There are many different types of whips, including Bullwhips, Stock whips, Snake Whips, Performance Hybrid Whips, Cow Whips, Bullock Whips, Fire Whips, and more! In general, whips are classified by the way the braided portion of the whip (the thong) attaches to the handle. For descriptions and pictures of some common whips, see below:
A bullwhip is arguably the most popular type of whip in North America. This might be because of its roles in films such as the Indiana Jones series, The Legend of Zorro, and Catwoman.
Bullwhips often have a short handle (around 10”) and are usually heavier than other types of whips. They typically have an overlay that starts at the beginning of the handle and continues to the end of the thong. Because of this, they are measured from the butt of the handle to the beginning of the fall. Bullwhips are useful for throws, flicks, and other cracks that don’t require a sudden change in direction.
A stockwhip is the most popular type of whip in Australia, and was originally used to herd cattle while on horseback. The main characteristic of a stockwhip is the keeper: a knot that attaches the thong to the end of the handle.
Stockwhips typically have a long handle (18” – 24”) and are light compared to other types of whips. This makes them useful for multiple crack patterns and routines which involve quick changes in direction like the volley. Stockwhips are measured by thong length.
Performance Hybrid (PH)
A Performance Hybrid (PH) whip is a combination of a bullwhip and a stockwhip. They are widely considered to be one of the best types of whips for beginners because they are versatile and inexpensive.
PH whips have a medium length handle (14”-18”) that is most commonly made out of CPVC piping. The thong attaches to this handle through a coupling at the end of the handle, and is tied through the CPVC. PH whips are almost exclusively made out of nylon, and are typically measured by thong length.
A snake whip is a whip that has no handle, and instead only has a heel knot at the beginning of the thong. Snake whips are typically quite heavy to make up for the lack of control that a handle would provide. Because of this, snake whips are almost only used for throw type cracks where the whip does not change direction. Snake whips are useful for travel, because the lack of handle makes them easy to fit into a backpack, suitcase, or even a pocket. They are measured from the beginning of the whip to the end of the thong.
A bullock whip is a whip that is primarily popular in Australia, and was used for herding cattle. It is a long whip attached to a long piece of cane, and is cracked with two hands. Bullock whips look and act like very large stock whips, and long stock whips are sometimes converted into bullock whips by whip makers. A bullock whip handle is typically around 5’, and the thong is usually 7.5’ or longer. Bullock whips are measured by thong length.
A whip that is made out of Kevlar, designed to be soaked in fuel and lit on fire. These types of whips create large fireballs in the air when cracked by releasing fuel and igniting it.
Fire whips come in a variety of shapes, weights, and sizes, and are primarily used by professional performers and flow artists.