the Passing DataBase


And so it came to pass: new patterns were discovered and questions were asked, and in due time this article, the fourth of its kind, took form. Aiming to lure its readers into the vast regions of club passing anno 2002 this article explains, clarifies and elaborates on patterns, notations and diagrams, in a way that opens up these areas to beginners as well as more advanced passers. In other words: if you want to learn how to read causal diagrams and develop your own variations, read this. If you already know this and just want some of the new wild 7-club patterns go straight to the second part. In the article I try to stay as simple as possible. Therefore I have moved much additional stuff and www links into the notes at the end of the article.

Part 1: Causal Diagrams explained

After writing three articles on 7-club passing I was told that a lot of people had read them but didn't understand the diagrams, so here I explain what you need to know to read and use these diagrams. Let's start by looking at what I consider the basic 6-club passing pattern: the 3-count (right pass, self, self, left pass, self, self…) (see footnote 1).
Diagram 1:

To read the diagram it is enough to know that the first line represents one juggler (J1) and the second line the other juggler (J2), R means 'right', L means 'left', time goes from left to right and the distance from the first throw (the first R) to the second throw (the first L) is one beat. The numbers are not normally included but represent the normal two-handed siteswap values of the throws, and will probably prove helpful to those who understand them - if you don't understand siteswap, don't worry (see footnote 2), the diagrams explain the patterns perfectly and much more visually. The diagram reads in the direction of time (from left to right), and the arrows that stay in the same line (e.g., with J1) represent self throws while the arrows that go from one line to the other are passes (e.g., from J1 to J2).
To find out what you have to do you can imagine that you are walking along your line and doing what it says on each grey tile. In this pattern both jugglers start at the same time with a right hand single pass to the other's left hand (a straight pass), then one beat later, they throw a single left hand self (a 3) and then a right hand self, then a left hand single straight pass, a right self and a left self, and then back to the beginning of the diagram. Normally only one round of the pattern is shown, but some places I have put in two or more to get a better feel of the continuity and the tricks.
When you get to the end of the diagram you simply go back to the beginning, and if you have the diagram on paper you can actually cut it out and make a loop of the strip.

The throws

"Causal Diagrams are very easy for a club juggler to read because an arrow that travels one beat along the chart happens, by a lucky chance, to be a Single. Similarly a two beat arrow is a Double, three beats for a Triple and so on" (The Compendium of Club Juggling p. 20).

In relation to siteswap you can say that the length of the arrow = x-2 where x is the normal two-handed siteswap value of the throw. So a 5 is (usually) a triple as 5-2 = arrow length 3.
Here is the 4-club solo pattern 534, (or cross triple, cross single, self double).
Diagram 2:

Especially in 7-club passing a lot of patterns are asynchronous (i.e., no hands throw at the same time), When that is the case the passes (but not the selfs) are half a beat longer and are normally thrown as floaty singles, doubles, triples, etc. In the diagram this is represented by two shifted lines of L's and R's, as in diagrams 3 and 9-12.
Here are two rounds of 7-club 3-count with floaty double passes.
Diagram 3:

If you study the diagram you will notice that you can connect the arrows to form three long lines (causal lines), going from the start to the end of the pattern - that means that this is a 6-club pattern. Why? Because the number of object = the number of causal lines (in this case 3) + the number of hands in use (in this case 4, as I here am only dealing with patterns where each juggler uses both hands to juggle, but it works for any number of hands). A 6-club, 2-person pattern has 2 causal lines (as for example in diagram 3), an 8-club pattern has 4, and so on. This has to do with that the arrows don't represent objects, but causes (in the sense that each club is thrown because another club is arriving - see footnote 3), hence the name 'causal diagram'. Charley Dancey explains:
"Each line in the Causal Diagram leads from one throw to the throw that is caused by it" (The Compendium of Club Juggling p. 18).
So to find out how many objects there are in a given causal diagram, simply draw a vertical line and see how many arrows it crosses and then add the number of hands.

Back pointing arrows

Now we come to a thing that is a bit tricky about causal diagrams: backwards pointing arrows. That an arrow is pointing backwards in time doesn't, however, mean that the objects are travelling backwards in time (sorry!), but it is because the arrows don't represent objects but causes (if this sounds weird to you, don't worry, as I said, you don't need to know it, just accept it - see footnote 4).
An arrow pointing back one beat is a 1 (or a zip or handacross), and an arrow pointing back two beats is a 0 or an empty hand. An arrow pointing back to the same spot is a 2 (normally a hold). Let Charlie explain again:

The 2's are shown as causal arrows that cause themselfs. This is not quite as crazy as it sounds, the plain English translation of this mathematical oddity is that you are holding an object because you are holding it.
The 1 … produces a causal arrow moving one beat to the left. It seems to be illogical but it actually means: to place a club into that hand you had to empty it first!
The 0, or empty hand, produces a highly unlikely looking arrow that moves two beats to the left. The meaning of this is: for the hand to be empty you must have made a throw from it [two beats] beforehand
" (The Compendium of Club Juggling p. 21).

Here is one round of two-club shower (31), two out of three clubs in a 3-club cascade (330), and then a hold (2). Notice that the zip and the empty hand are in the hand where the arrow starts. Note also that in counting causal lines backwards pointing arrows count negative, so actually there are 0 causal lines going from the beginning to the end of the pattern, hence there are the same amount of objects as there are hands (here two).
Diagram 4:

Here are the diagrams for J1 passing one club back and forth between her two hands, while J2 has no clubs. As the arrows are pointing backwards here it means that there are -3 causal lines (see footnote 5), with four hands that makes one club.
Diagram 5:

An early double by J1 and an early triple by J2 in a 4-count looks like this:
Diagram 6:

How can I see who starts with how many clubs and in which hands?

The answer to this is fairly simple. Each hand starts with 1+a clubs - a represents the number of arrow pointing to the hand from beyond the start of the diagram. In diagram 7 you see that there is one arrow pointing to J1's first L, one to his first R and one to J2's first R. This means that J1 has two clubs in each hand while J2 has two in the right and one in the left. If she wants to start with a pass, she just waits one beat and has two clubs in the left hand. This rule is easily applicable to most diagrams, but as faith will have it, the one of the next patterns (diagram 9) is an exception where J1 has three in the right and one in the left. This is because the left hand needs to be empty to receive the first zip from the right hand. (A way to avoid this is to do a hold instead of the first zip, but only in the first round).

Designer dru… eer patterns

Inventing new patterns using causal diagrams is very easy (except that often the patterns you invent are not new), just draw a line of R L R L R L R L R Ls for each juggler on a piece of paper and connect them all with each other, if all letters are connected with one incoming and one outgoing arrow, it is juggleable (in theory). If you have a computer you can use Wolfgang's wonderful program JoePass! (see the links) which makes it even easier to play with causal diagrams - and playing with them is the easiest way to learn to understand them. You find the link at the end of this article.
In designing new patterns it is important to remember that each letter (L or R) must have exactly one arrow starting and one ending there for the pattern to be valid. When adding people to the pattern just add lines in this feed, where feeder does pass, pass, self and the feedees do a 3-count, all on singles. Note that the feeder is in the middle, that way the arrows don't have to go from the top line to the bottom line. If you do pattern where everyone passes with everyone (like triangles or feasts) you need arrows from each line to each other line.
Diagram 7:

In this pattern all three jugglers start simultaneously from the right hand, the feeder and the top feedee with a pass, the bottom feedee with a self and then a left pass.
It is also possible that the jugglers start at different times, like in the normal 7-club three-count (diagram 3), where J2 starts one and half beats later, or in the 7-club two count where J2 start one beat later (provided J2 wants to start with a pass). Here is the causal diagram for that one - (it is shown left handed just to annoy all them right handed passers!).
Diagram 8:

Here I show three rounds of the pattern, as one round consists of only two beats.

Part 2: New wild 7-club patterns

And now it's time to use your newly acquired knowledge about causal diagrams to learn some new 7-club patterns invented during the winter and spring on JoePass!. As I don't have anyone to do serious passing with here in Copenhagen, I had to wait until EJC in Bremen to try them out with Iñaki some late night - and to tell you the truth, I was positively surprised, as I found them more interesting than I had expected. Well let's start where we started that long night with two 7-club 3-counts.

Two 'new' 3-counts

This first pattern we found quite difficult to juggle, but we managed to get 5 rounds of it, so it is definitely possible. The fourhanded siteswap (see footnote 6) for this pattern is 1029 (see footnote 7). The causal diagram should now explain the rest.
Diagram 9:

To start this pattern J1 has 3 clubs in her right hand and 1 in the left. She starts at the beginning of the diagram, throwing self crossing triples, left straight pass, zip, and then the same starting from the left. J2 has 2 clubs in his right hand and 1 in the left. He starts one and a half beats later doing the same sequence as J1, except that his passes are crossing. As this pattern is a 3-count it can be juggled by J1 while J2 does a normal 3-count (or a French 3-count - see Kaskade 67 for this pattern explained). To go into it from a normal 3-count do pass, self, self crossing triple, pass, zip, self crossing triple, etc. It is of course also possible to throw only one round of this like a trick in a normal (or French) 3-count (this is probably easier than doing it continuously, but I wouldn't know, as I just thought of it now).
The next pattern is 948 in fourhanded siteswap and has a very nice causal diagram.
Diagram 10:

Actually this pattern is a normal 3-count with a 42 (see footnote 8) (self double, hold) instead of the two normal selfs. This we first discovered after having learned the pattern, and it actually feels very different from the normal 3-count - especially if the 2 is thrown instead of held.
The start is like in a normal 7-club 3-count, with each juggler just doing 42 instead of 33.

Some 'new' 5-counts

When I was asked to write this fourth article I of course tried to come up with some new patterns for it. However, I ran into one problem, I kept inventing 'old' patterns, or very slight variations of them, but I think I managed to come up with two new patterns. The first one is a bookends with a hold and the second one I don't know how to classify, but is somehow related to the French 3-count, but also a little popcornish.
The bookends is 97647.
Diagram 11:

To juggle it J1 has 4 clubs and starts at the beginning of the diagram cross double, self, straight single, cross double, hold (or little funky 2-throw). J2 starts half a beat later (almost at the same time) and does straight double, hold (or 2-throw), straight double, self, cross single. This pattern is very nice to juggle, since the hold gives it a funny and refreshing rhythm. I don't think Iñaki and I managed to get it solid enough to throw the 2s every time, so I don't know how that is, but I kinda like having holds in passing patterns, it somehow gives them new potential, as you suddenly can put a whole range of tricks in there.
The other 5-count I managed to come up with is more simple, it is 96686 and looks like this (see footnote 9):
Diagram 12:

J1 has 4 clubs and does straight double pass, self, self, self, straight self double. J2 starts one and a half beats later and does straight self double, cross double pass, self, self, self.
This pattern is really nice as it has three selfs left to play with. Siteswapwise you can do 441, 531, 522, 423 or 342 as very nice variations. I really recommend to try out trying all variations in a continuous pattern, as they are lovely patterns in their own right. Actually we learned some of them as patterns before we realised that they were variations of 96686, and it was almost disappointing to realise what they were.
Well, I think that was all for me, and if all goes after the plan Sean Gandini will write about popcorn feeds or something like that, next time.


1. Many people still consider the 4-count to be the basic pattern, but as that is a very one-sided pattern, that limits the left hand to the odd early double, I strongly recommend practicing all tricks from a 3-count, as this will enable you to be able to do all tricks from both sides and as it is a much more balanced pattern. If you want to get into more complex patterns, being used to do left hand passes makes it possible to do more than ten times as many patterns (just imagine if in solo juggling the left hand always did selfs - 3's - how boring).
2. If, however, you do worry and want to learn about siteswap check out the Internet.
3. This is not important to understand either, but basically causal diagrams only deal with 'problems' (two hands and two clubs = no problem; two hands and three clubs = one problem; four hands and seven clubs = three problems; etc.).
4. But if you are interested, check out (Itzik Orr).
and an article about mhn & causals (Christophe Préchac)
5. That there is negative one causal lines makes sense when you consider that there is nothing that causes the club to be passed to the other hand (except, of course, the mind of the juggler). In 'normal' juggling an object is thrown when another object approaches the hand, in that way the approaching object can be said to be the cause of the following throw.
6. For explanation of fourhanded siteswap see Kaskade 65. Briefly can be said that to get 'normal' siteswap simply divide by two. Odd numbers are floaty passes and even numbers are selfs. Note that in fourhanded siteswap the two jugglers share the throws, so that in the sequence 'abcde' J1 does 'acebd', while J2 does 'bdace'.
7. 10 reads ten and not one zero, which is quite logical as 1s are virtually impossible to throw in fourhanded siteswaps, as they would be very fast handacrosses from one juggler to the other.
8. When I write about what one juggler does I often use normal twohanded siteswap - I hope this it is n't too confusing.
9. Actually this pattern is a 5-count popcorn with an early double, if the popcorn is 86867, not that it really matters, but that just shows how all the patterns are related. For more on this see the last issue of Kaskade (67).