This page describes how to throw a card with maximum speed and accuracy.
The following text and images have been quoted from Ricky Jay's book entitled "Cards as Weapons" (Copyright 1988, Warner Bros.) Regrettably, this excellent book has been out-of-print for quite some time.
Illustrations for the Jay throwing technique
The Jay Grip
- First, we must assume that the card can express four directions. The four corners of the card will now be designated as Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest.
- Place the Northeast corner of the card into the fleshy part of the right index finger tip.
- The right second finger is placed under the card about one inch down from the index finger along the Eastern edge of the card. The right thumb is placed over the card in exactly the same position. The thumb and second finger has the card pinched between them. If the cards were not present the position of these fingers would be identical to that used in passing the tiniest piece of cigarette to a close friend.
- The third and fourth fingers are kept out of the way: this is most easily done by curling them inward to touch the palm. The Eastern edge of the card makes contact with the hand only where it is grasped by the first two fingers and thumb: the card does not touch the palm of the hand at this time. This is very important. Later, when the wrist is turned inward, the Southeast corner of the card will hit the base of the palm, but it does not do so yet.
You are now ready to learn the Jay throwing technique.
The Jay throwing technique
The basic spinning motion will be discussed first; the arm action for longer throws will be described later.
- Sit comfortably in a chair (not an armchair). Your left hand, which holds the deck, rests in your lap.
- Grasp a card in your right hand in the Jay grip. The right arm rests loosely against the right side of the body.
- Bend the arm at the elbow so that the hand is now about six inches above your knee and parallel to the floor.
- Bend your wrist towards your body until the Southeast corner of the card touches your hand at the base of the palm.
- The wrist now straightens, returning to the original position, as the fingers release the card. The card glides out over the second finger, spins forward for a few inches (or feet), and falls to the floor. The motion of the wrist is the same as that employed in dismissing an incompetent valet.
After you get the feel of this motion, you are ready to add arm action; this will provide greater stability and distance.
The Jay throwing technique with complete arm action
The entire throwing action is similar to that of scaling a Frisbee or saucer and the motion of the arm bending back at the elbow is like the swing of a pendulum. This back-and-forth action may be repeated a few times before the release of the card as a sort of warm-up exercise; this is similar to practice-stroking before the shot in a game of billiards.
- Resume the relaxed position in the chair. The chair will be familiar with you by this time and it too will be relaxed.
- Hold the card in the Jay grip and straighten out the arm, keeping it parallel to the floor.
- Keeping the arm in the same plane, bend the arm in at the elbow, back toward your body, at an angle of 90°.
- The wrist continues to move back but the arm remains stationary until the card touches the base of the palm exactly as in the spinning exercise.
- The wrist and arm swing forward to the original straight position and at this point the card is released.
- The follow-through: as the card is released the wrist goes further to the right of the extended straight arm and the fingers open slightly in a flicking motion.