Thursday, July 21, 2005
Card Throwing - magic or martial art?
"Throwing cards has two lines of history which blur as we reach the 20th century. Not surprisingly for a martial art, these two lines are eastern, and western. The West had its beginnings in the mystique of illusion and magic. Card magicians and stage magicians both loved the flying card. It wasn't until about the late 1800s that it became popular. A stage magician by the name of Howard Thurston had finally mastered throwing cards from the stage, high up over the audience to the people in the cheapest seats. Just before him, and less known, was Alexander Herrmann who was the first to include it as a major performance in his act."Martial art-wise, card-throwing author Tony Lee cautions:
"This is a tough martial art. But not a 'martial = war' art. It is a martial art as in the spirit martial arts are meant in the Far East - as enriching experiences in life. And so I will not teach you how to hurt someone with this. That's right. It is impossible to turn these into deadly weapons without something extra. That something you will not get from this."But it is something you can get from photos and notes abstracted from Ricky Jay's out-of-print "Cards as Weapons," where we learn, for example, of a type of throw called "The Butterfly Swirl," that "...in the pain-tolerance tests conducted at Duke University many people described...with the word aculeus which is defined as the bite of an insect, hence the slogan 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'"
Whatever way you decide to take it, card throwing, like most fun things, is as magical as it is potentially painful, leading you to realms of play that are unexpectedly rich, and sometimes downright dangerous.