When I started the blog I decided I would include video as much as I could. The arrival of my Gopro hero HD only added to that desire. I have a great deal of fun mounting that camera all over my kayak and paddle. But there was an unexpected side effect to all that video. I got to watch myself paddle really for the first time. And I have to tell you I saw things I didn't like. I saw my Hands tend to drop on my forward stroke when they should just move across my face. I saw that I EDGE my boat constantly to make many small adjustments, I think I probably over correct. When I draw, and scull, I don't get my paddle vertical enough, which I think may be in part to my short arms, or I just may be lazy.
I don't know why I didn't think of critiquing myself through video before this, As an instructor, I watch paddlers constantly and have no shortage of corrections for people, why would it be any different for myself.
In the martial arts world, everyone strives for their black belt. It symbolizes - particularly to the laymen - an expert. This is in fact incorrect. A black belt is someone who has mastered the skills associated with that rank, and what that means, is they have the skills and after attaining their black belt they are then really in a position to learn. There are then ranks above black belt. At some point to practitioners that rank becomes unimportant, and it is merely mastery of the skill that becomes the goal. Black belts joke that the purpose of a belt is to hold your pants up. Nothing else, regardless of color.
I have mentioned people that I consider my Sifu, and Master. That would imply that I am still a student, And I would bet that they still consider themselves students as well. I feel as a paddler that I am at that point where I don't particularly care about 'rank'. I care about the art, and the practical applications of it. The more I learn, the more I feel I have to learn. When I teach I constantly learn new things. Which is a gift from student to teacher I am willing to accept.
If you consider yourself a student of the art, then I have a suggestion for you. Video. Mount a video camera on your kayak, and see how you look. Particularly the forward stroke. If you think it is way too expensive of an option, then check this out.
Tripod for under the bungies on your deck - http://www.rei.com/product/742238
The camera is a still camera that shoots video as well, and is water proof. I am sure there are cheaper options. Actually the non hd hero is only around $150.00 US, the camera I use captures High Definition video in a tiny package that is completely water proof to 180 feet.
Shoot video of yourself, and feel free to send me a link, and I will help you critique your stroke. I think this is an amazing way to see what is really going on in and around your kayak.