Kick ups with clubs have long been a popular trick with jugglers and audiences. The first juggler to perform kick ups was Ollie Young of Columbus, Ohio. Ollie (1875 – 1946) was performing kick ups and other complex club tricks by the mid 1890s, making him one of the first club jugglers to perform advanced tricks with the props. He and those that followed him performed cross-legged kick ups.
Ollie Young 1900
The first person to do a kick up from 3 to 4 clubs was Harry Lind who did so in 1898 after seeing Ollie Young doing kick ups. Lind went on to become the world’s foremost maker of juggling clubs.
The first duo to do kick up passing with clubs was Cal Kenyon and George Kenyon, who did so around 1907. Like their solo contemporaries, they did so using cross legged kick ups.
The Kenyon Brothers and Tom Allen
It is unknown who the first juggler was to kick up two clubs at the same time, but the following illustration of Little Knox shows him doing the trick.
In 1916, George Kenyon became the first juggler to kick up 3 clubs at the same time. The first juggler to perform this trick on television was most likely Bobby Jule. You can see him performing the trick at the 3:30 mark of the following video.
Here is another video of Bobby Jule, showing his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He does the three club kick up at the 4:25 mark.
The first juggler known to do non-cross legged (or open) kick ups was Little Knox (Otto Krakow), who performed them in the 1920s.
The Del Ray Brothers (sometimes billed as the Del Rey Brothers) were a duo from the 1950s and 1960s. They are often incorrectly credited as the first jugglers to do non-cross legged kick ups.
The Del Ray Brothers
The Del Ray Brothers
Ugo Garrido is easily one of the best known kick up jugglers. He is a Spanish juggler born in Florence, Italy. He built his entire act around club kick ups, which he learned from the Del Ray Brothers. Garrido did both cross legged and non-cross legged kick ups and was a juggling star throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. He was a popular performer on television shows during that time. He is now retired and living in Cannes, France.
Below are three videos of Ugo Garrido.
Pepito Alvarez was also a very talented juggler with club kick ups during the middle of the previous century. You can see his kick up work in the following photo and video.
Another juggler who specialized in club kick ups in the 1960s was Rodriquez, whom you can see below.
In the 1970s, Russian juggler Sergei Ignatov performed kick ups into four and five clubs by stepping on the fat end of the club. You can see this technique around the 4 minute mark of the following video.
In 1980, future Academy Award winner Michael Kass won the IJA Individual Championships with an act comprised almost exclusively of kick ups with three clubs.
Also in 1980, Steve Mills became the first to kick up 4 clubs into a juggle.
Manuel Alvarez was born in Seville, Spain in 1955 into a long time circus family. In 1980, he debuted an act that includes amazing kick ups with 3 and 4 clubs.
Tony Fercos is another juggler who included incredible kick up work in his club act.
Anthony Gatto was a master of kick ups with clubs, even doing two clubs with one foot.
Jay Gilligan reports that Anthony Gatto did a weird type of five club kick up around 1991. Anthony kicked them, slapped three into the air one at a time with his hands very quickly, caught the bottom 2 (one in each hand), and recovered the completely random pattern into a cascade.
In 2017, Toby Walker became the first person to kick up five clubs straight into a juggle (without the slapping necessary). You can see this in the following video.
Five of the best jugglers currently doing club kick ups are David Arriola, Bobbo Jäderfeldt, Shay Wapniaz, Gena Shvartsman Cristiani, and Brian O’Connell. Below are videos of them each showcasing their work.