Juggler's World: Vol. 43, No. 2

Juggler's Workshop


Got two or more juggling partners? That's enough for a feed, but there's more than one way to feed a juggler. We'll describe some feeds that run the gamut from easy to much harder.

by Martin Frost

© 1991 Martin Frost

The Basic Feed

As you probably already know, a feed is a juggling pattern in which one juggler - the feeder - is passing to two or more other jugglers - the feedees.

The simplest feed involves three jugglers, with the feeder passing to the two feedees. Most often, the feeder passes a 2-ct (every right hand); each feedee passes a 4-ct (every other right hand) and gets half the feeder's passes. But a novice feeder can slow down to a 4-ct, in which case the feedees do an 8-ct (every fourth right hand). That gives the feeder an easier job, but it may get boring for the feedees, so you'll probably want to quickly work up to having the feeder do a 2-ct. The feeder can even go to doing a 1-ct or a different sort of rhythm such as in the 3-ct feed (we'll talk about these later).

Larger Feeds

A feed can have any number of feedees. They just form a line facing the feeder, who starts passing, say, to the feedee on the feeder's far left. Then on each right-hand throw, the feeder exchanges one pass with the next juggler down the line. Upon reaching the end of the line the feeder reverses direction and heads back up the line to the starting point, where the feed reverses direction again, and so on.

For the feeder, it's useful to keep glancing ahead to see just where the next feedee is. This is particularly important in feeds where the feeder has to turn or move noticeably to face the next feedee (say, with more than about three feedees).

Ideally, all the feedees should be the same distance from the feeder. With only two feedees this is easy, but with bigger feeds, the line of feedees should really be not straight but a circular arc, with the feeder in the center of the circle. A different and interesting way of having the feeder's throws all be the same length is for the feeder to move along the line and/or to have the feedees moving past the feeder.

The Feedees' Job

The feedees should watch carefully to match the feeder's rhythm, especially with more than two feedees where it's easier to get out of sync. Each feedee should try to throw to the feeder exactly when the feeder is passing. With a large feed, novice feedees tend to juggle at their own speed instead of at the feeder's speed and thus often pass at the wrong time, making the pattern less stable. The feeder should be treated as the conductor of an orchestra and all the feedees should follow the beat carefully. Being able to adjust your juggling speed is crucial.

As a feedee in a big feed, you should also watch the feeder so that you know when it's your turn. A good way to do that is to be aware of where the feeder is passing, especially as the feed gets close to you. You know that your pass comes right after the pass to your neighbor, so notice when the feeder and your neighbor exchange passes.

The Typewriter Feed

With more than two feedees, the standard feed cheats the two jugglers on the ends, as they get to pass only half as many clubs as the feedees in the middle. One way to solve this problem is to do a typewriter feed in which the feeder jumps back to the extreme left quickly after passing to the last feeder on the right (like a typewriter doing a carriage return, for those of you who remember typewriters).

Circle Feeds

The only difficulty with the typewriter feed comes from the possibly great distance between the two end feedees and the amount of turning the feeder has to do quickly to pass to the far left after passing to the far right. You can eliminate this problem by having the feedees form a circle around the feeder, who then just keeps turning to the right (see Fig. 1). In a circle feed, the feeder should locate each new feedee before passing.

It takes about eight or more feedees in the circle to make the distance between them not too unmanageable for the feeder (depending on the feeder's experience level). Although eight feedees in a circle will be doing only a 16-ct, each must pay close attention to the passing rhythm and know when it's time to pass.

We can make it more interesting by introducing more feeders in the middle. For instance, with two feeders back to back, eight feedees can do an 8-ct each, or with three feeders, nine feedees can do a 6-ct. Such multiple feeders must work to stay in sync since they can't see each other. A useful technique is simply to have someone count the rhythm of the passes out loud.

With three or four feeders on the inside of the circle with their backs together and a number of feedees on the outside, the feeders have to move around the circle fairly quickly, trying not to bump into each other. To make this easier and to make the pattern yet more interesting, you can have the feedees moving slowly sideways around the outside of the circle in the opposite direction. (With multiple feeders, the feedees are actually feeding too and the distinction between feeders and feedees dissolves.)

Some interesting patterns have four jugglers in the middle and four outside. With all moving to their own right, they can pass every right hand to a new juggler. Or they could pass every other to make it a little easier, or pass two clubs to each juggler to allow time for getting to the next juggler. If you eliminate the movement from this pattern, you can have each juggler just feed the two nearest facing jugglers, say starting on the left. Then maybe start moving after some number of passes.

Double Feeds and Multiple Feeds

If we add a fourth juggler next to the feeder in a basic feed, we get a double feed (jugglers 1 through 4 of Fig. 2). The old feedee opposite the fourth person becomes a second feeder in the pattern, passing to the original feeder and to the new person. The two other jugglers of the original pattern are not affected and keep passing as they were in the original feed.

In fact, we can keep adding one more juggler at a time opposite an end feedee to turn that feedee into a feeder. In this way you can add any number of people and everyone gets to feed except two people, one on each end (see Fig. 2).

The Complete Feed

We can change a big double feed like Fig. 2 so that almost everyone feeds three people instead of two. But there's no reason to stop with three.

In the complete feed there can be any number of people in each of two rows with everyone feeding. Each person feeds all the people in the opposite row plus some number of ``phantoms'' on the ends of the row. If there are X people in your row and Y people in the other, you do a normal feed of those Y people plus a total of X-1 phantoms on the ends. See Fig. 3, in which all the passes of two jugglers are depicted.

A phantom is an invisible juggler off one end of the opposite line whom you feed by doing a self. It's important to actually visualize the phantoms as you feed back and forth past the real jugglers and the phantoms. This allows you to keep track of where you are and when to resume passing with the real end juggler after you've fed some phantoms.

Unless you are on an end yourself, you have phantoms on both ends. In fact, you have exactly as many phantoms on your right (off the end of the other line) as you have people on your left in your own line, and the same number of phantoms on your left (off the end) as people on your right in your line. Visualize your phantoms' positions and just do a feed of all positions and you shouldn't have any trouble keeping the pattern going. Everybody should start feeding, say, at the extreme left (with a phantom for most people, a real juggler for only one person in each row). Try the complete feed first with just 2 people on each side - everyone will have just one phantom, on their own end of the opposite side.

The Amoeba

In the amoeba, everyone takes turns being the feeder, in a fairly simple sequence. When you're feeding, you make exactly one sweep right and left of all the other jugglers. When you start sweeping back to the left after having passed to the feedee on the extreme right, that feedee comes over and stands to your right in preparation for becoming the next feeder. You make your final feed to the person on the extreme left and then you go stand on the end next to that person. After your last pass, then next feeder takes over, starting with the person you ended with, and then sweeping right and left once in a normal feed. So everyone comes from the right, becomes the feeder and goes back to the left to become a feedee again.

The Feed Weave

The feed weave is a fun moving pattern. The formation has one person feeding three. The feeder just does a normal back and forth feed of those three positions, but the excitement comes from the fact that the feedees are constantly changing places while juggling.

All three feedees do the same thing, following each other around in a figure eight as they all go sequentially through the three feedee positions. Each feedee does a 6-ct (passes every third right) while moving around, with each pass coming from a different position in the feed (Fig. 4).

If you're the first feedee, on the feeder's extreme left, here's what you do. The feed starts with you. As soon as you have passed, start backing up slowly, waiting for the incoming pass. When you've got that club, move backwards and to your left into the middle slot.

After you've gone past the juggler who is vacating the middle slot for the slot you just came from, move quickly forward, straight toward the feeder. As you go through this middle position, make another pass and keep moving forward until you catch the feeder's pass to you. Then quickly start sliding to your left to get out of the middle, and back up slowly in the outside slot.

As you're backing up on the outside, you pass again and continue backing. Then start moving to your right. Again, as soon as you've gone past the juggler who is vacating the middle slot, move quickly forward, straight toward the feeder. And again make a pass as you go through the middle heading straight forward. When you catch the pass, immediately slide to your right to get out of the way, and then back up slowly in the outside slot, back to where you started. You'll make another pass from that slot and keep on backing up as you continue the weave.

Wherever you start, stay in place until you make your first pass. At any given time, the feedee in the middle goes forward and those on the outside go backward. If you start in the middle, the thing to remember for the start is that you go forward and then to the right after catching your first pass.

The feeder can help things enormously by leading the feedees as they move forward and back. To do this, the feeder should throw short passes in the middle (toward approaching jugglers) and long passes on the sides (to jugglers backing away).

You can take your time on the outside, but it's important in the feed weave to move very quickly through the middle. You should be almost running to get forward and out of the way of the next juggler. Before sliding to the outside, go about half way to the feeder from the normal position to give the person crossing behind you enough room. Remember, you make one pass from each slot that you visit.

The Feed Loom

The feed loom is very similar to the feed weave in that the feeder feeds three jugglers who are moving among the three feedee slots. In this variation, however, the feedees never move forwards or backwards, only sideways (Fig. 5).

To avoid crashing into each other, the feedees choose three different distances from the feeder: close, normal and distant. Then they slide sideways past each other, always moving after each pass to an adjacent slot and making a pass from there before moving on. As in the feed weave, each feedee does a 6-ct while moving among the three positions, with one pass made from each position encountered. If you're the close or normal distance feedee, make sure, however, that after passing you don't move until any immediately following longer pass goes by in your next slot.

The feed loom and the feed weave can be mixed with good effect. For instance, start by doing a feed loom until you all get back to where you started, then do a feed weave until you get back again, then a feed loom, and so forth.

Adding Left-Hand Passes

Even though most people do feeds right handed, we don't want to abandon the left hand. In almost any pattern where the left hands are doing selves, two people who are exchanging right-hand passes can agree also to exchange the immediately following left-hand clubs.

For instance, suppose you're feeding three people and you and the person in the middle like passing left handed. You can agree that you'll both pass left handed after each right-hand pass that the two of you exchange. In this case, your 8-count back-and-forth cycle as the feeder becomes (counting both hands): pass-self, pass-pass, pass-self, pass-pass. This is shown in Fig. 6, where the feeder's passes are numbered according to the counts that they come on.

If everyone likes passing left handed, then everyone can add the left-hand pass after the right. Or maybe all but one juggler like to pass with both hands. Just agree on who will add the left after the right.

In fact, there's no reason why you have to pass the left hand to the same person you just passed the right hand to. In our example feed above, the feeder and the middle feedee could agree to exchange all of their left-hand throws, while the feeder's right hand makes the usual back and forth sweeps. In this case, the feeder would be passing every club from both hands, but all the lefts would be going to the middle feedee.

Intersecting 1-Ct Feeds from One Feeder

If we take the above idea a little further, we can allow the feeder to feed three feedees with both hands, but with each hand starting at a different point. We'll start with the right hand feeding to the person on the right followed by the left hand feeding the person on the left. Again, the feeder has no selves. The right hand sweeps to the left and back while the left hand sweeps to the right and back. The passes of the two hands do cross at one point, but they don't collide since they're thrown at different times.

The important part here is to have a mental model of the pattern, so that you, as either the feeder or a feedee, don't have to watch both feeds as they sweep separately. This makes the pattern much easier. The feedee who starts right handed will do a fast start and then a 5-ct alternating with a 3-ct. The feedee who starts left handed does a right self, then a left pass, and then a 3-ct alternating with a 5-ct. The middle feedee's pattern is the easiest to remember: self, self, pass, pass. We always start with the right hand by convention.

The feeder's pattern is fairly straightforward, if a little confusing at first. Starting with the right hand, it is outside-outside, middle-middle, inside-inside, middle-middle. That's eight passes in the cycle, with both hands passing. The feeder's outside passes don't cross, but the inside passes do. What can make this sequence easier to execute is to remember that every other pair of passes goes straight to the middle feedee. See Fig. 7, where again the feeder's passes are labeled with their counts.

For a more complex pattern, try this with four feedees instead of three. It becomes only a little harder for the feeder, but the feedees will probably want to memorize the counts of the 12-count cycle on which they should pass. That can be done by slowly counting off the passes of the cycle (while not actually juggling).

Two-Fisted Feed, Inside or Outside

This is another interesting feed involving passing with both hands. The feeder passes to two people: right handed to one feedee and left handed to the other. The feeder normally passes every club from both hands (a 1-ct for the feeder and a 2-ct for each feedee). But if that seems very hard, try passing half as many, with the feeder doing pass, pass, self, self and each feedee a 4-ct. It's convenient for everyone to start with two clubs in the right hand, in which case the left-handed feedee starts with a right self, followed by a left pass.

There are two ways to do this pattern; the feeder can make either inside throws or outside throws. Probably the easier way to do it at first is with inside throws. With the inside feed, the feeder passes right handed to the feedee on the feeder's left and left handed to the feedee on the right (Fig. 8). All of the feeder's passes go between the feedees. In fact, both the right and left passes from the feeder can go to approximately the same place, leaving the feedees to fight over who will catch which ones (time and empty hands usually resolve this question unambiguously, until there's a drop).

In the outside two-fisted feed, the feeder makes all outside throws, passing right handed to the feedee on the feeder's right and left handed to the feedee on the left (Fig. 9). Now the feedees' passes cross, more or less in front of the feeder's face, but if they are timed correctly, there shouldn't be any collisions. Be careful, however, when working on this form of the feed, as a collision can send two wild clubs toward the feeder.

Feeds in Previous Issues

A number of other feeds have been described in Juggler's World over the last few years. Here are some of those and where to find them.

The rotating feed is similar to the amoeba above except that each feeder only sweeps once in one direction, say to the right. It is explained in Juggler's World, Vol. 39, no. 4.

The 3-ct feed, which is becoming popular, was described in Vol. 40, no. 3. Both feedees do a 3-count pattern and the feeder does: pass, pass, self (best thought of as inside, inside, self, outside, outside, self). The 1-ct typewriter feed is in the same issue.

The ten-club feed for three people and the random 13-club feed for four people appear in Vol. 41, no. 3. The clock and the wheel, which are multiple feeds, are in Vol. 42 no. 3. And several challenging 11-club feeds are described in the most recent previous issue, Vol. 43, no. 1.

The 3,3,3-Count

We'll finish up with a combination built on the two-fisted feed above. If you can do both the inside and the outside forms of that feed, then you'll probably want to do something a little more interesting, so here it is. Start by doing an inside two-fisted feed for three cycles (6 counts), then switch to an outside two-fisted feed for three cycles (6 counts), and finish with a 3-count feed for one cycle (6 counts) before starting over. This is the 3,3,3-ct.

It's really not hard except for the transitions, which are what make it fun as well. The feeder's transitions are pretty obvious, since there are no selves involved except in the 3-ct feed. For the feedees, whenever there is a transition from left to right, it is quick with no selves between the left-hand pass and following right-hand pass. In the other direction, there are always two selves (left and right) between the last right-hand pass and the first following left-hand pass. Good luck.

In Conclusion ...

In general, you can extend any juggling pattern to include another person by having someone already in the pattern feed to the new person in some interesting way (say, left handed!). This can result in having many or all of the jugglers actually feeding in some beautiful array of jugglers and clubs. Of course, many more feeds than are mentioned here could be constructed, so let these ideas spark your imagination.

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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