Daily Archives: July 16, 2013

Xiong Yiliao – ancient Chinese warrior juggler

I sometimes recommend juggling and joggling to boxers and martial artists as a great way to cross-train so they can beat up people better. Some may see mixing martial arts and juggling as something new, but it is anything but. This goes way back to ancient times, like shopping malls. Yes, shopping malls – the ancient Romans built the first shopping malls. And you know what comes with malls – mall rats! We aren’t so different from the ancients after all.

To get back on topic: In ancient China many warriors appear to have also been jugglers. This makes intuitive sense since juggling can improve coordination. According to Wikipedia, in the article, Juggling in Ancient China:

Xiong Yiliao (Chinese: 熊宜僚; pinyin: Xióng Yiliáo), was a famous Chu warrior who fought under King Zhuang of Chu (ruled 613-591 BC) during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Ancient Chinese annals state that he practiced nongwan (Chinese: 弄丸; pinyin: nòngwán, “throwing multiple objects up and down without dropping”[1]), and he is often cited as one of the world’s earliest known jugglers. During a battle in about 603 BC between the states of Chu (Chinese: 楚國; pinyin: Chǔguó) and Song (Chinese: 宋国; pinyin: Sòngguó), Xiong Yiliao stepped out between the armies and juggled nine balls, which so amazed the Song troops that all five hundred of them turned and fled, allowing the Chu army to win a complete victory.[2][3] As Xu Wugui (Chinese: 徐无鬼; pinyin: Xú Wúguǐ) recounts in Chapter 24 of the Zhuangzi (Chinese: 庄子; pinyin: Zhuāngzi), “Yiliao of Shinan juggled balls, and the conflict between the two states was ended.”[4][5]

That sounds amazing, though it is likely false or greatly exaggerated. Still, you can’t go wrong learning to juggle if you’re a martial artist.