Interview with Junming Lin

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About a year and a half ago, someone sent me a youtube link of a juggler. This is an almost daily occurrence for me, as it may be for many of you reading this. However, the technical ability displayed in just the two runs shown on the video were definitely world class. The juggler was Junming Lin and the two things on the video were a runs of 40 catches of 9 rings and 20 catches with 10 rings. With each of these, the patterns looked effortlessly smooth. I hadn’t heard of Lin and was surprised to learn that he was teaching at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, which was founded by Shana Kennedy, wife of well-known juggler Greg Kennedy. Soon Lin posted another video showing him getting a very clean run of 28 catches of 10 rings. I was now very intrigued. Eventually I contacted Lin to learn more about him.

juggling 9 rings for 40 catches 10 rings for 20 catches:

David Cain – Can you give us a little bit of background about yourself?

JunMing Lin – I was born in 1978 in Fuzhou City in the Fujian Province.

David – How did you get involved in circus and acrobatics and juggling?

Lin – It was my parents’ decision for me to try it, but I also wanted to.  I was just 8 years in 1986.

David – What was your training like?

Lin – When I was acrobatic student, I started training from 6 am to 8:30 am. It was two and a half hours acrobatic foundation training (stretching, handstands and tumbling). I took 30 minutes rest for breakfast and then I started to train again from 9 am to 11:30 am for acrobatic programs training time.  This training included juggling, lion dancing, Chinese pole, unicycle, dragon dancing, diving hoop, and pyramid. I had lunch for 30 minutes. After lunch I went to take a nap for two hours. Then I started my Chinese language, mathematics, and English class learning from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. After dinner I started to train acrobatic programs again from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and then I went to bed around 9:00 pm. It was a Monday to Friday schedule, I had conditioning training on Saturday morning. I started to take a break from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. It was a whole week training schedule and lasted around 2 years. After two years of training, I could start to perform, so the training schedule was different.

juggling 10 rings for 28 catches:

David – Did you have any jugglers who inspired you?

Lin – yes,there is one juggler who inspired me in China.  His name is Wang, Dongge. He won the Golden Prize at China National Acrobatic Competition, which is held every four years.

David – You won the Silver Lion prize at the Fourth China National Acrobatic Competition in 1995.  Can you tell us about that experience?

Lin – There was great pressure during the competition. Every performance was so good from the other acrobatic troupes.

David – Can you tell us about your performing career?

Lin – I started my performance career in 1989. From the very first shows I was still very nervous. My coach encouraged me and I found self-confidence. I slowly got used to performing in front of hundreds of thousands in the audience. I went to Hong Kong to give a show in 1993. It was my first time to eat a hamburger because you could not find a store to sell a hamburger at that time in China. I was so happy. I went to Japan to give show in 1994. I stayed in Hokkaido for six months, performing in a five star hotel. It was my first time spending Chinese New Year in another country. It was also my first time in my life to see snow. It was very curious to touch the snow. I went to Europe to perform for one year in 1996.  It was my first time to perform under the circus tent in my life. Although it was tough for a teenager, it was a worth the life experiences. It was my first time to touch different cultures and people outside China and Asia. At that time, I made the decision to start my English training in my spare time. I wanted to not only watch, but also communicate more with acrobats and jugglers around the world.

David – You’ve posted some videos on youtube of some extremely impressive numbers juggling with rings.  What do you feel are your greatest technical achievements as a juggler so far?

Lin – I don’t think I’ve reached my greatest technical achievements as a juggler yet. I think that I am a lucky person that I have chance to learn juggling when I was student. Everyone should have hard training to get to advanced skill levels. No one can find a shortcut to get great skills.

David – You also juggle tennis and badminton rackets.  What is your top skill level with rackets?

Lin – I perform up to seven badminton rackets.

Full show:

David – You’re now teaching juggling and other skills in Philadelphia and Baltimore.  How does teaching differ from performing?

Lin – The biggest difference is as performer you just need show experiences on the stage. As a teacher you not only need show experience, but you also need teaching experience. I started to have students in 2003. I performed and taught at same time, collecting my teaching experiences from that time on.

David – Have you ever considered competing in the Stage or Numbers Championships at the IJA Festival?

Lin – I never think about competing in the Stage or Numbers Championships at the IJA Festival. It would bring me too much pressure to do this at present. I just want to teach and have a quiet life. Maybe I will try it in the future.

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David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of sixteen books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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