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Wire Walking’s History and Examples Research Paper


Wire walking or tightrope walking can be defined as a way of walking on a thin wire or rope usually at accelerated height. It is associated with activities such as somersaulting and other acrobatics that can be viewed as devilish on a high set wire.

A wire walker can use poles to provide balance or he/she can stretch the arms perpendicularly so that they act as poles. Wire walking is done in different styles such as slack wire, tight wire, high wire, slack lining and freestyle slack lining where by height is the defining term for their differences.

It has along history of about 2000 years although it has not been given priority so far. It all started as wire dancing, then grew into walking/ tiptoeing and eventually wire running where the wire walker can walk through a given distance over a short period of time (Dickens 1861, 538). It is a type of game that involves the player (walker) and the audience.

For one to become a good wire walker a lot of exercise is required added with courage. It is one of the most risky exercise one can engage in because of the dangers that surrounds it including falling from the great height which can result into fractures and dislocations of the body organs and in some extreme cases resulting into death.

Not all can be in a position to engage in such a dangerous exercise, apart from those with a passion for it and have some inborn characters which compel and enable them to perform well in such an activity. Wire walking is an occupation which needs a strong mentality and hard working qualities. A strong courage and determination of each wire-walker has, makes them a legend.

Examples of wire walkers

Several wire walkers can be looked at so as to understand the motivation behind engaging in such a dangerous occupation. Such include, Adili Wuxor from China who in 1997 won himself a title “Prince of high wire walking” because of managing to walk on a steel wire over River Yangtze in 13 minutes 48 seconds.

To road towards this achievement was not all that easy but involved some risks and disappointments. To begin with, his father was a wire walker and it is possible that Adili inherited this from his father, although, this same father had left a will that was against any family members to participate in this activity due to the poor pay it had earned him throughout his life, and as a young boy Adili could have been expected to go as per his father’s will, but on the contrary he took the risk by defiling this will.

He begun doing some exercise though it was not that easy for him especially with the first attempts; he could cry out of fear and even go to an extend of wetting himself while performing, despite this shameful moves, he did not loose hope but he continued until he gained enough confidence.

Money was not an issue to him, despite its meager pay, he continued participating in the dangerous activity, the love he had for this game and the joy he derived from it could not be compared to the payment he was to get at the end. He was even at one time involved in an accident while performing that cost him his ribs and bornes.

He even went into a comma, but upon recovery he embarked on the activities he could afford and even dint give a dump in using any safety equipment. It is this determination, consistence and passion that have seen him this far not forgetting to mention his win as the first torch bearer in his town. He forges forward towards making this activity known globally such that those who had taken part in it in the past can gain recognition and eventual lead to the development of this occupation (Prince of High-wire Walking 2009).

Niagara Falls is a place that has gained popularity because of many wire walkers who have tried to challenge it. Several walkers have tried to cross this river which is a very dangerous attempt bearing in mind of its many waters and heavy waves and tides.

Blondin was the first one to cross this river on a rope, he subsequently involved in more risky activities such as crossing while carrying his manager and in another occasion while pushing a wheelbarrow, his determination in crossing the river twice a week earned him more confidence and fame where he could attract thousands of spectators.

On looking at Blondin performing, another man, Leonard Hunt got attracted and decides to join this occupation, after breaking this news to a girl friend, the relationship breaks but this does not prevent him from taking this risk. Despite his great performances compared to Blondin, he still does not gain favor from the crowds but he keeps engaging in more and more risky acts all with an aim of outdoing Blondin.

At one time a woman he carried fell down into the waters and died after drowning. He is even involved in an accident where he badly broke his leg but still continued in his walk up to a nearest island. Several other walkers challenged the falls including a woman whose demise became a mystery despite the several cases of death involved. This woman was the only one and the first woman to cross the falls on a rope, she did it backwards while blindfolded and with baskets on her feet (French 2008).

The act of crossing this falls is compared to committing suicide with those who survive being referred to as the dare devils. It therefore, takes courage and some unique traits in a person in order to participate in such a game with a lot of passion and enjoyment despite all the risk including death that involves it (Niagara Falls Daredevils n.d).

Philippe Petit is another man who has gained fame because of the act of crossing the twin towers on a wire. The towers are several meters high and when he had the idea of walking over between the towers he was discouraged by a friend and even his wife but still could not resist the urge to do it.

It took him money and time to prepare on how to under take the risky task bearing in mind how guarded the southern tower was. It took courage to make his first walk despite the threats he received from the observers. After some several trips he gained confidence and now could even perform dances and other activities on the rope while walking.

This earned him fame but he still led a poor life besides engaging in this risky occupation. He even got bewildered on looking at the distance he walked once he was downstairs but despite all these, he still could not resist the call in him to still walk and he says that it was not his choice to do this, but he was chosen by this occupation (Higginbotham 2003).


Wire walking is not an occupation that can earn one a living, it only earns fame. Many are the risks that are involved in its undertaking including death. It is therefore an activity that requires great determination, practice, sacrifice and unique character in one for him/her to carry it on.

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. All the year round. Carlifonia: Oxford University. 1868. Print.

French, Phillip.. 2008. Web.

Higginbotham, Adam. . 2003. Web.

Niagara Falls Daredevils: a History.” . Web.

Prince of High-wire Walking, AdiliWuxor. China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region-The Silk Road-News. Ed. Qian Zhao. 7 May 2009. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Wire Walking's History and Examples." November 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/wire-walking/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "Wire Walking's History and Examples." November 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/wire-walking/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Wire Walking's History and Examples'. 8 November.

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