Two men enter. Both men juggle. Both men leave, but only does so in triumph. That, essentially, is what happens in an extraordinary YouTube video that documents the hitherto-obscure sport of combat juggling. As games go, this one looks exceptionally tricky, but at least the rules are simple. Two contestants are given three juggling pins apiece. The object is to keep all three pins in the air while preventing one’s opponent from doing likewise. The first person who scores five points in this manner is declared the winner. That’s it. One of the juggling combatants, Luke Burrage, shared the video on his YouTube account, and from there, it caught the attention of Reddit.
It remains to be seen whether combat juggling will have long-lasting or wide-ranging appeal, and it doesn’t seem destined for the Olympics any time soon. But, at least in short doses, it is incredibly entertaining, both for the spectators and for the participants. Both Burrage and his opponent, Rob Van Heijst, laugh and grin throughout the match. In that respect, it barely seems like a competition. It’s more like a friendly exhibition. Add Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance” in the background, and it would be an act.
The video documents what is said to be the “semi-final” of combat juggling at an event called NJF 2016 Fight Night. For the uninitiated (read: nearly everyone), that’s Nederlands Jongleer Festival, an annual juggling convention held on the Feast Of The Ascension in the Netherlands. So combat juggling, it turns out, is a Dutch diversion. Now that the sport has reached the world via the internet, however, the sky is the limit. As Burrage and Van Heijst demonstrate, no special uniform is needed for the event, and any humdrum gymnasium makes a suitable venue. Have at it, world.