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Clubs can be hard on you -- no matter what you buy, they're likely gonna hurt your hands a bit until you get used to them. As your catching skills improve, it'll get better: some advice is to learn to catch in the non-bony part of your hand and don't wear a ring. No, not even your wedding ring :-(
Also, consider wearing gloves if you have severe problems. I developed a painful bruise learning to pass, and now occasionally have to wear a biking glove on my left hand when I'm juggling clubs. I was happily surprised to find wearing a good glove didn't affect my control at all. Some hints:
This works well (it should, as you mention it is the analogue of three balls). Another thing I found *really* useful was doing 2 balls and a club. Start the 2 balls off together (right) and the club in the other hand (left). This lets you concentrate on club throwing/catching only 1/3 of the time. You need to use heavy balls to do this trick (so that the weight of the club and the balls aren't too different). Later you can try 2 clubs and 1 ball. After that..... need I say more?
The start with clubs is IMHO really important. Too many people hold one club in their hands and sort of let the other one dangle between their fingers like a spent erection (I know people appreciate these charming metaphors). I can attest to the fact that it is possible to grip 4 clubs firmly (*) so your hands *are* big enough to do it. The technique I use looks like this. Looking down at your right hand you see the club shafts go
1 2 \ \ / / \ / / / / / / \ / / \ \ OO/ \OO <- bulb of club OO OO
throw the clubs 1 2. Yes, I know that 1 is underneath 2, but it is rotating in such a direction that it slips out from underneath. Try this a few times. This lets you grip both clubs firmly and have full control over where they go flapping off to.
(*) ObUnneccessaryEgoMassage: I can attest to this because I am working on 7 clubs.
Throwing one a bit higher with a double flip is probably a good place to start. Try it with just one club before you try it in the pattern. Then there's "floaters," throws with no flip at all. Just sort of scoop the club up.
Under-the-leg isn't too hard. Again, try it with one club first, then try to start you pattern with that throw, then try ending a pattern that way. Finally, try it in the pattern. Lift your leg high, bent at the knee, and make all your throws a little high to give yourself a little extra time.
I think that you were requesting some easy three-club tricks to learn. Easy three club tricks? There are lots! OK, maybe I didn't find them so easy to learn, but then again, it took me quite a while to get a three-club cascade down!
Try doubles. Every once in a while, throw one higher and have it flip twice instead of once. Do it with both hands. You can do every throw as a double if you want to. It looks pretty.
Then there is the "wing-one-up-as-high-as-you-can-and-catch-it-and-the-non-jugglers-think-you-are-o-so-cool" one.
My favorite is sort of like a three ball half-shower. Practice throwing one over your head from the right to the left hand. It should flip twice and the audience should be able to see the flip (ie. it is flipping in a different direction than normally, plus it is over your head. I would wear headgear when learning this one.) If that makes no sense, ask anyone about doubleoverheads and I am sure that they would be able to explain it much better than I can!
If all of these tricks you can perform flawlessly already, then maybe you should look into asking for some "hard three-club tricks"! I can't do any of those yet! Happy juggling!
4 clubs is one i'm working on now. i'm actually surprised at how quickly i'm getting it. it seems helpful to first completely master the various patterns that arise from the 4-club pattern you're aiming for MINUS ONE CLUB. so for example, if you're trying to get the basic pattern of juggling the clubs in columns with simultaneous throws:
^ | ^ | | | | | | | | | | \ / | \ / club # 1 2 3 4
then before even attempting this pattern with all 4 clubs, first work on this *exact* pattern without club #1, then again without club #2, etc. [note: each of these *is* different!] once you've got each of these 4 patterns down, you'll find putting it all together really isn't bad at all. same goes for 4 club pattern with staggered throws and columns, and i presume with circular throws instead of columns, though i haven't worked much on it yet.
The fountain is the first four club pattern you should learn. Learning columns before the fountain would be like learning the three ball reverse cascade before the cascade - it's not necessarily harder, it's just not the real way to do it.
You should first be able to do three clubs with double spins. Take a club and throw it higher than normal so that it spins more. You might find yourself wondering "how am I supposed to know if that was a double or a triple?" But if it's not a single and you catch the right end, rest assured that it's a double. Make sure you're just throwing the club higher, not spinning it faster; otherwise your throws won't get solid as quickly.
When you can throw consistent doubles with both hands, you can do a cascade with doubles. Rather than starting with doubles, get a cascade going with singles first, then start throwing doubles. This will keep you from having to deal with the tricky start for now (throwing a double from a hand that's holding two clubs).
After you can go from a cascade with singles to a cascade with doubles and sustain it for a bit, learn to start going directly into doubles. Put two clubs in your dominant hand and try to throw one of the clubs with a double spin. It will seem to require much more force to throw a double while holding a second club in the same hand, but it will soon feel natural. Now put two clubs in your subordinate hand and try the same thing. When you can start a cascade with double spins from either hand, you are ready to learn two clubs in one hand with doubles.
One of the first things you will notice about two clubs in one hand is that it's a great way to get smacked in the wrists. Bruised wrists and numbness in the hands are common side effects of learning four clubs, but they can be prevented with a little care. You'll want to take off your watch, and you should angle your hands slightly inwards so that you catch each club with its handle parallel to your forearm, but not touching it. This is one way of preventing the knobs from hitting your wrists. Alternatively, you can protect your wrists by pointing the clubs at an angle to the outside, thus pointing the knobs toward your body and away from your wrists. I use the first method, but do whatever feels right for you.
When you're learning two in one hand, don't worry about trying to finish cleanly. It will be much easier to learn to stop later on, after your throws become more controlled. I didn't get a clean flash with four clubs until I could get 30 catches. For now, just catch one club in each hand when you want to stop, or let one fall to the ground. After two in one hand starts to feel comfortable, you can go ahead and try four once in a while, but keep working on two in one hand until you get about 100 catches with each hand.
Unless you have very high-quality clubs, you will probably get bruises on the palm side of your knuckles, your fingertips, and the base of your thumb. The pain can be a limiting factor in how long you can practice, but it will disappear as your throws get smoother. Practicing in short sessions (~15 min) in the beginning stages is a good way to minimize the chance of painful injury.
Work on both the synchronous and asynchronous fountains, and remember to use plenty of scoop in order to prevent collisions. Four clubs is a great thing to watch, so keep at it. It's definitely easier than five balls.
My comments on learning juggling stunts apply only if a rather heavy assumption is made. That assumption is that you, the juggler, wish to really LEARN the trick. When I say learn, I mean that you intend to be able to perform the trick with great accuracy under even stressful conditions - every time.
This is an important assumption because there are many jugglers who merely wish to a flash or get a few rounds in the gym. The area after the initial breakthrough is the toughest part to perfect. It is important that you make this choice early in the rehearsal process because all of the suggestions that I have are very useful, but terribly boring and frustratingly tedious.
Before you even pick up five clubs again, be able to do 100 counts with each of these exercises. The idea is this, each of these exercises are easier than five clubs. Before you can do five clubs, you must be able to do all of the components of five clubs. If you work on five prematurely, you will learn it, but it will take much longer.
So, once you have 100 counts with each, do short, clean runs with five. If you can only do 10 throws, then do only 10 throws. Don't keep juggling until you drop. Always limit yourself to a run that you are absolutely confident that you can complete. This is a grave error in practice style among many jugglers. If you juggle until you drop, that means that every time you practice a run, you are also practising a mistake. We don't like practising mistakes. This also means that saves don't count. If you have to make a save to keep the pattern going, STOP. This is not performance, this is practice. Gradually increase your run lengths, but what ever you do, don't worry about records. The primary assumption is driving to what you will learn, not what you have learned.
Tips for four and five clubs... First off, I DID learn five first then four. Don't follow my example... unless you too are mesmerized by seeing a five club cascade, and decide that nothing is more important than learning that pattern.
For the half-showers, you angle the clubs the same way as for three or five. But the doubles-singles pattern is tighter and faster than all others except singles itself, and the rhythm is an uneven right-left.....right-left.....right-left, whereas all others are either cleanly in or out of sync. The triples-singles is evenly out of sync and only as fast as a regular three club, single-spin cascade. But at first the triples will be wild and the temptation to overthrow/overspin the singles will be great. Both the triple-single or double-single patterns cross the throws so you don't need to angle them any differently than for three.
Passers often find these patterns easier because the left hand just throws ordinary selfs all the time. I know one passer, John Gilkey (sp?) who found the five clubs, triple-single and quad-single half showers easier than the doubles cascade because his left hand didn't like doubles. I'm not sure, but I think he couldn't do the four club doubles patterns either, just the half showers really
If you want to learn five, I suggest you learn the out-of-sync doubles fountain. The scoop that you use for the fountain is quite like what you need to do in five, and the columns patterns don't teach it. The handspeed, in throws per second, for five (natural) doubles is about the same as for four SINGLES - it's fast. Four doubles-singles has an intermediate throwing rate between five and four doubles, and gives good practice for ONE of the hands. Try the left-handed doubles-singles, and also try the three club shower BOTH WAYS as additional practice for five, as well as the siteswaps 5 5 5 5 0, 5 5 5 1 both ways, and 5 5 2 (um, and 5). Since the handspeeds are about the same between five doubles and four singles, if you can run four singles, you can do the above site-swaps as doubles from within four singles without having to adjust the timing, and so you can work up to running those tricks non-stop from trying them just once in a while.
Also try four balls and a club; start by throwing the club first. I find that all of these patterns are about as hard to do good runs with as five itself, easier in some ways and harder in others. Five is really unforgiving but calmingly symmetric; 5 5 5 1 has all those damn 1s, which may well be harder than 5s at first. Try 'em all, stick with the ones you learn the most from. I also do five clubs in the doubles-singles and triples-singles half showers, but both are much harder than the doubles cascade for me.
As they say you should do for passing, bring each throw down to nearly point to the floor before coming up for the throw. Besides encouraging natural spin, it gives each hand a home to return to after every catch, even wild catches. Look at people running five clubs: the clubs go down quite a bit below horizontal before every throw. You can get away with jerky, sudden, non-dipping throws with three but not with five. The upswing after the dip is nice and long, so there's lots of opportunity to make all the throws consistent. This pattern gives only a few inches of error-margin, so a long runway (or barrel, if you prefer) prior to launch is required; this is provided by deep dips.
Why is this better than my saying "If you just throw them perfectly in pattern, you will have no problem?" Because you get immediate feedback about what's perfect. When doing seven, certainly, and to a lesser extent when you first try five, there's a long time, perhaps a throw or two (or three or four with seven), between when you make a bad throw and when it has peaks in the wrong place, that is, that you've made a bad throw. So you'll be in the dark for several throws after a bad one, before you know it's bad. By looking at the crossing point, you can immediately see if the throw is misplaced, and try to correct the very next throw. I've had my best error recoveries in seven balls by suddenly attending to the crossing point when I sensed trouble, though I've had my longest runs by Zenly spacing out, looking at the center between the two tops. I've also had the most consistent set of good seven club runs by always looking at the crossing point; In other words, I best think of seven clubs as a string of continuous error recoveries. (Grrrr!)
The main tip with rings is that you must REACH UP to make the catches/ throws. Your forearm should be essentially vertical when you catch and release (but not necessarily in between, of course). The net result is that your arms move up and down more, and you have to throw high to keep things slow enough. Also the catch should land in the soft part of your palm at the base of your thumb -- people who are learning often don't bring their hands up high enough to make a catch, and it lands on the flap of skin between the thumb and forefinger (a spot which quickly becomes very raw, believe me). Some people use gloves in response to this, but the lack of feel tends to screw me up. Concentrate on correct form and the catches don't hurt at all.
Wind is a big reason more people don't practice rings. When you get up to 6 or 7 it becomes really difficult to practice outside (and of course inside it's hard to find a ceiling high enough). If you have access to a gym, take advantage of it. Anthony told me that even the air currents in a large gym can be a problem with 9 or 10, but I'll have to take his word for it on that one...
Are there any competent ring jugglers on the net who would consider offering a numbers workshop in Fargo this summer? How about Ed Carstens? Missouri is not that far from Fargo (by my standards).
In the meantime, I would like to read more on rings on the net. I occasionally get good runs of five, particularly after I have worked on six for fifteen minutes or so. I am at the stage where I can get a round or two of six pairs but can only flash six alternately about 40% of the time. It feels like this would come with concentrated practice in about a week. I want to get up to a seven-ring flash this summer but don't want to practice bad habits. I have trouble controlling the releases from the four in the right hand, but I can't say I have worked on it enough to get discouraged.
Some basic questions have to do with arm position. I recall Ignatov explaining that the arms go up and down with all props, as distinct from describing circles to achieve separation, but not where the arms are best held. Do people juggle rings more from the center than clubs, that is, narrow patterns? I have seen some very wide five-ring patterns at conventions, but most videos are from the side and it is hard to tell if they are coming down narrow or near the shoulders. How do you start six rings -- hands near the centre in front of the chest or out about the distance of the outside of the thighs? Are there any tricks or hints about holding the rings for controlled releases? I have seen some seven-ring jugglers get the first three rings out very low and quickly and get slower and higher as they continue. This seems counterproductive when I try it, but it is hard to argue with techniques that work for others...
...Steven Ragatz suggested that the rings should not be quite | |, but slightly angled. It is hard to show in ascii, but, assuming your arms are in throwing position, the rings would be pointed a bit / \ , in line with your arms as you hold them. [Note that this view is from overhead, not parallel to the floor.] This gets the rings off and puts them in a \ / orientation as they come down. If you have a strong light coming from one side as you juggle, the side of one ring (in the air) will be lit, the other side will be in shadow.
In practice, the rings come down nearly perpendicular to the floor. The angles shown above must be thought of as being seen from above. I also hold my wrist a bit turned over as well, which gives a nice orientation as the ring comes down. Practice with one ring back and forth until you get the ring coming down where you want it in a catchable orientation. This is not so difficult. The problem is doing it cleanly every throw when you have five to worry about. Another problem is doing everything somewhat differently when doing six rings and they aren't crossing. Ah well, if it were easy everyone would do it...
...but it is important not to waste too much energy clawing the rings. As it was explained to me by Jay Gilligan (and later reinforced by Ignatov's workshop in St. Louis) you want the forearm to be vertical at the catch and release. The hand can tilt backward to avoid the problem you describe, so that the ring lands more on the pad of the palm, and less on the skin between thumb and second finger. If this doesn't work, try one ring fewer!Otherwise, practice three rings a lot and concentrate on catching the top of the ring instead of the bottom as it comes down. Then move to four and to five to make it automatic. You won't catch the top, but you will get away from the high catch where they seem to slice through the crotch of your thumb.
Some good points raised. Part of the problem was in my statement of the process. I watched myself rather carefully this morning in the gym and note with some satisfaction that I do indeed catch the rings with my forearms nearly vertical. What I am trying to do now is what I noticed Owen Morse doing on the long five-ring sequence in the Montreal videotape. He clearly catches the rings between the middle and the top third of the ring, rather than the way I was doing it before, near the bottom.
The description of the catch as a "claw" was not particularly apt, although it feels a bit like that when making the change to catching them higher up. I wait a bit longer, catch the rings a bit later, grabbing them about the time the hole would go past the hand. The catch is then almost on the top of the ring as it comes down and slips over the hand. By that time I am ready to start the arm down to prepare the next throw so it seems smoother than what I was doing before.
It seems like I have more time, although the other arm movements haven't changed much. It also has nearly eliminated the ripped thumb-crotch that I experienced before. I feel more relaxed and am getting longer runs (on five -- six is still Tension City).
The instructions that I was given by my little Russian "stop-talk-practice" coach was that the arm throws the ring straight in the air (1983). The arm swings in a plane perpendicular to the floor. If it were a ball, the ball would go straight up and straight down. Since it is a ring, the crossing pattern is done by tilting the ring slightly towards the inside. This is a slight wrist rotation. The ring catches the air on the way up and on the way down. With this cascade, the pattern is wider at the top than at the bottom. Gregory, the little Russian so-n-so, said that he had studied at the Moscow Circus at the same time as Ignatov. Although he did not specialize in juggling, these were the techniques that he passed on to me.
In retrospect, I think I see my problems with ring juggling. As some net-folk have suggested, the arm swing/throw can be done in different ways. Knowing what I now know, I suggest the following technique:
I found an old video of my 5/6 ring routine last week (eight years). I haven't seen that much hair is a LONG time! All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at the routine. I don't remember it being that relaxed and I had forgotten that I could do all those tricks. I can now see what my weak wrist was doing that was causing troubles. Unfortunately I didn't know what to look for at the time... hindsight is always better... Good tricks with five rings though. That has to be my all time favorite toss juggling prop/number.
but. they are nice for passing and feeds, because you can add fun bounce tricks. and they do not hurt the hand as much as the wafer-thin rings do. for the creative juggler, who likes to play with their toys, instead of simply lifting michael menes' ring routine, they are an interesting additional prop. fritz and steve were doing some really neat things with them, before steve went off to the drudgery of michael moschen and the cirque du soleil. i hope they don't quash his creativity.
i should add that fat rings come in two sizes, which are fat and fatter. i have only juggled with the chubbier of the two. i suspect they are easier to bounce. perhaps the thinner size would be better for usual ring juggling applications, like numbers juggling,if you were silly enough to want to try that. they might be the nice numbers compromise,allowing you to get 5, 6 and 7, without maiming yourself.
First the ring on ring spin. There are two varieties. the first is relatively easy by most standards. The catch ring is held parallel to the ground (horizontal) and the spinning ring spins in a vertical plane. I usually spin hard with my right hand and catch with my left. How long you can make this spin last is directly related to the material your rings are made out of. Generally, the harder the ring, the longer it will spin. The second variety is the opposite. the catch ring is held vertically and the spinning ring is spinning parallel to the ground. Much more difficult! I have found the first variation to be sufficient to impress most audiences.
Three ring stuff: The low three ring cascade is absolutely boring because it goes against the nature of the rings. Rings were (pardon me as I wax poetic) meant to fly high and free. They have a slow graceful nature that resists quick snappy gestures. With this in mind we look for things that compliment the nature of rings. Flashes and pirouettes(sp?) come to mind first. I do an over-the-head flash with a half pirouettes that is fairly easy, but choreographs into routines very well.
Visibility: Rings are huge compared to balls and this should be taken advantage of. I do almost my whole routine standing sideways to the audience or facing the audience while throwing flat to them (not pancakes). Something as simple as columns can have an almost magical effect as rings seem to "bounce" off of each other. While standing side ways, a basic shower stretches your throws higher and again, compliments the nature of the rings.
Misc.: Color changes are a must! They can be very impressive and are very easy. If you are working on carpet, you can do some interesting bounce tricks. Neck catches and neck pops are always a crowd pleaser. I do some kick-ups from my feet to head and then a neck pop off the back with a between the legs catch.
renegade, with their big squishy kinder and gentler soft plastic and pastel colored clubs, had decided to make all of their props big soft and silly. the misbegotten booby, the fat-head club, was the last of this line, and it is nearly extinct (brendan generously accepted a few and i wonder how he likes them. they are always the high point of raffles in the midwest). but the passing ring, as it has been named, has been making appearances in a few gymnasiums around the world.
including my own backyard. yeah, we got some in bloomington, purdue got some, and hey, we kinda started to like them. the publicity material talks about how they are soft and easy on your hands. they are big, and so more visible. and they bounce. yup, those things are true. (about now is when phil san miguel rushed over to the archives, started browsing through the dusty older postings, and pulled out the original post, and stood up on a chair waving it around and shouting hey guys look at this! new headline: thomasl eats words. i always try to make my words tasty, either sweet or tangy, in case i need to eat 'em, later).
...i almost broke a collarbone throwing lots of rings,when one of those spinning circles of death drilled me dead on, accelerating at the astounding rate of 32 feet per second PER SECOND!!! the sliver edge of razor-sharp plastic met my brave and fragile collarbone, nominally protected by little more than a few tissue-thin layers of epidermal tissue, with lots of force. i had thrown that ring real high, too, so it was a long time coming down, and it had lots to say when it got there. as did i. i am only thankful that i am alive to tell the tale.
Good point, a lot of people don't realise that (thin) rings are pretty dangerous props when thrown high---even if you do catch them in the hand, they can bruise very painfully or strip a nail off a finger---I've seen advice which says long nails and using rings are incompatible...almost broke a collarbone throwing lots of rings,when one of those spinning circles of death drilled me dead on,
My 20 milli-Ecu to the discussion is that when starting with rings, don't be tempted to catch more than one ring in each hand---it is all too easy to get a finger scissored between a ring already in the hand and one coming down, and that _hurts_! Also try and catch from the side, rather than having your hand underneath the ring (which tends to go slicing into the gap between finger and thumb). Keep the edges of your rings smooth, lest they do an impression of an irate circular-saw blade... (scraping with a penknife, angled at 90% seems to remove rough edges OK -- you can emery-paper them down as well if you like)...
Even short nails and rings are incompatible. One of the memorable moments in juggling is the catch of a ring between the nail and the finger. I have never had good nails, but can't imagine that any serious ring juggler will have long ones. Classical guitar and ring juggling are mutually exclusive.I've seen advice which says long nails and using rings are incompatible...
Light gloves such as the Ektalon or some of the cheap golf gloves really help when learning five and above. They are well worth the investment. After you learn, you won't need them quite so much, but the beginnings can be really dangerous to fingers, nails, thumb crotches and -- yes -- even collarbones!
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