The most common objects used in joggling are juggling balls, or sometimes juggling clubs, but any set of three or more objects can be used. However, in competitions or long term events, most jogglers prefer to use palm-size beanbags stuffed with birdseed because they are light enough for long distances but heavy enough to withstand winds. The juggling is usually done in a three-ball cascade pattern, which is efficient and uses the least energy. Jogglers say that the arm motions of juggling with three objects feels natural with the action and pace of jogging.
The earliest record of juggling is suggested in a panel from the 15th (1994 to 1781 B.C.) Beni Hasan tomb of an unknown Egyptian prince, showing female dancers and acrobats throwing balls. Juggling has been recorded in many early cultures including Egyptian, Nabataean, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Roman, Norse, Aztec (Mexico) and Polynesian civilizations.
Juggling in ancient China was an art performed by some warriors. One such warrior was Xiong Yiliao, whose juggling of nine balls in front of troops on a battlefield reportedly caused the opposing troops to flee without fighting, resulting in a complete victory.
In Europe, juggling was an acceptable diversion until the decline of the Roman Empire, after which the activity fell into disgrace. Throughout the Middle Ages, most histories were written by religious clerics who frowned upon the type of performers who juggled, called gleemen, accusing them of base morals or even practicing witchcraft. Jugglers in this era would only perform in marketplaces, streets, fairs, or drinking houses. They would perform short, humorous and bawdy acts and pass a hat or bag among the audience for tips. Some kings’ and noblemen’s bards, fools, or jesters would have been able to juggle or perform acrobatics, though their main skills would have been oral (poetry, music, comedy and storytelling).
In 1768, Philip Astley opened the first modern circus. A few years later, he employed jugglers to perform acts along with the horse and clown acts. Since then, jugglers have been associated with circuses.
The rules that define joggling in competitions and races are:
- A juggling pattern must be maintained while running.
- If an object is dropped, the joggler must return to the point he dropped and continue.
International Jugglers’ Association.