Contact Juggling & James Ernest

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…People wanted a name for this “Crystal Ball Manipulation”, James Ernest gave them “Contact Juggling”. They wanted to know how to do it and Ernest gave them that too, in 1990 with his book Contact Juggling. Ernest paid a great service to ball manipulation by helping to teach and spread the techniques of Contact throughout the world. Now over 15 years old, the book is looking a little dated in its content and teaching style.

Ernest defined: “Contact Juggling:

Manipulations of a single Object or Object groups, usually involving very little tossing or spinning. Ex. balls, ball stacks, and some types of stick, hat and plate work…”
“Contact Juggling is above all, graceful and absorbing.” (Contact Juggling, 2nd Ed, 1991, page 2)

This is a broad definition, and is close to what we would now call Object Manipulation. This definition was largely ignored. Why? Well, using Ernest’s definition; Poi and club spinning are Contact Juggling!

A Young James Ernest
It’s more accurate to say that Ernest defined Contact Juggling as: “The ball manipulation in his book Contact Juggling”. At least, that seems to be the definition that has spread throughout the world.

A cynical view from some aspects of the Juggling community is that Contact Juggling was James Ernest’s name for what Moschen did in the routine “Light”. In the early 1990’s, this led to a disagreement between the two camps, and much discussion about Plagiarism in Juggling, wasting time that could have been better spent playing with balls! Moschen doesn’t use the term Contact Juggling, he either favours Dynamic Manipulation or doesn’t have a name at all, depending on which source you read!

A quick count of the 60 pages of Contact Juggling which explain Contact juggling (as opposed to the appendices), suggests that 75% of the Contact in this book, was performed in “Light”, or other routines by Moschen. But much of Ball Manipulation / Contact Juggling existed before Moschen. Whatever Contact Juggling was then, it has grown much in 20 years and at its cutting edge has evolved far beyond those origins.
To learn Ball Contact»
To learn Multiball Contact look here» and check out the Ministry’s latest book – Multiball Contact.

Nowadays Contact Juggling the book is starting to show its age, both in its content, and it style of teaching – Manipulation moves on! Although it’s still published in the UK by Butterfingers Books and available to buy as they distribute throughout Europe and the world.

James Ernest
James Ernest (pictured right), disappeared from the world of Contact and went on to carve a successful career as a designer of board and card games under the titles of Cheapass Games & Loneshark Games. And these days working full time in casual computer games.

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