~ CJC 2001 ~
infinite illusions dot com
Ferret is a Professional Cjer working the Medieval Faire circuit in FL. U.S.A. since 1992. His sole purpose in learning this art was to be a performer at those Fairs, and found contact juggling to be a unique avenue to accomplish that goal. But along the way found that he not only loved what he was doing, but also found a fondness for teaching. His style in CJing is Not traditional, but than again neither is his wardrobe. His instructional pages, along with video and stills will be appearing on this site soon. And his insight into the world of Professional performance art involving nothing but Contact Juggling as the visual portion of his show, should not be overlooked! The comedy dialogue that he uses in both his instructional pages and his actual shows are an added plus, and the fact that he wants to teach, and learn from others as well, is what this site is all about.

The Next Steps

steps 1 to 5 | step 6 | step 7 | step 8 | STEP 9

Back Arm Rolls!

My Favorite!!!

And Yes! They truly are! I Love doing these bad boys.
They are fairly simple to learn, and They are Definitely an Eye Opener, to your ‘viewer' because you have suddenly caused the ball to remove itself from the 'perceived' safety of your hands! Even if the ball was on the ‘back' of them for half the time, most people will (subconsciously) perceive the fact that you still have easy control of the sphere, because it's still touching Your Hands!
With a Non juggling audience, you can usually get at least another 1/4 inch in ‘jaw separation' when you make the ball goes anywhere, past your wrist!
Provided, that it is controlled, and obvious, that you Made the ball do This, and not just have it turn into a 'lose ball or a thrown move' and, *Smack* your 7 year old niece, square in the forehead! Yes Virginia, That would be a Bad Thing! And It Never Fails to spoil the 'Magic' of the Art Form, believe me!

So before we begin let's look at what we're up against. Two things here. And both of them are Rules! Yes, I know that I said that I consider this an Art Form, but even Art has rules of science.
In this case physics, and physique

Your Arm! And for This pass, The Back of Your Arm!

Please Note! Everybody is going to be different, every 'Body' is going to be different! Looking at what Your up against is your next step here. Some people will be thin and sharply featured, others will have a thicker set of forearm muscles, but without a great deal of definition!
And Ever possibility 'Outside and In Between' those Two! Including various, and personal, traumatic experiences, that you may have put yourself and your hands and arms through during the course of your life. Did you break your forearm, back when you were playing high school foot ball? Did you injure your wrist when you were ten years old, in a bad bicycle accident, or dislocated a finger in a bizarre video game accident?
Could Happen! (blush)
All these factors will dictate, Not how Well, you can do this, but how you need to Go About, doing this Well.

The first rule of thumb here, is the amount of surface area involved with the 'path' the ball will be traveling, Your Arm! The more surface area, the easier the control, because of the wider margin of error involved, and the ability to correct that error in mid-stream, before it get's out of hand! (Pardon the pun) If you have a thin arm (as I, myself do,) than changing that equates into Long hours in the gym making that surface area larger! I.E. working out! The quick fix here however, would be using a larger ball! Yes, you will increase the surface area, only on the ball itself, But more importantly you utilize another, law of physics! (Hang on to your computer chair here, I'm gon'a get technical on ya!)
Newton's 'Laws of Motion!' and Yes this Law applies to a still or 'Stalled' sphere, as well.
Newton's First Law of Motion says that "an object in motion tends to remain in motion at a constant speed and direction unless a force acts upon it and that an object at rest tends to remain at rest unless a force acts on it."
This tendency of an object to keep doing whatever it is doing is called inertia and it has two components, mass and velocity. The product of these two components is called momentum. If we increase either the mass or the velocity of an object, we increase its momentum. The greater the momentum, the greater the force required to change it. Known as 'conservation of momentum.' I'm sure you all have learned this in school, but it is worth reviewing here.

So let's look at this. We know that if we can increase mass or velocity, then we can increase momentum. Using a bigger ball will increase mass. You say yea, but not a lot between 2 inches and 4 inches right. Actually, Yes it does. Since I have never personally weighed my balls, (Gads! does That sound sick!?) I will use available info. A 2.5" acrylic weighs 159 grams, a 3" acrylic weighs 275 grams! That's a lot more weight for just half an inch! A Lot more Mass!
Because of the tendency to conserve momentum, greater momentum will require a greater force to overcome the ball's inertia and cause it to become unbalanced. By using a larger ball, you are increasing the mass and therefore its momentum. Make the ball roll in a specific direction, and you increase velocity, adding even more to the momentum and making it even more stable.)
Now think about that for a moment, increase velocity, increase stability.
That would mean that the faster I make this ball move the more stable it will become, while rolling down my arm, so I can do the trick!
Hang On Einstein, two thing's here. First remember, "an object in motion tends to remain in motion at a constant speed and direction" This means that what ever direction you send it in, better be the direction that you want it to go, so your launch from cradle, needs to be pretty accurate. Secondly, "The greater the momentum, the greater the force required to change it." The next force that you will want it to encounter will be your other hand. And your Really want that 'other force' to win, without being Beat Up Too Badly, during the initial learning process! Not to mention look smooth while doing it. So you have to ‘temper' that formula of mass and velocity, and find a happy medium, of speed, mass, and skill! The more skill you build up from practice, the less velocity you 'Need' to use! This is a very important fact! Because of the damage factor you can do with ANY Ball at a high speed. (Run! Virginia, Run!)
The more skill you build up, the less Mass you need to use. This is a very important fact as well because of the benefits that smaller spheres have concerning 'Palm-spinning work,' but as the mass decreases, you will find yourself executing the body rolling movements quicker, until you ultimately build up the skill to decrease velocity, of that size sphere, as well.
Alternately, the more mass you add, the easier it is to do the trick even at slow speed, but the harder it will be to stop, stall and go into another trick, this is where body movement comes into play, but we'll discuss that another time.
If your new at this than Yes, causing the ball to move faster down your arm will make it easier to get it all the way down to your elbow, but now you got'a stop it! And you want to stop it in such a way, as to flow easily into another move.
Causing the ball to merely run quickly down your arm, to an attempted catch, that you are not sure if you are going to land, will only get your Uncle Jim, from the Marines to yell "In Coming!"
and your niece will always have a pillow in front of her, when you do this stuff at family gatherings in the future. Practice Now! Trust Me!

Rhythmic Gymnasts, do beautiful and complicated routines with a ball in an extremely similar manner. Once again note the size and weight/mass of the ball, plus a large surface area, 'the ball,' allows slow graceful moves, with good control across, and along the arms and body.

Please Note something else about Rhythmic Gymnasts.
They Practice!!! A Lot!

Now to go from cradle to the back of your forearm you once again have to overcome a few obstacles, that Every One of Us have! (and once again, I'm gon'a get a little technical on ya) First you have to deal with the 'metacarpal bones.' Yes, those are the five bones that make up the body of your hand. On top of that, you have to deal with the tendons that control the hyper extension of your fingers, known as the 'dorsal radiocarpal ligaments,' all this meshes into what is called the 'radial styloid.' You see the skeleton of the wrist is made up of eight small, bones placed in two rows, in a cobblestone fashion known as,

Oops!......... Sorry, I did say a *Little* technical, didn't I?
Hey, a skilled juggler is a well informed juggler.

O.K. Basically, you have to go over a lot of bumps and groves in the back of your hand! Otherwise known as 'outside forces'
But the most important factor in this physical formula, is that big ‘bump' on the pinky side of your wrist. The base of your ulna bone, (that's the longer of the two bones in your forearm) where it connects to the hand. In some people, (myself included) that bump is as big as one of your knuckles, while making a fist!
A major obstacle indeed!
Obviously you need to avoid this, But, remember what I said in lesson #7 about the ball's wish to exit on the pinky side? You are going to have to counter that now with a little more downward tilt of your thumb, to keep the ball from heading towards that joint

If it passes on the outside, or directly over, that bump, than the ball will wish to exit your hand/wrist and cause you to either quickly, execute an *extended* back-to-back pass, or cause you to go scrambling across the floor to retrieve the ball, (once again much to the amusement of your dog, cat, or house mates.)
If you can train your dog to retrieve 'said ball' than you have a really good advantage over some of us. Unfortunately dog saliva, is Not conducive to Good contact juggling, so keep a towel in your back pocket. If you can train your Cat!? to retrieve 'said ball' than you need to be focusing your energy on doing 'Performing Cat Shows' and Not contact juggling! If you can train your room mate to retrieve............... Wait,.........I don't think I want to go there..............Please forget I (typed) that.

If the ball passes (juuussst) to the inside of that 'Bump,' than you keep it in a pretty decent position to continue to roll down the back of your arm, (Like the Middle! Duh)

Now how are you going to get the ball to roll all the way down to your elbow? Well, gravity usually comes to mind here, as in creating a slight incline with your arm, but there are other ways, I assure you. Dropping your elbow, and creating that incline is the best way to start, however.

So let's try it, shall we? Have your other hand ready, to catch! (Like I needed to say that)

How far down your arm, did it get? All the way!!! And you caught it? The First Time?! Congratulations, you Bum.
You realize, the rest of us all Hate you now. ;-)

For the rest of us who didn't have it happen right the first time, try it again, (and again and again, etc.....) So what's going wrong? Many things could be happening here. Is the ball exiting right at your wrist? (on either side, doesn't matter) Than more then likely it's a launch problem, as in your cradle position, try the move in a two finger cradle. If you started with that one, try the 'three finger spread.' Experiment with different finger positions, without the ball on your hand and watch how these movements change the back of your hand, creating various obstacles, and pathways.
If the ball consistently falls off the side of your forearm than something happened up in the wrist area to send it in that direction. There are numerous possibilities here, depending on You and I could not cover them all, But I can give this advice. Look for the area before the 'drop' for the problem. Not the spot that the ball consistently falls at. That's usually not the problem, when the ball is 'moving' it's momentum will carry it a little bit passed what ever caused it to screw up. Newton's Law.
Once again, reproduce your arm's movement without the ball, and Look at your arm!

Siggy asked me this question almost a year ago for a more complicated move and my answer was the same. Place you arm in the starting position of the move and look at all the obstacles you have in the way, try and move your arm to where you have the least amount of bumps, and muscle rises, slowly begin the move, as you would with a sphere on cradle and ‘visualize' the ball's path, to the completion of the trick, and Watch what the muscles in your arm are doing as you move through the trick. Store this knowledge in your head and try it again, with a ball! (and again, and again, etc......)

Still having trouble? No biggy, we can fix this! If you were using the gravity method of moving the ball towards your elbow, than let's try a little push movement with your arm, as you begin the move. Helps the ball get moving, and allows you to keep your arm in a more level position throughout the movement. (gives you an easier, 'balancing plane')
The Best way to show you this movement, is to Show You This Movement. Go to 'moves, one ball,' "backarm Roll" Yes, that's me.
See the slight push movement I do with my left arm?
The ball runs down the back of my arm at a level position for most of the way and towards the end, I have to pull my elbow up slightly to slow down and control the 'drop' to cradle. And for those of you who followed my "Flyaway" descriptions in 'Marco's CJ Glossary' Yes, that drop is a 'free fall' abate, a small one.

Most, if not All of this pushing movement is done from the shoulder. Now when I do the move with my right arm, I combine the two movements using both an incline of the arm and a slight pushing movement as well. See the difference? The only thing I can contribute this change in movement from one arm to the other, is a pinched nerve in my neck, from a previous injury, you'll notice also that my left shoulder sits higher and squarer than my right. (my Tailor hates me for this fact by the way, and God help me if want pin-stripes)
Now you know the importance of my earlier statement, "All these factors will dictate, Not how Well, you can do this, but how you need to Go About, doing this Well."

So you've figured out where you were having the problem and you corrected it and now your getting closer and closer to your elbow. You may in fact encounter problems further down your arm, as you work your way towards your elbow. Once again, Look at Why!
Experiment with out the ball and find a way to correct it. You can do this, and you Know you eventually Will!

While your doing this and the ball is still not getting all the way down your forearm, start practicing that 'cradle catch' instead of a quick palm, as it falls, and you will be learning the next trick before you even get the ball to drop off your elbow.
Effectively Kill'in two birds, if ya know what I mean.

So now you can get the ball to roll down the back of your arm all the way to the elbow an into a short 'free fall' to your palm, or even better, your other hand's cradle.
Have you been working with doing this with the back of Both arms?
Well, let's see if I can trip you up a bit, not to hinder you, but to push you towards being better at this. Go back to lesson #5 and apply it to lesson #9, and #10 and any others that I throw at ya, in the future. For those of you who have yet to nail this trick, lesson #5 will help as well, in getting a 'feel' for why it's not working, and ultimately achieving the desired movement.

Now there is two other ways that I know of, that will make the ball roll down your arm that involves very little incline/gravity. The First one is an exaggerated movement of that slight push I do in My backarm roll, by pushing your arm under the ball, through out the entire movement, so that your body does all of the movement and the ball merely rolls with the contact of that movement, but remains in the same space, while your arm slides under it. Doing this "Backarm Roll Isolation" takes a great deal of stretching to acquire the necessary position you put your arms in to make this trick look good, but Boy, Does It Look Good!
Movements like these are commonly referred to as 'Ball Isolations' they are prevalent in a host of palm-spinning moves, but relatively unknown in the 'body rolling' style. Why, this is so I have no idea. Ian Pugh is aware of the visual impact they have, as is 'The Man Himself', who does a fantastic back arm isolation, only in reverse, (elbow to cradle) course he is The Man!
And on a bright sunny day in my back yard you can see a bunch of different body rolling ball isolations, but please, don't everyone show up at once, I've been having trouble with the plumbing and, well...............you know. It's best if I don't stress it.

The other way that I'm aware of is to apply backspin to the ball with your other hand or arm. Of course that would mean that you are ready to do combinations, so I won't go into that one just yet as it is a trick in and of itself.

Now once you've gotten pretty good at the Back Arm Roll (with both arms) let's play with a couple possibilities, of cool tricks that will work off this move. Stopping the ball at your elbow is the first thing that I would suggest. This is called a 'Stall' and will not only add another trick to your repertoire, but will get you to focus on moving the ball down the back of your arm in a slower, more controlled manner.
This trick can be done using any of the above methods of movement from cradle to elbow but you have to concentrate on the explosiveness of your launch from 'cradle,' whether it be gravity/incline or an 'isolation push' and yes you can achieve this 'stalling trick,' with back spin as well, but you will need to pay VERY Close attention to how Much back-spin you put on the ball, in order to get it to stop and settle on your elbow.

Once you can get the ball to stop and stall on the back of your elbow, try sending it back to cradle, using either an incline or a reverse of that pushing movement, (otherwise know as a 'draw') or pulling back of the arm. Those of you who have the M.M. movie, know what I'm talking about here.
BTW, in order to do that same trick that Mike does, you need to use the "Two-Finger Spread" for a cradle, when placing the ball on your elbow, the rest of the move is just timing, and a well executed 'draw' back to cradle, effectively isolating the ball in space. You can also go into an 'Outside Elbow Flyaway' that Marco shows, in the one ball, moves area, but believe me That move is Not that easy!
However getting good at making the ball roll to That launch position and being able to roll or draw it back to your other hands cradle after you can catch it on the other elbow, will only add to the trick. Now is the time to practice that push and draw movement, so when you can finally catch it, you already have a simple, well practiced, but visually devastating way of bring the ball back to cradle. See the importance of learning these moves with both hands and arms? I thought so.

The back arm roll done quickly will set you up for doing My 'Jump, Flyaway'.mpg in the video section, as well as the 'Freefall Flyaway' in the same section, both are fun moves that will usually startle your audience, because you momentarily lose contact with the ball, just don't lose control of the ball.

Well that's about it for Lesson #9. Yes I know, It was wordy even for me, but I wanted you to begin thinking about your body, what the ball is literally up against, and how to over come these personal obstacles.

Also, understanding how and why something works will help you in the future, in accomplishing more difficult tricks, because the hard and fast principles never change, only your skill, ability, and Imagination, will change.
Knowledge of ANY Situation will Always help in over coming future obstacles, whether your trying to roll a ball down your arm, or walking into a Blazing Building with the intent of Stopping that Blaze! Make No Mistake, Knowledge Is Power! Pure and simple.

Good Luck with this new trick, you are now venturing out into a different plane with this one, and in so doing, you will be opening up a wealth of possibilities, and variations, that only you will be able to change, add and expand on.

One last thing, I do Highly Recommend that you apply 'My Fifth Step', to this and many other tricks, that you will learn in the future.

Have Fun with these, and learn and practice them often, cause next were gon'a learn inside arm rolls and a Whole Lot More! And I'll be combining some of what you should have already learned in the previous lessons, so getting good at those lessons to begin with will only make it easier for ya.

And work your other arm as well, or I will be forced to wag my finger at you, in a most undignified, parental like manner, when I finally meet you, somewhere, sometime, in the future, and neither I, nor you want to go there. *G*