Reviews/Chinese Therapy Balls DVD

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[edit] Chinese Therapy Balls DVD

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[edit] Review by User:Brine_child

Though not specifically a contact juggling video, "Chinese Therapy Balls" provides an interesting insight into the history of what we see as multiball contact juggling and an entirely different viewpoint on the practice. Brought to us by Greg Irwin from http://www.handhealth.com/ in his tireless campaign to improve our dexterity and finger fitness, it concerns the traditional Chinese manipulation of Baoding Balls (50-70mm metal balls often with chimes inside) and how they can keep your hands healthy.

In terms of content, you don't get a great deal of material for your money but what there is is of some interest. Without a shadow of a doubt the highlight of this DVD is the footage of two "Masters" of the art of Baoding Ball manipulation, Mr and Mrs Bixiou Dong. They show a beautiful synchronised routine and demonstrate some really rather advanced stuff, such as multi-layer stacks, which are somewhat mind boggling and their performance is a real joy to watch. For an idea of what to expect have a peek here: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RWPU0OtaIdA

They do not however teach any of their more advanced techniques and so Greg Irwin takes over the educational side of the DVD, demonstrating the basic movements with two balls in a section, somewhat painfully, referred to as "Exersphering". It is worth emphasising that this section isn't the most comprehensive teaching section, the entire disc has a rather paltry runtime of 35 minutes. Irwin shows us 2 ball palmspinning together and separated, clockwise and anti-clockwise, sending one over the other and having them clack together in rhythm.

So that's about it from the education side of things and nothing that, as a contact juggler, you won't have seen before. However this release is aimed at a general audience interested in keeping their digits dexterous rather than the hardcore juggler so it provides all the information you would need to get into the art of Chinese therapy balls.

Also presented on the DVD is a short section of Irwin's Baoding routine, something which viewers of TryOutToys' "Playing in the Multisphere" may recognise. (hint: it's identical) We also see a presentation by a genuine science person about the benefits of therapy balls, in my mind a strictly one-watch affair.

You could say the same about the tour of the ball factory, fascinating as it is it doesn't exactly have the replay factor and gives the impression of a "How It's Made" episode from cable TV. In fact the whole DVD has the feeling of a made for cable documentary that certainly holds the attention but ultimately leaves you a little empty.

Fair play to Greg for capturing footage of the Dongs and for his continued interest in our hands, but for a contact juggler this DVD stands as an interesting side note and would not rank as an essential addition to your media collection. Especially when there are much more comprehensive guides to the world of multiball contact available.

It is unfortunate that we don't get to benefit from more of the teachings of Mr and Mrs Bixiou Dong, as I feel that that could really make this a vital learning resource. But again the target audience is beginners who want to know how to get started with the Baoding Balls, rather than more experienced manipulators looking for a challenge.

It must be said that after watching it I am really tempted to head out and get myself a couple of Baoding Balls and have a bit of a play but I couldn't see myself returning to this DVD, which is a shame as it offers a truly interesting alternative view to multiball it just lacks the depth that such a subject requires.

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