Areas of juggling knowledge


Sometimes when I meet jugglers who are extremely knowledgable in one area of juggling, I am surprised by how little they know about another area. For an example, meeting someone who knows a lot about notation, but yet almost nothing about juggling history. Another example would be someone who is very familiar with all the established jugglers in the US, but hardly know anything about Europeans and the development here. It seems as if there is no established basic knowledge about juggling, the kind of information everyone (should) know(s).
You will not find a painter who never heard of Picasso, or a experienced pianist who never heard of Bach, or can’t read notes, or heard of notes. Yet, the equivalent in juggling is rather the norm, than the exception. It made me ask the question, what are the areas of juggling knowledge or juggling expertise? Perhaps we could establish something eventually?
Here are my first thoughts:

  1. History
  2. Practice
  3. Science
  4. Notation
  5. Methods of research
  6. Health

Perhaps some should be merged, or there are others that should be added.

Short introduction to each:

  1. History
    How juggling evolved through time and what individuals, events, accomplishments and creations shaped that development

  2. How do you learn, practice and execute juggling successfully?

  3. What are the scientific aspects of juggling, such as how thrown objects are affected by gravity ? how does balance work? etc

  4. How can juggling be notated in writing or images? Site Swap etc

  5. How does research in juggling work? what tools and methods are available?

  6. Are there health benefits (or dangers) from juggling, and how can they be proven? what evidence is there for juggling’s effect on the body and mind?


Actually, it is quite common for musicians to be self thought and only aware of the developments in their own genre, and can not read music…'t+read+music&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab

Also, I doubt there are painters who haven’t heard of Picasso, but there surely are painters who didn’t study Picasso right? There are no jugglers who have similar fame as Picasso or Bach do.

And at last, most professional juggers I know do know all of the names. They might not have when they started their career, but those who’ve been in the business for a while seem to know their sources…

Anyway, some juggling expertiser that come to my mind:

Technique: Knowing various ways to throw and catch, being able to make minimal adjustments for maximum effect to posture and trick execution.

Visual imagery: Understanding rhythm and spacing and how to apply this to juggling to make tricks and make tricks prettier.

Origin of moves. Knowing which trends are in juggling, what moves belong to which school and style and who invented what trick etc…


Yes, additionally something about community etiquette pertaining to usage of original tricks in acts etc. “Teach the controversy” :wink:


Juggling culture is not extended enough to even consider that there should exist such thing as an established “juggling knowledge”

The points you stated could be the fundamentals of a juggling university. But in what measure does knowing juggling history, science, or health affects your progresion as a juggler?

If you were a Chef at a restaurant, how would the knowledge of the proper season to plant pumpkins, or how the amount of water or sunlight needed during the diferent proceses of germination, floration and maduration, would affect your cooking skills?

I would dare to say most chefs have no idea about agriculture, the same way most jugglers have no idea about crafting props.
I honestly never worried about where does the wood from the soul of those Henry’s pirouette comes from, but if I was to try and buid my own brand of clubs or even a totally new different prop, i’d sure be interested in doing some research on what are the best woods, or plastics, or whatever, in wich case I would definitly not have as much time to focus on watching as many youtube videos as I actually do and finding out what are the current jugglers, trends, or new tricks.

How many jugglers are in the world that consider themselves jugglers? 50k? 100k?
How many dedicated jugglers, and how many sunday jugglers?
Amongst the profesional jugglers, how many do really care about juggling itself, and aren’t just some sort of “juggling worker”, who juggle with the same pasion someone who works as a supermarket cashier?, having absolute no interest in whatsoever aspects of juggling beyhond repeating some 10 year old routine consisting of sequences copied from other acts they don’t care the least, and getting payed so they can pay their expenses.

Jugglers are usually quite self-centered or community centered.
How many jugglers from “objectepisodes” are also active members of “jugglingreddit”, “club tech”, “jongleurs”, or “malabarismo experimental”? (to name some big web communities).

You give the example of US jugglers not knowing european jugglers, but I would say not even norrthern Europe jugglers know southern Europe jugglers and viceversa.

Each juggler lives and juggles surrounded by it’s own cummunity of personal interests and narrow knowledge, unless he decides to travel or search beyhond.

So my point is: if there is not truly such thing as a world juggling community, does it makes sense trying to establish a “universal” or common/general juggling knowledge?.

Juggling knowledge will define itself once juggling becomes so extended as a cultural fenomena that it is truly part of human heritage.

Jugglers and non jugglers will have heard about Anthony Gatto, the same way non musicians or non painters know about Jimmy Hendrix or Picasso even tought they couldn’t name a single song or painting.


i feel like what you/we trying to do here will go far beyond “basic knowledge” (basic knowledge for me would probably be what a new juggler knows after his first year of regularly going to a juggling club, visiting two conventions, and spending some time learning about juggling online). If i understand your intention correctly you rather want some basic in the terms of studying juggling on an academic level (not necessarily meaning at a university or circus school but with a similar intensity).

  1. History. while the focus should be on juggling i believe some information about related performing arts (circus, dance/acrobatics, history of travelling performers etc) should go along with it to put it in the context.

  2. Practise. I would add teaching to that list

  3. i feel your mainly thinking physics but i feel like biology, anatomy, neurology etc are as important even if some of it may also fit into the health category

  4. add learning the terminology of all the things

  5. nothing to add here

  6. nothing to add here

possible additions

  1. social (circus) juggling: what’s jugglings role in our culture, how can juggling be used to create good things, who is the juggling community.

  2. performance: some of this could be included in history (which types of performance already have been there) but this still leaves the whole how can i create new types of performances, choreograph a juggling routine, structure a street show, use juggling to "tell or support a message/story) etc.

anyway once we decided which subjects need to be studied to gain the academic juggling basics we need to decide how deep these need to be studied? my attempt would be to imagine a juggling theory university with those subjects as classes and then assuming that what would be learning in one semester of daily study and classes would be the basics. I believe this correlates with the other goal i had for juggling basics which would be to enable a juggler to research any of these topics as deep as he wishes.

Sadly we are no juggling theory university so how could we provide the juggling basics to everyone ?
The main tool here would be a structured collection of sources (books, videos, articles… ) that covers most of the topics above. When i started researching juggling theory the main problem really was finding sources (or more precisely finding sources that were available online and for free). Once we found sources for all topics and created the sources on topics that weren’t covered yet all that would be left are some articles and guideline on how these topics are connected and how to structure the research.

sounds like lots of work but could be done. (will be significantly more work if translated and done for several languages)


These are all great!

This is part of what I meant by history. Even if something is just a week old, it is still history.

If you read my post the observation was regarding experts, not jugglers in general.

Yes, but at least then the door is open to learn more, and there is an awareness of the possibility that these things could be studied and learned from, even if I choose not to. I feel that this is the greatest difference in juggling - we have no established tradition of juggling knowledge, not even a sense that such knowledge could be had.

I certainly agree, but it should not be that way. I agree that there are no jugglers as famous as Picasso, but there are jugglers who had as great of an impact on juggling (perhaps even greater in some cases) as Picasso had on art, so I think that is an error on our behalf and not of the significance of the historically important jugglers.

I am glad to hear that! The jugglers I meet have very limited knowledge, with the exception of a few.

This is exactly what I meant by practice, but perhaps technique is a better word to represent that category.

This is a tricky one, because “pretty” is highly subjective, so I’d leave this out of knowledge perhaps? Not sure what to make of that one.

All the difference. The way I have set this up in classes for discussion, have been like this:
Imagine two teams of scientists, both with the task of creating a new Television. They are each given a lab with material, but are shut out from the outside world. The first team gets to work immediately, where as the other team gets access to all information that ever existed about how to make a TV and the entire development of TV making and all knowledge related to it. Which team will end up with a better invention?

I should probably rephrase that, because I am not sure I wish to establish anything. I think people should be completely free to think and do what ever they want. It is more of an observation that the juggling world looks like this and why is that etc. I guess my only wish is for a discussion (which we are now having, so I am already satisfied) and then people can do whatever they want.


I have to disagree.

From my own experience, when I started juggling, the fact of having barely contact with other jugglers or to what juggling was is what allowed me to persue an highly creative juggling technic.

Also, the last years, my best juggling mate has been living appart from the “real world”. No electricity, no internet, just up in the mountains, juggling once in a while. And every time I go check on him he just surprises me with the stuff he’s doing.


Another area could be Passing. There are a lot jugglers that have specific knowledge about this topic.


Slight update:

  1. History
  2. How to practice and teach technique
  3. Science
  4. Notation and terminology
  5. Methods of research
  6. Health

These are all good thought. I think several areas overlap. If we take the practice of juggling, there is the history of how people have practiced, so which category do we put it in? If something can be in several categories, I think we can just put it in one for now.

Did your friend juggle stones and fruit up in those mountains, or established plastic juggling objects? Did he invent the cascade (and every other pattern or trick he is doing) when he was up there? You could probably think this one through a bit further. That being said, freeing ourselves temporarily from the main development of the field can of course be liberating, but in the greater picture of what is going on, we build on pre-existing ideas.


Passing is a practice and a technique, so there is a category for that already, so it would be a sub category of that.