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Workshop page 1 (of 3)
Really Basic stuff


Hi, welcome to this workshop in Contact Juggling.
Here I'll explain the most basic things to you about how to Contact Juggle (really basic, so if you have already tried some CJ-ing then you'll already know all that will be told to you in this first chapter).
What is contact juggling?
Contact Juggling is a form of juggling in which the object which is being juggled stays in contact with the juggler (most of the times).
This definition also applies to, for example, 'pen spinning' and 'coin magic' but the pages here are devoted to the manipulation of a ball (or balls).

The objective of this first chapter is to get you acquainted with the ball you want to CJ with. Please read the article about the balls that are usually used in Contact Juggling and get a nice CJ-ball (or read the DIY paragraph to make one) ( NOTE: these chapters still have to be written, sorry, any volunteers? ).
Most people who want to Contact Juggle start to learn with the book of MR. James Ernest. So have I, this means that I'm familiar with the terms he uses in his book. And subsequently I use those same terms in this tutorial.

I also want to give you a warning; If you just start with CJ, then you're about to use a lot of muscles and arm/shoulder and especially wrist movements that you have never used before. You will undoubtedly experience RSI-like symptoms. Then stop practicing, or switch hands, anyway don't continue when you feel any aches. Try it again the next day. Your body needs some time to adjust, give it that time, over exertion will only lengthen that period.
Also have a look at this fire warning.

Start with your 'good' arm. Bring it up to chest height, under arm horizontal. the hand is about 10 cm (4 inch) below the collarbone at a distance of say 15 cm (6 inch) from your chest and the palm is facing down. These distances are only indicative, hold your arm in a position you like, but keep your hand in front of your chest.
This is the 'home position', a lot of the CJ moves take place or start off from this position, thus it is best to train your arms to operate from here.
Stretch your fingers and hold the tip of your middle finger about 1 cm (1/2 inch) lower than the other fingers. The space between the fingers tips can be 1/2 cm (1/4 inch). Don't spread you fingers much more or you're likely to 'grip' the ball at it sides with your index and ring finger. Although it gives excellent stability to the ball, it is a killer for the moves you'll learn later on.
Now place your CJ-ball On the back of these fingers, between the second and third joints of the index- and ring finger. The lowered middle finger can also support the ball a little on the bottom of the ball, but this is not really required to keep the balance.
Really strain your fingers to their utmost stretch position. This kind of moves the finger tips upward a little and will help to prevent the ball from rolling off over your finger tips. The knuckles will prevent the ball from rolling to the other side.


click here for a larger image


click here for a larger image

A position (like described above) where the ball can be kept in a relative stable position is called a 'hold'. If you would like to see some more holds, please visit the 'holds-page' (temporarily down). (some of these holds will sure get you wondering what contact jugglers assume to be a 'stable' position)

Try to get a feeling for the ball in this position. Wiggle it a bit, walk around with the ball on your hand, move your hand higher and lower. Just to see how far and what you can do with the ball till it drops off of your fingers.
WARNING ! : If you use an acrylic ball, then mind your toes a 1.5m drop hurts. Also, don't practice in your marble hallway. The acrylic ball won't chip, your stone floor will !

Now that you are holding the ball in the home position I would like you to try to do the same but now in your other hand.
It is really important to practice your non-dominant hand to do the same moves.
(It even helps me to do the move nicer in my good hand, after I practiced it in my bad hand.) At the beginning you should train your bad hand at least the same amount of time as your good hand. Failure to do so will result in a perfect move in your good hand, but a real ugly one (if at all) move in your bad hand. When this happens you will say to yourself "what the hell, I just keep performing it in my good hand and forget the the other". And that is exactly what you want to avoid!


Click here for an Animated GIF video

The last step of this chapter is to throw the ball up for not more than 0.5m (1 feet) from the home position and catch it again in the home position. You'll want to cushion the catch (and prevent the ball from bouncing off) by following the ball in the last piece of its decent.


When you've mastered this in both hands, then your ready to advance to the next level in CJ existence and learn your first tricks. Please follow this link to the second page.


writen by Marco, marco@contactjuggling.org
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