otherwise they will foul each other in mid-air. The outside club should be an inch or so (2.5 cm) in front of the other so they’ll separate nicely when thrown. Throw these from outside as double-spin transverse passes in the face plane. Ideally, each passer will catch a club in their left hand, and will pass back to you in some sort of staggered timing. They may throw simultaneously, so be ready for a simultaneous catch.
If you’re making a mess, try aiming only for the left catcher’s left hand. If that doesn’t work, think only about the right catcher’s left hand. If that doesn’t work – if the problem is that you’re not getting enough separation, throw the multiplex with triple-spins.
You can also do this as a behind the back throw. You can also throw the multiplex from your left hand. If your catchers are particularly wise, you can throw a multiplex transverse pair from your left hand, followed by another pair from your right.
Throw a double-spin pass in the face plane (transverse) from your left hand to the right-hand of the passer on your left. Throw an early left-to-right transverse double to the left hand of the passer on your right. Repeat this pattern until someone complains.
As the point, if you are holding three clubs, you can throw a single-spin pass to one passer, and at the same time, a triple-spin to the other. The one who gets the single-spin will start first, and all will commence as it should. You can throw one club from each hand, deciding which hand will throw a more reliable triple. Better yet, cross over. From your left hand, you throw a single-spin pass to the passer on your right, and from your right hand, you throw the triple to the passer on your left.
Or throw a multiplex pass straight up which splits in mid air, with one club going to the left hand of the catcher on your left, and the other going to the right hand of the catcher on your right. To make this work, one club should be held far forward of the other in your hand, and you should step forward as you make the throw. This version expects a certain amount of skill from your catchers.
If you have four clubs, throw a single-spin pass to the catcher with two clubs, and at the same time, a triple to the catcher with three clubs.
If you have five clubs, throw a single-spin pass to either catcher, and a concurrent triple to the other.
There are of course patterns other than four-count
and two-count, and many of the tricks described in this website can be done just fine in these other patterns.
If you opt to use one of these other patterns,
you will put your catcher at a disadvantage unless your catcher
is practiced in the same pattern. This means the freedom of
expression is lost if you are not both proficient in the
pattern, because you will be working too hard just
maintaining to do artistic things. But with the required
practice there are some fantastic ideas exclusively
available in these other patterns.
Many of us learned six-count first. It gives you lots of
extra time to perform complicated combinations of self
throws, such as a series of Alberts or it gives you time to do a single item repeatedly. I once saw a very impressive six-count passing routine containing things that were probably impossible in four-count.
Most left hand passers are at a
slight disadvantage in right hand passing. If you were to switch to
left hand passing, the right hand passer would be at a
disadvantage. Artistically, there is no advantage of left
hand passing, except to impress other jugglers with your
ambidexterity. But you can immediately equalize the
differences between righties and south-paws by doing right-
and-left passing. There are three basic forms being
pioneered primarily in Boston and Hawaii: pairs, one-count,
and three-count. These patterns
are all old ones, but just now, people are starting to do
more with them.
Three-count is like four-count, but right and
left, each subsequent pass coming one self-throw early
compared to four-count. In other words, there are two self-throws between each pass, instead of three, resulting in alternating passes from each hand. It offers interesting variations such as straight-across tomahawks, flats and shoulder throws from each hand, and cross-over doubles.
One-count is every throw a pass, both hands alternating.
In order to make it work without collisions, it is best to learn to throw each club from low and inside to be caught high and outside.
Pairs is one-count, but both hands passing,
simultaneously. In pairs, generally the clubs don’t cross.
Pairs may become a new fad
among club passers. Watch Graham Ellis, the founder of the Hawaiian
Vaudeville Convention and Belly Acres (juggler’s land on the Big Island of Hawaii), to see the excellence in pairs passing.
Some ideas for pairs: simultaneous double shoulder
throws, passes that cross in mid-air like “crossover flowers”, double
transverse passes, double tomahawks, and double simultaneous double-spin steals. You can also do a different throw from each
hand, but at the same time. Your double steals can also be
three or four spins high, because your partner has only two
clubs and will probably wait for you to pass again before
passing to you. How about simultaneous, triple-spin steal,
while double simultaneous flourishes of the clubs you are
I was introduced to mixed counts by Frank Olivier, who when I asked, “Two-count or four?” said something like, “Whatever.” Then we started to pass clubs in no particular count. You can do it to, with any experienced partner. All you do is start in any pattern. It might be four-count, or three-count, or pairs, and either passer at any time might change the count to something else. The change may be triggered with a high throw, such as a triple, and it might evolve slowly, such as from one-count to pairs. At first it was hard to read what he was going to do, but it did’t take long to catch on, at least a little bit. It is a lot like absorbing simultaneous arrivals. Or maybe more like absorbing a two-count in a what’s supposed to be a four-count pattern. Sometimes you find yourself multiplex catching a lot just to stay in the game. And, you’re generally a little busy for really artistic stuff, but it is fun. Who cares what it looks like?
Out of practicing with mixed count, your author came up with the ability to just start passing. You may think you have to come to an agreement with a partner as to whether you are going to do two-count, four-count, or something else before you can begin passing. But, as it turns out, you don’t. With awareness, you can just start. I think I generally make an assumption like, “This guy is a fast, advanced passer, so he’ll probably start with two-count,” or “She likes artistic four-count,” or “last time with her, we did pairs.” Then, as the passing starts, I kind of hang back a bit with the first pass if I’m expecting two-count, but the other passer is expecting four-count, or I may multiplex the first catch if I was expecting four-count but got two-count. With very little practice, you’ll get the hang of it, and it seems remarkably natural. Interestingly, this blows the minds of beginning and intermediate passers. They still think communication is necessary. So now I say what Frank said: “Whatever.”
Club Ballet is a style of two-count passing developed
on the west coast of the United States. If you get a chance to see Tom
Kidwell and Josh Anzelmo of the Renegades in action, you
will know how much fun club ballet is. The basic idea is to
throw as much variety as fast as you can from both hands to your catcher’s both
hands. The rules are to keep every pass in the ZOC
(consider all four dimensions) and “if you can touch it, you
can catch it”. Club ballet is generally based on two-count, but at times, that’s pretty hard to see among all that’s going on.
The major responsibility is on the catcher who must hold
the whole thing together. Typical passes include high flats,
mixed up with tomahawks, shoulder throws, bashes, multiplex passes and
kicks, both high and low. Anything is legitimate, such as
triple-spin passes followed by one cycle of every others.
Try to avoid redundancy at all costs.
If you get stuck for ideas, remember all three planes are at your disposal.
To make it as interesting as possible to the public, you can do a series of low passes, then the sudden high pass, or visa
This website is supposed to be about six-club passing, but much of this material can be applied to numbers. Not only that, but most artistic passers succumb to numbers from time to time. Even I have had the temptation to pick up more than six from time to time.
You can pass seven clubs with single-spins in two count, called “seven singles,” almost as easily as six. It is just a touch faster. That can be compensated by throwing every pass more floaty than usual. The passer who starts with three clubs should start a hair late. However, a good passer starting with four can usually accommodate a simultaneous start by multiplexing the first catch. In fact multiplex catching in either hand is an easy way to fix a variety of timing errors that can work their way into seven singles. All of the usual tricks work in seven singles such as left-to-left doubles with right hand tricks, and multiplex passes.
You can also pass seven clubs with two or even three spins.
Your author was once asked to fill some outdoor stage time with another juggler shortly after sunset. We didn’t have any props or material the audience hadn’t already seen, but between us, we had seven torches. So, we lit the torches and passed them with double-spins in two-count until every last flame had burned itself out. I was surprised to discover the crowd actually liked that routine.
You might enjoy seven-club four-count. The passer with four clubs starts with a triple-spin pass. The juggler with three clubs starts with an ordinary right-to-left single-spin self throw. From that moment on, it is ordinary four-count in all respects except each pass is a triple-spin.
Eight club passing has three common variations. The most common is two-count with double-spin passes. This runs at about the same speed as six-club two-count with single-spins. The start is a bit crazy until you get used to it, and if the passers aren’t experienced in constant double-spins, it may take some practice. One nifty little trick is to suddenly throw a left-to-left triple, and flourish the right club.
Eight club singles has a weird feel. Every pass should be floated. The self-throws should be floated also. What happens is you have to throw your left self throws and your right passes at the same time, which is a challenge in left-right isolation.
Eight-club triples is how you learn nine- and ten-club passing. If you have trouble with eight-club triples, downsift to seven or even six club two-count with all triples. The normal tendency is to throw too long – too far behind your catcher’s shoulder. Ideally, every club floats high and comes down in front of, not behind the passers. Left to right variation creeps into numbers passing at this point. To fix that, watch the clubs at the top of the arc. The clubs you are throwing, and the ones your partner are throwing should cross at shoulder width apart. If a pass goes wrong, follow it with other passes to the same place, then slowly bring the pattern back to where it should be. In other words, if you suddenly throw a pass too long, don’t compensate in what would seem the natural way: by throwing the next one too short. Instead, make the following passes also long, but less and less long until you are back to normal. Partners have to talk and accept criticism. You are naturally looking up to catch things, so you are throwing blind. If your passes are all too underspun or too long or whatever, the only way you’ll know is if your partner tells you.
Constant triples is never accurate, so expect lots of upside down catches. In time, it becomes inconsequential which way the clubs are oriented. You automatically compensate for upside down catches with one-and-a-half-spin self throws.
Nine club passing is just like eight clubs, just a bit faster. If neither passer has tried five-club solo juggling, then the start may be awkward at first until someone learns how to throw the first club while holding three in one hand. If you have trouble with nine, especially with the timing, throw floatier (higher) passes. The person holding four clubs starts a fraction after the one with five.
Ten clubs can be done with high triples, but you may find it easier with quadruple-spins.
Same thing with eleven clubs.
I cannot advise past eleven clubs.
That’s it. Enjoy passing! – Jeff