I loved posting on these forums and I can't figure out at what point I had stopped. So i thought i would do an update on my personal progress, more for myself to see it in front of me because often times when I get frustrated with practicing and feel like i'm not progressing as i should, i forget how far I've come since meeting all of you wonderful people and became a part of this fabulous community 3 1/2 years ago.
So here we go...
Balls: I had made a goal the summer of 2010 when i had picked up six balls and tried for one of the first times to see how far i could get past flashing it. I surprised myself by over-qualifying it multiple times in that practice session. It was either that same session or one VERY close in date that i had succeeded in flashing seven balls for the first time. Thats when I decided that the goal would be not to TOUCH 7 balls until i had made 100 catches of 6 balls in an a-synchronous fountain pattern. At that point I had flashed 7 balls many times, ending in less of a "collect" and more of a "wrap your arms around your chest to create a basket and try to catch those last two coming down." From that point on I worked mainly on 5 ball progress, (180's, 360's and some limited siteswap study) 3 and 4 ball stuff in the comfort of my room, and that 6 ball goal. On a sunday afternoon (just shy of a full year from making that goal,) when we had gained a second day in the week to juggle at Carmine, I had finally hit that mark. I let the pattern fall to the way-side and allowed myself to revel in the accomplishment. I walked across the agressive basketball court to the water fountain and re-hydrated. As i approached the elusive and attractive un-juggled beanbags i had just left I had a crazy thought, "I wonder if i could do it again!" To prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke, and to quiet the little voice that I knew wouldn't shut up if i didn't at least give it the college try, I picked them up again, and on that very attempt, re-constructed the perfect separated fountain pattern i had been trying to achieve the past year and juggled straight through to exactly 100 catches ending it in a clean, collected finish. One of the most satisfying feelings in my juggling career. From then on it became my next goal to try for 100 catches of the synchronous fountain. (Which i finally hit just a couple weeks ago. No clean finish however, ah well.) Now i was ready for 7. I spent a while flashing the pattern, throwing the first catch i made so that i cradled that forth ball in my right hand rather than my less-than-trustworthy left hand, qualified it with a stroke of luck soon after, marking down twice qualifying it in the last year, and have spent that year up to these last few weeks finally starting to get the hang of releasing the balls so that the pattern doesn't feel like a crazy arm-flailing dance, and more of a controlled, directed pattern. My current record is 40 catches (clean.)
Rings: How I do love thee, perhaps it is because they go un-loved and often hated by many jugglers. And since I am very familiar to rejection, i take pity on the rings and soon see them for what they really are. Really fun things to juggle!! 5 rings was not an easy transition but an exciting one once i had it down. My first really long run of 5 was in front of Pavel Evsucevich at WJF 6 (my first big fest) in Las Vegas. While Pavel was watching me juggle 5 rings longer than I ever had before I peeled the skin back on my palm with the chipped razor-blades i was juggling at the time and couldn't juggle them the whole time I was at IJA a week later (my first IJA and my 2nd big fest) I was very upset. I showed the wound Doug Sayers who grimaced at the sight and provided me with super-glue. When I consulted other ring jugglers i knew, they said they had never experienceds getting blistered up in the place i had. Even Pavel, who had protective tape to protect the inside of his finger joints where the traditional cuts and scrapes happen on a ring jugglers hand, not directly on the palm like mine. He took one look at it, frowned, shook his head and said one word, "wait." I had to wait a considerably long time before i could juggle rings again without any pain, and 5 soon became a consistent prospect. my goal of 250 catches took me a lot longer to achieve than i had expected. Something I should have expected but let my cocky-ness lead me to more frustration was a new years juggling resolution I made at the beginning of 2011 to get 100 catches of 6 rings. 6 RINGS?! What was I thinking?! i could barely qualify them at the beginning of that year. A combination of progressing with other props quicker, making me want to practice with them more than the rings, allowing the calluses on my palm to get nice and pink and soft again, slicing up the same spot again and again (almost always during fest season too!) by December I was only getting between 30-40 catches if i was VERY lucky. not even halfway to my goal. "Curse you Slammin' and your awesome idea for juggling resolutions and my speedy progress and my resulting over-confidence!" That was the only juggling resolution i was unable to complete that year. It has become this years biggest resolution, but it is just as slow. I'm still getting the hang of getting that fountain pattern to stay separated and to keep the rings flying outwards in a somewhat sustainable arc. Just like my unbearably slow 6 ball pattern formation, and also taking into account the occasional blistered palm I still get (always on my left hand in the EXACT same spot) when I stay away from rings for too long and let my skin get dry. During which time I have no choice but to dedicate my practice time to balls and...
Clubs: Lord knows what kind of genome in my body I was born with that made me so adamantly despise clubs whenever i juggled them. "They're too big, awkwardly shaped, they hurt, the tricks are so much harder, and why the hell do i have to deal with ANOTHER factor in this already extremely difficult artform?!" I'm referring to the spin of the clubs and the extra-daunting task of catching them on their respected handles, or catching them the wrong way, or just in the center upside down for certain tricks. However the challenge that it posed, though it frustrated me more than any aspect of the juggling world, the feeling I got once I was able to concur them and nail a trick with them was so much more satisfying than balls or rings. This infectious victory over the enemy I made my clubs out to be was the only thing that kept me practicing with them. 4 clubs was a long a grueling task, I don't even want to try and do the math for how long it took me to get 4 clubs solid. (Also I don't know when exactly i realized i had them solid, because they were so inconsistently stable whenever i juggled them.) While at my first RIT juggle-in I had spent a lot of time doing three things. 1) chumming up to Tony Pezzo and blushing like a little girl when he called some of my ring research "genius." 2.) drooling over Wes Peden like a little girl whenever he would move, juggle, or respond to my timid attempts to speak with him. and 3.) work on switching from a-synch to synch with 4 clubs in doubles and in singles, and drilling all of the 4 object site swaps i remembered working on when i was moving up to five balls with the 4 clubs. I was working up to my most anticipated milestone in my juggling. 5 clubs!! After the spring juggle-in, on another magical Sunday afternoon alone at Carmine, after drilling 552, 4441, and 5555 over and over again, I took a deep breath and picked up my cold, barely scratched fifth club and added it to my right hand, surprised that i could even hold the three in my hand. I expected to have difficulty with the "3 clubs in one hand" concept but now that i actually held them I had suddenly lost all hope that I would get that first one to travel right. But to my absolutely unfathomable surprise, I let it go in a (probably more than necessarily) broad arm swing and it flew. Not allowing myself to be too distracted by the successful release of the first club, i let lose the easier, more familiar four clubs, caught the first club i released and the 3 that followed bringing me to my familiar position of two clubs in each hand. Again, not giving myself the chance to be excited for myself i instantly clasped the last falling club loosely between the four clubs i was white-knuckling. I had flashed 5 clubs on my first attempt EVER! I was so excited i had to do a little dance and then pulled out my phone, texting Michael Karas the news. In a gleeful almost intoxicating sense of pride and adrenaline I picked up the clubs again and had a thought similar to my six ball moment. "If i did that on my FIRST TRY what else can I do?" During the next 15-20 minutes I let myself be over-taken by the ease these clubs felt as i kept attempting longer funs of 5 clubs. They just WORKED, it didn't feel like any other time i moved up a number in any other prop. "Wow! those siteswap drills REALLY helped!!" By the end of that 20 minute period i had qualified 5 clubs with a clean finish. Another one of the most satisfying moments i've experienced while juggling. That was May of 2011. During this month of February i finally hit the 100 catch mark, however ever single subsequent attempt at making that 100th catch a clean finish, I've dropped either that last club, or what would have been the 99th catch from my left hand. EVERY TIME! The latter being even stranger to me since i always catch the three in my right hand when that happens, "why can't I catch that one with only one club already in my left hand, when I can catch all three in my right?" 100 catches of 5 clubs with a clean finish hasn't happened yet, but i know i'm getting REALLY close.
Well, I think thats sufficient enough to fill in anyone who was curious as to how I was progressing in my juggling. I realize i wrote mostly on numbers progress. I still experiment with 3 and 4 balls in my dorm room, (blind throws are the current frustration.) When i'm not doing that on homework breaks and waiting for food to arrive, I am practicing Bramson rolls with 3 rings, playing with my diabolo when I need a change from traditional juggling, and contact juggling while I read or watch TV. every now and again i'll pull out some silicone balls i found at the bottom of one of Brian Dube's bargain buckets and try some 3 ball bounce tricks and 5 ball lifts, but i get nervous about who's under me and put them away after about 10 minutes. Slammin', your unicycle is treating me very well. I went on my first long distance ride recently, doing a ballpark of 60 city blocks on it. I felt like i was gonna die the entire time. I still can't quite get the hang of Idling, but i'm free-mounting more consistently and my circles are getting tighter and tighter.
I'll see if i can try and act as a defibrillator for this forum and post more often, since i'm pretty consistently practicing 3 times a week now (2 carmines and a pratt). I want to extend a thank you to all you guys here in New York that inspired me to keep at this new passion of mine. I love you all and I'll see you at Carmine this Thursday.