How Does David Blaine Levitate

Come on…how?

If my memory serves me correctly, which it does sometimes, I saw David Blaine on an HBO special demonstrating this ability. During the special, they showed him walking the streets of New York, walking up to people with a deck of cards saying “Would you like to see something amazing?” After this, he would do an amazing card trick. I forget exactly what it was, but it made me go hmmmmm. When the person was in awe, he’d ask if they want to see something more amazing, then he’d levitate about 8 inches of the ground. They did demonstrations with people checking for platforms under his feet, and there were no wires. This leads me to believe that this isn’t a trick, in the normal sense of the word. Here’s my theory on how it’s done. I have studied martial arts for several years. During this study, I became familiar with chi, which is the term for body energy. There are documented cases of people using chi to control their surroundings, like moving an object without touching it. Bruce Lee’s one inch punch was a great example of the use of chi. He could create great force in his hand with very little movement. I would assume that David Blaine uses a similar technique to levitate. This is just my thought on it, I’m probably wrong, but this is the only way I could see it working.

You’ll be disappointed! It’s been covered before, but I’ll save you the trouble of searching for the thread. Go here and scroll down to tanstaafl’s answer.

But the guy’s a pretty cool magician anyway.

Aseymayo is right. I saw the explanation on one of Fox’s “Masked Magician” specials. I love those; they show you all of the major tricks and how they were done. Ticked the magicians off good, but I liked that even more; magicians have such a superior attitude. :slight_smile:

IIRC, Bruce Lee’s “one inch punch” was actually a great example of pronation of the forearm for added power, as well as using the mass of your entire body to follow through a punch.

Not chi.

Oooh, David B!!!


I’m sorry to burst your bubble, nineiron, but the Fox specials do not do what you think they do. In fact, they just add another layer of deception to magic.

In the Fox specials, with very rare exceptions, you are being shown out-of-date versions of out-of-date and/or simplified stage illusions that nobody performs any more, and certainly not as crudely as the MM demonstrations. The ‘secrets’ they reveal (again, with very rare exceptions) are about as relevant to today’s magic as the 1950s Top Ten is to today’s Billboard 100.

I am not sure where you get your view that magicians have a superior attitude. I imagine I have met more than you have, and most are models of modesty. If you have met a few that come across as superior, then I’m sorry you had that experience, but magi like that are in the minority.

As for the Fox specials upsetting magicians or ticking them off, again I can assure that the great majority of the magic community are not in the least perturbed by the Fox specials - mainly for the reasons I have outlined above. The few that tend to ‘rant and rave’ are rather misguided.

In any case, there is a lot more to magic than large stage illusions involving cabinets.

I once saw part of a documentary on, I think, the Discovery Channel which promised to show the world people who could “levitate” and also “fly across the room” by the sheer power of their minds. So these people are all sitting there,with their legs crosssed, meditating and “Ommm” - ing away, and suddenly they begin bouncing across the floor on their butts, legs still crossed! It was the most hilarious thing I’d seen in ages! Not exactly soaring through the air like Peter Pan.

I saw that program too, salinqmind. They claimed a little extra “hang time” IIRC. It was pretty funny.
The program also debunked the people squatting in mid-air while holding onto a cane.

Yeah, that’s the Maharishi people. Their “Maharishi International University” is about 20 miles from me, here in Iowa. They’ll teach you to “levitate” for only a few tens of thousands of dollars. From what I hear, strap-on foam rubber butt pads are the #1 bestselling accessory at MIU. They claim that their “bounce” is truly levitation because it’s impossible to exert muscle forces in a way to lift your butt off the ground while sitting with your legs crossed. What a load of crap.

“Burst my bubble”? I have no bubble to burst. I am a rational person who knows that there is no such thing as magic. OK, the Fox specials are out of date. These days, unlike in the 1950s, people really DO make the Statue of Liberty disappear, really DO levitate, and really DO saw people in half. OK.

By the “superior attitude,” I didn’t necessarily mean that the individual magicians are cocky, just that the whole genre is based on a rather childish (I think) “I-know-how-to-do-it-but-I’m-not-telling-you” mentality. And no, I’m not one of those killjoys who yell out the secret when I happen to watch a magician. I agree that the tricks are usually pretty cool to look at; who am I to ruin someone else’s enjoyment of it if they want to believe it’s real? Myself, I like to know how the tricks are done, that’s all.

I don’t believe that’s really true. I think there is a lot of relevance.

Yes, they were simplified and crude, but what they showed were the basic principles of the tricks - i.e. hidden rods - black against black, hiding in small spaces, using twins and doubles, camera tricks, etc.

They didn’t outright say ‘this is how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear’ but they did show the principle he used.

All magic still uses most of those principles, only augmented with superior technology and flashier set ups. For those of us who ‘want to know how they did it’ we are more in awe of their abilities and skills in deception, than the trick itself.

(By the way, you know that trick Copperfield did where he locked himself in a safe in a condemned building? I know how he did the first part of the trick, but I can’t figure out how he appeared on the platform under the sheet afterwards) (unless the audience were all in on it)

I believe that Mr. Blaine utilized the Baldacci method to levitate on his first television special. I must confess that I have seen none of his specials, but did read an article in Magic magazine written by a reviewer who theorized that the Baldacci method was used. The trick may be purchased from L&L Publishing as well as other reputable magic dealers. Practice hard and good luck!!!

I am unsure what you mean by “really”. No, he didn’t make the SOL disappear, and anyone who really sawed a person in half would be arrested.

Oh, we are in total agreement that some magicians give off this air, and that it is as juvenile as it is objectionable. But they are simply not very good at their craft. I think it’s a bit of a slander to say “the whole genre” is based on this. There are many fine magicians who avoid this error, and I hope you get to see more of them.

This is simply not true.

(1) The MM specials, while they included some smaller tricks, generally focused on large-scale stage illusions featuring screens and cabinets, with the audience having a constrained field of view. There are many areas of magic which do not fall into this category, so strike the phrase “all magic”.

(2) I can think of very few advances in magic since the 1950s which have relied on either ‘superior technology’ or ‘flashier setups’. Mostly, they have derived from fresh thinking, greater ingenuity, and an intense drive towards perfecting effects to satisfy the greater sophistication of modern audiences.

(3) Even if there was another MM hour every week for a year, they could not begin to scratch the surface of the principles magicians use. Let me try to convey one example. Suppose the task facing the magician is to give a spectator an apparently free choice of card, but actually to force one card in particular. How many ‘basic’ principles do you think are involved? Well, there are at least 400 distinct methods, refracting at least 20-30 distinct ‘basic principles’.

(4) You can argue that there are only so many ‘basic principles’, but you risk doing damage to the concepts of ‘basic’ and ‘principle’, and diluting the very point you are trying to make. Unless you are careful, you will be like someone who has been shown how a dozen guitar chords are played, and who therefore concludes that he knows how the Beatles wrote all their hit tunes. I respect that you would never make such a trite error, but I am making a serious point.

The MM shows do only scratch the surface and are hopelessly out of date. This is not an accident. In the magic press, the MM himself has explained that when he first got involved the show was much more of a celebration of magic arts, with the ‘exposure’ element very minor and harmless. Later, the format changed into just a series of demos and exposures. At this point, he had a choice. Walk away… when they might get someone else willing to expose many a cherished secret? Or stay involved, and try to exercise some responsible control in terms of the nature and quality of the exposures. In other words, to provide just enough ‘exposure’ to make the viewing public feel they were getting the exciting inside dope, but not enough to damage the legitimate interests of the contemporary magic industry.


Okay, you clearly have experience in magic yourself. I accept your superior knowledge.

However, I was referring to the larger stage illusions, and not to the close magic like prestidigitation, psychic tricks, and such like. (and even then, they still are based on a certain number of principles that evolve into ‘new’ tricks)

There’s nothing new under the sun. :slight_smile: