Cobra Coin Catching – A Skill You Can Learn In A Day
The first time I saw the skill now known as cobra coin catching was in the 1980s, when famed comedy juggler Michael Davis performed it in his television special. However, the trick is more than 100 years old. It was included in the book Juggling Secrets by Will Goldston, which was published in 1911.
Here is an illustration of the trick from Juggling Secrets. Oddly enough, the bottom part of the drawing labels the coins incorrectly. The coins are actually caught in the C, B, A order.
To clarify the trick, juggler Eric Berg created the following video.
The skill is sometimes called claw catching or coin snatching, but the later usually refers to catching stacks of coins from the elbow. Famous actor Jackie Chan is a practitioner of cobra coin catching, as you can see by clicking here. To see the trick done in slow motion, watch the video below.
The Michael Davis television special wasn’t the first time that this skill had been performed on television by a juggler. Check out the following video from the Piero Brothers’ 1965 appearance on The Hollywood Palace. The cobra coin trick is the second trick they present.
In 2010, I (David Cain) made a video that included two variations on this trick. One is doing the standard three coin version while juggling two balls in the other hand. The other is the world record for the trick, doing it with five coins. Below is a video showing both of those clips.
The next two videos show Brian Deiker presenting some very interesting variations on cobra coin catching, including doing coins on both arms and crossing over to catch those thrown from the opposite side as well as doing the skill with stacks of coins.
While cobra coin catching is a fairly old juggling skill, it really hasn’t been explored much. I encourage jugglers to learn the basic three coin version and then try to create new variations. You might even be able to tie or beat my world record!
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 16 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 twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).