Juggling for Survival in a War Zone and Juggling for Gymnastics

Soldier Juggling Grenades
Soldier Juggling Grenades

SPC Matthew McKinney, of 38th Division, shows local children how to juggle during a visit to Lower Kajakan Village in the Shinwari District of Afghanistan. Photo by David Elmore.

Everyone knows what juggling is and many may have tried it just for fun. What most people don’t realize is that juggling, by nature of the fact that it requires the simultaneous use and coordination of both hands, therefore also requires the simultaneous use and coordination of both sides of the brain. It requires this because the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain controls the left side of the body. In order to juggle, both sides of the brain must coordinate.

Juggling Can Improve Intuition

But the left and right brain also have other functions. The right brain is the intuitive side of the brain and the left side of the brain is the logical side of the brain. Juggling improves the coordination between both sides of the brain, which improves the coordination and communication between both sides of the brain. This means that the intuitions of the right brain will also be communicated to the left brain.

Best Gift Ever for Overseas Soldier

For soldiers, in a war zone, better communication between the right and left brain can mean that their intuition about impending danger can improve and potentially warn them in advance of danger situations. The improved right/left brain communication can also mean that they are more like to act on those intuitions/danger warnings that they receive, potentially alerting them to danger or even allowing them to avoid impending danger. What an excellent and useful ability for a soldier in a war zone. And what a great gift for a soldier (by which I mean members of any and all of the armed services serving our country).

How Do I Know All This?

Well, I could tell you… but then I’d have to kill you. – lol – or someone would have to kill you or they might kill me for telling you – haha. But I got it from someone who knows (former military. etc., etc., if you know what I mean and hopefully you don’t) and you are not going to learn anything like this from any regular coach or sport psychologist.

Juggling for Gymnastics

Juggling for gymnastics does not have as great a potential for saving lives as it does for soldiers in a war zone, but coordination between both sides of the body is certainly a good thing in gymnastics. Since we are not talking about or particularly interested in creating jugglers for entertainment, probably the easiest (and most portable) objects to juggle are handkerchiefs. They float and drop slower than heavier objects like balls and beanbags, so using them makes it easier to learn to juggle and the learning takes place more quickly.

12 Juggling Scarves

A dozen juggling scarves are currently available from Oriental Trading (one of my favorite suppliers for gym birthday party goodie bags and daily bonuses for class gymnasts) for $10.00 plus shipping/handling. Twelve scarves is enough for 4 soldiers or gymnasts to learn to juggle. This is considerably less than I have seen them available anywhere else. They also have glow-in the dark balls, hackysacks and beanbags.

Learning How to Juggle

The time it takes to learn to juggle three handkerchiefs seems to vary with each person. But even only learning to juggle with two handkerchiefs begins the right/left brain communication and can increase intuition. Start learning to juggle with one handkerchief. First toss one handkerchief straight up about two feet and catch it in the same hand. Concentrate on throwing control and consistency. Practice in exactly the same way with the other hand. Next toss one handkerchief, back and forth, from one hand to the other, making about a two foot arch (higher is easier, if you are having problems) in front of you. Practice starting to throw with alternating hands – throw with the right hand first and then throw with the left hand first.

The Beginning of Real Juggling

Now take two handkerchiefs, one in each hand. Begin by tossing the handkerchief in your right hand into the air about two feet towards your left hand. When the first handkerchief is in the air toss the other handkerchief from the left hand towards the right hand. The handkerchiefs will make an X in the air. You will be catching the handkerchiefs at differant times. Practice this until mastered. You will also want to practice this starting with alternating hands. This is the real start of more rapid progress of coordination and communication between your left and right brain and increasing intuition.

The Beginning of More Advanced Juggling

Next you want to start with two handkerchiefs in your right hand, one in the palm of your hand and one grasped between the thumb and first finger. Have another handkerchief in your left hand. Throw the handkerchief, grasped by the thumb and finger, in the arching X path so you can catch it with your left hand. Just as it reaches the top of the arch, throw the handkerchief from your left hand into the air under the first handkerchief, so that you can catch it in your left hand. Just as it reaches the top of the arch, throw the last handkerchief from your right hand under the last handkerchief thrown. Repeat and continue to repeat.

Practice Anytime and Anywhere

One of the other advantages of using handkerchiefs for juggling is that the are so light and easy to carry anywhere. Anytime and anywhere you have a few minutes, you can practice your juggling and simultaneously build your right/left brain/body coordination, right/left brain communication and increase your intuitive (and danger warning) powers. For gymnasts, you should develop better body coordination, awareness and balance and any intuition increases will just be a bonus. Happy juggling and stay safe.


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