A Whip Cracking resource Guide
with contact details of whip makers from around the world.
Beginner? No whip? Ask about the free loaner whip package, available for UK based members of our:-
Sports, Circus and Performance Whip Crackers Facebook Group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/284638781618028/
It started with a swivel handled leather bull whip bought at a juggling convention back inthe 90's ,
It was, in hindsight, pretty terrible, but it was the only type available in juggling shops 25 years ago, with a poor whip and no technique it took three months to finally make it crack, but he can now teach people how to crack a whip in three minutes, give him half an hour and he'll have you performing stunts and tricks .
Having taught hundreds and hundreds of people in workshops all over the world, he got increasingly frustrated at the rubbish that some websites still try to foist onto the unsuspecting beginner, even if they have made whips used in a film ...avoid so called "money back guarantees !!
Please accept these scribbles as a guide. Peter is no whip maker, he leaves that to the skilled individuals listed later on, but having owned hundreds of whips from many different makers, been trained by three world champions and cracked whips professionally for over 20 years, he's won International and National whip cracking championships and being honoured as the only Western Arts Club, European " Master Whip Trainer" in the UK he knows a good whip when he handles one.
He won't be held responsible for any of the whips you may buy or the customer service you receive from the suppliers noted but if you reckon you have been sold a dud he'll have a look at it for you. and the advice offered is in good faith. "caveat emptor et volunti non fit injura!" Buyer beware and you participate in the sport at your own risk.
A selection of beautiful, world class , award winning kangaroo hide whips by Peter Thorndike from Australia .
Introduction to buying a whip
If you say the word whip , most people think of a bull whip and generally if they want to learn how to crack a whip they go out and buy the longest one they can afford from Ebay or an outdoor activity website .... big mistake ! most that are available from places like that are only good as wall hangers.
Buyer beware!! make no bones about it, the cheapest nylon bullwhip that almost works will cost ( 2018 prices ) £82 plus p&p ( 1.5 metre bullwhip Karaka, House of Poi ) but you can make your own that cracks so much better for less than £20 or get a handmade nylon whip from a UK maker from £80- £150 that is so much better, so please read on and learn more..
The Different Types of Whip Available
Bull whips, Target Whips, Stock whips, Snake whips, Performance Hybrid (PH) whips, are just some of the many different types of whip available and they all differ in terms of the amount of leverage and mass they offer, some are easier to crack than others and for a beginner I recommend either a Performance Hybrid whip or a longer handled bull whip, known these days as a Target whip
Examples of Performance Hybrid Whip ( They have plastic tube handles and nylon braid)
Which type and length of whip should I buy?
Which one to go for will depend on your budget and your access to the makers listed later on in this page, and what you want to do with it.
If you want to do multiple fast cracking routines, then shortish stock whip or Performance Hybrid whips are great, if you want to do body wraps and target work then a 7ft - 10ft + bullwhip can be better.
But if you just want a good all round whip then I personally think that a 4 1/2 ft Performance Hybrid whip with 18inch handles would be a great way to start, they are light, tough and generally crack easily.
However if it's got to be a bullwhip then a 6ft paracord nylon bullwhip is a great way to start . ( selection of whips from Adam Winrich, Rufus Ruffcut and James Hewitt (Scorpion whips)
(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 join us in our practice space here in Barry, South Wales, which is now available every wednesday for group and private tuition. (I do travel pretty well anywhere if you need training or help though )
If you want to see the different types of whip in action and one of the finest whip crackers in the world , there are many videos on YouTube of Adam Winrich 23 times Whip Cracking Guinness World Record holder demonstrating the different types of whip and showing some nifty whip cracking too.
I was incredibly fortunate to meet up with Adam when we competed in America at The International Championships in Fort Worth -Dallas, don't think for one minute that I can crack whips as well as Adam ! the fact that I went on to win the International Freestyle Performance Whip Cracking Championship is down to me making the audience and judges laugh more .
We became friends and he has stayed, trained, taught and performed with me in the UK and the sports whip cracking community in Europe is ever grateful for the standards he sets and the skills he is so willing to pass on. .
How long a whip should I buy?
If you want to start with a 6ft Bull whip, BE CAREFUL, some makers commonly include the handle length as part of the braided portion length of the whip and the length of the handle makes a difference on how the whip performs, generally the longer the handle the more accurate it is.
An 8 inch handle on a bullwhip is about normal but I prefer 10 inch and above and have even had some 6 foot Joe Strain bull whips made for the legendary Vince Bruce that had 21 inch handles! ( to be honest they were very odd whips but great fun )
Have a look at this diagram from Rhett Kelley in the States, he doesn't include the length of the handle for his cowhips (they are wooden handled nylon whips where the braid fits into a socket in the end of the handle) but some makers do, the answer is to check before you order.
The key phrase is at the bottom of the picture , these are the measurements "commonly used " I've ordered 6ft fire whips but they only were actually only 5ft long with a 12in fall on the end. I've also found makers that included the Fall in the length of their Performance Hybrid whips and still wanted to charge me $25 dollars a foot for it.
Just ask them " how long is the braid (thong in the US) (this is the braided leather or nylon "body" of the whip ) and how long is the handle? " Ask if the fall is counted in the length or not , see the diagram which sadly does not include PH whips!
Traditionally a 6ft bull whip or 5 ft stock whip would be a good start but if you add the handle length and the "fall" (the bit on the end that wears out and you can replace easily ) you are now talking anything up to 7+ ft of whip and that's a long whip for a beginner and you need lots of room and height to play with it.
Personally I find a 5 ft bull whip and 4 ft stock or PH whip is a place great start for a beginner, for my whip workshops I've had 3 ft nylon bull whips made , they are nearly 5 ft long including the handle and fall and are brilliant to learn basic cracks with.
Nylon or Leather whips? what is the best ?
Personally I love leather whips and a well made kangaroo hide bullwhip cannot be surpassed, but the UK weather means that nylon whips make a lot more sense, (even a well greased leather whip hates the rain and can degrade)
For information, "nylon" whips
20ft nylon bullwhip This is my own black and flame 20 ft bullwhip that went missing in a home move a reward for it's safe return is offered
6ft long handled nylon Target whip 5 ft PH nylon whips
Where can I get a whip from and what's it going to cost?
All the makers listed in the first section are makers I've bought or used whips from .....I am a professional, family friendly whip performer and look for well made whips that crack easily and accurately. Generally I have found that makers who perform professionally make great whips but ther are exceptions in every rule .
Don't buy a whip from Ebay unless you know the maker or you've dropped me an email and asked my opinion, or from Juggling Shops unless you have had a chance to try them first , ! However Western Stage Props now proudly stock Silver Whips from Sylvia Rosat and Midwest Whips from Paul Nolan. But note you can buy direct from both at a saving.
What should I look for in a whip?
Look for good even braiding, if it's patterned then it should be an even pattern all down with no obvious twist, it shouldn't be too tight or too loose, when you hold it up and rotate the handle there should be no obvious kinks, twist or bends and it should flow nicely down to the cracker . If you have a nylon( paracord) whip, hold the whip horizontally , bring the braid up and loop it so it forms a horseshoe curve with the tail of the whip pointing down and then slowly dip your hand down, the loop should smoothly roll down the length of the whip. New leather whips tend to be stiffer and may need " breaking in" before they do that tho.
How many plait or braid should I go for?
Kangaroo leather whips
Read the description or ask questions if the details aren't given, for leather whips kanagaroo (roo) hide is the best and the higher the number of plait or strands the better the quality of the whip , 8 , 12 are popular with 16 ,24 and 32 is top end but the higher the plait count the narrower the braid strand and the easier it is to break them if used roughly . They may have a cut or rolled hide core and then braided over the top in maybe 4 plait to make a belly , then sometimes a leather bolster is laid over it to give it a nice thick shape then braided over the top again, if it's then braided over again before the final braided covering it's called a two bellied whip.
Cow hide whips, or goat skin or buck or...
They can be red hide, kip, green or white hide depending on the tanning process , the leather is much thicker than roo hide, but they can all still makes great whips .
I have a series of 4 plait red cow hide stock whips that are indestructible but a bit heavy for some people. Also kudu a type of gazelle leather from SouthAfrica is used , very tough stuff.
Nylon or Paracord whips ,
Traditionally made with certified military grade parachute cord with the inner strands removed, today tho a number of overseas cord makers are on the bandwagon and the quality of the cord can be indifferent, you also come across Dacron or polyester cord being used which can give a very smooth action but doesn't appear to wear as well as the military grade. You can get extraordinary colour choices including flouro and flourescent in paracord.
How can I tell if it's nylon or polyester?
A quick test is to try and melt the end of a piece of cord, if it melts cleanly into a smooth golden globule it's nylon , if it doesn't melt very well it might be polyester.
Performance Hybrid Whips
A lot of the very popular PH style whips are 12 strands of paracord covering a core of bundled paracord , relatively cheap, light and fast they work well and some of my heavily used ones are 10 years old and more .
More expensive whips will have a paracord core that may be weighted with small bb lead weights and then braided with 8 strands , then over braided up to twice more with 12 then 16 strands of paracord , obviously they will be a heavier whip so worth handling one beforehand to ensure you can handle them for any quick routines you have in mind, their weight can lead to easier cracking for side cracks but you might struggle to do much else with them. Try before you buy
Worth doing is bending the braid well, to see if you can see the core inbetween the braiding, a well made whip might have another layer of braid underneath but if its well made you'd be hard pressed to see it .
I've had whips with a rope and paper core that had just been braided over and whips so lightly braided the core of bundled strands of para cord could be clearly seen.. not clever.
Sometimes makers "wax" their whips , that is they are dipped into molten parafin wax then left to drain and cool , this fills in gaps in the core and gives it a heavier feel, some say it helps the whip and some say nay. try them all and make your own mind up.
Some people deride the use of adhesive electrical tape in holding the core together when you are making a nylon whip and say no tape ought to be used but some well known makers who make great whips use that method. I'm led to understand that if the whip is then dipped in wax the tape will get loose and make the whip "lumpy" . I've not had that problem yet with nylon whips but have had it with high end kangaroo whips that I know don't use tape so I don't know the answer to that one.
If you know what you are doing and it doesn't crack easily put it back!
if it's as stiff as a stiff thing , don't touch it ! Don't listen to bull about it being " over waxed" and or a nylon whip getting looser with use , they will a little bit, but if it's as stiff and doesn't roll out at all you don't stand a chance
Pretty well all whips have a "set" i.e. it will naturally want to bend more one way than another but it shouldn't be so pronounced that effects the way the whip "rolls out" when you throw it. This is where buying from experienced and known makers is the best bet, see the list below.
Who should I buy from?
There are many whip makers now around the world, whereas it might not be possible to try them all, here are some makers that I have had good whips off in the past and those whose good reputation is known worldwide.
After years of encouraging people to take up this grand sport, young people are its future, I therefore avoid any whip maker who is not family friendly.
How much will they cost ?
A professional whip maker may take three days to a week make a 8 foot roo whip, (cutting the strands, sizing them, tapering them etc etc etc , good kangaroo hide is very expensive so think about the wages for a week for a skilled professional craftsman , add the cost of the product, rent and rates of the shop, heat light pension and insurance and some profit then don't be surprised to pay several hundred pounds for a quality leather whip.
Costs will vary, so ring around and compare prices for a 6ft bullwhip, to give you an idea, a good quality roo hide whip can cost hundred of £'s or a nylon one, a quarter of that. You can get a machine made plastic Karaka 1.5 metre bullwhip for £80, or a much nicer hand made paracord nylon bull whip with a carbon fibre handle in the UK from £130 + ( 2018 prices)
Will I have to pay up front while they make me one?
Generally Yes , and ask how long you will have to wait , I once waited two years for a whip from a world renowned maker and three is normal.
Don't forget to add post, packing and shipping plus Customs Duty if you are ordering from abroad! It used to be ( when the Exchange rate was more favourable) that basically a $150 dollar whip from the States would cost you £150 by the time you had paid , Customs handling charges , VAT etc.
What if I only have a tiny budget to buy a whip?
You can borrow a whip, for the cost of postage, see details below or you can make your own Adam Winrich Instant whip!
Also known as the Fifteen Minute Whip ( more like fifty the first time to be fair) The prototypes were made in my home and I still have it and use it regularly.
Contact me for the instructions and contents list with suppliers, the material cost is about £15 - 20. as of 2018 .See how they are made here.
Adam Winrichs' Instant Whips
6ft Instant Whip Adam and I teaching at a Convention Hungarian whip Me at work :-)
free loaner whip package
"The Handful of Hats" Loaner Whip Package
I wasted £££££ buying rubbish whips when I started and now I'm fortunate to have a couple of whips that don't get the use they deserve so I'd rather they be used and encourage people to take up this great sport,
All you need to do is join our Sport, Circus and Performance Group on Facebook , we have over 825 members from around the world, apply, Friend me when I contact you and I'll send the conditions for this family friendly group and how you can get yourself the Loaner Package.
Whip Cracking Safety Guidance
As every whip cracker knows, 'ouch' is the sound of learning! But follow these simple guidelines, and you should prevent a minor mishap from becoming a major injury.
Wear eye protection, even when doing things you are familiar with, even with short whips. Wear builder safety specs ( you can get some nice sexy one these days, specs .. not builders .. )
1. Wear earplugs, especially if you are working indoors.
2. Wear sensible clothing. Flat soled shoes or trainers, a long sleeved top, jumper or shirt and thick loose trousers offer the best protection. Leather trousers and a leather jacket is a bit OTT but can look kind of good..
Jeans are ok, but tight fitting clothing offers little protection as the energy of the impact goes straight through.
Wear a broad brimmed hat to help protect your ears.
For new manoeuvers with long whips, some people even wear crash helmets.
3. Protect those around you as carefully as you protect yourself. Remember that if you are practicing target work with an assistant, they are much closer to the crack than you. You might think ear protection unnecessary, but they could well disagree! leather gloves or similar are good if they are holding targets. Give yourself space to the sides and above.
4. Avoid working where there is loose debris on the ground. Gravel and loose earth canbe picked up and thrown at great speed and cause injury; and will damage your whip.
5. Stay aware of what's going on around you. Dogs can be attracted to the sound, as can children, and they always seem to approach from behind! Ideally, have someone 'spotting' for you to prevent other people from being hit if they get too close.
6. If you are practicing with other people, establish a 'working area' in which safety glasses must be worn at all times..
7. Get good at the basics before moving on.
8. Whips can be dangerous, do not fool around with them.
Have fun and crack on,
Whip crackers and jugglers are always welcome to my indoor rehearsal space or my favourite park in the summer here in sunny Barrybados, I also offer structured lessons for beginners and performers in whips, knife throwing and performance skills. The "More Danger" Club is open every Wednesday afternoon during the Winter and Spring , come and join us at little or no cost.
Whip Makers Guide
Who to buy a Whip FROM? there are a number of UK and overseas suppliers who sell rubbish, don't be conned.
But if you see one you really really like, send the link to me and I'll check it out for you.
Makers are not in any order of preference nor can I vouch for any product or remedy any fault. but I have bought great whips off most of these makers in the past.
UK makers first, Facebook or website links you may need to copy and paste them into the Address bar of your search engine.
James Hewitt (Scorpion Whips )
Please check the website for current prices
A design engineer and Swiss watch repair technician who has used his knowledge of materials to up the game on whip design, mixing custom made carbon fibre handles and intricate paracord plaiting patterns with the option of laser engraved aerospace grade aluminium couplings and heel knobs. I own and have used a range of his whips from short bullwhips , stockwhips to custom made target whips and they are all a joy to use. Also on Facebook http://www.scorpionwhips.com/
Ian Savin - Redneck Roys Whips
He now specialises in longer, multi bellied heavier weight nylon bull whips with options for intricate pattern braiding. I have a couple of his early shorter nylon bullwhips and they work extremely well. Contact Ian for prices.
Whip makers in Europe
A charming man from Germany who has helped countless new whip makers learn the trade , a talented leather workers and he smokes a mean sausage too. His nylon whips are known for their accuracy and I love the flow of the ones he makes without the steel wire core . Contact Axel via Facebook.
Sylvia is professional circus performer, based in Switzerland and Bulgaria she is a multi lingual circus professional and exceptional whip artiste who has developed her own beautiful style of Arrow long handled bull whips that are very popular in the circus world. She has actively sort out training from Axel and Jean Philippe from France and has that distinct advantage of being a full time performer and whip maker. Her whips are now stocked by the world famous Western Stage Props of Las Vegas but you can order from her direct via Facebook. Prices start around £150 for a great whip
A charming French doctor who makes and teaches how to make quality whips in nylon or leather, vertually every whip cracker I know in France has several of his whips :-) I have a number of his long leather bull whips and wish I had more. Contact me for his email address
Miodrag Beslin ( Misha )
Talented guy from Belgrade who makes quality leather whips.
Lyu Ben BG Whips
From Bulgaria Lyu Ben makes fine quality leather and nylon whips that perform faultlessly.
20 years ago I bought whips of this Montana cowboy and they still work brilliantly, he still makes exceptional good and tough whips that are designed to be used on or off horseback.
A Floridian native living in Georgia , he keeps alive the Florida Cowboy traditional cow whip with rare wood handles if required and fine braiding in all his work. The cow whip with its "socket" connection to the handle shows the origins on the PH whip, his whips are legendary. He recently became a LEO but will still find time to make you an exceptional whip if you ask nicely.
Dakitty Whips Details to follow
Whips and Whatnots
They flow like silk. A pair of mine are sunning themselves in Hawaii... funny old game, this whip cracking malarkey ..
Famous for his long nylon and dacron whips but also makes other lengths , I've had a fantastic snake whip from Steve that was a joy to use , a quality whip maker
Richard Johnson , Facebook Rusty Knives
No nonsense , tough nylon cow whips , especially wooden handled cow whips , he makes great knives too :-)
High End Quality leather whips
Legendary whip maker and trainer, he makes glorious high end whips but also great budget stockwhips that I use for training and competition , in fact his 5ft "Yard whips" have won me a number of ofg championships and show awards,
, High quality Leather and Nylon whips to order, his Whippa lace stock whips are legendary, and are used by Adam Winrich, Gary Brophy and Todd Rexx , all legends in whip cracking. I've used stock whips from Simon and the owner had to fight me to get them back.
World champion whip maker, collectors piece whips , I don't own one of his, but wish I did. glorious glorious whips ...
Now moved to LA , very skilled maker and whip handler , lovely lovely whips , the go to guy for the film industry.
More to come
Alwyn Sturgeon and Gerhadt Van Rhyl , tow talented South African whip crackers
How to crack a whip , repairs and crackers
If you need a whip repaired, do please get in touch and I'll see who can help you.
Not sure how to make a cracker ? check out Google , lots of resources on there, just type in , " How to make a cracker for a whip" You can use just about anything to make a cracker, doubled up diablo string is probably the easiest , but baling twine , polytwine and builders string are all good, I'm currently using ones made from Dyneema and baling twine .
Not sure how to attach a cracker ? check out my whip maintenance videos below .
Need a new fall or colour co-ordinated long lasting crackers made by a rocket engineer? check out my dear friend Ric Boyd from Texas. Contact him via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mriclb or email. MRicLB@Yahoo.com
How to crack a whip .
There are numerous videos , books and DVD's available, I've compiled a list of basic cracks and accompanying videos that I hope you will find useful. If you get stuck , join our Group on Facebook and get in touch with me for trainers near you.
For whip cracking shows, demonstrations, lessons, western skills workshops and circus entertainment please see my website www.ahandfulofhats.co.uk (44) 07875 826773
Whip Cracking Tutorial videos
Group and one on one lesson are the finest way of learning whip cracking but if you are unable to meet up with other fans, then this how an awful lot of us learnt! . For the beginner and advanced practioners the ubiquitous YouTube has a wealth of material that can help and inspire you and of course, also put you off for life when you see how far you have yet to go :-) But persevere padawan, we will always continue to learn and improve, there are no true masters only students.
This is not a definitive list, I have put together this list as a guide , nor is it a recommendation for any particular Tutor, there may be a tutor that irritates the bejabbers out of you ,, fine! look further you'll find someone you prefer
Safety, Safety, safety , when learning, please wear safety glasses. Be warned you will hit yourself!!! It HURTS!!!! A wide brimmed hat with long sleeved shirt and jeans are always a GOOD IDEA and leather gloves are sometimes an even better idea. Ow! may be the sign of learning in whip cracking but if you are continually hitting yourself something is badly wrong , get in touch and ask for help!
Names of the different cracks .
There are regional variations on the naming of cracks !
The Circus Crack, The Cattleman's Crack and The Forward Crack , The Gypsy Crack, , The Lion tamers Crack are all the same thing!!
I've seen The Flick called the Side Arm Crack the Underhand Crack and the Side Crack! confused ? don't be , watch the videos, see how it is done, if someone calls it something else..... fine ..... the only important thing is when you enter a competition is to call it what the judges recognise , when you get to that stage I have a copy of the Australian Championships rules for reference.
I use this list as a guide , Whoosh Bang ? ( also called "Cow and calf" !!!! ) That's an Under Arm Crack followed by a Cattleman's Crack ( see above :-0 ) Can I do all the cracks that are listed No ! :-0 but I can teach you how to do them
On Facebooklook for the "Sport, Circus and Performance Whip Cracking Group" put in a request to join , I will then send you a Friend request and a copy of these conditions of membership , if you are not family friendly then I'm sure there are other groups that will welcome you but we won't. If you don't respond within a reasonably time frame I'll assume you have changed your mind
Video GUIDE TO THE BASIC WHIP CRACKS
Paul Nolan Mid West Whips
Chris Camp The Whip Guy
Underhand crack or Flick
Bernie from Em Brand Whips ( RIP)
Basic whip cracking
Slow Figure 8
The many ways you can crack a whip
The Snake Killer
The Coachman's Crack
The Overhead Crack
Tricks with Whips
Paul Nolan Whip Tricks
I get a mention:-)
Different types of whips
Dixie cup drop
Whip Tosses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ronkp8SWg7g
other Heroes of mine ....
Traditional Hungarian whip cracking
We now have a fantastic selection of whip cracking tutorial videos from April Jennifer Choi , check them out! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHxBBH-A7-LGuVfVVaauhRDrEK0RhMZAo
I hope you have enjoyed this post and found it useful,
None of the photos are owned by me, if you want them removed please contact me. email@example.com
Copyright A Handful of Hats , all rights reserved , no duplication without permission
For whip cracking shows, demonstrations, lessons, western skills workshops and circus entertainment
Whips in Action
From left to right Peter and Sylvia Rosat, teaching Swansea Burlesquers, Adam Winrich and Peter at the 2012 UK National Convention, Whip cracking workshops at the Southend BJC 2013 , workshop at National Museum of Wales , Simon Ratzker getting excited , Pete and Adam doing a double act , traditional whip crackers farewell !