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The Karasel of Progress
Wed, Apr 22 2009
The Power of the Peripheral or "Is My Pattern REALLY Solid?"
Mood:  quizzical

          Traditional juggling is inherently two-dimensional.  Our ultimate goal as jugglers doing basic toss juggling patterns is to increase accuracy and efficiency by making our patterns as two-dimensional as possible.  As a result, our hands will only have to move along the X and Y axes.  When we juggle the basic cascades and fountains, our patterns exist within a two-dimensional plane, similar to a “page” in a book, invisibly floating a foot or two in front of our bodies. 


Okay, now it’s time to do an exercise:  Stand up, grab 4, 5, or 6 balls (whichever is of medium difficulty for you), and juggle them in the basic pattern.  You can also try a few siteswaps.  When you’re finished, come back and continue reading.  Seriously, go do it.  I’ll wait here.







Most rooms in which we practice juggling are cubic in nature.  It’s safe to guess that yours is no exception unless you’re thoroughly “modern”, or living in the Guggenheim or something.  Now let me ask you a question – when you juggled just now, were you facing a wall or a corner?


It would be my educated guess that you and most jugglers would, out of habit, face a wall rather than a corner.  Why is this?  It’s the power of the peripheral on our juggling. 


Remember, juggling is inherently two-dimensional.  When we face a wall while juggling, our peripheral agrees with our invisible plane (harmony of soft and hard focus), thus sufficiently negating the peripheral.


Now, it’s time for another exercise.  Grab 4,5, or 6 balls but this time choose a pattern that is fairly difficult for you to do – perhaps you can usually get 15-20 catches with this basic pattern or siteswap.  I want you to try it first facing the wall and after, facing a corner. 


Perhaps your experience will be similar to mine in that when facing a corner with a fairly difficult pattern (one that is not “easy” or “solid” in many ways), I find it MUCH harder to run the pattern than when facing a wall.  This is because the peripheral is in strong discord with my invisible plane on which the balls are moving.  I have superimposed a background on the picture of my juggling which is confusing and detrimental to the pattern’s existence.  My brain is tricked at times into thinking that the balls are moving on the Z axis because I am facing a “vertical horizon”.  When facing a wall, my entire background exists at a fixed distance.  When facing a corner, every thin vertical band of background exists at a different distance from my eyes.


So it is my strong opinion and hypothesis that solo juggling is drastically easier when facing a wall than a corner, even though the surrounding “air space” is no different.  It entirely depends on our peripheral vision, and whether it is in agreement or discord with our invisible juggling plane.  Keep this in mind when attending your next juggling convention or club meeting.  Take a look at all those assembled – how many solo jugglers are not facing a wall of the room?  Any corner-oriented jugglers?  If so, are they dropping a lot?  Maybe you could encourage them to face a wall.


As a juggler aware of the corner handicap, it can sometimes be fun to test the “solidity” of a pattern by attempting to run it while facing a corner, and then again with the corner slightly left or right of center vision.  As an example, I feel pretty comfortable running the 6 ball async fountain while facing a wall.  However, running it at a corner makes me realize that I still have a long way to go before the pattern is really and truly “solid”. 


Best of luck passing the “corner test” with your patterns.


And now for a HORRIBLE JOKE:


Q: Why can’t Harry Potter juggle?

A: Because he tried in Diagon Alley.

Posted by Michael at 12:47 AM EDT
Updated: Wed, Apr 22 2009 12:51 AM EDT
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Fri, Apr 24 2009 - 8:56 PM EDT

Name: "Melissa"

I would love to know how you think that translates, say, to a circus tent. I mean, I'm sure that your philosophy is similar to that of corners, but do you think it affected progress of juggling, then, back in the day before people trained in gyms?

Mon, Apr 27 2009 - 10:27 AM EDT

Name: "Luke Eden"
Home Page:

Interesting stuff. When I was learning 5, I found myself gravitating to the corner of my practice room. I stood pretty close to the corner, actually. I kind of felt as though I needed the walls to give myself some sort of visual landmark--something to keep my pattern from moving out too wide. 

 It worked pretty nicely, too. As soon as I'd gotten over the tendency to throw things wide, though, I moved away from the corner and lined up with a wall--for exactly the reasons you've mentioned here.   

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