ellusionist black cards


XCM or ECM (Extreme Card Manipulation) is the most visual branch of live performance with cards which is also called “Flourishing”.

Flourishes are not “works of magic” in and of themselves, but rather lend a difficulty and dexterity level to any magic routine that is performed. In their present form, playing cards have only been around for about two hundred years, but the techniques that are applied to their handling are ageless.

As those techniques are improved and refined, the Master Card Conjurer is able to not only find a selected card hidden in the deck, but so manipulate the cards through artistry that the magic “trick” turns into a “card kata” of sorts (much like the martial artists who know how to wield a sword, but at the same time, can place together a group of movements to demonstrate skill in a given set).

With the rise of 21st century media and the internet, there has never been such an explosion of concentrated interest in the artistic handling of ordinary playing cards. Taking the manipulation of cards to a level that goes beyond “pick a card”, shuffle, cut, and spread, the XCM master demonstrates a keen skillfulness in the art of card conjuring.

XCM is now in its most popular phase with the worldwide communication medium of the internet, and the ability to reach across the globe and band conjurers of like-mind together.

XCM “officially” stands for Xtreme Card Manipulation, though the ECM acronym is also used for Extreme Card Manipulation. XCM was first introduced by De’vo Vom Schattenreich and published for the first time in his interview in Genii Magazine in August of 2004.

XCM is set within the category of card conjuring, but as a subset of card flourishing. It relies solely on the agility of sleight of hand card manipulation without engaging the spectator in a magic presentation. It does not involve card productions, color changes, back palming, or other “mystery sleights” that are often accompanied by a magician’s patter. Rather, the deck itself is used in an ingenious manner to demonstrate the ability the card conjurer has in “manipulating” the 52 cards as a deck of cards.

As a matter of fact, the identities of the cards themselves mean little in XCM. The Ace of Spades, for example, is simply a card that is part of a larger stack of cards. It is the deck as a whole which is broken up into parts and moved with nimbleness that attracts the viewer’s eye.

The reason this art is not called simply called “card conjuring” or “card manipulation” is because of the nature of the act. It takes on the challenge of handling the full deck to move within extreme examples of agility and dexterity in both hands. The term “Xtreme” or “Extreme” does not refer simply to the difficulty of the moves but to all the aspects of an XCM routine. Now, the card conjurer who takes the independent moves of XCM and incorporates them in his card conjuring routine will benefit himself greatly.

The more a magician demonstrates ability in an art form, while at the same time creating card miracles, will be the real card conjurer.

-Dr. C. Matthew McMahon CardConjurer.com

Picture by Stein Halvorsen

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22 Responses to “What does XCM (Xtreme Card Manipulation) mean?”

  1. TheCardArtist Says:

    wow, seems like the author is trying to explain the term XCM without knowing what card manipultion really is, vanishes, productions, magic-tricks! go ask mcbride or jesus.

  2. trash Says:

    I liked this post, thanks for putting it up theCuso, is this the same “cardconjurer” from decknique?

  3. TheCuso Says:

    @trash yeah i think so

  4. Daniël Says:

    I would like to mention that XCM is not competely the same as flourishing.

    XCM also includes the more “extreme” manipulation stuff such as elementals, Self Stading Sculptures ans hybride manipulation, which makes XCM a complete seperate artform besides card magic. It is because the stuff I listed above is not included within flourishing, that flourishing fits (most of the time!) better within card magic.

    But often it is really hard to tell wheter a move is an XCM move, or a card flourish. (for example a 17 package display move: it doesn’t fit into the card magic idea, but is it “extreme enough” to call it XCM? Also, this isn’t about speed, but to display the creation you’ve “build”)

    That’s why the term Cardistry comes into play: Cardistry is the term for both XCM and Flourishing together.

    Altough I did seperate Flourishing and XCM, I think it is a bad thing to do this, because the diffrence is really hard to tell. That’s why I think the term Cardisrty is actually the best word for our hobby :)

  5. trash Says:

    personally I think it’s like, the same “move” , can be classified as either a flourish or XCM depending on how it’s presented.

    for me, XCM is when you routine a bunch of flourishes really bad ass. A giant fan by itself is a flourish but a giant fan twirl followed by strip-out to dual armspread turnover… well then it becomes XCM for me :-)

    flourishes within magic tricks (cardistry) is cool and I LOVE it , it’s definitely the future of magic for the younger generation with shorter attention spans.

  6. candido Says:

    Cuso I thought you were in the cardistry side


  7. TheCuso Says:

    @candido i never said the opposite man, plus its always nice to read and know things from all “sides”, dont you think?

  8. V4Viktory Says:

    This is an eternal discussion of flourish or xcm? Why this warz, I respect all terms because in my real life, i´m not a xcm´er, i´m not a flourisher and even not a card magician, If i have to say what is my style? it´s a mix of those terms, I´m just a guy who likes to plays with cards!!

  9. Mattgic Says:

    @Daniël: For me it’s more Cardistry + XCM = Flourishing

    XCM is mainly de’vo and Jerry stuff (and style) : visual stuff, less cuts and more Xtreme stunts

    Cardistry is more Dan and Dave style and everything you see over decknique for example. More cuts, and yeah I totally agree with you it better fits with magic.

    Just my opinion.

  10. uglyface Says:

    Its not CC from decknique.

  11. Chris Severson Says:

    XCM also means Extream COIN Manituplation

  12. Daniël Says:

    My definition was more like my own oppinion btw, but as said before: it IS hard to describe what term is which, because flourishing, xcm and cardistry are pretty much the same thing, it is really hard to separate them. So I think there isn’t supposed to be a “warz”, V4Viktory; it’s mostly a difrence in style, not really difrences in the art!

    But if you try to seek the difrences, there ARE some small ones (see my post above):

    Flourishing = Dan & Dave’s style, mostly fancy multi-packets cuts, suit well in magic.
    XCM = De’vo & Jerry’s style, more “extreme” stunts, also stuff like elementals, etc. Suits less with magic.
    Cardistry = flourishing + xcm, the art overall.

    But, as mentioned before, presentation also plays a big role. You can make this as “extreme” as you want it to be yourself.

    Just do the stuff you like, which could be a combination of both ways, and there should be no reason for a ‘warz’.

    Personally, I love to combine “card stunts” (to give it a neutral name :P) with card magic, which, I think, most of you guys like to do.

  13. HardcoreXcmer Says:

    XCM is awesome.
    have a nice day :)

  14. unnamed Says:

    @hardcorexcmer: why?

  15. trash Says:

    so wait… is it CC from DN or not? he looks old and I thought “our” CC was in college still.

    oh yeah and why the heck did this guy write this article anyways, his site is all about magic, does he even XCM?

  16. verticaltrig Says:

    Pretty sure it is the same CC. On the website it says resident of South Florida and on DN CC’s location says South Florida. Could be coincidence, but probablly not, eh?

  17. moi Says:

    so if d&d do flourishes and de’vo does xcm, what does tudor do? cause that’s my stlye! I don’t like all those 2 handed cuts but I also don’t care much about elementals, perching (lol) armspreads or giant fans.
    tell me, what am I ???

  18. Matt Says:

    Matt is who I agree with.

    Flourishes and xcm are tow diffrent styles.

    Cuts, and fans and spreads.

  19. TheCuso Says:

    Here is a counter post at Ye Olde Magick Blogge: http://erlandish.blogspot.com/2008/05/rant-cardconjurercom.html

  20. Daniël Says:

    @moi: Dan and Dave got much inspiration from Tudor. I think Tudor would be also in the flourishing catagory and not the XCM catagory.

    ~ Morphweasel

  21. trash Says:

    heycuso that guy wasn’t very nice to CC… :-( just another old fashioned magician hating on XCM lol, because he can’t do it no doubt

  22. TheCuso Says:

    well i respect both oldschool forms of card handling as much as this new age of card art.