How Not To Crack a Bullwhip!

How Not To Crack a Bullwhip!

I’m always amazed at the lack of training that many people have when they pick up a bullwhip and try to crack it!  Number one priority is protecting your eyes, you need to wear safety goggles/glasses! However a quick search of the term “Bullwhip Fail” on youtube found tons of videos and virtually everyperson’s eyes were not protected!

The next thing that drives me crazy is how many people think that they instinctively know how to crack a bullwhip.  In fact they will tell you they know how, but are lying!  Cracking a bullwhip is not something  you can automatically do…and if you think that because you can snap a towel that skill translates to a bullwhip you are 100% wrong!

I found a couple bullwhip videos that I think illustrate what not to do.  Here’s the first one:

In the video above the guy is trying to have some sort of form besides simply dishragging the bullwhip.  However he’s missing the follow through after the point where the bullwhip is supposed to crack.

Imagine someone playing baseball and they are batting.  If you watch any sort of baseball you’ll know the batter follows through with their swing after the bat has made contact with the ball.  Once the ball has contacted the bat and taken the energy from the swing the batter could technically stop the swing, but they all follow through.  Why?  Because if they forced a stop they could injure themselves…same with cracking a bullwhip, you don’t do a follow through you can injure yourself like the person in the above clip!

There are a couple of things that I find hilarious about this next clip:

First of all for the overhead crack he’s wildly swinging it over his head without purpose.  Cracking a bullwhip is like dance, you need to move with intention.   Notice about halfway through the video his body language get’s more “angry” and his swing gets crazier and crazier.  That’s not good, whip cracking is all about control.    He claims to have learned to crack a whip in school…but any competent teacher would tell you not to crack the bullwhip in front of you like he did at the 46 second mark.  Finally the title of the video is “Pretty Cool Things I’m Pretty Good At” cracks me up!  It should be, “Pretty Cool Things That I’m Incompetent At”!

Heck take the movie the Blues Brothers, even Belushi has proper form when he cracks in the famous Rawhide Scene:

So what I’m trying to say is if you are new to cracking a bullwhip finding a local bullwhip cracking group or whip cracker to learn from is a good idea.  If that’s not an option there are tons of videos (DVD’s and online) that will teach you proper form.  Bullwhip cracking is a sport has risks built into it and there’s now way to avoid it, but through proper training and safety (like goggles) you are reduce that risk!


7 thoughts on “How Not To Crack a Bullwhip!

  1. lol, what you said about people thinking they instinctively know, translates perfectly to an

    experience I had.

    I brought a whip with me to the property where us and a few of our buddies hunt. One of my

    friends asked if he could try it. I said, “do you know how”? he said ” oh yeah, it’s easy”.

    At that point I knew he couldn’t, because of the ” it’s easy ”

    I let him anyway, he dropped it on his first swing, second try he whacked himself in the head

    with, of all things, the handle. :)

    Watching that guy in the second video made me both laugh, and very sad. One, he thinks he’s

    good but he’s terrible! Second, he’s going to get himself badly hurt if he keeps it up. People

    don’t realize what these things can do!

    Another thing, that looks like a decent whip that he’s ruining by overtorquing over and over


  2. Hahaha! Great videos Louie!

    I am always amazed by how incredibly dangerous the average person is. I can understand a kid not being able to “think ahead of the possible dangers”, but an adult should be a little bit wiser, but this is no different than all those videos you see where someone who clearly has NO idea what they are doing, is trying to do a back flip or some other stunt, and who invariably gets themselves hurt, sometimes badly.

    I work with stuntmen all the time, and by work with I don’t mean I do stunts, I mean we work on the same projects, and the best ones are those who are not only physically adept, but those who have some understanding of physics and math and who actually spend a lot of time planning out a gag. There is a lot of preparation and a wide spectrum of knowledge required to plan and execute dangerous stunts, they don’t just throw themselves off a roof and hope they hit the air bag-they plan and train, and train, and train for it. Over and over until they come to a point where (for them and their level of mastery) the risks are calculated and reduced to the point where the odds of getting seriously hurt are small.

    But these clowns think they can just pick up a whip, an object which everyone in the world has some understanding that it can hurt you pretty badly, and somehow become the world’s first instant whip master! It says a lot about ignorance and the dangers of thinking you know something when in fact, there is actually no reason to believe you would know anything about it. If I have never had any experience with knives beyond cooking, what would drive me to think I can throw a knife safely, let alone at anyone else? Nothing. No reason at all. If anything, I would have all the reasons in the worlds to be sure that I stand a good chance of hurting myself or someone else. This attitude of how hard can it be if so and so can do it on YouTube, I can do it too, is incredibly dangerous and foolish.

    I’m happy you post these things from time to time, maybe this will prevent someone from getting hurt. Bernie is also a great advocate of safety and I hope the message is heard loudly.


    1. Franco,

      You are absolutely right about good stuntmen! I just worked with a “Danger Act” and was amazed at how well he know the physics behind every thing he did and how carefully / meticulously he planned and set up his act to ensure his safety!


    1. And Belushi is protecting his eyes by wearing glasses!

      When I was posting that it got me wondering who made that whip and where is it now?

  3. Yeah, cracking a whip really is a skill. When I was learning, and I wasn’t able to get these cracks like I was seeing on YouTube, I spent a long time working out why. I ordered DVDs, bought a book, and watched Adam Winrich’s videos, frequently frame-by-frame in order to get the proper form.

    What I learned was that a good crack is a movement from the whole body, not just the arm. It’s all about how you put kinetic energy into the whip, then how you get that energy to change directions so you can have a proper s-curve or hairpin or rolling loop. But the point is, cracking a whip is the type of skill where if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong.

    That being said, in both of these videos, the whips are crap, just cheap toys. The second whip is slightly better, but it’s being wielded by someone who apparently hates the notion of graceful movement. I’ve used whips like these, and unfortunately, they encourage you to have bad form because the only solid crack you can easily get from them is that dangerous straight up and down crack (I’m going to call it “The Lonely Masochist Crack” from here on out, because it’s the best way to whip yourself).

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