A Whip Cracking resource Guide
with contact details of some of the finest whip makers from around the world.
A free loaner whip package is available for UK based, family friendly sports whip crackers who are just starting.
Peter started with a swivel handled leather bull whip bought at a juggling convention,
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 him three months to finally make it crack, but now he can teach people how to crack a whip in three minutes, give him an hour and he'll have you performing stunts and tricks .
Having taught thousands of people in workshops all over the world , I got increasingly frustrated at the rubbish that some websites try to foist onto the unsuspecting beginner, so I thought I would pass on my experience for free so that you shouldn't waste your time and money on something that might crack for a week or two and then break even though it might carry a so called "money back guarantee" ( you try and get your money back.. go on I dare you! " ) So please accept these humble scribbles as a guide.
I can't be held responsible for any of whips or the suppliers noted 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, award winning kangaroo hide whips by Peter Thorndike from Australia .
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 outdoor activity websites .... big mistake ! most that are available from there are only good as wall hangers.
Buyer beware!! Make no bones about it, the cheapest nylon bullwhip that just about works and will last you will cost ( 2017 prices ) £78 ( 1.5 metre bullwhip Karaka, House of Poi ) but you can get a 4ft 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, 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 ( plastic tube handles and nylon braid)
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, and what you fancy doing with it.
If you want to do multiple fast cracking routines, then shortish stock whip or PH whips are great, if you want to do body wraps and target work then a longer handled 6ft - 8ft + 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 if well made, crack easily. If you are very young or need a lighter whip then check out Scorpion whips new "Tilly and Poppy" whips . However if it's got to be a bullwhip then a 4ft or 5ft nylon bullwhip from Rufus Ruffcut or Redneck Roy is a great starter whip. ( See the guide below for contact details)
A 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 Thursday for group and private tuition. (I do travel pretty well anywhere if you need a lesson though )
If you want to see the different types of whip in action and one of the finest whip crackers in the world , here is a video Adam Winrich 15+ 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 .
We became friends and he has stayed, trained, taught and worked 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. .
Here is Adam winrich in a great demonstration of the different types of whip
How long a whip should I buy?
If you want to start with a 6ft Bull whip BE CAREFUL ! We measure whips in the UK differently from the USA, we don't tend to include the length of the handle or the fall but some countries do, so ordering a 6ft bull whip from the States can mean its actually only 5 feet long ,
Have a look at this diagram of a Cow whip from Rhett Kelley in the States, he doesn't include the handle but some makers do , the answer is to check before you order. Just ask them " how long is the braid (thong in the US and this is the braided leather or nylon "body" of the whip ) and how long is the handle? "
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 8 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 by Rufus Ruffcut, 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 ?
All the makers listed are people 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.
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 will soon degrade)
For indoor shows or if it's a themed show , then I well may use a leather Indiana style whip or an American bull whip or Australian stock whips but for outdoors, for practice and for beginners, a nylon whip made from paracord is in my opinion, the way to go.
For information, "nylon" whips
20ft nylon bullwhip 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?
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 Fire Toys unless you have had a chance to try them first , ! (they were the only supplier in the UK in the past and I love them for that, I toured America with one of their short whips and did three shows with just that one , so they aren't that bad, but some of them are so HEAVY and poorly plaited they will break your heart.
What should I look for in a whip?
In a all whips look for good even braiding, if it's patterned then it should be even all around 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. 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 ( I wish it was tho :-) ) here are some selected makers that sell good whips or whose whose reputation is 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.
So select from someone on the list below. 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 Karaka 1.5 metre bullwhip for £80 , or a nicer hand made paracord whip in the UK from £85 + ( 2017 prices)
Don't forget to add post, packing and shipping plus Customs Duty if you are ordering from abroad!
What if I only have a tiny budget to buy a whip?
You can borrow a whip, for free see details below or you can make your own Adam Winrich Instant whip!
Also known as the Five Minute Whip ( more like Fifty the first time to be fair) The prototype was 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 2016 .See how they are made here.
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 700 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 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 maneuvers 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 Thursday , come and join us.
Whip Makers Guide
Who to buy a Whip FROM? Don't buy from the Internet until you've checked with me first
Period! Don't think about it . there are a number of UK and overseas suppliers who sell rubbish, don't be conned . But if you see one you really think is any good, send the link to me and I'll check it out for you.
For readymade whips if you are desperate check out Karaka whips from The House Of Poi website , ( about £80 each for a 5ft whip ) they are machine made , not pretty but tough and they work just about , but if you want a handmade whip in the type, colour and length to suit you check out these makers below .
Not in any order of preference . UK makers first, Facebook or website links are in red , just click on them for more info.
James Hewitt (Scorpion Whips )
( From £70 to £350 ) A skilled design engineer 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 laser engraved aerospace grade aluminium couplings, heel knobs and designer whip bags to make some of the prettiest whips I've used, but also check out the "Tilly and Poppy" lightweight whips which make great beginners whips. https://www.facebook.com/ScorpionWhips/ http://www.scorpionwhips.com/
Rufus Ruffcut ( Ade Harrendence)
( from £80 to £285)
I met Ade at the end of a whip .... I was performing at a charity gig for the Air Ambulance and he and his biker friends joined in the fun, Rufus became my human target holder and was a very very brave man .. he tracked me down years later at the first UK Sport Whip Convention I organised , not for revenge .. but to learn how to crack a whip .. as it was his birthday he walked away with a couple of my own whips and he has not looked back since.
We have run whip cracking workshops around the UK
A very talented engineer and whip maker who has supported Circus whip cracking for many years, his clients include international circus performers and he has custom made a number of whips for me.
He offers; Bull, Stock and PH style nylon whips and is one of very few Welsh whip makers.
Ian Savin - Redneck Roys Whips (Facebook)https://www.facebook.com/redneckroysideshow/
A relative newcomer to whip making but he makes whips with a passion and an eye for detail , I have a couple of his short nylon bullwhips and they work extremely well, he is currently working on some nice long handled bull whips and monster fire whips so watch this space.
A lovely man who has taught a number of people how to make whips at his home in Germany , a very talented leather worker too, his target whips are legendary!
Sylvia is professional circus performer and family friend, who has helped me organise UK Whip Conventions , she is a multi lingual circus professional and exceptional whip artiste who has developed her own beautiful style of PH ships that are very popular in the circus world, she has that distinct advantage of being a performer and whip maker and also makes fine bullwhips.
jeanphilippe santourian [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Lovely French man , talented and charming whip cracker who makes and teaches how to make quality leather whips, my go to guy for traditional leather bullwhips , his 10 ft Indiana Jones style bullwhip are glorious fun!
Miodrag Beslin ( Misha )
Talented guy from Belgrade who makes quality whips.
Lyu Ben BG Whips
From Bulgaria Lyu Ben makes fine 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.
Fantastic nylon whips, a joy to use. Do check out her website , the only nylon whip maker approved by the world famous whip trainer Anthony de Longis.
Adams' partner and a very talented whip artiste and performer, her whips have been featured in Cirque de Soleille shows. I don't have a Dakitty whip.
Whips and Whatnots
Before Dakota started making whips, If Adam didn't have time to make whips, he would go to Whips and Whatnots .. that sort of sums them up, 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 , a quality whip maker
Richard Johnson , Facebook Rusty Knives
No nonsense , tough nylon 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 International, European and UK whip cracking championships and show awards,
High quality Leather and Nylon whips to order, 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.
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, diablo string is probably the easiest , but baling twine , polytwine and builders string are all good, I'm currently using ones made from Dyneema but theuy don't stay on leather whips as well as Ric Boyds or baling twine crackers.
Not sure how to attach a cracker ? check out my whip maintenance video.
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 !