There is usually nothing competitive about juggling there is this one group of jugglers that has managed to transform a harmless performance art into an exciting contact sport – ‘combat juggling’. A combat juggling match consists of two teams competing against each other, with each player juggling three clubs at a time. The players move towards each other, trying to interfere with and knock out the other player’s clubs. The last player standing with all three clubs in the air is declared the winner.
I watched a video clip of the sport, and after I got a hang of what was going on, I found it quite fun to watch. Of course, the word ‘combat’ is quite misleading – there’s practically no risk of any kind of injury in this sport. According to one player, Scotty, “Combatting is a sport because it’s a game. You compete, you have winners and losers. Bunch of people, we’re all juggling three clubs, last person juggling wins.”
Photo via Sourcefeed
“We’re not inventing anything, we’re just rediscovering,” said Joe, another juggler. “Each person squares up with another person on the other side and as soon as they say ‘go’, they’re all forward and they’re like, they’ll kill somebody.”
“You don’t have to be a great technical juggler to be good at combat. The challenge becomes avoiding getting attacked, looking for the right moment to strike and the ability to catch bad throws,” he added. “You have to pay attention to the other team, the whole of the other team, all at one time. The worst is when somebody is behind you, you never even knew to defend yourself.”
Photo via Daily XY
Joe said that a player can take any approach they want to combat juggling. “If you want to be laid back and be a chilled guy until you need to kill somebody, or you’re like an assassin type of player, then that’s totally cool. Or if you’re like the front line soldier, you’re just going to like go kill somebody, people can get intimidated by that.”
To me, combat juggling seems like a sport that demands and extraordinary presence of mind and razor-sharp reflexes. There are a few tactics that players carry up their sleeves as well. Like moving face-to-face with an opponent so they get confused about which clubs to catch. Or throwing one club high and using the extra time to distract an opponent. Sometimes, players turn around and back into opponents’ clubs.
But as exciting as the sport is to watch, not many people know that it even exists. “Traditionally, juggling is done as a performance piece and a lot of people watched it for the kind of tricks that they like to see over and over again. Combat, essentially, is an application of juggling formatted as a sport,” said Jason, a player. “Juggling in itself is not yet compelling enough to get people to get to a juggling event. My hope is that this just continues to grow and we get more TV exposure.”
“Are people taking us seriously? Of course not!” said Scotty. “Will they? We’ll see.”