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Brook Roberts -

21st September 2013, at Bristol juggling convention. One my passing resources I take to conventions is James' sheet of passing siteswaps (, with 4 handed siteswaps grouped into categories. In discussion with someone (who eludes me now), I claim an amusing challenge might be to try and do all of the siteswaps on the sheet, with some rules about what 'completing' a pattern means. Some basic rules are drawn up - 8 rounds to a clean finish for period 3 siteswaps, 6 rounds to a clean finish for period 5 or 7, holds must be active and flipped, and a few others.

Keen and eager, I accost various people at the convention to tick off patterns, redoing completions if the pattern was a bit messy, teaching people new patterns and e.g. ticking off 966 (7 club 3 count) with someone who had never tried the pattern before. Danny is keen to motor through some with me, and he suggests it would be amusing to have various achievements like in video games - an achievement for completing your first pattern with me, an achievement for completing an entire section (we promptly find an easy section with only 4 patterns and complete it), one for getting a pattern in every section, and so on.

Back home from the convention, excited about my new incredibly nerdy challenge, I decide I should keep an electronic copy (rather than just ticking off on the sheet) of my progress, since I know how often I lose things. I make a few auto stats keeping things. One thing it tells me is how many patterns are on the sheet. Whenever I have shown the sheet to people on papre and asked how many patterns there are, they guess about 100, somewhere in the 80-200 range. It turns out there are 534! It also turns out there 202 sync patterns (actually 101, but the two sides do different things, and I decided I should do both sides), which on reflection don't look as fun as the others. On closer examination (and in discussion with James') it becomes apparent that some of the sections are somewhere between hard and impossible. He laughs when I tell him of the idea of doing all of them and points at the '8 clubs with zaps' section. Zaps, 2.5p's, are very fast passes, and there are plenty of very hard 5 and 6 club patterns with zaps - it's doubtful if anyone has ever tried any of the 14 patterns in that section, or if anyone is capable of trying them.

I plough on regardless, making fun progress. At one point I make a strong concerted effort over many sessions to make progress towards my first 9 club pattern, a89, with Alex, a juggler near me. Just as we get close, he moves away! But at the next convention, where we have set aside the entire morning to finally nail this, it takes about 4 attempts, and a milestone feels reached. It starts to get harder however, and the pool of people I can do the patterns with shrinks. Getting new people on the sheet is a fun goal, but the skill someone has to have to get on the sheet grows. The enormity of the task dawns, and while for well over a year I manage to keep my average above 1 pattern per day, it gets harder. As I get to around 40%, motivation drops, the realisation that I'm not even halfway through grows and the knowledge that almost all of the remaining patterns are harder than almost those I've done is daunting.

For over a year, progress is slow. I feel lost in the middle of the sheet. At conventions people ask me how the sheet is going, and it always feels disappointing to admit I've not done much recently. For a while I don't have a regular passing partner who can plough through the sheet with me.

Eventually though, I get over 60%, and I'm counting down rather than up. The feel is a bit different - I only do the patterns with an increasing small and able group of partners, and there's no chance of me redoing messy runs - I take any clean finish I can, in some cases fudging the timing way beyond sensible to cram a pattern to completion. I have increasing esoteric knowledge of ways patterns will be difficult, and regularly describe what the difficulties and solutions to doing a certain siteswap will be to my partner - before we even try it once. As I get closer to my goal, motivation increases, but there's always this worry that at some point the patterns become fundamentally impossible, that at some point progress will dramatically slowdown. I guess that this might happen at about 80%, or 85%, and that after that every single pattern will become a monumental effort.

Today I just ticked over 85%, and the pattern that took me there was a8958. It was the first ever pattern I achieved from the 8 clubs with zaps section of the sheet, the only section that until today I had failed to get a single pattern from. And more than that, it proved that I could get the patterns in that section, and that progress is still possible. To get there, I had to train zaps repeatedly with the same partner, Cameron, for the last month, but we removed a slew of 6 and 7 club zap patterns in the process.

I'm now at 85.02% done, with 80 patterns left. 39 different jugglers have helped me get here, although over 50% of the entire sheet (not just those I've done) has been done by just 4 passers. The majority of patterns left are sync patterns, and the majority that aren't sync are zap patterns - there are precious few 'normal' patterns left, and I'm not rushing to do those!

It's not always clear that I enjoy ticking the patterns off sometimes, nor whether doing 454 (and counting) different siteswaps and juggling conventions has caused me to sometimes ignore other, possibly better (!) activities or passing patterns. That week in Bristol, I think I would still decide to embark on this quest, but possibly I would do it better with some forewarning of just how ludicrous this rather pointless task would be. But I'm increasing excited about seeing the end, and increasing determined to push forwards and actually complete this gigantic task, that many quite knowledgeable passers thought was difficult almost to the point of impossibility.

In case anyone read this far:
a) well done
b) shows the patterns I have completed so far, and the names and summary tabs show some stats about my progress
c) is the 8 club with zap pattern. It looks, er, like a lot of the other patterns I do
d) Cameron and I warm up with Holy Grail now, so we filmed a long run -
e) is my post from when I got to 50%
f) If you think you can do one of the remaining patterns, are not on the sheet and I don't know you, let me know :)


Brook Roberts - - Parent

The longest post I ever make, and there's a major grammar error on the first line :S Fancy fixing that someone, and making me a bit more satisfied with my monologue?

lukeburrage - - Parent

I'm so happy you and Cameron found each other.

jamesfrancis - - Parent

Worth pointing out that of the 80, 8 are invalid and one doesn't involve any actual passing...

I think of the ones left, about 10 are just too hard. You seem to have actually ticked one of these patterns off so maybe I am underestimating how much you and Cameron in particular have improved.

Glad I have consumed 4 years of your life with one simple spreadsheet however!

I wish you had stats on total time attempting patterns. I know we have spent close to 2 hours on single patterns before and I would guess the average is at least 20 minutes if not more. At 20 minutes on average this would give you 6.3 solid days to get the 454 patterns.

lukeburrage - - Parent

I was surprised to see I had only ticked off six patterns with Brook, as it felt like we put in a few hours of time at Bungay a few years ago. But if the average is about 20 minutes, then that seems about right. Although, if I remember correctly, one of them was a double ended pattern and we both did both ends, so the second version might have taken less time.

Now I want to try a seven or eight club zap pattern.

jamesfrancis - - Parent

56789 and 96956 are my favorites with 7. Both have a nice flow compared with some of the uglier patterns

Maria - - Parent

Oh, now I want to try, too... Should work a bit on my zaps.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

a5695 was one that I quite enjoyed as well.

lukeburrage - - Parent

Triple self, zap, self, triple pass, zap? Do you have a video?

Brook Roberts - - Parent

Triple self, self, zap, zap, double pass.
No, I've videoed very few of the patterns so far. Maybe I'll do it as part of my warm up with Cameron next time we do zaps though, now I've been reminded of it.

lukeburrage - - Parent

I think you should start the list again and get a video of every pattern.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

Six is quite a few :) We got at least one of those at EJC I think?

James suggested some nice patterns, if you just want to try any 7 club zap pattern though, 885 is far easier that almost any of the other 7 club zap patterns. I feel like 885, 975 and 56789 were the only ones I'd regularly tried outside the sheet.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

Ye of little faith, still! All the 8 with zaps will be hard work, but I think fundamentally doable, although maybe more like projects now. We failed the collect of 9a5 yesterday, so another will go soon :)

Yeah, I wish I had collected all sorts of things from the start. I think the mean and median would be very different here - there were quite a few that went quite fast, and then a few way out that I treated much more like projects (a89 when I ticked that off, and a8958 were both concerted efforts over multiple sessions). I actually ticked of 5p34 first time with Rhonda although that's a bit of an anomaly - we had been doing it anyway, and then I remembered it was on the sheet, so the first time after that we landed the collect.


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