It’s too hard

There is a perception that hard sleights are just hard for no reason. You always hear from magicians, “That’s too hard. I’ll just do a double undercut.” or “That’s too hard, I am not a man so therefore I will do only girl stuff.” Okay, maybe not the first quote. While this kind of thinking is wrong in many ways, I do understand where they are coming from.

I would agree that the current trend of creating “original” sleights are becoming to the point where one creates something harder for the sake of variation.
In the old days, sleights were created to accomplish things.  To make things efficient. Now?  We see many kids making sleights different and “harder” so they can claim it as their own while they don’t add improvements.  Either its a lateral movement or even a step down.

From the above thinking,  hard sleight of hand makes you a “move monkey” or that you are “masturbating” for the audience now.


Sleight of hand is all about making a certain effect come across clearer and more direct. The method being hard or not doesn’t matter. If you use a easy sleight that takes many steps to get to the same place as a hard sleight in less, then it’s a no reason not to learn the harder sleight.

Saying that a move is too hard is saying you are fucking lazy.  Magic is a Craft.

I always try to make sleights that are more efficient.  Usually they do come across as hard moves.  But if you take a look at the sandwiches I just recently put out, I personally feel that the moves in the trick are justified.  They aren’t just in there to make it harder for my own personal satisfaction.

We need to stop thinking in terms of a move being hard or easy, but instead think in terms of does this sleight make my effect come better?  Cleaner?  Less Suspicious?  If so, it doesn’t matter how fucking hard or easy it is.

Posted: May 10th, 2011
Comments: 4 Comments.
Comment from Bene - May 10, 2011

Hi Tony,

I basically agree with you. The only thing I would like to add is that your approach requires brutal honesty. Most of us — myself included — simply execute a lot sleights not deceptively enough (because we stop practicing to early). What I mean by that is that while the audience might think nothing can have happened they will still be able to tell that we did something, because we tensed / concentrated on the deck in such simple operation as turning over / taking a card, squaring the deck (which suddenly required 2 hands and 7 seconds) and so on…

To be clear in everything I have seen so far from you in your videos and our few meetings in NYC you execute your sleights beautifully relaxed and with very little tells.


Tony Chang Reply:

doesn’t mean I am free of what you just said. We all have that problem. I been playing around with the cover pass for almost 10 years and I still don’t have it down. I think that the more and more you really focus on a sleight, the more you understand what it means to make a sleight invisible. Maybe more in a philosophic way than a practical technical way.

But it DOES apply to everything else you do. Maybe I will never master a non tensed/ non suspicious cover pass, but the lessons from thinking about the perfection of it makes my magic as a craft a whole lot better.


Comment from Kevin - May 10, 2011

This reminds me of something Michael Weber spoke about on his Greater Magic Video Library tape, which is that while you should always try and use the simplest method possible, even if the simplest method is not the easiest method. Simple = effective.


Comment from Luis Corbis - November 16, 2012

I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve created a control move which many card magicians are impressed with. It’s my one claim to fame and it’s unique because its fast, sure, just like a pass or what not. However, I think its efficient and strong. It justifies what you are saying. In magic, I strive for two things: simplicity, interactiveness, and I guess efficiency in sleights.