Juggler's World: Vol. 43, No. 3

Juggler's Workshop

Beyond the Cascade

The Spring 1991 issue of Juggler's World reviewed the recent book by George Gillson, Beyond the Cascade: Step-by-Step Guides to 88 Classic 3-Ball Juggling Tricks. For your edification, we are reprinting here selected tricks from Gillson's book. The tricks appearing here include some relatively simple variations as well as some more challenging and impressive ones, including Burke's Barrage. These tricks, including the diagrams, are reprinted by the kind permission of the publisher of Beyond the Cascade, Larry Swanson of Cascade Books, P.O. Box 9008, Seattle, WA 98109.

by Martin Frost

© 1991 Martin Frost


To make learning the tricks as easy as possible, each throw and each catch is described step by step, with accompanying step-by-step diagrams. In this way you can almost see the trick slowly unfolding - like watching a slow-motion or, even better, a stop-motion juggling act.

As drawn, the diagrams represent what you, the juggler, see as you execute the trick, and the balls are numbered in the sequence in which they are thrown.


The Reachunder's key feature - a throw straight up that is allowed to drop low enough for an under-the-arm catch (!) - creates a distinctly new juggle with a personality all its own. And, as you will see, the Reachunder then leads to another fascinating variation as well.

Start with the Cascade pattern. Then ...

1. Instead of a regular throw, LH tosses 1 up a few inches and slightly to the left (!) and catches the ball incoming from the right.

2. RH cascades 2 to the left and then reaches under the left arm to catch 1 descending at the far left.

3. LH, meanwhile, has carried 3 to the center of the juggle space and tosses it short and low to the right, then goes back left to catch 2.

4. RH tosses 1 straight up the middle, then catches 3 just to the right.

Now repeat Steps 1-4, and so on.

The variation on the Reachunder that I mentioned above is achieved by simply changing Step 4 to produce a wonderful circling effect - a total transformation of the original pattern.

Here's the change:

4. RH, having just caught 1 at the far left (Step 2), carries it low to the right and continues the circular movement with a reverse cascade toss of 1 to the left; then catches 3 at the right middle.


In this trick, as in Mills' Mess and similar patterns, the hands keep crossing and uncrossing. However, unlike those more advanced moves, there are no carries in Pistons. The hands cross to make catches, but each ball remains in the same column throughout, popping straight up and down. The juggle has a 6-step cycle, the tosses settling into a left-middle-right, left-middle-right sequence. Of course, this order can be reversed, as can the way the arms cross (left over right, or right over left), as you will see.

Start with 1 and 3 in the LH and 2 in the RH and note: After each catch, keep that hand at that position until it makes a throw.

1. LH tosses 1 up at the middle (and, on subsequent cycles, catches 3).

2. RH tosses 2 up at the right and catches 1.

3. LH tosses 3 up at the left, reaches over the right arm and catches 2.

4. RH tosses 1 and catches 3.

5. LH tosses 2 and catches 1.

6. RH tosses 3 and catches 2.

Now you can repeat Steps 1-6 for a new cycle of throws and catches.

Now here's something interesting: Notice that at Step 3 the pattern calls for a reach over the right arm to catch 2. However, after you have the pattern under control, you might want to give it a bit more vertical symmetry by reaching under the right arm on this move. With practice, you will be able to alternate - over, under, over, under, and so on. It's a subtle aesthetic nuance, I admit, and your audience might not even notice the difference, but for stylistic purists, I know that this suggestion will be heartily welcomed as relief from a painful asymmetry.

You might also want to reverse the throwing sequence, from left, middle, right to right, middle, left. To do this, notice that at Step 1 the left hand throws the ball up at the midpoint of the juggle. This makes a symmetrical pattern, with a ball in each hand on either side and one ball high in the middle. This allows you to choose which ball to throw left - left or right. In the pattern outlined above, the right hand throws at Step 2. But if instead the left hand throws (that would be two left-hand throws in a row), a reversed sequence - right, middle, left - will result.

Here are the "reversing" Steps 2 and 3:

Rev. 2. LH (tossing again) tosses 3 up at the left and catches 1.

Rev. 3. RH tosses 2 up at the right, reaches over (or under) the left arm and catches 3.

Once begun, the remainder of the reversed sequence moves are so inevitable there's no need to describe them - your hands will know.

Inverted Mess

This variation of Mills' Mess begins with the same Mills' Mess move in Step 1 but, at Step 2 the ball is carried down and under, not over, the opposite arm. Hence the term "inverted," though it's used loosely here. The result, of course, is not Mills' Mess turned upside down - gravity won't allow that. But the pattern is clearly related to Mills' Mess (the toss-catch-carry at Steps 2 and 5, for instance) and exhibits a lot of the same intriguing complexity.

As with Mills' Mess, the count in this trick is 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

Start with two balls in the left hand, one in the right, with the left hand at the right middle of the juggle space...

1. LH tosses 1 straight up about 7-8 inches.

2. RH tosses 2 in a reverse cascade throw aiming for the middle of the juggle space; then immediately catches 1 at its peak and carries it down and to the left.

3. LH reverse cascades 3 in a short lob to the right, catches 2 and swings back out to the left.

(As with the unadulterated Mills' Mess, Steps 4, 5, and 6 are simply the reverse of Steps 1, 2, and 3.)

4. RH tosses 1 in a short lob straight up about 7-8 inches and goes right to catch 3.

5. LH reverse cascades 2 aiming for the middle of the juggle space; then immediately catches 1 at its peak and carries it down to the right.

6. RH reverse cascades 3 in a short lob to the left, catches 2 and swings back out to the right.

...and so on.

Alternating Columns Carries

I'm sure you've seen someone do a columns juggle and then begin to carry one of the "outside" balls up and down instead of tossing it. It always gets a laugh - the lazy juggler! "Look! Nothing's happening!"

We shall now see that by a simple switching maneuver this carry can be done first on one side, then on the other, and if you wish, back and forth repeatedly. This expansion of the trick is sure to add to the fun, and it transforms the joke into a bit of bona fide juggling magic!

1. Do a three columns juggle with LH juggling 1 and 2 side by side and RH raising and lowering 3 by hand.

2. When LH has just tossed 2 up the center column and caught 1 at the left, and RH has lowered hand-held 3, the juggle is symmetrical - a ball in each hand and one aloft in the center. Therefore you have an option to go either way - RH can carry 3 up again and LH simultaneously toss 1 (and catch 2), or you can do the reverse - Step 3.

3. LH carries 1 up, and simultaneously, RH tosses 3, then catches 2.

When you've taught yourself the switch from right to left, try switching back, left to right. Then try switching back and forth on every throw of the pair 1 and 3.

The Exchange (or The "Drop")

As the left hand does a counterclockwise 2-in-1-Hand juggle, the right hand, held shoulder high, drops a "new" ball into the juggle and immediately removes an ascending "old" ball - that's the "exchange." This maneuver can be performed once, or continuously, where every other ball tossed up in the 2-in-1-Hand juggle is removed and a new ball is dropped in. When performed crisply and smoothly, this juggle has a nice "machine" or "robot" look.

1. LH tosses 1 straight up the middle (not counterclockwise this time) and catches the ball descending at the left. RH, meanwhile, is bringing 2 over 1 as it rises.

2a. Now a drop and a throw happen simultaneously. RH drops 2 down the left-hand column, then claw catches 1 at its peak and carries it straight out to the right about 12-15 inches.

2b. Simultaneously, LH tosses 3 up counterclockwise at the center and it peaks just as RH reaches its rightmost position. (There is no exchange on this throw.) LH then catches 2.

For a continuous juggle, keep alternating Step 1 (LH toss straight up) and Step 2 (RH exchange (Step 2a.) and LH counterclockwise throw (Step 2b.) performed simultaneously).

Now for a terrific variation: Instead of bringing the ball straight across the front of your body for the "drop," swing it around behind your head and over your shoulder to reach the same drop-off point. Sounds and looks very difficult, but, in fact, is only somewhat difficult. Also, learn The Exchange with the left hand doing the "drop." Then try the around-the-head maneuver with that hand. Eventually (well before the year 2000), you'll be able to swing the ball around behind your head for a drop in the front, in both directions - that is, making alternate left- and right-side drops.

One last challenge - The Exchange can be performed on every throw. Hold your right hand a little higher and move it back and forth only about 8-10 inches between the catch and the drop. This transforms The Exchange into a very fast (and very challenging) Shower pattern.

Burke's Barrage

Although Burke's Barrage (named after its inventor, Ken Burke) derives from the Cross-Arm Tennis pattern, it's about ten times more active, and you might have trouble spotting the family resemblance. Both arms are constantly in motion, crossing the body, throwing, catching and carrying, like windmills flailing in a storm. But, surprisingly, Burke's Barrage simply adds flourishes - elaborate wheel-like carries - to the Cross-Arm Tennis pattern, executed, one on each side, by the arm that is "idle." The resulting "Barrage" is no misnomer - when you see the trick performed, those wheeling carries really come atcha! No question that in Burke's Barrage we have, as my friend Noah put it, "One of the major 3-ball moves."

Start with two balls in the right hand, one in the left.

1. RH tosses 1 straight up about shoulder height at the right side of the juggle space. (NOTE: This is a starting move only. Henceforth only the LH will throw and catch 1, just as only the RH will throw and catch 3.)

2. LH "tennises" 2 in a short arc over to the right. (2 will tennis back and forth throughout.) Then LH claw-catches 1 and carries it down and around through more than a full counterclockwise circle on the right side of the body. The "wheel" it describes should point more or less forward like the right wheel on a car. (This carry will terminate with the LH throw to be described in Step 5.) While this is happening, RH will make the two consecutive throws described next.

3. RH tosses 3 straight up about shoulder height, at the left side of the juggle space and under the left arm as that arm wheels through the back part of its counterclockwise carry. Then RH catches 2 at the right.

4. RH tennises 2 in a short arc over to the left. Then RH claw-catches 3 and carries it down and around through more than a full clockwise "wheel" on the left side of the body. (The carry will end with a repeat of the RH throw in Step 3, but only after LH has made its two consecutive throws described next.)

5. LH tosses 1 straight up about shoulder height, at the right side of the juggle space and under the right arm as that arm wheels through the back part of its clockwise circular carry. LH then catches 2 at the left.

The left hand throws again (an exact repeat of Step 2), and from this point on the juggle continues with each hand making two consecutive throws while the other is busy making its long "wheel" carry.

If you have any comments or suggestions for Juggler's Workshop, write to: Juggler's Workshop, 3065 Louis Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303; or call Martin Frost at 415/856-1456.

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