Editor’s note: My good friend Yang from Vietnam is known for his prowess in making uncut Cardistry videos and doing live Cardistry performances, and today he shares several tips that will help you improve your skills in both real life and in front of the camera. If you haven’t seen him in action yet, do check this video out, as it’s my favorite one-shot routine of his.
Being able to perform a move consistently benefits you in many ways:
- You save time filming videos.
- You can share the move with other Cardists more conveniently (imagine a friend still waiting for you to nail the move after the 67th attempt!)
- You can also confidently share it with laypeople, which helps spread Cardistry and the joy to others.
Having consistency means that you have a great muscle memory of that move, which allows you to freestyle with those moves you have mastered. Being able to do a move freely and without struggle also gives you a chance to express yourself and to go with the flow, like dancing to the music.
How to Improve Consistency:
1. Be Contingent
Develop the intuition to know when you can do a certain move, in accordance with different weather conditions, deck conditions, and hand conditions.
Knowing what you can do and cannot do at the moment gives you the opportunity to do the move confidently and helps you to decide whether to take the risk or not. It will also prevent you from wasting time trying to film a move in inappropriate conditions, like when your hands are not moist enough, your deck is too new for aerial moves or if it’s too old for spread moves, or if a card is too soft to do a Flicker Shot.
Find your own threshold. Everyone is unique, and no two people’s hands are exactly the same. This also applies to weather conditions and deck conditions. The way we store and maintain our decks are different, different decks have different stocks and finishes, which react to different weather differently. In a nutshell, we are all in different situations. You know your own circumstance the best, so you have to find out what works and what does not work for you.
2. Learn Mindfully & Discover your own Tips
When starting to learn a move, I don’t jump right into memorizing the mechanics and repeating the move mindlessly. Rather, I carefully analyze the mechanics of the move and wonder what is making me struggle with it, and why can’t I do it as smoothly as the creator/instructor.
I ask myself if there’s any subtle differences in the grip or finger movements that I’ve overlooked. If I find out what I’m doing incorrectly compared to the way the instructor does it, I will try to correct my technique and copy the instructor.
If that still doesn’t work, I then modify my approach and find my own workaround or handling. Since we are all in different situations, tips that work for others may not work for you all the time, thus discovering tips that fit your unique situation is necessary.
3. Learn to Improvise
Learn how to fix accidents. Learning more moves mean you can do more from an “accidental” grip. For example, a packet accidently landing horizontally on the deck after an aerial move can be fixed by executing a short-edge Scissor Cut to bring the cards back into a squared position:
4. Attempt to Make an Uncut Video
One time my laptop broke, so I couldn’t edit videos. The only way to post them to YouTube was to upload the raw footage from my point-and-shoot camera (Instagram and smartphones were not a thing back then). Because of this, I was forced to make uncut performances. Every time I wanted to upload a video, I had to put in so much effort, and it took me dozens of takes to film a video. But after a while of doing this, I realized that my ability to film uncut videos had improved.
When you set a goal (like a list of moves that you want to successfully film) and you try again and again, it really helps you to improve faster, since you have to pay a lot of attention during the process. By doing this, you can see the results immediately by checking the filmed take, and if you don’t feel satisfied with it, you can always delete it and film again.
5. Film yourself frequently to check your own performances
Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking that that we can do a move well, or we are mistaken about our failure-to-success ratio. We don’t really know it until we try to do it in front of a camera.
Additionally, seeing ourselves doing the move from our own point of view or in the mirror may give us a false perception that we are doing it smoothly. We may find that our performance is actually sloppy when we watch a recorded video of it, or even worse, that we don’t even have a single successful take of a move that we thought we could do. Filming yourself frequently is an effective way to test whether or not we can actually pull off our material, as opposed to only assuming that we are able to do so.
These are 5 tips that I personally find very effective to improve consistency. I know these tips are not quick fixes or specific card handlings that you can apply immediately. These tips should be taken as general guidelines or a mindset to follow, and it takes time to integrate them and make them a habit. I hope this article can help you enjoy Cardistry more in the long term.