van dam splits
Rob Van Dam (real name Robert Van Winkle) performs the famous Splits Illusion.

WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam was known for his martial arts background and so-called “educated feet,” but the now-retired sports-entertainer has revealed the hidden secrets behind his arsenal — including his infamous “splits-between-two-chairs” illusion. 

In the trick, Van Dam creates the illusion that his legs are outstretched parallel to the ground, his entire body supported his feet on chairs spaced wide apart — which is obviously impossible in real life. 

To trick the audience, Van Dam employed a technique that has been used in stage magic since the early 1900s, which requires the audience to see the trick from a specific angle, lest the apparatus be revealed. 

In the trick, Van Dam’s “legs” are actually inanimate prop legs from a mannequin. What the audience doesn’t see is the hole cut into the wall just behind Van Dam’s torso, allowing him to hide his legs behind a false “wall” blocked from view by cleverly placed mirrors. 

“It totally looks real, right?” said Van Dam in a recent interview. “I could never actually do the splits like that for real, of course. I’d be badly injured. In reality, I’m just kind of lying there, flexing my arms, but it looks to the audience like I’m doing this impossible thing.”

In the interview, Van Dam also explained how he created the illusion of being more hurt by his own frog splashes than the opponents who receive them. 

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