That move is way too hard!

April 17th, 2012 | Team Ellusionist | Filed Under General

Do all the hard moves you like!

For a long time, I’ve practiced many card moves in order to have an arsenal of techniques to help me out of many situations. That being said, some of the moves are not the most “practical” but are useful in certain situations. Some of the moves are very difficult but allow for minimal obvious movement and others require a good amount of misdirection. Regardless, it always seems that someone has a move that’s better, or a reason as to why the move I’m doing isn’t the best choice. 

To be honest, I believe that every move has a purpose and also everyone has a move that they can do very well in almost any condition. There are so many tricks, moves, controls, steals etc. that it’s almost impossible to learn them all. But just because you have a move that you’re comfortable with does that mean that you shouldn’t learn any others? If the move is hard, does that mean that it’s useless because there is an easier way? Should we always look for shortcuts?

I’ve found that sometimes the best way to reach my goal in a close up effect is to use moves that can be considered “difficult” or moves that “can be achieved with a double lift.”

This is usually spot on, the end result is the same but sometimes using a difficult move can create moments where seemingly nothing has happened and I can do things “away from the heat”. This is why I practice those moves, especially with cards. When doing card effects I try to make the effect as streamlined and “hands off” as possible. My goal is to make my audience think that I never touched the deck.

Too often  most people say that moves are too difficult or are not needed don’t take the time to really study the move and its possibilities–by saying that something is “too hard” you’re putting up blocks in your learning and in your performance.

I’ve been luck enough to be surrounded by some of the most amazing slight of hand professionals of our time and I’ve never heard them say that something is “too hard“, instead they say “I’m gonna have to practice this for a while” or “let me play with this and see if I can use it“.

Test your limits and try something you’ve never done before. Practice hard and develop a solid practice routine and before you know it people will be telling you “that move is way too hard.” It’s actually a really good feeling because usually that person can’t or won’t take the time that you have and will not get as far as you will go.

Tell me what you think of “hard moves”. And tell me what are your thoughts as well.



  1. I like hard moves as it shows your strengths in magic and makes you better and really fools someone. Another good post xavior.

  2. Xavior Spade on:

    Thanks Mark C. Glad you liked it!

  3. Whatever move looks most natural is the move to use regardless of the level of difficulty.

  4. Brian J. Parker on:

    I think one should always strive to improve, learning new moves so as not to be limited in the effects they can achieve; but also unafraid to achieve an effect via the simplest means possible, cutting moves when they can, so as to focus on the overall effect rather than the mechanics. These aren’t contradictory, but it is easy to get caught up in one and neglect the other.

    I have to respectfully disagree with Marc C.’s phrasing that hard moves “shows your strengths in magic,” as the spectator should generally have no idea how easy or hard the moves involved with the magic were. I suspect many think I’m working much harder with Invisible Deck than Triumph, for example.

  5. Scott Starkey on:

    Wonderful magic can be achieved without any hard moves. I also think it can be a devastating side-track for beginners, who might get discouraged if they can’t do the latest XCM spin move with their left nostril and big toe.

    In fact, in my early magic practice (a few years ago) I wasted time on “hard” moves, when I could have been doing great tricks with much simpler moves. I think that concept is lost on the beginner, who might think, “If I only learn this one move/trick, I will fool even magicians!” I struggled with that thought myself. I still have some magic which I bought from that early period which I have still not been able to master the moves.

    That being said, I did eventually conquer some of the tricky moves I had been trying: the Pass, the Top Change, the One-Hand Top Palm. I was only able to do this with occasional practice of a few minutes. Built up over time, it will create the muscle memory which will allow you to repeat it without thinking.

    My advice to my younger self would now be: Sit down with “Mark Wilson’s Complete Course” (or Tarbell, or Harry Lorayne’s Magic Book) and don’t buy any magic until you perform FIVE effects out of it. Do it! There’s brilliant magic in them-thar books! After five tricks, you will know something about the fundamentals of presentation, patter, and sleight of hand to start branching out into more complicated “hard” magic. I wish I had listened to my future self! I would have saved a lot on magic which is now sitting in a drawer!

  6. Mystic Mike in SA on:

    The only thing I dislike about “hard moves” is that I always want to fast forward through the time it takes to learn them well enough to use them. There are some moves I have been working on for years that I never quite feel ready to use.

  7. Xavior Spade on:

    Perhaps you should try them and see how it feels to do them in action. Sometimes the “pressure” makes things click sort-a-say.

  8. Roger-Pierre on:

    I still think that this chestnut says it all – Derick Dingle, after doing 6 minutes of unbelievable magic for Barbara Walters, does the Brainwave Deck – Ms. Walters says, “I can understand how you did all of that other stuff, but that’s amazing!!

  9. Commenting a bit on Scott S.’s post…difficulty is in the hands of the performer. Some moves that might be harder for some are easier for others. Some people’s hands aren’t built to do certain things. Some people might have small hands and would be better doing a side-jog-control type move to “appear” to put the card in the middle rather than actually place (or have the spectator place) the card in the middel and do some sort of “pass move” to actually get it to the top. Practice is definatly important without a doubt. I have been practicing the different passes and feel myself getting better every day. I’m not saying don’t practice any harder moves, but do be realistic about what you can do and what you can’t do. I would rather practice and perfect moves that don’t discourage me to do magic rather that keep practicing moves I can’t do and throw my hands up and give up all together. Good topic, guys.

  10. Difficult moves…
    I’d like to say that no move is difficult in itself (meaning that no move is impossible to master, tough it can take a good deal of practice before you can actually hope to get away with it in front of an audience)…

    More than on the difficulty of moves I like to focus and concentrate on the effect that i intend to produce…

    To the audience the method you used to find a card is totally indifferent both if you forced it from the beginning through a totally easy force and if you had to do a triple somersault over a pool of crocodiles.

    I think the perfect move is the one that brings your card (or anything else) right where it should go, goes unnoticed, and gives the space of building beauty over it… all the rest is vanity,.. and if we want to show off we have flourishes.

    With this i mean that we should absolutely practice on hard moves, but that it is pointless to put totally hard moves in a routine to obtain effects you could manage with easier/safer moves.

  11. i find the pass hard

  12. i always move the selected card to the bottom instead of the top

  13. I think that hard moves are performed best under pressure, because easy moves often gives me too much confidence, way too fast and then i screw up easy moves because i think i know how to perform them correctly and i don’t do the move properly. when i perform hard moves though i really focus and think through all that i am doing. for example, the wichita card force by jay sankey, i find it hard to perform cause it looks fishy… but once i performed it and no one noticed.