Twirling is any of several artforms, hobbies, or sport and recreational activities accomplished by spinning or rotating the twirled object either for exercise, or in a rhythmic, or otherwise artful manner. Though the origin of twirling is impossible to ascertain, twirling enjoyed a steady growth in popularity in the twentieth century. Today many forms of twirling are popular, particularly with the object manipulation, juggling and general Physical activity and dexterity toys community.


Poi is a form of juggling, dance or performance art, accomplished using balls, or various other weights, on ropes — held in each hand, and swung in various circular patterns, similar to club-twirling. It was originally practiced by the Māori people of New Zealand (the word poi means "ball" in Māori).

Pen spinning

Pen spinning — using one's fingers to manipulate an ordinary inexpensive writing-pen — can be performed anywhere. Sometimes classified as a form of contact juggling, pen spinning may also include tossing and catching of the pen.

Called "rōnin mawashi" in Japan, where it is popular among the pre-collegiate community, pen twirling has its stars, as does any other performance or skill. Accomplished masters of the artform that are well-known — at least among those who follow the sport — have developed a reputation for creation of certain signature 'moves'. David Weis is credited with creating numerous 'back' style moves, such as the "BackAround". Hideaki Kondoh is generally credited with giving the pen trick "Sonic" its name, because of the way the pen would blur in his fingers.

Baton Twirling

Baton twirling has expanded beyond parades and is now more comparable to rhythmic gymnastics (see below). The sport is popular in many countries including the United States, Japan, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada. Many countries compete each year at the World Baton Twirling Championships.

One of the highest honors in twirling is winning "WBTF Gold Medalist."


By using a heavy spinning wheel with handles, astrowheeling combines the aesthetics of twirling and the resistance of spinning wheels into a form of practical exercise. It was inspired by ancient practices that manipulate the rotational inertia of spinning objects in order to develop balance, focus, and control. The current trend of astrowheeling, which uses "bike-like" wheels, was popularized in the 1980's in North America.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Combining elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation, Rhythmic Gymnastics, once largely considered a sport for women and girls, is growing in popularity among men as well. The Japanese's version of Men's rhythmic gymnastics includes tumbling and is performed on a spring floor. Men compete in four types of apparatus: rope, stick, double rings and clubs. Groups do not use any apparatus. Japan hosted the first men's world championships in 2003.

Rhythmic gymnastics as a sport began in the 1940s in the former Soviet Union. It was there that for the first time, the spirit of sports was combined with the sensuous art of classical ballet. (To Isadora Duncan, we credit the famous rebellion against the dogma of classical ballet and the shift toward the creation of a new discipline that would blend art and sport.) Recognized in 1961 as 'modern gymnastics', later 'rhythmic sportive gymnastics', rhythmic gymnastics experienced its first World Championships for individual gymnasts in 1963 in Budapest.

Today, Rhythmic gymnastics as a sport continues on, and hobbyists have adopted rhythmic gymnastics props such as the women's Ball, Clubs, Hoop, Ribbon, and Rope, plus the stick and rings of men's gymnastics, as exercise and recreational gear. These props have found their way into the modern 'juggling and Physical activity and dexterity toys community' where they are used to perform tricks and maneuvers for fun fitness, and flexibility.

Sticks and Staves

Devil sticks

"Twirling", "sticking" and "stick juggling" — are all common terms for using the twirling prop known as a devil stick or flower stick or by various other names. A set of devil sticks is made up of three pieces - the baton and two control sticks.

In use the central stick, the baton, is pushed, lifted and caressed by the two control sticks causing the stick to flip, wobble, spin, and fly through various maneuvers or tricks.

Juggling Sticks similar to the modern variants have continuously evolved as they were passed down through the centuries. Apparently originating in Africa earlier than 3000 B.C.E., 'devil sticks' may have followed the Silk Road, from Cairo to China, and have been used in Europe since the Renaissance.

Morris dancing

In some forms of Morris dancing, a stick is twirled in one hand during a dance. For example, in stick dances from Brackley in the Cotswold tradition, each dancer twirls one or two sticks throughout the dance.

Staff twirling

Staff twirling is the art or sport of skilfully manipulating a staff, such as a quarterstaff, bo, or other long length of wood, metal or plastic as recreation, sport or as a performance.

In the martial art of bojutsu, a bo is used as a weapon, increasing the force delivered in a strike, through leverage. Bojitsu kata — detailed patterns of movements practiced to perfect one's form, are also used in many traditional Japanese arts such as kabuki. Some of these kata, or forms, are very flowing and pleasant to experience, both as the one executing the movement and as a spectator, and hint at the flowing moves of the recreational stick manipulator.

Staff twirling has enjoyed recent growth in the Physical activity and dexterity toys, juggling and firedancing communities, in part due to the influence of martial arts, and in part due to increasing popularity of adult play as recreation.


See also

Search another word or see Twirlingon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature