New Victory Arts Break: Card Ninja

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a flying Jack of Spades? In this New Victory Arts Break, inspired by the wry wisecracks and dazzling dexterity of Card Ninja (it’s not a magic show!), we’ll practice performing our own exciting stunts, land a few quick punchlines and personalize some cards for playing. Or throwing. But mostly playing. Let’s get started!

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New Victory Arts Break: Card Ninja

Some of the videos in this Arts Break were filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future, and we encourage you to learn more about these vibrant communities.

Before the Show: Trick Shot-O-Rama

Before you head over to Stage 42 to experience Card Ninja‘s jaw-dropping card-flinging stunts, let’s attempt some trick shots of our own. Join New Victory Teaching Artist Peter Musante as he lays out the tricks of the trick shot trade in the video below. Ready to nail it?

Step One: Build your trick shot! Remember, you need a flyer (a small object), a launch (a way of sending it flying) and a landing (a tricky destination). These could be your own discoveries or things you spotted during Peter’s lesson. Start safe and simple, and take care of one another! As Peter pointed out, tricks shots are only fun if no one gets hurt.

🔥 Trick Shot Hot Tip! 🔥
Add another launch to really make your trick shot pop. Instead of just a toss, explore a sequence of launches—underhand, roll, bounce!

Step Two: After getting familiar with how your flyer feels and moves by passing it between your fingers, start practicing your launch and landing. Practice makes perfect.

🔥 Trick Shot Hot Tip! 🔥
Start by launching from very close to the landing target. Then slowly level up, moving farther and farther away until you get the hang of it from a more impressive distance.

Step Three: Show off your shot! Find a friend or family member and share what you’ve been working on.
Looping video of Peter tossing a cardboard tube directly onto a vertical chopstick and then pumping his arms in celebration
How did it go? Remember, trick shots take patience and persistence, and perfecting them takes time. Celebrate your failures along with your successes, like Peter said, because each attempt brings you that much closer to nailing your skill!

On the Way: It's All in the... Timing!

As you shuffle on over to Stage 42, let’s dive into a key element in Card Ninja—comedic timing! In this next activity, we’ll share a laugh at some comedic one-liners… with an Arts Break twist. You’re on!

Step One: Determine who will be the comedian delivering the lines, and who will be the joke writer supplying missing words.

Step Two: The comedian looks through the list of one-liners below and chooses one they’d like to try! Each joke has a setup, a punchline (in italics and marked with a 🥊), and a missing word that needs to be filled in, like Mad Libs:

  • Why do fish swim in salt-water? 🥊 Because spice makes them sneeze!
  • What do plural animal do when they watch TV? 🥊 They press paws.
  • I tried to buy some camouflage article of clothing, 🥊 but I couldn’t find any.
  • What did the big type of flower say to the small same type of flower? 🥊 Hi bud!
  • Why do golfers wear two plural article of clothing? 🥊 In case they get a hole in one.
  • What do plural type of bird give out on Halloween? 🥊 Tweets.
  • What’s red and smells like color paint? 🥊 Red paint.

Step Three: Before the comedian tells their joke, they ask the joke writer for the missing word. Remember, only the comedian can see the full joke.

Step Four: Once the joke writer supplies the missing word, the comedian should take a moment to determine the best timing for the joke. Would it be best to take a long pause before the punchline to build suspense? What about speaking very quickly all the way through it for maximum energy or slowing down on the punchline to really drive it home? Try out all of these options!

Can you come up with your own one-liner on your way to Card Ninja? Try it out! The sillier the better.

After the Show: DIY Deck

Now that you’ve experienced the amazing stunts on stage at Card Ninja, let’s explore one more key element of the show… the cards! In this next activity, we’ll design some personalized playing cards and suit up for a quick card game. Draw!

Materials: Coloring utensils, blank paper or our card designing template, scissors (optional)

Blank playing card layouts marked with small letter or number rank in their corners: King, Queen, Jack, Ace, 2, 3.

Step One: What images come to mind when you think of your family? The face of a parent or sibling? A fun family activity? A favorite gathering place? Your images could also be more abstract, expressing what family means to you in shapes, colors and symbols!

Step Two: With your images in mind, it’s time to decorate your cards. Since there are six cards to design, you can create six identical cards or make six completely different ones! You can also choose to cut them out, or leave them on the page.

Siobhan's six cards: King dad, Queen mom, Jack uncle, Ace of rainbows, Two of rainbows, and Three of stars

Siobhan from New Victory Education designed six different cards representing her family. “My family is like my own little Kingdom,” she says. “My mother and father are the king and queen, and I thought my uncle would be a great Jack!”

Step Three: Share your cards with your family. If you encourage them to make their own, you can combine all your cards into a family deck. Deal?

In the corner of each card, you’ll see different ranks—King, Queen, Jack, Ace, 2 and 3. Use the rank to inspire your design. For instance, you could draw your grandma on the Queen card, or your two cats on the 2 card!

Siobhan's six cards fanned out on a table

Siobhan’s stars and rainbows also hold special meaning! “When I think of my family,” she explains, “I think of our magical memories. My parents and I are the three stars! We have been through a lot but always come out the other end shining bright, just like a rainbow after a storm. Or a double rainbow!”

Arts Break Bonus
Grab a friend or family member who has also made some cards and get ready for a quick and easy card game! For this game, card rank matters, so you and your fellow player need to decide if Aces are the highest rank (above Kings) or the lowest rank (below 2s).

Step One: Sitting opposite each other, players shuffle their own cards and place them in piles face down.

Step Two: On the count of three, players each reveal the top card from their deck and tell the story of its family-inspired design.

Step Three: The player that revealed the higher card wins the round and collects both cards. If the cards match, players return them to their decks and shuffle. Gameplay continues until all stories have been told, at which point the player with the most cards wins!

And Beyond: Culture, Cards, Comedy!

There’s one last card to play—the joker! Before you go, learn a bit more about the Card Ninja himself, Javier Jarquin, keep honing those trick shots and dive deeper into comedy. Or practice some of Javier’s card-throwing and martial arts techniques!

A man wearing a black shirt throws playing cards in a flourish against a red background.

Javier grew up in Aotearoa* New Zealand, over 9,000 miles away from New York on the opposite side of the globe. And during the show, Javier also draws a connection between his love of martial arts and his roots in China—his mom is Chinese! Take some time to discover the cultures, geographies and histories of these faraway nations in two fact-filled videos from Pocket Passport (New Zealand) and Learn Bright (China), plus a video about ninjas from Kidsview.

🔥 Trick Shot Hot Tip! 🔥
Proof that you can try this at home, Javier’s card-throwing highlight reel is a great source of inspiration for your next trick shot!

*Aotearoa is the Māori-language name for New Zealand. The Māori people are the Indigenous Polynesian people who first settled the islands that make up New Zealand over a thousand years ago.

New Victory Teaching Artist Sarah Petersiel
Make comedy magic with New Victory Teaching Artist Sarah Petersiel in an Arts Break all about the element of surprise.

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