Since you are here, I guess you have this strong desire to know more about my favourite past time. If you care to read, just go on.
In the beginning
I started juggling a long way back in 1982 when I was in secondary school. It all started one night when I saw my dad did a cascade with three D-size batteries. In all my life until then, I have never seen a juggler face-to-face before. I have only watched circus jugglers on TV before so I thought only those people who have been through tough training in circuses could do this. So I was so amazed dad could do this. Dads are amazing, aren't they?
So I asked him to teach me. He taught me to start with two balls in one hand first, then add a third ball. It was not after 10 or more years later that I found that this is not the best way to learn.
The first balls I used are some lime fruits for I don't know where to find more 'jugglable' ones. Those small fruits are hard to practice with. However, with daily practice, I managed to do the cascade in about two weeks. I was so happy for I have done something not everybody has done before. But mom was not after seeing the dozens of spoilt fruit! :)
The journey ahead
What next? I thought. I have learnt something. Was there anything else? There were no other resources or people who could show me more. So I continued to look out for circus shows on TV. There's bound to be a juggling segment everytime.
It was from TV that I learnt the Yo Yo trick.
I searched the limited resources at our National Library. I couldn't believe there's only one book there! A rather old one too. I learnt all the tricks in there. They were all simple two and three ball tricks.
The ten years of learning in solitude was long and slow. But it was a road of self-discovery. The tricks I saw on TV were really complex and hard to follow. So I tried 'inventing' some variations of the simple cascade by throwing some balls high and low. It was until a few years back that I found that all these tricks were already invented :(. And they have names like Half Shower, Tennis, Reverse Cascade, Yo Yo, Under-the-leg, Behind-the-back.
Over the next few years, I tried to teach my classmates, army buddies and colleagues. With my university friend, Yew Meng, we even 'invented' passing patterns of five, six and even seven balls! And again, I later found they have interesting names like Thunder Shower, etc.
The Internet explosion
It was in 1994 that I entered 'juggling' into an Internet search engine and, to my surprise, found a vast pool of resources about the topic. I was so excited when I downloaded a juggling software and was amazed at the possibilities of even a 3-ball pattern.
Since then my skills improved exponentially. And I moved on to more interesting 3-ball tricks like Box, Infinity, Mills Mess, Windmills, Pistons and more. I have tried many other tricks including 5-ball cascade since but my personal favourite is still Mills Mess, taught to me by Colin Ng at Sentosa beach.
It was also through the Internet that I discovered that there's a group of jugglers in Singapore. They juggle weekly at the Sub-station which is a place for the arts and such stuff. (Now the Singapore Jugglers has a new practise ground at the Youth Park.)
Now I don't have to juggle alone anymore.
Juggling in the family?
Sad to say, no one else juggles in the family or else I would have a constant passing partner. Dad stopped at the cascade. Probably I'll try to interest him some time. Others in the family have, over the years, got used to my unusual hobby. I even have my mom to thank for helping make quite a number beanbags for me. She's a great seamstress! My sister gave me a surprise in 1997 by buying me my first set of clubs while she on a business trip to the USA. That added fresh challenges and a third dimension to my juggling. And lastly my wife, she doesn't juggle, but have to endure the occasional bean bag that crash-lands on her!
What juggling has taught me?
I juggle because I couldn't in the first place. I liked the challenges it presented because "no other species juggles on this planet". It has also taught me to be patient. And humbled me. I have learnt to bowed down [to pick up balls] and get up - so often. i.e. Never giving up.
But most of all, I enjoyed the fluid movements of the throws. And also the physics and mathematics behind it.
I guess I will still be juggling for a long time to come. This is one
healthy activity where we don't need brute force. It is also a skill where
there's so many new things to learn everytime. It relaxes me when I am stressed
(what else could you be thinking when you are juggling?) It improves my
hand-eye co-ordination too.
I shall end my story here and hope that answered your curiosity when you entered.
29 May 1998