Friday, April 23, 2010

Conclusion of the first round

The basics are done. We have talked about our connection with the boat, and how it reacts to our movements. We have started to work with our forward stroke - we are never really done with that. We have done the low and high brace, the draw and skulling draw. We have started to play with the edge, and how it controls our kayak. We have discussed integration, and how one thing flows to the next.

Now is when we start taking this process to the next level. We will expand on each of these movements, and add to them. We will begin to look at more advanced strokes, and linking all of them together. But the underlying lesson must be the fluidity that we strive for. One movement linking into the next as naturally as walking and talking.

The first in this process will be getting more comfortable with the edge and combining it with the forward stroke. The forward stroke is used - unsurprisingly- to propel the kayak forward. We have seen that by adding a slight sweep to the end we can correct our course. And while this is an effective tool, for small corrections we can accomplish this with just an edge adjustment. This way our forward stroke can do what it was designed to do, propel us forward. This can only come from practice. From the repetition of working both edges WHILE working with our forward stroke. The key to this is good contact with the kayak, and confidence and comfort while the boat is on it's edge.

You can see how all these individual things that we talk about are really, slowly, merging into one thing. Everything comes back to the forward stroke, but we will slide into an edge and a sweep. Then a draw then back into the forward. If we Practice them enough they will flow, from one to the other.

When I learned to spar, I knew individual techniques. A reverse punch. A front snap kick. A round kick. A downward block. I could do these when drilling them repeatedly with ease. But to flow from a downward block to a round kick to a reverse punch with no extra movement was a challenge, and only through repeatedly sparring with different opponents did I develop this skill. This is exactly what we must do in our kayak. And just like sparring which is a movement, followed by a counter movement, in a kayak we are responding and reacting to the wind and the water. We must remove the extra movements, it must be fluid and natural.

In this video - which I called integration 2 because it is really a continuation of that lesson- we see a turn initiated by edging. then fluid movement between alternating sweep strokes with an edge to enhance the sweeps , and finally a skulling brace with an edge, fluidly into a forward stroke.

integration 2 from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

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