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Profile of RichardJones
Dear escapists, I wrote the following article a few years ago which deals with this issue...not the safety side of things but whether you should actually do the SJ and chain escape...I hope it might be of some use.

Superfluity - Richard Jones

I often hear of people who are proud to be able to escape from several restraints at a time. While on the surface, this seems like a good idea, I am not convinced of its value.

Certainly, when starting out in escapes, it is tempting, having learnt to escape from a straitjacket (usually gimmicked) to then try the escape with rope on top. Having found this not to be much more hassle, the person then tries with chain as well. Discovering the chain doesn’t really act as a hindrance he tries being strapped to a chair. And so on. I know. I did it.

Now, the reason the person is doing this is perfectly understandable. Just starting out in escapes they find they want a challenge. They want to find something that really tests the limits of their newfound abilities so psychologically, stock piling every restraint possible, seems like a tough trial.

However fun discussing the psychology of escaping is, the purpose of this article is that I believe there are various limitations on what restraints can be put together.

What exactly am I trying to say? Well, effectively there are several different groups or families of restraints/restraining devices. These are formed according to a particular restraints nature. So, all the humane restraints would go together, all the chain releases would go together, all the ‘self contained restraining devices’ (SCRDs) like handcuffs etc would go together and so on:

Humane restraints:
Leather cuffs
Restraining beds
Insane muffs

Leg irons

Chain releases:
Lightening shackles
75ft chain escape
Extra chain

Milk Cans
Oil drums
Water caskets

There are four distinct groups and in my opinion, restraints shouldn’t be mixed between the groups. Use as many items from the same group together in one go, but never mix.

So, for example, if you want to make your escape from a pair of leather cuffs a little tougher (by the way, Cannon’s now sell gimmicked leather handcuffs) you should not go adding a few metres of chain. You could, though, try a straitjacket on top.

If you want to make a thumbcuff escape harder, you shouldn’t add a chain wrist tie, but you could add a pair of cuffs.

Deep down, this feels right doesn’t it?

But then we run into problems with a few classic or stock escapes. The straitjacket with chain or rope for one (please don’t tell me you use both). An escape regularly used by the performing professional and even by the leaders of our field.

I can’t possibly say that its wrong then can I? Well I can. It is. By saying you will make the straitjacket even more secure by adding this piece of chain/rope/garden hose you are effectively saying that in itself the straitjacket is not secure. You can deny the fact that this is what the audience will pick up but think about it – the only reason you do add that extra piece of something is because you know you can get out of the jacket easily. As soon as you add something, the jacket might just as well not be there.

Similarly, isn’t it a bit ridiculous to have yourself handcuffed before entering a milk can? Isn’t the point that you are going to try and escape from the can? The audience can see it is impossible to reach the locks from the inside. But they can’t see why having your hands restrained is going to make the impossible task any harder. Can you? Indeed, if someone challenged you to attempt an escape from an ungimmicked can on the spur of the moment, you wouldn’t suggest that you should be handcuffed as well, would you? By having your hands cuffed, you are saying to your audience, “ there could be something inside the can which will help me get out. By restraining my wrists, I will not be able to get at it”. The handcuffs become a throw away. They are completely superfluous to the escape as a whole.

You may disagree with my views entirely. Even if you do, I hope I may have inspired you to give a little consideration to the way you use your restraints.
Scott Xavier
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Profile of Scott Xavier
I have found your average joe, just wants a good performance, whether it is from a straight jacket or ropes. It doesn't matter what you escape from, make it dramatic and interesting. I just started street performing in Chicago, and people love to see the foolish magician flopping on the floor escaping from a straight jacket, if I add chains does it make it more amusing? I think not. The more we add to the escapes, it only amuses other escapists....

Nice observation Mr. Jones.
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Profile of pastorclyde
I have performed a hanging, upsidedown strait jacket escape with chains and locks instead of straps. It was originally Steve Santini's idea. I adapted his idea to make it my own. Please note, dropping locks and/or chains from 90 or so feet creates a very dangerous situation on the ground. Crowd control is necessary. I had a 10 oz lock imbed itself into pavement. Others rolled toward the crowd. I make sure to have security and crowd barriers since some kids will want to retrieve whatever falls. I have performed it many times and it has worked out quite well. For a video see

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