Stroke/brace question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 07-28-2014   #1
 
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Sacramento, California
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Stroke/brace question

Hi all. I have a noob question here.

So, I've seen a few people do a sort of brace off a normal forward stroke with a hip check away from the side they are falling towards and the head dip, as if finishing a brace or roll. This is done from a normal near vertical stroke. I've been doing the same when I lose balance early, before getting low enough to need to use a low or high brace.

What is this called, and why haven't I seen anyone recommend this type of recovery? Is it a bad thing?

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Old 07-29-2014   #2
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Normal forward strokes can be used like a brace. I think that's why paddling hard is important in big water and when crossing serious eddy lines.

Maybe I'm not answering your question, and I'm not sure what you'd call that, but no-- it is not a bad thing.

Good Luck,

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Old 07-29-2014   #3
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Good observation. I think you'll find that although there tend to be very formal definitions for roll, brace, forward stroke, in reality the line is a little more blurred. A sweep roll isn't a lot different from a variation on a forward stroke executed underwater. I think there's some EJ video out there somewhere where he shows how a deep brace becomes a roll. It seems like you have a good eye for detail.
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Old 07-29-2014   #4
 
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Body wise, every good brace looks a lot like finishing a good roll.
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Old 07-29-2014   #5
 
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On a similar note I see newer and some not so new paddlers using the power face of their blade as their go to low brace. Learn to low brace with the back face of your blade. It is easier to slice out of the brace and into your next stroke and is more protective of your shoulders.


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Old 07-29-2014   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
On a similar note I see newer and some not so new paddlers using the power face of their blade as their go to low brace. Learn to low brace with the back face of your blade. It is easier to slice out of the brace and into your next stroke and is more protective of your shoulders.


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I'm new, so everything is a bit less automatic. I am finding that when it comes to bracing, it is hard to think about what to do, as it happens so fast. I've tried to learn all the different braces, and imagine using them so when I'm in that position, I use it.

As it stands, I find my first level of bracing is while paddling and feel I'm losing my balance, I simply flip my hips and right myself without changing my paddle position. This probably happens the most. I kind of set for this possibility when I face any large wave in front of me, by placing my paddle into the face of the wave as I go through, and use that stroke as support as well as momentum to punch through. This is also one area I'm curious on, as I cannot find a resource that talks about where to place your strokes while going through the waves, but have experimented some, and found this works best. I'd love insight about this.

The low brace is one I've never felt like I can practice in a meaningful way, but I find myself using it a few times a run. Mostly on wave train situations where I get tipsy and I didn't have my paddle in the water. I do it in a sweeping forward motion, like I saw in the Gene videos. It gives me support, and fixes my posture at the same time. I still feel there are more times I could use this, but I do feel good that I find myself doing it instinctively at least some.

I've used a classic high brace only once and I over extended my arm, which resulted in a little soreness in my right arm. Since then, I have pretty much never done a classic high brace, but instead, have used a sculling brace while trying to keep my elbow low. This usually happens while morphing from one of those forward strokes that failed to give enough support then I scull back forward and continue to try and hip snap up. This doesn't happen all that often, as I really haven't hardly hit the water for my last several runs unless attempting to surf, which I tend to go over from catching my upstream edge which doesn't seem to give me a chance to save myself as my sculling brace hasn't seemed to help if I'm falling towards the upstream side of a hole.

If you have any insights on what I've said, I'm eager to learn.
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Old 07-29-2014   #7
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Correct bracing should be drilled so that when it's needed good form is automatic. Braces are efficient when the shaft is more horizontal. High and low braces are terms used incorrectly more often than correctly. High braces should have low elbows and the paddle somewhere around neck height using the power face, a hip snap and bring the head up last. Low braces should be closer to the deck and use the non-power face. Hybrids will mix a little stroke with a little brace. All proper strokes, braces and hybrids will keep the box intact. If you don't know what the box is take a lesson.

Waves shouldn't need bracing, loosen up those hips. For speed take strokes on the back side of a wave. Boofing waves takes a late front stroke. Big crashing waves take several strokes on the way up into the crash.
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Old 07-29-2014   #8
 
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I think too many people focus too much on bracing, rather than focussing on paddling methods that would minimise the need for bracing in the first place.

As Mac Cooper aludes to, positive driving paddling eliminates a lot of need for bracing. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for it, but I would say that it is one of the last things you should learn, and then as someone with some experience.

Bracing by default is a defensive method of paddling, so if you train it to the point of becoming a natural reaction I feel something is wrong. Instead you should be training positive driving strokes, natural instinct to put key strokes in the right places, and adaptive body posture and a flexible waist as your natural form. A brace should be a last, last resort when all else has failed.

If you absolutely must use a brace then the active brace as demoed by Simon Westgarth and his Gene17 videos, as you mention, is a good way of doing things. But even then if you take coaching personally from Simon the brace is waaaaaaay down the table of things to do. He will focus on stopping the need for it in the first place because a brace only treats the symptoms, not the cause.

As I said there is a place for the brace and I am not dismissing it, but I am saying that it should be right down at the bottom of your list of priorities. From a personal perspective I have only ever used a low brace. If I go over to the point of a high brace I simply go over and roll. I have seen too many shoulder dislocations from high braces to risk it.
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Old 07-29-2014   #9
 
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A common problem with high braces is improper technique (which is why people try to avoid it), however it can be done correctly and save your shoulders. I think the important part of a high brace it not leaving your paddler's box (aca stuff here) Imagine trying to hold a large box with your hands on the outside and your elbows at 90 degrees. This should be the basis for your form in all paddle strokes. If your hands leave the outside of the box, you will drop it or over exert yourself trying to hold it. This is a lot of the basis for all paddle strokes where effectively you are rotating your body so that you can maintain this general arm form.

For a high brace in this mindset, if you extend an arm out to gain more leverage, you are opening up your shoulder for pain and dropping the shit out of your box. Instead, practice purposefully holding your elbow in towards your core when you rotate your blade for a high brace. It kind of looks and feels like jazz hands, but with your elbows in, you won't extend your arm into a dangerous. When you brace, you are right, your hips will snap in the opposite direction much like you are finishing off a roll, with your head being the past part of you up. You'd be surprise of the power you can get when you rely on your core instead of your arms for kayaking.

Also, just throwing it out there, in colorado you will want to avoid rolling and will want to learn the brace.
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Old 07-29-2014   #10
 
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Quote:
Also, just throwing it out there, in colorado you will want to avoid rolling and will want to learn the brace.
Why not focus more on better general paddling strategy and technique? Maybe spend more time developing the correct skills and strategies on lower grades instead of the modern phenomenon of chasing class 5 as soon as possible?

Please don't misunderstand me, Paul. I am not dismissing what you say, as I think what you said is totally valid. But I think that the emphasis and paradigm thinking needs to be changed in favour of better strategies and technique first, and a reduction in the need to chase the class of river that people paddle.
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