Juggling is a great way to sharpen your focus, burn some calories, and if you get really good it’s a great way to impress your friends.
Juggling is also the most well-known skill of the circus troupe, which is why everybody expects to see at least one juggling act when they go to the circus.
But did you know that the juggling act in the first-ever American circus was done by an Englishman?
Read all about it and more in these 25 awesome juggling facts!
The earliest known depiction of juggling appears painted on the walls of an ancient Egyptian tomb for an unknown prince, dating back to roughly 2,000 BC – that’s over 4,000 years ago!
Written over 2,300 years ago, the Chinese Book of Lie Zi describes a warrior juggling seven swords at once.
Ancient Chinese warriors would try to intimidate their enemies before battle by juggling!
According to his engraved tombstone, Roman juggler Tagatus Ursus was the first person to ever juggle glass balls.
In 1066 at The Battle of Hastings, Taillefer, the warrior-bard of William the Conqueror, performed a simple juggling trick with his sword, throwing it and catching it then killing an English soldier, claiming the day’s first kill.
Norse mythology dating back into the late 1100s and 1200s includes stories of jugglers and juggling.
In the 1500s, jugglers in Ireland were required by law to pay some form of compensation to any audience members hurt by juggling accidents.
Historian Christopher Weiditz explored Mexico and in 1528 he drew pictures of Aztec jugglers.
On the island of Tonga young girls were often seen juggling limes, gourds, and even nuts in the late 1700s, with some, observed juggling up to 7 items at once!
The first juggler to start using cigar boxes was Jim Harrigan, who was the first ‘Tramp Juggler’ and one of the first jugglers to start adding comedy lines into his routine.
DeWitt Cook was the first juggler to perform using clubs, rather than sticks, torches, or knives. These clubs were Indian Clubs that were traditionally used for arm-swinging exercises and made from very heavy wood, in a shape reminiscent of modern-day bowling pins.
In 1885 ‘The Murdock Bros’ were recorded as the first-ever two-person club-passing duo, juggling four clubs between them whilst standing on pedestals.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a new style of juggler rose known as the ‘Gentlemen Juggler’, pioneered by the most famous gentlemen juggler of all time Kara. Kara started performing in formal evening attire and would often start by juggling his top hat, cane and cigar before picking up everyday dinner-party items like plates, bottles, loaves of bread, and even chairs!
It was modern-day gentlemen juggler Mat Ricardo who trained Henry Cavill to rip a tablecloth from a table and leave the items still standing as he does in the film The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Ever wonder when the first light-up juggling clubs were made? Well, they were built in 1912 by the famous German juggler Salerno (aka Adolf Behrend) and had electric lights inside that changed colors as he juggled them.
Enrico Rastelli (1896 – 1931) is often considered to be the greatest juggler of all time. Even though he never managed to juggle 9 balls at once, he could juggle ten balls at once! He was also one of the first jugglers to juggle with large balls such as leather footballs.
Young juggler John Breen was also one of the most technically skilled jugglers in his era, managing to juggle 7 clubs, do a 5 club shower, and a 5 club cascade with a head balance. Sadly John died in 1912 aged 21.
The juggling act that featured in America’s first-ever circus was done by Englishman John Bill Rickets, who juggled on horseback whilst none other than George Washington watched on!
In the late 19th Century, rubber balls turned traditional juggling on its head with the introduction of bounce-juggling.
Charles Hoey was the first man to ever juggle four clubs at once. The only problem was that he couldn’t stop juggling the four clubs without dropping them, so the curtain had to come down whilst his clubs were still in motion!
Scarves are the easiest object to learn juggling with, rings are the easiest prop to juggle within large numbers as they’re light, and it’s easy to hold several, and clubs are easier than balls to juggle with on a unicycle because they require less accuracy to catch.
Juggling has been proven to increase hand-eye coordination by up to 10%.
Juggling also burns 280 calories per hour, that’s about the same amount of calories burned as playing badminton!
Juggling is an activity that engages both sides of your brain at the same time! The action of concentrating on 3 or more juggling objects forces the brain into co-ordinating both sides with each other. This in turn increases brain function by increasing blood flow to the most important parts of the brain. What a workout for your brain!
Juggling has also been proven to increase the amount of gray matter within the brain, with one study finding it does so in as little as 7 days! Research has also shown that juggling can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease along with other brain-training activities.