Archive for the ‘Juggling’ Category

Natooke Fixed Gear Bike & Juggling Shop

Sonntag, Dezember 16th, 2012

Ted Baumhauer came for a visit to Beijing. He is a speaker and trainer in the areas of leadership, supervision and team building since 1982. Juggler and performer since 1994. Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from The University of Vermont. Author of the book Little Blue Penguins: Tales for Making the Transition to Leadership. He performed at the Waterbury (VT) Comedy Festival 2009, 2010, & 2011 and the 33rd RIT Spring Juggle-In in 2010. Winner of the 5 ball endurance and best trick at the 2004 Cornell University Big Red Juggling Festival.

So of course he came to Natooke shop. He then published an article on the Juggling Magazine of the International Juggling Association. To read the full article please click here. I copied his article into my blog:

Natooke Fixed Gear Bike & Juggling Shop

Ines in front of the shop.

Nestled down in Beijing’s Wudaoying Hutong, not far from the Lama Temple and the Temple of Confucius, is China’s first juggling shop and fixed gear bike shop, Natooke. Founded in 2009 by Ines Brunn and Federico Moro, this shop offers both locals and travelers juggling props and custom made fixed gear bicycles.

Ines began her performing career in Germany as an artistic fixed gear bike acrobat. As a member of the German National Team she worked to bring more flexibility and performance into that traditional sport. But her efforts to bring more artistry and performance to the sport were not always appreciated by the official sanctioning authorities. Despite that roadblock, her skill on the bike was noticed and appreciated by others outside the sport. As her notoriety grew, she started getting calls and offers to perform her version of artistry on a bike outside of the sport competitions. At the same time her performing career began to take off, so did her career in the telecommunications industry.


Through her job, she traveled to China and eventually moved to Beijing. That is where, in 2006, she met Fede Moro a juggler and performer from Italy. That friendship led to the idea of building a community of jugglers, unicyclers and performers in China. First, they arranged for the group to get together and share their skills at a weekly juggling meeting on Monday nights. As Fede is hardly seen in Beijing, and Ines is busy with the bicycle side, the juggling get togethers are a little more sporadic now, so please call ahead to make sure of the schedule. In addition to those events, Fede has held several juggling workshops and performing classes. These include classes for students at the Canadian International School of Beijing, and corporate team building workshops for managers at several Beijing based companies.

With their focus on building interest in juggling, fixed gear bikes, and performing, they began to attract more and more members. Because juggling props were not easily available in China, and their community of jugglers was growing, there was a clear need for a shop. That was the birth of Natooke in Beijing in 2009. Ines opened a second store in October 2012 in Chengdu, China, over 1174 miles (1890 km) from Beijing. Natooke carries a selection of Italian PLAY brand juggling equipment including MMX balls, SIL-X balls, bouncing balls, stage balls, contact balls, and a selection of clubs for beginners to professionals. The store also has both standard and fire poi, torches, diabolos, flower and devil sticks, rings (junior, standard, extra big, and dual sided), rola bolas and spacers to increase their height, spinning plates, frisbees, as well as a wide selection of bean bags and acrylic balls. Natooke is also a custom built fixed gear bike shop. Fixed gear bikes are like a unicycle in that there is no coasting. When you pedal the gears move both forward and backward. Because of their simplicity, the bikes are very light, durable, and very good for fast riding. Fixies have developed a reputation in urban settings as the bike of choice. Beyond being great for commuting they also great for tricks or games like bike polo because of their maneuverability. Each bike made at Natooke is custom built and unique.

Ines performing.

According to Ines, juggling is not something typically done for pure recreation in China. While the circus performers there are some of the best in the world, ball and club juggling is not something typically seen off the stage. Occasionally you might see some older citizens playing with diabolos in parks as a form of exercise. Beyond that, there doesn’t seem to be much hobby juggling for fun. Through the efforts of Ines, Fede, and their group, that is beginning to change. Ines told me a story about one man who found his way into her store. He claimed to have taught himself to juggle and then demonstrated a five ball cascade. To his delight, Fede joined him in a five ball pattern. Seeing another person who juggled for the pure enjoyment of it brought him to tears. Through the weekly meetings, Lao Zhou, eventually found a unicycle partner named Lao Sun. The two formed a partnership and began performing in parks and at organized events around China. As a side note, the two also bicycled together from Beijing to Shanghai, over 1000 miles (1600 km); No small feat when you are 58 and 71!

In addition to running her two stores, Ines continues to perform. She describes what she does as “gymnastics on a bicycle.”  Her performances include the European (2000 and 2009) and Israeli (2011) Juggling Festivals. There is a link below to see a video of Ines performing.  a quick Google Video search of her name will get you to several of her past performances.

If you are interested in juggling or fixed gear bikes and find yourself in Beijing, it is worth a visit to stop in to say hi! If you are performing near Beijing and lose your props on the way, you now have a lifeline.

Natooke means Green Banana in Chinese and that has become the store’s mascot.



Wudaoying Hutong No. 19-1, Lama Temple Bridge (North 2nd Ring Road), Dongcheng District, Beijing. Phone number: (+86) 010-8402 6925

The shop is 100 meters west down the first hutong south of Lama Temple bridge and is on the right hand side.

To learn more about Ines watch:

To see her performing visit:

For videos of Fede visit:

Gala of the Israeli Juggling Convention

Samstag, April 23rd, 2011

I was invited to the 18th Israeli Juggling Convention to perform at the International Gala Show. Here are some pictures that a cool photographer named Oren Ziv took. I copied 3 really nice ones from Oren Ziv:

Ines Brunn performing at the Israeli Juggling Convention

Ines Brunn doing a Headstand on the Bicycle

I really like this picture that Oren Ziv took in the most perfect moment of me doing my special jump off the bike.

Ines Brunn doing a Jump off the Bike

I have my own pictures of the group of international performers after the show. We were Florent Lestage (who had performed with me at the European Juggling Convention in Vittoria), Eric, Hans van Wynsberghe, Joris Verbeeren, Stefan and Cristiana Sing, Matt Hall and me.

International Performers at the 2011 Israeli Juggling Convention Gala Show

Lao Zhou on Pro-China Documentary by Chinese Government

Mittwoch, Januar 26th, 2011

There is a short documentary about China and its people and guess who is inside? Our cyclist friend Lao Zhou that also rides unicycle, is a crazy juggler and performs with us. For our 2010 Sunday entertainment program for the Sanlitun Village Mall he dressed up as a clown and juggled. He looks like this (Lao Zhou is on the left side, Lao Sun (72 years old) is on the right side, I am the tall girl in the center):

Lao Zhou perfoming with us

I found some information of how important this documentary is on the following website: It says:

Last week we saw New York’s Time Square taken over with that 60 second pro-China advertisement courtesy of the Chinese Government. Even now it is still playing at various times every hour on the big screens in the heart of NYC.

A week later, the next stage of the Chinese Government’s campaign to revamp the image of China in the West has rolled out with a 15 minute (well technically 18min) documentary promoting the wonders of China and its people from various “perspectives”. The documentary will be sent out to embassies and consulates around the world. It will also be played at various events promoting Chinese tourism. The documentary is titled “角度篇” (Jiǎodù piān) or in English “Perspectives” and you can watch it on

Watch out for the guy in the yellow clown costume juggling at about 9:40. That is our good friend Lao Zhou! Great to have him in such an important movie, even though it is only 2 sec long.  老周在各个视频里:九分钟四十秒钟!

Natooke in MING Magazine 明日风尚

Mittwoch, November 17th, 2010

Our shop is getting so famous that we do not even know when there is a new article in a newspaper or magazine or again something on TV. 2 friends had mentioned they saw us in a magazine called Ming 明日风尚. Today Echo brought the November 2010 edition of the magazine that Tom had found.

Ming Magazine November 2010

It is a very nice article about Federico and me and our shop. It is in the „Good Life“ section of the magazine and has the main title „Retail Star“.

Natooke in Ming Magazine

Another friend mentioned that there is also an article in the high speed train magazine. I remember being interviewed for that. I hope I can see the article soon.

The Chi of Shaolin – The Tale of a Dragon

Sonntag, November 14th, 2010

My friend Elyse Ribbons who runs the Cheeky Monkey productions knows Zhao Yan Yan who was a gold medal Chinese acrobat. Her father was one of China’s bike acrobats. Yan Yan now runs a company producing shows with Chinese artists for the USA market. The newest show is called „The Chi of Shaolin – The Tale of a Dragon“ which she is producing together with Guy Caron who was the Director of Creation for Cirque Du Soleil’s productions of KA and Dralion.

The Chi of Shaolin - The Tale of a Dragon Poster

Elyse was invited to a special rehearsal performance for Guy Caron who had just flown in to see the progress of the rehearsals. As Elyse and I are foreigners we were picked up by a car with tainted windows and brought to the rehearsal theater. We were about 20 people there to watch and we had chairs on the stage just 1 meter away from all the action.

Shaolin Monks

The men were all trained in Shaolin temples with amazing kungfu abilities.

Shaolin Acrobats

The girls are from circus schools with the traditional acrobatic skills.

Foot Juggling

For example the juggling with the feet or the traditional synchronized diabolo routine. I liked the foot juggling and spinning of cloth with the costumes and colors.

Cloth spinning with feet and hands

The group of 8 Shaolin guys and 5 acrobat girls have 1 more week of rehearsals before they head out to Reno Nevada USA for shows. I wish them good luck! Here is a picture of them with Yan Yan and Guy.

The Shaolin Acrobats Group

Cycling and Juggling

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010

Tom from the Peloton sent this link to a funny movie. It shows what happens if you are a cyclist and asking your wife or husband if you can go out for a ride. There is also the follow up movie of what kind of discussions you might encounter after your bike ride.

There is construction across from my shop so I assume there will be a new shop. I asked one of the guys from Wudaoying hutong and he said that someone wanted to open a bike shop but he did not allow that. As if I were to believe that. Does he really think that could frighten me?

The House will Turn into a Shop

Having a bicycle shop in Beijing makes you get the interesting as well as strange people come in suggesting various things. Especially Chinese people surprise me. I have been asked if I sell flags of various countries, or if I can help get some antique model trains from Germany. Advice has been to give my customers good customer service by requesting them to come back after 3 months and then open all the bearings and grease them so that they do not brake after 4 months. That would probably be a good idea if I were to sell the mass produced cheap low quality bikes that you get everywhere in China. A funny similar suggestion was to provide service to the elderly bike riders to repair their old bikes for free so that they like coming and then will buy a bike from me. That would be so funny of all the over 70 year old Beijingers would start riding flashy fixed gear bikes. I am happy the old cyclists already come and chat with me just because they know I love bikes and especially nice old ones. Another great suggestion was to do advertisement in the newspaper to get children to start the sport of trick cycling. That would be wasted money, I prefer to continue to perform in schools and show the children what trick cycling is and see if someone is interested. Another funny suggestion was to hire the Chinese cycling acrobats (that just stand together on one freewheel bike) to get more people interested in fixed gear bikes. Ha ha.

But a good suggestion of one of my Chinese friends was to find people to work for us. We are currently looking for an intern to help us with our website and office stuff. But we also are looking for a fixed gear bike mechanic or someone that wants to learn about single speed bikes to help us build up all the bicycles. Of course an intern is welcome. If you know someone that could be interested just contact me.

Tonight I went to the Beijing Jugglers meet up in Yuging Yishan bar. It is a bit dark but it is great to be able to use the space for free.

The Chinese and Foreigners Juggle Together

It is great to see that the group is growing and attracting beginners and professionals at the same time. It is really fun as everybody helps each other.

Newcomers and Professionals train together

Artistic Cycling and Acro Balance

Sonntag, Juni 6th, 2010

Driving a different route than usual I saw a new site of Adidas built in the North of Herzogenaurach. Both Adidas and Puma are both expanding and building new sites in their town of origin. The nice thing is that there was a bicycle lane even out here in the countryside.

Bike Lane outside of Herzogenaurach

I went to to meet the artistic cyclists Karina, Paulina and Inga. There were practicing for the upcoming Bavarian Championships. They need to do well in order to qualify for the German Cup.

Karina and Paulina Rossbach 2er Kunstfahren

Karina for fun invented a new figure that looks classy. But she did not hand it in to the actual organization.

Classy Karina Split

I was also training. It was nice to be on a good fast wooden floor again. I was happy that I still was able to do the handstand on my bike. Then we took a picture together in the old school style on our fixed gear trick bicycles.

Traditional Stillstand on Artistic Bicycle

Inga does not ride anymore so we took a normal picture outside.

Inga and Ines

Then I went to the Zirkuslabor started by Tatjana Bilenko and Fritz Mack whom I used to perform together with for a few years (about 1996 to 1999) in the performing arts community show called “Vorsicht Variete”. Today they were doing some acro-balance.

Tatjana and Fritz Acro-Balance

Gerhard Pfeiffer and I were also practicing some partner acrobatic. We took a video that I uploaded only to facebook.

Tatjana performs on the trapeze and other aerial things like this ring. So she was practicing that too.

Tatjana in Aerial Ring

I hope next time I can see them perform, because they have been doing it as a full time living for quite some years now. That last time I saw Fritz he was still having his corporate job.

Tatjana in the Zirkuslabor

Then I drove home to have some delicious barbecue in my parent’s garden.

Global Times: Where’s the Catch

Dienstag, April 27th, 2010

Today there was an article about Fede and the juggling shop in the Global Times. It is a very nice article. Here is a copy:

Where’s the catch?

Source: Global Times April 27 2010

fire poi on the street in Beijing

Goodness gracious… fire poi on the street in Beijing. Photos: Matthew Jukes

It looks good, works as a form of meditation, and can push your body beyond its natural boundaries. Although China may have been one of the first places it started, it has now been all but forgotten. But, there’s always room for change. „My idea is that juggling will have the same evolution as break dancing in Japan and Korea,“ said Federico Moro, the man with the balls to keep the Beijing jugglers running.

Already a well loved hobby, and in some circles a professional sport in the West, juggling can be anything from the simple act of tossing a couple of lemons around to passing six sharp objects at speed across a stage. Quite simply put, it’s moving around a number of objects that exceeds the number of limbs you’re using to do it.

Here in Beijing it’s limited to a group of people who meet up on a Monday night. Strange fortune perhaps, as China was possibly one of the modern ancestors of juggling, albeit with swords.

Zen like

In the depths of Yugong Yishan, normally renown more for its music than strolling players, Moro, shouts out. „Anyone can do it!“ and „It’s just like riding a bike!“ This encouraging shout normally means a lot of sheepish grins as most of the novices in the crowd look down at the sea of dropped juggling balls around their feet.

„Everyone can do three balls. Everyone is able to do five balls; everyone can do six or seven balls,“ explained Moro. „The whole point is the amount of time you are willing to put in.“

He insisted that all you need to learn how to juggle is two minutes of lesson, and then 10 to 20 hours of practice on your own. The more you’re spending scrabbling around on the floor to pick up dropped objects, the better. The idea is to keep swapping which hand you start throwing with, and to enter into the rhythmic zen like state which keeps three balls in motion just in front.

At any given meet up, the group can include newcomers, hardened pros and even the odd visitor just stopping by to keep in practice.

„I’ve been juggling for eight years,“ said Koert Van Eijk who had come over to visit a member of his family in their place of work. „It’s my first time in Beijing, I thought I’d give it a shot and I found this group very close to the hotel,“ he added. As an avid jongleur, he’d even brought his own balls. Van Eijk is used to the juggling clubs in Amsterdam, where visiting enthusiasts pop in for a quick practice.

Mind and body

Making it sound casual and easy is all very well after several years of practice, but it’s also good for the brain, as much so as meditation, and good for the body, in the same fashion as martial arts.

„Juggling is my meditation,“ said Moro, who studies and connects mind and body movements as part of his project the Body Foundation. He’s now been juggling, and practicing the diabolo for around 10 years. „What I’m doing gives me the tools to do things in a different way. These tools are a good way to read yourself.“

The skill set may be similar to martial arts, with reflexes, dexterity and con-trolled movements which develop with practice. But there are fundamental differences, most importantly for Moro, the lack of „martial“ in the arts.

„You don’t have to think about attack and defense,“ said Moro, „and there’s no hierarchy involved.“ He believes that both things detract from the body’s ability to learn, for jugglers you pick up the tool you want to practice with and work from there – no belts and sashes needed (unless you really want to).

The group in Beijing practice on the whole for fun and despite the obvious novelty as a party trick, and the fact circus skills help attract the opposite sex during festival season, China hasn’t branched into the pro circuit just yet.

Beijing Jugglers Monday Workshop

Just like riding a bike. Photos: Matthew Jukes


„At the first workshop I really loved it, but I never expected my legs would be so sore,“ said Michelle Yu, a newcomer to the group who had been dashing about madly to pick up the balls. Like many hanging around the hall, she’d been brought by word of mouth to the workshop. „I really like it and want to practice and improve my skills; it’ll be a lot of fun when I don’t have to keep picking up the balls!“

Standing off to one side, so as not to injure anyone, the poi spinners also wander down to the Beijing jugglers, long term residents and visitors alike. For those who’ve never seen it, poi are a pair of wires with small weights on the end.

„It’s China! I just had to come and see this place!“ exclaimed Ruben Valas, who’d been entertaining people, and more dangerously distracting motorists outside with some lit fire poi. He’d been traveling, but had met Dave Cooper, a member of the group in a bar and had come down. Cooper’s chosen tool is the devil stick, another Satanic sounding form of juggling done using balanced sticks.

„I picked up devil spinning at Glastonbury in 2004. Everyone can do three balls but no further. I just messed around a bit today devil sticking the festival away…“ He was only too happy to put on an impromptu performance for a local travel channel that turned up to film the group last week.

The different forms of object manipulation practiced by the Beijing group all have their own unique style, and aesthetics, but the processes are essentially the same. You’ve got to be on your toes (hands) and stay focused to keep everything airborne.

„Of all the sports of we can imagine juggling is the one which improves the most connection of synapses in brain,“ said Moro. „Switching between left and right, left and right, the two sides [of the brain] keep working at the same time.“

As a general rule the jugglers meet every Monday night in Yugong Yishan, travelers and passersby always seem to gravitate and share their experience and it’s normally an opportunity to see several different types of the art at the same time. If nothing else it gives the uncoordinated man on the street the opportunity to learn what they’re capable of and not get laughed at when their balls drop.

For more information check out

Global Times News Article: No gears, but a business license

Montag, März 8th, 2010

Today there were more articles about our Natooke opening party yesterday. The one in the Global Times was written very nice. Here is the link to the original version.

No gears, but a business license
Source: Global Times [23:35 March 08 2010]

The opening party of Natooke last weekend. Photo: Matthew Jukes
The opening party of Natooke last weekend. Photo: Matthew Jukes

By Matthew Jukes

An impromptu street party broke out in Wudaoying Hutong over the weekend to mark the official opening party of Natooke.

The shop has been in place for a while, as a hub for the fixed gear bike and juggling groups that it caters to, but on Sunday the owners decided to celebrate the arrival of their business license in style.

„We thought we’d have the party in spring because it would be warm. It’s going to snow tonight!“ said CEO Ines Brunn. „We hope that there will be more people that get on their bikes in the city and come ride with us. Oh and that more people start juggling!“ she added, before disappearing into the throng.

By early afternoon a juggling workshop was well under way, thanks to the shop’s director, and Beijing juggler Federico Moro, surrounded by a ring of eager learners of all ages.

„It has been great, everyone is really happy. We’re setting up as a good business in this neighborhood, no one else is doing something like this on this street,“ said Moro, after his workshop. According to the juggler, this shop is the first of its kind to sell juggling equipment to the individual practitioner, a concept that hasn’t taken off in China yet. „Juggling is spreading all over the world. In China I want to be here for that and help it to develop,“ he added.

As the learners made their way into the shop to get out of the cold with a few balloon animals, cheers rose up from the crowd as another pair of participants got on to the Goldsprint machine (a kind of bike simulator) to test their biking potential from the comfort of the shop.

As always with an outdoorsy crowd, there was a bit of a green message. The shop was passing out reusable plastic bottles for the crowd and a slogan on a red banner urged everyone to respect the environment.

Vance Wagner, a green conscious friend of Natooke, had popped down to celebrate. „I think this means that the culture of bicycling is becoming cool again,“ he said. „This is another place that provides an alternative mode of transport to cars.“

As the day progressed, the shows grew steadily more and more spectacular, impressing the crowd with a trick bike display and street performance routine. Passersby and friends of the shop alike were also equally happy to take part in toasting to congratulate the shop as champagne was passed round and party poppers were let off.

Judging by the remaining crowd at the end of the day, the little alternative hub in Wudaoying looks set for success for the coming times.

Ines Brunn at Natooke Opening Track Stand Competition

There are also some more articles written in Chinese on various websites across China.



“骑自行车既方便,又环保,我们都很喜欢。”来自德国的伊泉是自行车达人,还在五道营里开了自行车商店,专卖形形色色的“组装车”,昨天下午她带着自己的车友一起在胡同里“秀”车技,“静止”、“穿梭”,赢得阵阵叫好声。伊泉告诉记者,为了倡导低碳健康生活,以后每周五下午都将在胡同中上演“车技秀 ”,“希望越来越多的北京人也加入到我们的活动中,倡导绿色出行。”

Ines Brunn on cover of Zirkolika Magazine

Montag, März 8th, 2010

By chance I discovered that I was on the cover of Zirkolika magazine a few months ago. It is a really nice picture taken at the European Juggling Convention in Spain where I had been invited as a guest performer with my circus style trick bike show for the Grand Gala.

Ines Brunn Trick Bike Performance on Zirkolika

Zirkolika is a very famous magazine in the circus arts community. What an honor to me on the front page.