How A Chinese Warrior Used Juggling As An Intimidation Tactic

Have you ever heard of a battle being won without a single drop of blood being spilled? While it's certainly not common, it's not impossible either. Imagine stepping onto a field full of 500 armored soldiers who are ready to cut you to bits with axes, knives, swords, and any number of other razor-sharp weapons of pain. Now imagine doing it all on your own, eye-to-eye with an army of blood-thirsty adversaries and nobody there to have your back. That would take some serious balls, right?

In the case of Xiong Yiliao of Shinan vs. the army of Song, it literally took balls (nine, to be exact) to take down an army, and nobody suffered a scratch in the process. According to the International Jugglers' Association, Xiong — who was fighting on behalf of the Chinese King Zhuang of Chu in 603 B.C. — managed to thwart the opposing mass of troops with a simple vaudeville trick: the timeless art of juggling. 

Balls to The Great Wall

Okay, so the whole "no blood was shed" part may not have been entirely true. There are a few details surrounding Xiong Yiliao's story that, like a handful of balls mid-juggle, are still up in the air. Some say it was the art of Xiong's distraction that allowed for King Zhuang's army to descend upon the Song troops while they stared on in befuddlement. Others claim that the opposing side was so baffled and confused by the soldier's peculiar gesture, they turned and fled from the scene of the would-be battle and nobody was harmed (via Fact Republic). 

In either case, historians are in unanimous agreement that Xiong Yilao actually stood before a horde of soldiers and juggled nine balls by means of strategically playing upon their expectations long enough to achieve victory. Lo and behold, it actually worked, and the tale of Xiong Yilao's miraculous juggling feat remains one of history's weirdest and most baffling stories (per International Jugglers' Association). 

Other times juggling was utilized during battle

Xiong Yiliao of Shinan wasn't the only historical character who dazzled and diverted his enemies with juggling tricks. According to Karwansaray Publishers, The Norman chief Taillefer pushed forward on horseback with William the Conqueror's army (the vanguard) marching behind him at The Battle of Hastings in 1066. All the while, Taillefer allegedly tossed his sword up into the air and caught it repeatedly with tumbling grace and precision — (some claim it was a spear rather than a sword) — before plunging it into his enemies. Anglo-Norman scholar Geoffrey Gaimar once remarked that those who bore witness to the phenomenon saw it as "nothing short of magic."

While this next incident took place centuries later, and far away from a battlefield, the remarkable story of how American radio host Hans Von Kaltenborn (1878-1965) managed to escape a sticky situation by means of juggling has become a contemporary legend. Apparently, while visiting China in 1927, Von Kaltenborn was abducted by rogue criminals demanding money in exchange for his safety. Not knowing what else to do while he awaited his fate, the radio host grabbed a handful of junk scattered at his feet and started juggling. His captors were apparently so charmed and tickled, they granted him leave to go and he escaped without a scratch (via International Jugglers' Association).