A Case for Misdirection

Generally speaking…. magicians today have an obsession with sleight of hand skills. To the point that some magicians have developed techniques that no one else can even replicate, purely due to how technical the move is. Shin Lim, for example, is one of the best sleight of hand artists in the world, with quick precise and visual movements that baffle the naked eye. His sleight of hand routines are often extremely difficult, and require years of practice. Shin Lim is also known for his creative use of gimmicks; however, gimmicks have their own problems as well. In some situations, they can become suspicious to an audience member if ever they ask to examine it, and they generally require some level of pocket space.

If you are looking for powerful, reputation-making magic, they are two highly effective channels.


there is a third and often overlooked method for creating magical moments:


Sometimes, a split second is all you need to make that move.

A momentary mental lapse in your spectator to create an impossible moment.

As magicians we highly value what we can do with our hands, and newcomers can often be brought down with the insecurity they get when they are afraid to perform a certain move.

Every single magician in the world has at some point felt this, especially those of us who started at a young age with tiny hands.


But how many of us realized we can still create moments of impossibility, by just putting the audience’s focus on something else, for no more than a second?

For those of you who have never used misdirection, and feel lost reading this… I highly recommend that you look up these two magicians:



Both magicians are incredibly well known for their sleight of hand magic, and looked up to by many magicians.

For the sake of this article we’re going to focus on James Brown.

If you ask him about his technical skill in sleight of hand, he will tell you that it’s decent.

However, if he were to perform for you, you would swear that it’s the best you’ve ever seen.

How can this be?



His use of misdirection is the reason that he’s earned the title of “Close Up Magician of the Year” from the Magic Circle, slipping a card under his spectator’s watch, secretly loading a pot of jam in plain sight, then removing that spectator’s watch.

… Trust me, it’s a powerful tool


Though misdirection may be my favorite way to create magical moments for others…

the truth is that the strongest routines often use a range of different methods previously mentioned.

The best thing that a magician can do is to think of each approach as a different tool his toolbox, because when a chance to do some magic arises, you want to make sure that you have the right tool for the job.




-Thanks to Ricardo Castañeda for his help in writing this