For those that have no idea who I am, my name is Leon Tai. I’m a cardist from Singapore (home to some of the dankest cardists ever), and I am mainly known for being fast:

Bird. #cardistry

A post shared by Leon Tai (@leontai) on

The basic definition of speed, in relation to Cardistry, is to get from point A in a flourish to point B as quickly as possible. One could say that speed is a natural progression of one’s skills; once you’re smooth enough, it’s time to speed things up a notch. To me, speed conveys confidence; you’re telling people that you’re so familiar with the move you’re doing that you can do it fast.

However, the general consensus of the community is that you should ONLY be smooth. “Smoothness gives the illusion of speed”, they normally quote, but why make speed an illusion? You know who said that quote? Daren Yeow. Wanna know how fast is he now?

I rest my case.

Why should I be fast?

You mean, other than the fact that it looks really cool?

One thing that I have really benefited from constantly doing card flourishes at a speedy… speed, is that everything that isn’t at my speed now seems slow by comparison. “How does this benefit me?” you might ask? It helps you to learn other flourishes at a much quicker pace. Once you’re used to doing things fast, it makes dissecting other flourishes much simpler.

Another benefit of being fast at a flourish is that it helps you to better understand a flourish. Being fast requires you to really practise and optimise a flourish inside out by:

  • Reducing any weird pauses in your performances
  • Getting precise finger placement on any packets
  • Knowing exactly when to switch grips

If you’re a cardist that prefers to be smooth, training yourself to be faster can actually help you be smoother in performing your flourishes, since by training to be fast, you’re equipped with knowledge of all the nuances of the particular flourish that you want to perform.

How do I get fast… fast?

This comes down to how you practice, but there are a few general steps that are pretty much universal:

1. Having a strong foundation

Andrew Avila wrote an excellent article about why having a strong grasp of the basics is a good idea. Many flourishes can be dissected into smaller basic flourishes, and thus having a strong foundation will speed your learning process by a lot.

2. Learn to be smooth first

People think that being fast and being smooth are two separate things, like you can only be one of those two. But it takes a really smooth cardist to be a really fast one. Being smooth means transitioning from one element of a flourish to another without any pauses.  For example, Dan and Dave’s Crabshack can be broken down into 3 elements:

  1. The Tornado Cut
  2. The “twisty” part in between (idk lol), which includes Tudor’s One Handed Revolution 2.
  3. Molecule 3

After identifying the different components, it’s just a matter of getting them down separately, and combining them afterwards. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.

3. Pushing yourself

You don’t get faster by staying at a speed that’s in your comfort zone. Maybe try to go a little faster, then once you’re comfortable with that, go even faster.

In conclusion

I guess what I’m trying to say is: being fast looks cool, gives you time warping super-powers, and turns you into Super Saiyan.

In all seriousness, though, what I want you to understand is that speed shouldn’t be an ultimate end-goal, but as a tool you can use to push yourself to become a better cardist. A good cardist should be versatile, and be able to perform flourishes at all speeds. Some flourishes look better fast and some look better slow, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the option to be fast. If you’re not pushing yourself to be fast because you don’t like how it looks, you’re limiting your potential. We all deserve to be the best cardist we can be.

Thank you for reading!

About Leon Tai

Leon is a self-proclaimed filmmaker, photographer and general stuff-doer. He has a YouTube channel, and is also a music curator at The Cardist Mixtape.