Felix Sürbe Interview

Felix Sürbe is one of the most popular young jugglers online and at juggling events in Europe. Today we get to know him a bit better and see some of his amazing juggling.

eJuggle: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself apart from juggling?

FS: Sooo, I was born in Germany on the 12th October 2000 and then moved to England (where my dad is from) 2 months after. I have lived in Bristol, in the South West of England ever since, but still travel back to visit family at least once every year.

From the age of 4, I have had a very strong interest in music, starting out playing the keyboard, and then moving to the piano at the age of 6. I have been playing ever since, and have started to make a sustainable career out of it in the last few years, usually for theatre shows or accompanying instrumental exams.

eJuggle: How and when did you learn to juggle?

FS: I learned to juggle at the age of 7, after my mum bought me some juggling balls. I think she didn’t think anything of it- maybe it was a way to keep me occupied instead of watching TV or being lazy. Good idea, mum!

I found several tutorials online, none of which I thought were very helpful, so I ended up trying to teach myself. I got as far as a flash, but wasn’t very proud of this because I knew I could push it further. I ended up getting a run of around 20 catches in the next 30 mins, and that’s where I started getting more interested in seeing what was possible…

A few years later, my parents bought me some clubs for Christmas. It genuinely took me about a month to learn clubs- I found them surprisingly difficult. I found some good tutorials on Expert Village (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5F4F491A4803CD7F) and that helped me a lot, not just with clubs, but with several other ball tricks too!

eJuggle: Why do you think you’ve progressed so quickly?

FS: I spent a lot of time in front of the TV juggling- working on tricks that I had seen from YouTube videos. Looking back, a lot of these were siteswap patterns, but at that age (maybe around 8 or 9) I didn’t really know what this was…

I then took a break from juggling for about 3 years, and properly picked it up again at the age of 12… starting secondary school was quite stressful and I found juggling a good way to relax! When I got home from school, I would do about an hour of practise out by the side of my house or in my bedroom, trying various siteswap patterns with clubs or balls. I decided to create a playlist called ‘Trick of the Day’ in which I did a trick (trying to make something harder or more creative than the previous day) for 50 days straight. This helped me stay motivated and I think also helped in my progression a lot.

Progressing quickly for me only really happened with a structured practise though. I found there was a point where my improvement started to plateau and so I started creating a list of tricks which I knew I could do really well, a list of tricks that I could do reasonably well, but wanted to get better, and also a list of ‘dream’ tricks, which I wanted to achieve by either a) the end of the session, or b) by the end of a given time limit.

Nowadays, I try and keep my practise fairly structured if I know there’s something specific I want to work on, e.g. 5 club backcrosses or 6 clubs, but I try and keep it fun by mixing up what I’m working on, otherwise I know I’ll get frustrated and then it just ruins the practise for me. So for me, structure and having fun = progression! Also, not having much time to juggle due to other commitments (mainly music), means that when I do practise, I want to get the most out of it.

Trick of the Day Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvXUKrm-A68rH58-FRYlBdd1UfiRnmoSr

eJuggle: What are you working on at the moment and what are your favorite type of tricks?

FS: I work on 6 clubs a lot (async fountain of course!) and only recently started to push it more. I’m super proud of finally getting past the 200 catches mark at EJC, which motivated me a lot to try tricks such as a 6up 360 (which I came stupidly close to) and a b97531, both of which seem within in reach, but I know it’ll take a while for me to properly get them. My goal is to get both by the end of the year.

My favourite type of tricks are club on club balances, involving 2 clubs or more. I love finding new and more challenging ways to get from balance A to balance B, and I enjoy pushing myself to see how many of these I can get in one ‘run’.

One of these I’ve been working on getting solid is a 3 stack balance and a juggle, going straight into a 5 club cascade. Eventually, I would like to get this trick into backcrosses, but this involves getting the split just right!

Here’s a video of said trick which the IJA shared on their Instagram page recently!

I’ve also been working on 7 clubs quite a lot, and I would love to be able to get 50+ catches by the end of the year!

eJuggle: Who are your favourite jugglers from the past and from the present and why?

FS: Good question! Obviously a big inspiration would be Anthony Gatto. His ability to just run base patterns and still pull off tricks within these long runs still amazes me, and it’s a shame that he didn’t keep juggling… it would have been interesting to see what his level would be now!

Another group of people who I rank highly in the juggling community are Jonglissimo. Aside from being great passers, their technical ability is also crazy. I love watching them practise, as there’s always something new about technique or a trick which I can take into my personal training sessions.

Obviously, there is the Norwegian team, especially people like Haavard and Eivind, who are pushing the limits of juggling, and again I take a lot of inspiration from this. I think their mentality towards juggling and structuring their practise sessions is very useful, especially as we all enjoy the technical side of juggling.

Big shouts also go to Tom Whitfield, Alex McGillivray, Luke Davies, Mark Pender- Bare and of course Lewis Kennedy for keeping me motivated when I’m practising and constantly giving me new ideas (and paying for food when I don’t have the money!)

eJuggle: What are your current plans for your juggling future?

FS: Currently, I would love to be able to have more time to juggle. Music takes a lot of time, especially at this time of year where all the work starts to come back in again.

Butttt, aside from this, I would really like to explore creative juggling more. I appreciate watching it online or in person, but my motivation to practise it has always been really low. There’s a lot of 3 club tricks that people like Rob Firey (who goes to my juggling club), Daniela Paličková (who doesn’t go to my juggling club) and Lucas Adverse (who also doesn’t go to my juggling club) do which I think I’d enjoy to practise, but knowing where to start with these tricks is something which has always confused me!

I would also like to do some more performing. I have done a fair bit of juggling performance in the convention scene, and more recently for an elderly people’s home where I did a 40 minute presentation on why juggling wasn’t just a circus skill, and why I would consider it a sport! I have a cabaret piano/ juggling act which I’ve performed once at Bath Upchuck 2018 (my most local convention) but I’ve decided to rework it for future performances. I guess if you want to book it for your convention, it’ll give me more motivation to get on it!

eJuggle: What do you like the best about the juggling community?

FS: What I like best about the juggling community are the people within it. Everyone is super supportive and always up for giving advice, whether this is juggling advice or for personal well being!

On a personal note, juggling has helped me a lot with my Asperger’s, a form of high-functioning autism. I’ve always found it really hard to socialise with people that don’t really have similar interests to me, and the juggling community has 100% helped with that. Over the years, I’ve found myself getting more and more sociable and most importantly making great friends that I’ll keep for life!

eJuggle: What are your favorite online videos of yourself?

FS: I don’t necessarily have favourite videos of ‘just me’ online, although a few videos which I’ve enjoyed being part of, was the IJA series I did with Luke, Tom and Alex a few years ago, and Lewis’ JuggleVision, where I managed to get myself into all of the gameshows – what a score! You can find Part 1 of the IJA Series here:

And Episode 1 of JuggleVision here!:

JUGGLEVISION – Episode 1 FULL VIDEO

Here’s a link to my Instagram and Facebook pages as well as my YouTube Channel, so you can pick out what you think is your favourite video!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/felixjuggler/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FelixJuggler1/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/felixjuggler

I’d love to hear what you think, as well as get some more ideas as to what I should work on in the future!

eJuggle: What is your advice to young jugglers who really want to progress quickly?

FS: My advice to young jugglers would be to:

– Keep having fun! If you’re not having fun, why are you juggling? I think keeping a positive attitude throughout your practise session is really important to your mind-set and growth as a juggler.

– Watch videos of people that inspire YOU online – you can learn a lot just by studying 1 juggler really closely.

– Film yourself. If something in your pattern doesn’t feel quite right, and you haven’t got someone close by to inspect it, filming yourself is a great way to see what’s going wrong. It also means that you can upload videos online so people can see your progression! Positive and constructive comments from others can help motivation and progression massively.

– Practise tricks that are harder that what you’re working on. I found this especially helpful when I was working on 5 clubs. I wanted to learn the pattern in doubles, so actually practising triples and singles helped me learn doubles a LOT easier. At the same time, I also improved 2 other patterns which I might have overlooked if I was going straight for doubles. This is definitely a transferable practise technique, and you’ll learn to know what’s useful to work on the more you do it.

– As a follow on, try and incorporate as many warm-up patterns as you can before you try the final trick. If you’re working on 3 ball backcrosses, just spend some time with 1 and 2 ball warmups- and then go for small runs of the trick. Don’t spend too long on one trick however; learn when to move onto something else if it’s not quite working out!

– Get yourself to conventions and festivals! Everyone there is super friendly and there is no doubt you’ll learn something new by practising and sharing tricks with other jugglers.

Hopefully this has been an interesting read, and I look forward to seeing you all at the EEEEJJJCCC next year in Finland! 🙂

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 twenty-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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