SK Team Paddler Christine Burris
Some ask why I teach a static brace even if my victim… I mean student, uses a Euro blade. The first reason is to develop an appropriate body and boat connection. Squaring shoulders to the sky, engaging knees to rotate the boat and allowing the head to lift last promotes successful techniques that transfer to many different styles of rolling as well as good rotation and boat control.
Possibly even more important, a successful static brace will help develop a sense of calm and a feeling of control. When students are first learning a traditional c to c or sweep they often go through a phase of success and then relax their technique, experiencing failing rolls and frustration. With confidence compromised they anticipate difficulty and lose their form often dropping the upper hand. Feeling the blade dive, they lift their head bringing about another disappointment. The anxiety over potential failure and the need to breath rushes everything. A confident static brace (even if the paddler cannot recover onto the back deck) allows breathing and time to wait for an assist or to rethink the process. I may be lucky, but almost all kayakers I have worked with can static brace regardless of size or equipment.
The Combat Butterfly, an adaptation of a static brace is achieved with a reverse progression. After developing a confident brace and back deck recovery, the student learns to collapse the kayak into an underwater set up position, then recover the brace and finally recover onto the back deck. Here is Teresa reviewing a collapse and recovery. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=536615956355988&set=vb.162970757053845&type=3&theater
This method is a self rescue which can progress slowly without any lack of breath anxiety. It is kinder to the body, not requiring hip snaps or the shoulder risk brought about by reduced form in a Euro style roll. When a student learns to set up underwater from any confused position and then follow the progression they have mastered a combat butterfly. Check out Barbara in her Greenlander Pro and Euro blade as I throw her boat over and she walks through this process. Even with a missed back deck recovery she re sets up and finishes without anxiety.
With this tool in hand students can work on additional rolls without a spotter or exhaustive wet exits. If they can move the static brace into a balance brace they can follow the same progression into a bombproof hand roll. See Sonya’s beautiful first hand roll and note the specific step by step progression. If at any step she misses a maneuver she can re set up breathe, relax, and then recover.
If the student wants a bombproof sweep or c to c, they can use the same body position and progression with a sculling blade, collapsing and recovering with the scull onto the back deck. The sculling motion maintains stability as the paddler sits up and moves into a paddle forward position. These two videos of Teresa show her sculling into a collapse and recovery and then into a complete sculling roll. The collapse and recovery phase is important so the paddler can master the underwater set up after a surprise capsize.
Since this is the time of year for pool play, why not use the warm water to give these methods a try.
Christine Burris, Senior Instructor
Rogue Wave Adventures