Bullwhip Newsletter No. 36 May 2018 - Spotlight on Arron Bonk's "The Answer";
Plaits: Is Higher Better?; Seven Jenga Blocks for Winrich

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Spotlight on Aaron Bonk

AARON BONK's routine features 42 throws and catches, combined with superb whip cracking to create an incredible 2-minute experience. Aaron performs at Renaissance Festivals and fairs. Catch him if you can!

Is Higher Better?
Myths about Plaits and Braids

by Bruce Banner 

I recently got a lightweight 6' 8 plait Target whip from Trinity Whip Co to use as a demo for our group, and I can't put it down! It is an amazing whip!!

Too much has been made about high plait count whips being "better" then standard plait counts. It just isn't true, and it's time to set the record straight!

Whips are primarily tools and have specific purposes. Some whips are also specifically built for collectors or as functional art objects but that is a tool of a different purpose.

The majority of real working livestock whips used by Stockmen, currently produced domestically in Australia use a 4 plait redhide or whitehide (cow leather) over a 2 strand cowleather core. Welcome to real life. These stock whips, built with often exposed and unplaited Tohati Cane handles work great and are likely the most common whips in actual production today.

The next step up from that are kangaroo leather stock whips also built mainly in Australia for ranch managers and owners and in Stock Whip Competitions in Australia have 8 plait thongs and usually no more then 12 plait handles. This is the standard build in Australia for Kangaroo Stockwhips.

A friend of mine has a pair of Mike Murphy built 8 plait, long handled, Australian Pattern Bullwhips that are better then whatever you have. (You can try to say what you want about any other high plait count whip but really, don't). End of story.

Muke Murphy was by all estimations a bit of an oddity in that his whip builds were far superior to basically everyone else's. Far and away better. (Not that every whip he made was perfect but he made so many mindblowing ones!!!)

In the US we mainly use inline whips, Bullwhips, Snakes and Signal Whips, (not "jointed" whips like stockwhips).

An 8 plait kangaroo has the fewest number of dropped strands, 0-2, (assuming a 6-8 strand point or Fall Hitch, and therefore has the smoothest taper which translates into the straightest roll out. This makes it preferred for targeting live or competition targets.

The strands are also slightly wider then 12 plait strands making them the strongest and most durable whips in the common lexicon of kangaroo whips sold in the West. If you have a long whip primarily intended for outdoor use, 8 plait is appropriate for outdoor use.

12 plait roo whips have somewhat become an industry standard providung most of the durability of 8 plait with much of the ability for artistic plating found in 16 and higher plait counts.

Terry Jacka was probably the dominant force in whip building in the 1990's and early 2000's, distributing literally thousands of his classic "Batman Returns" style bullwhip through David Morgan's Austral Enterprises and could be responsible for instituting the 12 plait build as the industry standard that we seemingly have today.

Terry said," The width of the sixteen plait strings are cut about a third less the width of the normal twelve plait strings but still be able to take the same strain, otherwise there is no point in using a higher plait count if you can't make the whip tighter or at least as tight as a twelve plait. Unless you use the sixteen to do pattern work and that is another subject." (Terry Jacka on

When using 16 strand or more strands the greater the number of strands the thinner they progressively have lower tensile strength and lower breaking point to the same tightness one can use in 8 or 12 plait whips.
Tightness is considered on of the key factors in a long lasting, quality built whip.

Terry Jacka also reportedly told Joe Strain, (related to me by Blake Brunning) "i owe it to my customers to pull as hard as I can!"

Once they are finished, whips don't get tighter, only looser.

There is a pervasive opinion that 16 plait is better then 12 plait. It was taught to me by my mentors when I first started ordering roo whips and I see it held with many of my friends as well.

Higher plait counts do allow for fancier ringwork and more detailed patterns, this is true. Also not quite as strong as 12 plait but still pretty solid for most of our uses. I have bought many 16 plait whips and sometimes still do.

...Far and away, the most common bought size is the 4' Signal, Snake or Bullwhip, (although the overall measurement is not exactly always 4' esp in bulls and snakes.)

My main point about 16 plait whips is simply this: Even in a bull or snake that ends in a 6 strand point, that's a whole lot of dropped strands in a short run that takes away fromthe smoothness of the taper and accuracy of the targeting. It makes much less difference in a long whip where there is a much greater space to drop the strands in.

A 24 plait, 4' whip has a drop strand every 4"!

The primary determining factor of how a premium roo whip rolls out is in the number of bellies and bolsters, as Desert Minx say's, " my whips have nice panties." Meaning she builds quality on the internals.

It's fine to want a pretty overlay in your whip but please understand that adding plait count on your 4' whip effects the smoothness of the taper. There is a tradeoff in every aspect of the build that changes by changing each or any component.

It helps to understand your goals in whip applications including the importance of durability and accuracy vs esthetics.

Please love and enjoy all of your 8 plait, 12 plait, 16 plait, 20, 24 16/32 plait etc, wonderful whips!

Thank You
(Ed's note: In the interests of transparency, we should let you know that Banner is an Independent Sales Representative for Trinity Whip Co. He adds, "If you try an 8 plait and fall in love with an 8 plait, don't be ashamed to buy an 8 plait. I'm sick of seeing 'plait shaming.'" I can agree with that! -RD-)


Seven Jenga Blocks!
       ADAM WINRICH has raised the bar again, this time breaking April Jennifer Choi's Guinness World Record of Most Jenga Blocks Removed with a Whip.
       According to Guinness, "The most Jenga blocks removed by whip in one minute is 7, and was achieved by Adam Winrich (USA), at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, in Waxahachie, Texas, USA, on 27 April 2018.
       "Adam decided to attempt this record because he enjoys whip cracking records and thought this one is a very interesting one related to whip cracking."
       Congratulations, Adam!
       In closing, I'll tease you with this: Look for a new book and a new video from me in the next few months. No, I'm not offering pre-sales until everything  is "Just So."
       Have a great summer, I'll see you again in about six weeks. Send me your stories, photos, or simply thoughts - I read them all. Thanks!
- Robert Dante -

Copyright © 2018 Dante's Bullwhips, All rights reserved.

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