The art of combat juggling

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Anyone who has ever invented a game in their backyard or basement has dreamed of the day that their “sport” would become real.

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For Jason Garfield, that dream has become a reality.

Garfield, who founded the World Juggling Federation, introduced the folks at BuzzFeed to the world of combat juggling — which is as good as its name sounds. While normal juggling is entertaining in a neat kind of way, combat juggling takes it to the next (read: awesome) level.

In combat juggling, jugglers not only have to keep their pins flipping at all times but also have to move to knock their opponents’ pins from the air. This involves batting, diving and a good bit of contact. A birthday party this is not.

Garfield established Major League Combat in 2010 to formalize combat juggling games, and ESPN even streamed a recent competition. Combat juggling can involve several different types of competition, such as sumo combat (two competitors juggling within a sumo circle), 360-degree combat (competitors spinning around in place while combat juggling) and zombie combat (different team members being “frozen” at different levels if their pins get knocked away).


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Garfield also has a site where he shows off his juggling skills.

While combat juggling is no doubt awesome for those who have found that they’re way better at, say, through-the-legs, behind-the-back H-O-R-S-E than normal basketball, Garfield has also received some push-back for the new sport.

“Garfield says that in addition to trying to win over skeptics who assume that the idea of athletic juggling is a joke, he also fights traditionalists within the juggling community who believe "combat" undermines the non-competitive nature of juggling. “It’s hard not to be competitive in juggling," Gerfield explains. "You want to be recognized. The reason [jugglers] work so hard is they want to show off."

Check out the non-joking jugglers in the video below from the competition that streamed on ESPN.

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