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Whip Cracking

All you wanted to know about Whip cracking but were afraid to ask ... Pt 1


A guide for sport, circus and performance whip cracking

 How it all started...    

Peter started with a swivel handled leather bull whip, it was, in hindsight, truly horrible, but it was the only type of available in juggling shops 20 years ago, it took him three months of hitting chunks out of himself to finally make it crack, but now he can teach people how to crack a whip in three minutes, give him three hours and he'll have you performing an act.   

Eventually, he was then very fortunate to be taught an Australian stock man and Royal Sydney Show Whip Cracking Competition Champion,  John Leech, he used stock whips and guess which type Peter then favoured? 

Stock Whip 4 plait red hide, very plain , very simple tough whip.

He then started to lean towards long handled bull whips for target work, but It took a trip to America to take part in the International Championships in Fort Worth that he came across the nylon or parachute cord  Performance Hybrid or "tube" whip, when they are well made they crack so readily you wonder where the batteries are fitted....    The originals were designed by the world famous Circus Artiste Gary Brophy and made by Simon Martin in Tasmania.

Performance Hybrid Whip (plastic tube handles and nylon braid)

I always think that you can see their origin in the Florida Cow Whip which was made out of  nylon parachute cord to cope with wet weather and Florida swamps. This whip was made by the lovely Lauren Wickline who has sadly had to stop making whips because of the RSI it had brought on.  Get well soon Lauren. 

Which type of whip should I buy? 

Which one to go for will depend on your budget and access to the makers listed later on in this page, your budget and what you fancy doing with it , if you want to do multiple fast cracking routines then shortish stock or PH whips are great, if you want to do body wraps and target work then a long handled bull whip can be better.

But if you just want a good all round whip and unless you are an ardent traditionalist or need a whip to suit a character or costume (I feel it has to be a bull whip for Indiana Jones or a Medieval act , but then again I've used a PH whip for years and no one has noticed) then I personally think that a 4 1/2 ft Performance Hybrid  whip if you are over 5 ft tall and a 5ft whip if you are nearer 6 foot would be a great way to start, they are light, tough and crack easily if they are well made.

PH whips from Adam Winrich . Mmmmm 

PH whips from Adam Winrich . Mmmmm 

 (If you can't make your mind up, then catch up with me at the next whip or juggling convention workshop and try the different styles out or you can book a personal workshop here in Barry South Wales, which is now available every Thursday at our practice studio . ( I will however, travel pretty well anywhere if you need a lesson :-) )

If you want to see the different types of whip, here is Adam Winrich, the 12 times Whip Cracking Guinness World Record holder, WWPAS World Champion Whip Cracker, International Grand Master and Champion whip maker with one of his many great video's demonstrating the different types of whip. I met Adam when I competed in America at The International Championships in Fort Worth -Dallas where I was very fortunate to win the Freestyle Championship, competing against who? I couldn't possible say .. :-)