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Old 05-20-2011   #11
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 57
Alright, several interesting ideas here. First, we need to define what is and isn't a "high" brace. For example, what wcf3 describes (and which is great technique which I fully agree with), I really wouldn't call a brace stroke but more of a hanging draw stroke or a gliding draw stroke since the paddle is near vertical and the support comes from being able to pull the blade towards the boat or push it away from the boat.

There a couple of possible definitions of a high brace. The first is simply when the power face of the paddle is facing down and is what contacts the water for support (i.e., wrist cocked back), regardless of arm position. This is the classic definition of a high brace and is perfectly acceptable if done properly (more on that below). In fact, almost everyone uses this bracing technique. Conversely, the classic definition of a low brace is when the non-power face of the blade is use for support (wrist cocked forward). The second possible definition of a high brace is more like what Nealy shows in his cartoons - arm and hand opposite the supporting blade raised high above the head and hand and elbow on the supporting side up and well away from the body. If this second definition is what you mean by a high brace, it is always a No-No.

If by high brace, you mean power face down, here are some tips:

1. Keep your elbow as low and as close to your body as possible. Your elbow on the side opposite the brace should be glued to the side of your body near the bottom of the rib cage. Your elbow on the bracing side will of course be away from your body, but keep it low, it should always be below your shoulder.

2. Glue the hand on the opposite of the brace to your nipple. This will keep it in front of your body and in the box.

3. Keep the hand on the brace side as low as possible and always in front of the shoulder. Use torso rotation if necessary to keep the hand fromgetting behind the shoulder.

4. If you are doing a snap brace to prevent a flip, throw your head and torso to the side of the brace (ala EJ's video)

5. Practie A Lot. It really takes a lot of practice to remember to keep the elbows and hands in and down. So do it every time you are in a boat. Also, ask for feedback from your fellow paddlers. A lot paddlers don't even realize how high there elbows and hands are so ask someone to watch you and let you know.

Happy Paddling.

"It's All Good"
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Old 05-20-2011   #12
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 57
ps. I would rather brace up than roll any day of the week.

"It's All Good"
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Old 05-20-2011   #13
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dropzone, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 845
Generally agree, Bob, but rolls are better some times. I have been caned a number of times as a result of hanging on a brace where I could have just gone with it, used momentum, and rolled up on the opposite side of the flip. A lot of times, a deep brace (i.e., body in the water -- not straight arm over the head) is against the momentum and takes longer than a roll.
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Old 05-20-2011   #14
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 65
Mike is right on, forget the high brace, roll your wrists over and work on the low brace. High bracing also very detremential to playboating....
Learn, and be comfortable w/ low bracing and you'll boat late into your 50's w/ no shoulder issues
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Old 05-20-2011   #15
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
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Old 05-20-2011   #16
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BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
1. Nealy shows an improper high brace.
2. He correctly shows a brace and/or draw is a poor way to exit a hole.
3. A proper high brace position in a hole is no different than the 2nd phase of a C to C which is the most realistic setup position for a roll while in a whole.

The high brace is no substitute for a low brace or a roll but it has it's place. Some places it's simply not acceptable to be upside down and having a reliable and safe high brace is important.
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Old 05-21-2011   #17
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
I got the opportunity to have my pec major reattached due to a high brace so I stick with my statement. I do cheat a bit sometimes and use a high brace where my elbow never leaves the side of my body but I try to never do that as well.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 05-21-2011   #18
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 141
Go to a popular play hole. The guy who is in the bottom of the trough and getting violently jerked around without any real control is using a high brace. The paddler who is higher on the pile and seems to be in control of her movements is using a low brace... however, a proper high brace (defined as powerface down, arms tight to the body) is useful at times- finishing a roll, for example.
Vaya Con Rios!

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Old 05-23-2011   #19
Boise, ID, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 4
Bad high brace experience: I was a rookie and thought I was doing good riding a little hole in low water until I flipped upstream, I thought I'd brace or push off against a rock I was tumbling into since I could see it. With the lever/brace or whatever the hell I was doing my arm extended well overhead had no movement left except in the cuff and ligaments. 13 years later I get some shots of pain from that one flailing move.
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Old 05-23-2011   #20
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 57
Shotty - that's a bad "brace upstream off the bottom" experience, not a bad high brace experience. It does suck though as I think almost everyone has made that mistake at some point; fortunately, we don't all pay for it for 13 years.

As I noted above, a properly executed high brace is perfectly fine depending on the situation, which will mostly inovle preventing a flip rather than for use in playing in a hole (low brace preferred)

"It's All Good"
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