Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


contact juggling
October 26, 2012 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Contact juggling: a championship performance by Yanazo (Akihiro Yanai) at the Japan Juggling Festival 2012 earlier this month - it won first prize; he juggles one, two, and finally three balls by rolling them on his body, occasionally tossing them with his body movements instead of his hands.

You might remember contact juggling from the movie Labyrinth: a behind-the-scenes clip with Jim Henson, David Bowie, and Michael Moschen.
Another video of Moschen performing on the Donahue show.
A TED talk filmed in 2002: Michael Moschen juggles rhythm and motion

A few more performances you might enjoy:
*videos of Okotanpe -
--as presented on National Geographic
--while he was juggling in a public park in Japan
--his performance at Child's Play Passion Juggling Festival 2012 in Singapore
*a pretty video of Jorge Ribero
*another pretty video of Kevin Axtell - Liquid Contact Juggling Freestyle 2011
*Metra's Multiball Contact
*a video clip from Best Of Kelvin Kalvus 2010

More about contact juggling at the Contact Juggling wiki page.

Contact juggling previously on MeFi (a madamjujujive joint!).
First link found via reddit.
posted by flex (24 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Halfway through that I was yelling at my computer: WHERE IS THIS MAGICAL PLACE WHERE BALLS RUN UP AND DOWN YOUR ARMS LIKE MICE?

And at the end, I loved how he did the juggling equivalent of dropping the mike.
posted by nushustu at 12:07 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lovely. It's interesting that the big last move is to balance three balls on one arm, somewhat less "spectacular" looking than some of his other moves. I wonder if that's an exceptionally difficult move -- maybe because to balance one you would normally be making tiny adjustments elsewhere on your arm, but if you're balancing three at different spots the adjustments you can make are much more constrained?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:11 PM on October 26, 2012


Based on the reactions of the (assumedly) knowledgable audience, it seems like stopping the ball in balance is far harder than keeping it moving.
posted by persona at 12:15 PM on October 26, 2012


Amazing how fluidly he moves. And oddly enough I was still unable to really follow all of those movements.
posted by MustardTent at 12:17 PM on October 26, 2012


I love the audience reaction here. You'd think he was showing off a new iPad.
posted by odinsdream at 12:30 PM on October 26, 2012


Yes, but who will pay him? Whenever I see brilliant stuff like this, it makes me a little sad. He's amazing. I hope he can find a way to parlay his ability into lots of cash, and doesn't ever have to work a real job.

(Did you know that, according to Worthington's Law, the opera singer who called himself "The Great Caruso" was nowhere near as great as Sammy Hagar, the Red Rocker? So shut, up, Caruso!)
posted by Zerowensboring at 12:31 PM on October 26, 2012


It's always interesting to watch juggling (or any performance art I imagine) with an audience full of practitioners. You really get a sense for what the hard bits are.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:34 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's a Nerdist podcast episode from 2011 wherein Penn Jillette reveals the amusing (possibly embellished) story of how Michael Moschen originally developed the art of contact juggling.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:35 PM on October 26, 2012


That was awesome.

I love the dudes next to the camera, too. うわっ!やっべー!マジで?!
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:38 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a contact juggling ball, which I got as a gift one fine holiday season. It's a big plastic sphere with a glow in the dark bit in the middle. Mostly, it bruises my knees.

It's weird and backwards, because you're trying to avert gravity as smoothly and slowly as possible, when your instinct is to move quickly to keep the thing from falling. (And hitting your knees. Practice this sitting in the middle of the bed, or on a rug. Something soft.) Arms are really not good vehicles for a sphere - the knobbly bones that stick out the side of my wrists will send the thing tipping off uncontrollably.

It is a hell of a lot of fun, though, the one moment when you get it right and the dog isn't trying to snatch the OMG BALL from you and hopefully somebody sees you do it. Then you drop it on your knee again, in the same damn bruised spot, and you put the ball away and decide that maybe juggling knives would be easier.

On the plus side though, if I ever get really good at this, I'll be set for the post-apocalyptic future when the SCA runs everything.
posted by cmyk at 12:53 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Yes, but who will pay him? Whenever I see brilliant stuff like this, it makes me a little sad. He's amazing. I hope he can find a way to parlay his ability into lots of cash, and doesn't ever have to work a real job.

I know several buskers who make a good living, and travel the world every year, as performing jugglers. It's a real job, as well as an art.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2012


I'm sure this is different for every person, but what's more challenging, contact juggling, or traditional juggling?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:35 PM on October 26, 2012


"For my encore, I will repeat my performance using not mere spheres, but the eggs of endangered birds."
posted by mikurski at 2:02 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does Michael Moschen generally get credit for inventing this kind of juggling? Or is he just the guy who made it famous?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2012


The front page of the CJ wiki says "The fundamental ideas of contact juggling were formulated in the early 1980s by physical artist Michael Moschen, although different forms of CJ (as we call it) have been around for quite some time."

There's also this profile on him at the Ministry of Manipulation.
posted by flex at 2:20 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure this is different for every person, but what's more challenging, contact juggling, or traditional juggling?

Jugglers' relationship with "challenging" doesn't work the way most people's does. It doesn't matter what style they're doing:

"Sure, we jugglers aren’t efficiency experts. We look at something and say, there must be a harder way to do this.”
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:22 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was great. Particularly with the expert audience cheering respectfully. I've heard a couple of professional juggler / entertainers talk, including Michael Moschen, and the thing I took away with me was that the things that were entertaining for audiences were quite different from the things that were challenging to do. So the real juggler artists are frustrated because they want to challenge themselves and impress their colleagues, but really the audience just wants to see a 5 ball cascade because clearly juggling 5 balls is harder than 3. The other thing I took away, and saw in this video, is it's always good to drop a few times and recover smoothly. Because that way the audience knows what you're doing is really hard.
posted by Nelson at 4:48 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, the audience just wants to see them throw three balls really high.
posted by eruonna at 4:52 PM on October 26, 2012


Having never heard of contact juggling before I expect some sort of fight... full contact juggling where jugglers try to knock each other out or something.

This was beautiful though.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:33 PM on October 26, 2012


> I'm sure this is different for every person, but what's more challenging, contact juggling, or traditional juggling?

Contact juggling well enough to impress people is harder than toss-juggling well enough to impress people. Usually.

What that guy is doing is crazy hard.
posted by pmb at 6:52 PM on October 26, 2012


It reminds me a bit of the juggling act in Dralion which seems to integrate some aspects of contact juggling with a more conventional routine.
posted by jamincan at 7:07 PM on October 26, 2012


Really nice post, flex - excellent links. And thanks for the shoutout!

aside: I miss Jim Henson.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2012


Flex -> you score a bonus point for linking to my site, thank you - The Ministry of Manipulation.
Contact Juggling is one of my passions.
Yes, Yanazo is good, very good.
Of particular note, are the precision and speed control in his 1 ball body rolling.

Francis Brunn used to encorporate a lot of "contact Juggling" moves within his act, here's a version from 1969. With chest rolls, head rolls, body rolls and body balance and catches.

In a curious turn, this week, Yanazo has set all of his youtube videos to private, I'm not sure why...yet. I'm making enquiries with the japanese community as to why??? (Different people and cultures react differently to viral explosions of fame.)

Zerowensboring -> No need to worry yourself, may of ny friends are profesional contact jugglers, and yes, they earn a living from it.

Anyone who wants more info will find that www.contactjuggling.org has a friendly community.

Smiles
Drew
posted by Drew Glass at 2:23 PM on October 27, 2012


The performance is amazing, and the reaction from the obviously-knowledgeable audience brings my enjoyment to another level. The wah!s and ooohhh…woaaah!s were great. But I think my favorite part was the disbelieving, "you can't DO that!" tone to the laughter of the folks near the camera.

Thanks, flex! This is wonderful.
posted by Lexica at 10:05 PM on October 27, 2012


« Older 1997: Arizona. Matt Varilek gets a degree in Envi...  |  Once the financial sector achi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments