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Back: Kae's Guide to Contact Juggling


[edit] Palmspinning

Palmspinning is the simplest way to contact juggle more than one ball. It is the art of spinning balls in your hands so they form what looks like “bubbles” that move in entrancing ways. The groups of balls may break apart and reform into new patterns, or separate completely and revert to body rolling. Some of the more mesmerizing patterns incorporate isolations, where parts of the patterns stay still in space, and other parts of the pattern and the body revolve and rotate around them. Palmspinning can be performed with a minimum of one ball, and up to eleven have been used to form patterns. The easiest pattern, the 2b Palmspin, is used in all sorts of alternative health plans. For details of how palmspinning affects your health, see the website www.handhealth.com. Palmspinning looks easy. In fact, when done smoothly, it looks like the balls are doing all the work, and you are just providing a platform for them. This effect is evident because of one of the differences between palmspinning and body rolling. Whereas bodyrolling uses expansive gestures to move the balls, the movements in palmspinning are extremely subtle – slight shifts in balance are all that is needed in most cases. This can be seen very effectively when you learn to spin a 4stack with large balls. Palmspinning can be very simple, using the various shapes of the stacks to define your routine, or it can be complex, with balls interchanging and swapping hands at any time. In the beginning, I would encourage you to learn all the 2b moves before going onto anything else, then, no matter what else you practice, I’d encourage you to get your 3b moves down solid and always practice them – plenty of other palmspinning moves are built on a 3b base, so make sure that is solid. You might be surprised that I leave one ball moves until after the four ball moves, but it is easy to understand when you start learning – the 1b palmspinning moves are much harder than the 3b moves, and I believe harder than the 4b – therefore, I’ve placed them after the four. Try them anyway when you feel like it – it may just be me…Basic Palmspinning (1-4 balls)

[edit] 1b Palmspin

Despite only using one ball, the 1b Palmspin is about as difficult as the 4b Stack. The reason for this is mostly because you are spinning a ball as if it were one of a pair of balls, but the second ball is not there, meaning there is no helpful pressure to keep the ball from rolling to the center of the palm. Possibly the best way to learn this move is using a point-to-point system. You learn to hold the ball in each point the ball passes through, and then you learn to move the ball from one point to another. Start with the ball held at the heel of the right palm. This is your starting position. From there, move the ball forward and to the right so it is held by the thumb and index finger. Now, you pass the finger so it’s held between the index and middle fingers, at the second knuckles. Pass the ball along each finger like this, until it is held by the pinkie and ring finger. From there, roll the ball back to the heel. Learn this until you get it smooth, and then concentrate on learning it so the fingers hardly move, and also so the ball travels in as wide a circle as possible.

[edit] 2b Palmspin

In contact juggling “notation”, 2b is short for “2 ball”. The 2b Palmspin is very well known all around the world. It is used in oriental alternative medicine as a method of stimulating points of the hand (and meanwhile giving them some exercise and flexibility). If you go into just about any alternative health shop you will find a set of “Chinese Medicine Balls”, most of which have small bells in them, which tinkle when you roll them. In CJ, the 2b Palmspin is taken a few steps further. The balls are larger, forcing the fingers to exercise more, we don’t isolate ourselves to rolling in just one direction, and the movement of each ball can be individually controlled. Place two balls in the right hand. The first should be in the palm near the heel on the little finger’s side. The second is held between the thumb, index finger, and side of the middle finger. The fingers should be relaxed and in contact with both balls. Forgetting about the back ball, straighten out the middle finger a little and push the front ball to the left with the thumb. Straighten out the ring finger and curl the index finger in so it pushes the ball further left. The thumb loses contact with the ball and the little finger loses contact with the back ball. Straighten the little finger and curl in the middle finger slightly, but not so much that the ball falls off the hand. The back ball may start rolling towards the thumb now. Push the thumb downwards so the back ball rolls towards it. The index finger should curl in slightly to stop the ball from rolling too far. When the ball is behind and to the right of the front ball, curl in the little and ring fingers to make the front ball roll back towards the heel. This will push the back ball further to the right where the thumb, index finger, and the side of the middle finger can stop it. Now you can practice this move over and over. Soon you will be doing it without thinking about it. If you practice for a long time, the tendons on the back of the hand may start hurting or becoming warm. If this happens, stop practicing and relax for a while or practice in the other hand. Learning in the opposite direction is difficult for some people. Just go through the steps one at a time in reverse, with one addition: To start off, uncurl the little and middle fingers, and push the thumb-side ball to the back with the thumb. When you get really good, you can start learning to palmspin without the balls touching. This is difficult for beginners, so practice the normal palmspin in both hands and directions well before you start on it. Some people find the clicking that happens with palmspinning to be a nuisance, but it is not a sign that you are doing it “wrong”. The importance is in the overall movement of the balls, not in a precisely kept distance between them.

[edit] 2b Palmspin Transfer

The difference between a transfer and a pass in CJ is that a pass is simply a way of moving one or more balls from one hand to the other, whereas a transfer is about moving two or more balls from one hand to another while retaining their pattern. Thus, a 2b Palmspin Transfer is about moving the two balls from one hand to the other, while keeping the palmspin going. There are two basic ways of performing a transfer. The first is simply to move the motion over, so that if the spin was clockwise, the balls retain that spin. The second is to reverse the spin, so if the balls started out clockwise, they end up anticlockwise. To keep the same spin, you have to learn to spin both clockwise and anticlockwise in both hands. Start with the two balls in the right hand, spinning anticlockwise. This is called a “pushing” palmspin, based on the thumb’s motion. Place the left hand next to the right, and move the palmspin over so both hands are performing it at the same time. The center of the palmspin should be between the hands. Now, raise the right hand, tilting the palmspin so it moves on to the left. At this point, you are now doing a “pulling” palmspin, because the left thumb pulls the ball into motion. To reverse the spin, you start with the anticlockwise spin in the right hand again. Place the left hand next to it. Now, allow one of the right hand balls to “escape” into the left hand, so it’s heading for the heel of the hand. The other ball chases after it so you start a clockwise spin in the left hand. This is called a 2b Palmspin “Chasing” Transfer, as the balls chase each other from hand to hand. If you continue transferring the balls from one side to another, you’ll see that they are chasing each other in a figure eight pattern.

[edit] 3b Palmspin

The 3 Ball Palmspin is a problem for many people. After trying it for a while, they decide that it’s impossible for them to do it as “the balls are too large”, or “my fingers don’t move that way”. This is wrong. As has been said many times on www.contactjuggling.org, if you can hold three balls in your hand, you can spin three balls in your hand. If you think about it, you don’t have to learn to spin the balls all the way around – the 3-ball pattern is symmetrical such that when the pattern is spun through 120 degrees, it’s the same as when it wasn’t moved at all. So – all you have to learn is to spin the balls through one third of a circle – the other thirds are the same move repeated. Place three balls in your palm such that one is in the palm held at the heel, and the fingers hold the other two. There are two directions in which the balls can be spun. In the right hand, an anti-clockwise spin is called a “pushing” palmspin (based on the movement of the thumb), and a clockwise spin is called a “pulling” spin. In the left hand, this is reversed. An anti-clockwise spin is “pulling”, and a clockwise spin is “pushing”. Some people find pushing spins easier than pulling spins. It is your decision, which you learn first. It is important to learn both, though, for later moves that sometimes depend on them. For the “pushing” spin, we start in the start position, and curl the little finger in to pull its ball towards the back. Straightening the thumb allows the back ball to roll forward along its length, causing the entire pattern to start its spin. As the back ball comes forward, move the thumb behind it and push it forward to complete one third of the spin. Now, all that’s required is to repeat this move twice more to complete a full circle. For the “pulling” spin, you curl the index finger to push it’s ball back, and curl the little finger to the outside of the pattern to encourage it’s ball to move towards the index finger. Allow the thumb to slide under the index finger’s ball as it approaches, and when it’s possible, pull the ball towards the back of the pattern, completing a one-third rotation. No just repeat this twice to complete the circle. A lot of people find this move tricky to get, so here are a few tips to note. It is a habit of a lot of people to raise the front higher than the back, making the balls want to roll back, and as there is already a ball at the heel in some positions, the front balls therefore roll off beside it. Keep the front of the hand slightly downwards to counter this. Your fingers will stop the ball from rolling off from the front. Start off with small balls – perhaps pool or snooker balls. This will allow you to get the motion right without worrying so much about the balls always rolling off the hands. Practice while doing something else. Watch TV, or read a book, or whatever. Your hands will eventually accustom themselves to the movement of the balls, and you will find that you are learning the move smoothly without even trying. It is possible, but very difficult, to do a 3b Palmspin with the balls completely separate from each other. It is essential to learn it that way if you are using balls that do not slide against each other, but otherwise, there is no need to go that extra yard.

[edit] 3b Cascade

This is a horizontal version of Toss Juggling's Cascade (the easiest 3 ball juggling pattern). Start with two balls in the right hand and one in the left. Spin the right balls anticlockwise, then pass one of the balls to the left hand. Now spin the left balls clockwise before passing one of the balls to the right hand. You can also do this the opposite way - spin the right hand clockwise and the left hand anti-clockwise. If you'd like a challenge, try isolation one of the balls while continuing the cascade pattern - it's harder than it sounds! Or, if you're wondering what other Toss Juggling moves made the translation to CJ, try The Box, or Mills Mess, or try make up your own version of a popular Toss Juggling move - Burkes Barrage, Rubenstein's Revenge, Dancey's Devilment, etc.

[edit] 3b Palmspin Transfer

In this transfer, you palmspin in one hand, and then simply pass it from one hand to the other without stopping the spin. The awkward part is that when you spin a palmspin in the right hand in your normal direction and pass it to the left, you end up spinning in the opposite direction to "normal". In order to learn this transfer, you must be fluent in spinning in both directions in both hands. Also, it is an added benefit to be able to palmspin in both directions using both hands (i.e.: the balls are held in both hands at the same time). If you transfer the balls forwards over the fingertips, then the move becomes a 3b Palmspin Walk – try to keep the palmspin in one location, pulling the hands in towards you as you transfer the pattern.

[edit] 3b Chasing Transfer

This transfer is easier than the standard transfer as the spin reverses direction as it passes from one hand to the other. Start by spinning in your normal way in the right hand. For me, that means anti-clockwise. Now, bring the palms together, and pass one ball into the opposite hand. The other balls continue spinning, and follow the first one into the opposite hand, where the spinning continues, but in the opposite direction. While this transfer is easier than the normal 3b Palmspin Transfer, you should concentrate on the ordinary one more - the more you practice difficult moves, the easier all others get.

[edit] 3b Pinkylift

With the lifts, we bring palmspinning out of the flat plane, literally adding another dimension to your juggling. Hold three balls in the left hand. A ball should be resting against the index and middle fingers, and another between the pinky and ring fingers. One ball is in the center of the palm, not touching any fingers. Carefully, straighten the pinky and ring fingers, bending the fingers up so the ball resting against them is pushed right over the other two. As the ball comes down the other side, balance it with the thumb, while shifting all three clockwise to bring the stack into position to do it again. Of course, you could do it anti-clockwise, but it is simpler and usually more visible to the audience if you do it clockwise. The opposite applies in the opposite hand, of course. By alternating the direction of spin (first clockwise, then anticlockwise, then clockwise, etc), you cascade the balls. Therefore, alternating the spinning direction is known as the 3b Pinkylift Cascade.

[edit] 3b Thumblift

This is slightly trickier that the Pinkylift, and that difficulty is more pronounced as you learn to use more balls. Hold the three balls in the left hand so there is one on either side of the hand (one of which is completely held by the thumb), and the last one is right at the front. Bend the hand down at the front, and press the base of the thumb upwards so it’s ball is pushed up. As the thumb reaches the highest it can go, bend the thumb and push the ball over the other two balls with the thumb-tip. On the other side, the ball is helped down by the ring finger, before shifting the whole pattern clockwise. It is better (more visible) to shift the pattern anticlockwise, but easier to learn it (for me, at least) clockwise. If you find anticlockwise is easier, then practice that before learning clockwise. If you alternate the direction you shift the pattern in, then you are doing what is known as the 3b Thumblift Cascade.

[edit] 4b Stack

The 4 Ball Stack (usually called simply “The Stack”) is a 3b Palmspin with an extra ball placed on top of the three to form a pyramid. Some people call this a 4b Palmspin, but I like to differentiate between flat patterns (palmspins) and patterns in 3 dimensions (stacks). Besides, there is another move more rightly called a 4b Palmspin. For a long time, the Stack was called a 4b Palmspin, but there are ways of performing a Palmspin with 4 balls that are more appropriate to that name. Before you learn the 4b Stack, you should be very practiced in the 3b Palmspin. Place the extra ball on top of your 3b Palmspin, and very slowly start to spin. You will find that at some points, the pressure of the extra ball will push the bottom balls apart from each other. Learn to tilt the hand in such a way as to minimize this, but not so much that the top ball falls off. For this move, it is best to start with large balls on the bottom, and a smaller ball on top – maybe 2.5” acrylics on the bottom and a pool ball on top. The smaller size of the top ball will make it more difficult for the ball to be thrown off, and its smaller weight will lower it’s tendency to tear apart the base’s pattern.

[edit] 4b Stack Pinkylift

This is just like the 3b Pinkylift, but more care is needed when you are settling the new top ball on the base. Extend your thumb up to catch the falling top ball as soon as possible. This will allow you to keep the balls together. If you don’t keep the balls together, the move looks haphazard.

[edit] 4b Stack Thumblift

This lift is similar to the 3b version, but there are some small differences, which you should be aware of. With the 3b version, you start with one ball held against the length of the thumb, and the other two balls held with two fingers each – this is a very secure way of holding three balls. The 4b version, though has the thumb holding one ball as usual, the index, middle, and ring fingers holding the front ball, and the last ball is held securely between the pinky and the heel of the hand. The pinky curls over the ball to hold it secure. This difference is because with a lot of the move, the front face of the stack is balanced against the back ball, so it is best to have as many fingers free as possible to manipulate the moving balls. Drop the ring-finger side of the stack slightly, and sort-of flow the thumb upwards, more pressuring than pushing the thumb ball to rise up over the stack. Stretch the index and middle fingers downwards so the stack face can be held smoothly at all points. As the old top ball starts to fall over, reach up with the ring finger, and gently ease the ball down.

[edit] 4b Flat Diamond Palmspin

The “Flat” part of the name is there because there is a stack palmspin called the Diamond. This move, though, is not stacked. Using smaller balls than usual, hold three balls in the palm as if you are doing a 3b Palmspin. Place one more ball beside any other two to make a flat diamond shape. There are two axes here – the long axis runs from the just added ball to the ball on the opposite side of the pattern, and the short axis runs through the two balls beside the new one. When you spin this, you have to be careful to keep the short axis balls together. This is easy when the long axis of the pattern runs from the fingertips to the forearm, but when it is 90 degrees rotated, it is difficult to keep the short axis balls together and make sure the other two balls don’t drop off either side of the hand. A tip I’d give here is to bring the pattern forward when you are moving the long axis balls to the side. When you bring the pattern forward, the balls will be supported mostly by the fingers, and the front of the palm. You will still have to stretch your thumb and pinky out to the sides to do the move, but it does solve a lot of problems.

[edit] 4b Flat Spin

Also known as the 4b Palmspin, this move is difficult to learn - so learn slowly. It may even be easier to learn the 5b Stack before learning this – the 5b Stack helps to keep the pattern from collapsing into a 4b Flat Diamond Palmspin. Basically, a 4b Flat Spin is a group of four balls arranged in a square, and spun in the palm. Stretch your fingers before attempting this, and move very slowly until you are certain of the move. Again, like the Flat Diamond version, I’d recommend bringing the shape forward onto the fingers, which will allow you more room to play with. You will find after a while that a lot of the motion is performed by the thumb, which moves in a wave-like motion to bring the balls along. Try to bring the center of balance of the pattern close to the thumb to take advantage of this.

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