Tarbell Version of Japanese Thumb Tie


To Perform:

Figure 1.

Tie the tape good and tight.

Have a spectator wrap one piece of tape twice around your left thumb and tie it securely on under side of thumb. Allow him to make two or three knots.

Have the spectator wrap the other piece of tape twice around your right thumb, tying it well on upper side of thumb.

To Perform:

Figure 1.

Tie the tape good and tight.

Place left thumb on right thumb. Wave your hands back and forth a moment to throw ends A and B on upper sides of hands and ends C and D on under sides of hands. Waving of the hands confuses the spectators and leads them to believe that each pair of ends is now around opposite thumb. In reality each pair of ends is around its own thumb.

Figure 3.

With a slight wave of hands, get ends A and B between left fingers to lift them up out of the way.

Figure 3A.

Then say to spectator:

"I shall ask you now to tie the upper thumb to the lower one. Pull tight and tie a good knot."

Hold thumbs up so that spectator can tie ends C and D around lower thumb.

Figure 4.

"Now, secure the lower thumb to the upper doubly well by tying these other two ends together."

Turn backs of hands up and have spectator tie ends A and B on top of upper thumb.

Figure 5.

To audience:

"Note carefully how my thumbs have been securely tied. Each thumb has been wrapped with tape and tied and then both thumbs have twice been securely tied together. As you can readily see, such a tie would bind me securely, and my only hope of release would be to have someone cut the tapes off with a knife or pair of scissors."

Show thumbs to audience. They appear to be tied securely together, yet each thumb is entirely separate from the other.

Figure 6 shows a side view of manner in which thumbs are tied. Thumbs are pulled apart to show this clearly. Of course, you do not permit the audience to see such a view as is shown in Figure 6.

It is now an easy matter for you to pass objects between your hands. First, start with the pole. Place your hands in

front of the pole which is Thrust hands toward pole.

Figure 7.

front of the pole which is Thrust hands toward pole.

Figure 7.

being held by spectator.

As hands reach pole, separate them enough to get pole between them and bring thumbs together again immediately on other side of pole. Show thumbs tied. This must be done in a flash so that spectator cannot see separating of the hands.

Figure 8.

Bring hands away from pole in same manner.

Next have spectator toss rings to you, one at a time. Catch them between hands and allow them to slip over right or left arm. Release rings from arm again in same manner.

Figure 9.

To finish have tapes cut from thumbs with a pair of scissors, preferably by your own assistant.


This tie can be worked at angles and under conditions impossible with the regular method. It may be performed down in the audience with people all around you. You may permit short examination of thumbs when they are together.

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