I know this is a disgusting, icky, bad subject to post on cj.org, but this video is simply too good not to go unnoticed anywhere in the juggling world. Cornell professor Allen Knutson gives an hour lecture on siteswapping, space-time diagrams, and state diagrams, the standard mathematical notations for toss juggling. Using various combinations of these notations, jugglers can represent the rhythm of every possible single-plane juggling pattern. Basically that means, if a juggler figures out a trick, he simply has to write down a series of numbers, and other jugglers can look at those numbers and repeat said trick.
I mentioned two caveats: it's only based on rhythm, and it's limited to a single plane. What this means is that these notations don't distinguish between different varieties of tosses (outside, inside, crossed arms, behind the back, etc.), but even with those shortcomings, this is still a really powerful tool in any toss juggler's arsenal. When you're learning toss tricks with 5 balls, it's often actually easier to learn them by siteswap notation than by watching a slow-motion video.Contact juggling notation
Years ago, Jose (some of you may have seen the trick named after him, "Ungodly Jose"), tried to make a CJ notation, which JK_the_CJer turned into a piece of juggling simulation software. He had a nice website of his own which is probably still up if anyone cares to look for it. There's a fun little discussion about CJ notations between Drew and Remy here:http://www.contactjuggling.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=759
From this, and really just from thinking about it, it's easy to see that creating a standard notation for body-rolling in CJ is really bloody difficult. First of all, we'd need a (numerical?) method of signifying every stall point. Even if we had that, we'd have the same problem as siteswapping, which is to say that it is totally single-planed and rhythm-based. Contact juggling is a lot more dependent on rotations, plane-breaking, and flourishes than toss juggling, so these limitations really make things difficult.
However, it doesn't make them impossible! Let's talk about dimensions. Vanilla siteswapping encodes 2.5 dimensions of data, time, distance, and direction. By direction, I mean whether a ball is thrown to the same or an opposite hand. Direction is a totally binary metric, emergent in whether a distance is even or odd, so I'm only giving it half a dimension. Add extensions for synchronicity ("two-handed" notation, another .5 of a dimension) and multiplexing (multiple balls, another whole dimension), and that gives us 4 whole dimensions to work in. Please forgive my liberally incorrect use of the word dimension.
------------------------------------------Body Rolling notation
So how can convert this to contact? One (admittedly limited) view of one-ball body rolling is to say the ball is always either stalled or rolling. Further, those rolls are always between one stall point and the next. This is a two-state (binary) variable, pause or pulse, much like morse code. The simplest descriptive notation for body-rolling would require a name/number/symbol assigned to every stall point imaginable. This is impossible, but let's start with a few easy ones:
outside-elbow (the basic one)=4
center point of chest roll=5
center point of btn roll=6
We don't need to assign left or right, because everything can work in a mirror, but we do need another binary metric for whether a roll crosses sides or not. Let's say this is denoted by an 'x'. It's pretty useful that our body is symmetrical, so all we have to do is talk about one side of it. Generally speaking, a ball is either moving up, down, in, or out (that is, up or down as normal, in being towards the chest, out being towards the fingers.) Let's denote those U(p)/D(own)/I(n)/O(ut).
Further, a roll can either go straight to a stall, or it can twist in some fashion. If you stand up straight, with your arms straight above you, fingers pointing to the sky, every rotation is either clockwise or counter-clockwise. This isn't a very useful way to say it though, because cradle->palm around the pink is clockwise for one hand, and counter-clockwise for the other. Instead, I'm going to arbitrarily pick a forward and backward direction. F(orward) is the rotational direction cradle->palm around the pinky, and B(ackward) is the rotational direction palm->cradle around the pinky. We can also use S(traight), which is cradle->palm or palm->cradle going up and over the fingertips.
On a further note, let's assume a roll uses as few rotations or fractions of rotations as is necessary to get from one stall point to the next.
x - cross or transfer between two parts of the body that are not directly connected to one another, or switchg from one side of the body to the other
U - up / from the feet to the forehead
D - down / from the forehead to the feet
I - in / roll toward the chest
O - out / roll toward the fingertips
F - forward, rotational direction cradle->palm around pinky
B - backward, rotational direction palm->cradle around pinky
S - straight, no rotation, as in palm->cradle around fingertips
1 - cradle
2 - palm
3 - inside-elbow
4 - outside-elbow (the basic one)
5 - midpoint of chest roll
6 - midpoint of btn roll
Let's put it all together. The numbers are the stall points, so let's stick them at the beginning. Let's signify a break (so as to not confuse 1 & 2 and 12) using "&" unless it's an 'x' transfer. Remember all notations are assuming you're standing straight up, with your arms straight and fingers outstretched and pointing at the sky.
1&2US = The windshield wiper
1x1IS = Basic back-to-back roll
1&4IS = Basic cradle-> outside elbow stall
1&3IB = Cradle->inside elbow stall, half spiral around the pinky side
1&5IS = First half of chest roll
5&1OS = Second half of chestroll
1&5ISx5&1OS = Whole chest roll without changing direction
Now of course this doesn't take into account different things like body positions (prayer, cage, etc.) or moves where the other arm is involved (wrist-touches, string-work, etc.) The prayer/cage/etc dilemma may be solved by adding [P] or [C] or whatever else before a trick is done to signify if you should be in a particular position, and frankly I haven't the foggiest idea how to notate that second problem.
1x2OS = Cradle to palm over the fingertips
1x2OS2&1US1x2OS2&1US = "Wilting butterfly", Cradle->palm over fingertips, windshield wiper, cradle->palm over fingertips, repeat (can also be signified as 1x2OS2&1US...) because of the repeat
1x2OS2&1US...[P]1x1US... = Wilting butterfly into prayer.
Now, you'll notice there's actually a lot of redundancy here, because every second number of a move needs to be equal to the first number of the next move. So let's just eliminate that first number of a new move if there's a string of tricks.
1&5ISx1OS2US3IB4_F = 1&5IS/x/1OS/2US/3IB/4_F/ = Chestroll from and to cradle, windshield wiper, palm->inside elbow stall, inside elbow stall->outside elbow stall.
Notice the underscore "_" I put in because inside elbow->outside elbow does not have a clear directional orientation.
Of course, this is hopelessly complex, and I believe that because so many of these things are of reduced dimensionality (binary or limited choices), we can find a way to encode them without making hopelessly long strings of numbers and letters. Maybe font colors, or arrows under the letters, or overlines & underlines/ or something of that nature will work.
Is this useful? A bunch of people (http://www.contactjuggling.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2670
), Drew included (respect Drew, y0), says it is not only not very useful, it's also very boring and probably needs to come with a video anyway. StickMan (anyone heard from him in the last few years?) suggested it's useful to have a personal notation for bodyrolling, but that it's difficult to have a universal notation because everyone has different names for things. I think we can come up with a common vocabulary, especially if it's published on the wiki, that would make a universal notation useful, if still boring. I also think there are few enough "dimensions" that we can represent it pretty concisely, and well enough that we don't need to post a video along with it.
Why is this useful? Siteswapping was popularized because in the early internet age, it was really hard to send videos back and forth to people, so they just shared strings of numbers. Since then, jugglers have found siteswapping really useful for creating juggling simulation programs and for coming up with new tricks. I think a CJ bodyrolling notation can be useful for similar reasons.
Rolling is really tough to annotate, and so is spinning. I think basic, single-plane (no stacks or pyramids!) palmspinning can probably be notated with ease, but from there it gets difficult. Once we get into multidimensional spinning it gets hopelessly complex, but thankfully it gets a tiny bit easier with morphing structures. This is because morphing structures are changes from one solid, morphed state to another state, rather than fluid directional transitions for each of multiple balls.
In this old thread (http://www.contactjuggling.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=8
, we can see Drew, Pich, and a few others throwing together some morphing structure notations. Appendix 4 of Drew's invaluable Multiball Contact book gives a lesson on a more mature version of that notation, which thankfully seems to have been adopted by this community (just look at Richard's recent post on celestial demons, and Ed's reply.)
Anyway, the video just inspired me to post this. I'd love people to write up improvements, or even yell at me for the uselessness of this system.