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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Strength training for card manipulation? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Alyx
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I'm trying to graduate from bridge sized manipulation cards to full sized bee brand cards.

Are there any strength training exercises that any of you have discovered that could help to build the forearm muscles required to backpalm standard playing cards?
Bill Hegbli
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As a Chavez Student of manipulation magic, they did not center on strength, but finger expansion, I guess you would call it.

I have found, it best to get the million manipulation poker size cards. Check Seo Magic. They have a red back Bee designed back, and light brown Bee Back design. Steven's Magic had them as well.

Check out Ganson's technique for breaking in regular cards for manipulation. Jeff McBride also covers this in his manipulation DVDs.

Practice is the best way to strengthen your fingers and grip. Study all the methods for card productions and spend an hour or two each day practicing your methods. Keep the moves you like and develop a routine and style you like.

I never had an issue with my forearms. You may be doing something wrong that causes you carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have numbness and pain, see a bone doctor. You may need Cortisone shots.

Happy New Year! May the new year bring you success and happiness.
Anatole
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Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist. Having made that clear...
I'm not sure it's primarily the strength of the forearm that facilitates split fan productions etc.

For both finger and forearm strength, you might try a Digiflex Hand Exerciser:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1X57qQ3FdA
As the comment below the video says, "compress the entire unit for complete hand and forearm strengthening."
I use one to help with my occasional trigger finger problem. I also feel a benefit on my forearm when I use it.

We've all probably heard stories/claims of someone being able to b--- p--- a whole deck. But as Ganson recommended, 25 cards at a time is plenty.
Quality of card productions is more important than quantity.

See also this information at the NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information:
_Handgrip strength dominance is associated with difference in forearm muscle size_
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540837/
But again, size is not necessarily the only thing you need. Many physical trainers say that flexibility is as important as--if not more important than--strength.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Alyx
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Thank you both for the info. I'll look into the forearm device. I'd really love to be able to handle the 25 cards that you point out as Ganson's recommendation.

With a standard deck (treated ala Romaine's description), I've been maxing out at about 15. Any more and the gap between fingers gets huge. I just assumed it was a strength issue, as I don't have a problem with the thinner manipulation cards.
Bill Hegbli
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Alyx, to cover the gap with regular cards, many old time magicians would paint the corners on the back. If you are not using a Bee type back design, then it should blend in with your hand just fine. The secret is to keep the hand holding the cards in motion. Slow short movements with the palm toward the audience. The reason for this technique is that the audience cannot focus on your hand, because it is moving.

Here is the Japanese Poker size Manipulation cards I referenced earlier. They are great, as good a the Lance Burton bridge size Manipulation decks.

Stevens Magic had them, but they sell out so fast, they can't keep them in stock.
Josh Riel
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My spoke would be to stay with the Bridge sized cards. Although I myself would ignore my suggestion as well...

Years ago I got the book "Encyclopedia of Playing Card Flourishes" by Jerry Cestkowski. Among his first suggestions (or commands) is to always use bridge sized cards. I never did, and subsequently never learned to do a number of the flourishes I wanted to because I simply couldn't devote the time to reinvent the move to a larger card.

In fact I didn't get as far into card manipulation as I wanted because I would use unaltered Bicycle decks because Bee decks were harder to come by and more expensive, and I wanted to use the same cards for manipulation as I did tricks, and I never bought good fanning powder... so I guess my problem continues to just be me.
If I just listened to Jeff McBride or Jerry I would be a better card handler.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Frank Yuen
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Strength building is just a process of progressively taxing the muscle with more resistance. I would think that if you can already back palm 15 poker sized cards then gradually increasing the number would do it. Next time you practice use 16 cards. Do this for a week or so and then move up to 17 and so on and so on.

You could probably do isometric exercises as well. Squeeze your fingers tightly together, concentrating on your forefinger and pinky finger. Fingers are rarely used in that fashion (other than for card productions) so it should in theory help.

Lastly, have you tried the double decker deck? I've never used them but I imagine the finish and stock is comparable to Bicycle. That would probably get you to your 25 card goal almost immediately.

https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic-......-decker/
Alyx
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Thank you all for weighing in with such awesome guidance.

I think I wrote the first message a little too early. I fell into that bad habit of expecting results too fast. It's been fourteen years since I was doing a lot of card manipulation, and I was just shocked at how difficult standard cards felt compared to my old murphy's bridge sized manipulation cards. I was also coming at it from my rock climbing background, in which I used lots of specific training exercises to improve performance. But the fact is, I just wanted gains faster.

I think I also had an unrealistic expectation of what the gaps could look like, but in the last days I've been re-studying performance videos of the masters and I now have a more realistic understanding. I've been working at it 2 hours a day for the last 6-7 days and I'm progressing, and all of your tips are super useful and welcome.

Bill, I have a set of John Blake's (East Coast Magic) full size manipulation cards, but I was hoping to use standard backs (bee back). I remember hearing the idea of painting the corners, and how awesomely clever. I'm putting this routine together for an eventual sidewalk show, so standard cards are my goal right now.

Josh, your guidance makes so much sense... my ego is getting in the way here. I will continue to dwell on your suggestion to stick with Bridge cards.

Frank Yuen, I did start playing with hand exercises for pinking and index. I used my other hand for resistance (adding mild weight) and did single finger "squeezes." Who knows, maybe this will become a thing. I'll report back if I become mutant strong in those fingers. Hah. Interesting call on the double deckers. I'm going to be using bee backs... but I just read the other day in Routined Manipulation Finale about splitting cards to make thinner stock. I don't know that I will ever want to do body reloads with more stock, but if I do... this is an intriguing idea!

Thanks everyone!
Alyx
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Here is a quick practice video. Bill I think you mentioned keeping the hands moving. These are white bordered bikes, and I'm impressed how well the movement conceals the corners.

Anyway, I would love any critique if anyone sees something that needs to be changed/altered. I'm hoping to have a routine by summer.
https://youtu.be/zgi-K3nflDk
Haruspex
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There are very little sleights that actually require strength, but many times when you are learning a new sleight, at first it feels like force is needed because you haven't perfected the technique enough.

The practice video looks good. I would suggest trowing the cards into something to hide that you only trow down about 5 cards after showing a fan consisting of maybe 20.
Alyx
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These are good thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to watch and provide feedback.
gregg webb
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There are many ways to soften cards for that work, and various cards made to be soft for that kind of work, so don't miss out on all that, but yes, Walter E. Cummings who taught Channing Pollock used to squeeze a rubber ball in his spare time to keep his hands strong. GW
JamesTong
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Alyx, I would also suggest practising your techniques under different conditions - dry, smooth hands or sweaty hands. That's because weather conditions (if performed out-doors) or lighting conditions (spotlights can be pretty hot too - hence the sweaty hands) can make the execution of the techniques challenging. Without experiencing the different conditions, you can get caught by surprise and find the execution of the techniques problematic (not because you are unable to but rather the cards are stuck onto your wet sweaty hands/fingers). Hope this helps you in your preparation of your act/routine.
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