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History of Baton Twirling

Baton twirling today is defined by a metal rod with rubber ends being manipulated close to the body and thrown into the air in a sport that combines fluidity, fitness, speed, gymnastics, and beauty. This modern day style of twirling also requires the twirler to stay on beat with music while telling a story with his or her movements. Yet, twirling did not always look how it does now. Our Star Line Batons are perfect for the modern day baton twirler, but if you wanted to go back to the beginning of the tradition, you would have to go to a very different store and secure a weapon.

Twirling originated in Western Europe and Asia where guns, knives, torches, and sticks were artfully twirled and tossed. Sometime later the practice was adapted for war. Armies would have one or more rifle twirlers leading the march. The tradition spread through wars as armies met those with rifle twirlers.

Eventually, these rifles became maces. Maces are like long metal staffs, much bigger than today's batons, with one bulbous metal end. Maces are still used today by some drum majors in marching bands and were very popular following World War II, but even they stopped being used in war.

Instead, maces were redesigned to be easier to twirl which resulted in a smaller, lighter, balanced metal rod with two rubber ends. And thus, the modern day baton was born and twirled with ease.

At last, twirling was brought to America when Major Millsap created the sport when he established Millsap’s College after the Civil War in Mississippi. Less than half a century ago, baton twirling had become so popular around the world that it prompted the World Baton Twirling Federation to be formed in 1977. Several organizations have since been formed with the WBTF providing international governance.

Since the modern sport’s establishment, baton twirling has done some great things for the people who have studied its discipline and viewed its execution. From weapons of war to instruments of dexterity, baton twirling has a rich history. With accessories such as batons from Star Line Baton, you can join in making baton twirling history and maybe a throw in a couple samoan twirling knives to honor baton twirling’s origins.

Posted: 3/14/2017

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Star Line Baton Co., Inc.  1660 Benson Road  Cookeville, TN 38506 USA  P: 931-528-7829  F: 931-528-7827