Thursday, April 13, 2006

juggling: A review of The Theory and Practice of Juggling

The Theory and Practice of Juggling by Jason Garfield

a review by Johnny Matthews

So, I was happy to find in my mailbox today a package from the World Juggling Federation. I ordered the Book and DVD last Saturday and so it arrived quickly.

The Book

The book is 59 pages and was a quick read. Let me qualify that last statement. The book was a quick read, but the information is such that I will find myself re-reading it many times over, highlighting and underlining as I go. The book has several distinct parts that serve different functions. The theory in the book is more the theory of practicing as well theory on Ethics and what constitutes good juggling.

Now I was a bit mortified to find one trick that I was pleased with myself about learning to pull off (mills mess) in the "Don't Do This" chapter. But I got over it.

I found the formatting in the "Basic Moves" chapter rather sparse, as each level (1 ball to 11 balls) is each given a page, some of which are pretty short so there is a lot of blank space, but the info is good.

When I emailed Jason about this book, he warned me that I will probably need to take a step backwards in my skill to get better, and now I understand what he means. In including 1 and 2 balls, you are given the foundation for a good 3, 5 and 7 ball pattern.

There is a short glossary of terms at the end as well as a chapter from the WJF concerning teaching a PE class how to juggle. There is also a page of rules for the WJF competition (which I doubt I'll be competing in anytime soon)

Overall, I would say this is a great book for learning the foundations of good juggling, and not just learning how to keep 3 balls in the air. From what I can tell, it is Jason's style to keep things to the point, but would be interested if a 2nd edition of this book had some more fleshed out parts.


The DVD contains about 25 minutes of training material followed by a montage of about 5 minutes of additional moves. As well as some bonus footage and promos for other WJF titles. And it's all done with Jason's unique sense of humor.

The bulk of the training material is taking you from 1 ball to 7 balls. 8-12 balls is touched on, but come on if you can do 7 as well as Jason, do you really need a training video. The beauty of the DVD is that these sections are kept short but packed with good shots. At the end of each # of balls he does a little routine of tricks with that number. I would like to see some of those broken down a bit more, but perhaps we can look forward to that in TAP2!

There is a good section on breaking down tricks, where Jason breaks down 3 club body throws and 5 club backcrosses. The tricks here are not as important as what Jason is trying to accomplish, in showing how to practice a complex trick, by building up.

It really seems that Jason's goal in this book/DVD set is to teach you how to practice and not individual tricks. If you want a step by step guide to every juggling trick, this is not it. You will be disappointed. If you are interested in getting a good foundation, for learning those tricks on your own, this is more your speed.

Things I would have liked to have seen on the video
  • Basic club moves: as with balls, it would have been nice to see a progression of club work, you do get some, but for someone like me who stinks at clubs, it would have been nice.
  • 360/180: The book talks about 360's and 180's, but it would have been nice to see these on the DVD
  • How to throw more than one ball out of your hand at the same time at different heights. I just don't get that. I need help!

Overall, The $15 dollars for the book and $25 for the DVD were worth it. I would recommend them to anyone wanting to get better at this sport. If you want more instruction and less theory, the DVD would probably suffice. But if you learn better by reading too, the the book is a good addition.

Anyway, that is my review, now on to practicing. I'll blog my progress here.

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