Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Update: Low and High Brace turn

I get a surprising number of hits from people doing google searches for the low and high brace turn. There seems to be a great deal of interest in this stroke, which while fun, really isn't that useful - at least compared to strokes like the forward and the sweep. Recently over at kayak yak there was a post with video showing the talented teachers of body boat blade doing the low brace turn - they also showed an edging video that I have commented on in the past - But they do the Low brace turn differently than I do, so I did some research.

My go to book for kayak information is Gordon Brown's 'Sea Kayak: A Manual for intermediate and Advanced Kayakers'. In Gordon's book he talks about the Low brace turn, and he does it the way I do - or probably more accurately, I do it the way he does.

My other go to book is 'Sea kayaking Illustrated' which makes no mention of the stroke whatsoever.

The body boat and blade folks teach a much more passive version of the stroke than the way I perform it. They talk about using the blade for psychological support, and allowing the blade to gently slice over the water, allowing a more confident edge turn. Whereas I teach a much more aggressive stroke with the blade biting the water at a much higher angle. My method turns the kayak because of the blade interaction with the water, and the BBB version is supporting the kayak while it turns - the paddle isn't initiating the turn, just supporting it.

I like to think of the two versions of this stroke as a passive version, and an active version. I don't think one is right or wrong, but they are different, and I think you should take the time to play with both and see which works better for you, which is what I did earlier this week. Below is video of both versions. First a left then right 'passive' low brace. Followed by a left and right 'active' high brace. They are really two very different strokes, and I feel that both are useful in very different situations.

updated low and high brace turn from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

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