USK's Bracing Clinic - "The Art Of Staying Upright"
Volume 5 in the USK "In Depth" Instructional Video Series
© 2008

Welcome to volume 5 in the USK "In Depth" instructional video series. Hadley and I cannot believe it has been five years since we released our last instructional video the award winning "ABC'S Of The Surf Zone." Our plan was to release a new instructional video each year. Our production schedule got derailed when I took an early retirement from UCSB and we moved to the pacific northwest (about 20 miles north of Seattle, Washington). All I can say in my defense is, "retirement is the "Black Hole" of time." The good news is we love it up here and I have created a new production schedule with lots more videos to come in the future. We also managed to release our first video guidebook "Paddling Hawaii, Kaua'i Day Tours" in our new Places To Paddle Series.

Before we get to the details of the new bracing video I want to share with you the development of this video. When I paddle with my friend Don, we regularly discuss rolling, bracing and staying upright. We both are in agreement "it is easier to stay upright than to get upright." My friend Derek Hutchinson has told me many times, "Performing a roll is a sign of success. Having to roll is a sign of failure." Well nobody likes to fail, but if you go over it can be blamed on a failed brace.

I believe having a reliable roll is a great asset in sea kayaking, but if I can develop my skills so I rarely capsize I feel I am doing myself a greater service. Therefore, mastering the art of staying upright is an admirable goal. Staying upright is a combination of skill and awareness. This is what I attempted to convey and teach in our bracing video. If you can learn how to stay centered over your kayak, learn supportive strokes and develop quick bracing skills you will have less capsizes. Sooner or later we are all going over. Our video is designed to help you so your eventual capsize will be later rather than sooner.

We wish to thank our loyal customers who have supported us over the years by purchasing our videos, taking our clinics and purchasing products from the USK web site. Your e-mails praising our videos and web site are delightful to receive, because it lets us know we are doing a good job. For those who enjoy all of the information that is available for free on our web site, facebook page and You Tube page, please understand that the time it takes to make all of those resources available are supported when you make purchases from the USK Store on our web site. We also encourage our readers to become "USK Bracers" (those who support our website) or to make donations to our "Make A Difference Program", which helps provide meals to homeless individuals. As always, any and all support for USK and its programs are gratefully appreciated.

USK's Bracing Clinic - "The Art Of Staying Upright"
Running time: 111 minutes (1 hour and 51 minutes)
Chapter Stops: 52
MSRP: $29.95


 Over the course of my twenty-five plus years of watching paddlers capsize due to failed braces, I have to say the weakest link has been their ability to get their bodies back over their kayak when they have gone past their capsize point.  During a basic kayak class it is difficult to teach bracing skills. Not only are the students just getting accustomed to the stability of their boat, they are not really looking forward to leaning over and capsizing.  Reliable bracing skills are a combination of coordinated boat, body and blade movements.  When a paddler is trying to put all of this together, while balancing in their kayak, they will inevitably capsize.  Even though capsizing has to be part of the learning process, too many capsizes tend to frustrate students thus affecting their learning curve.

“It is easier to stay upright, than to get upright” is one of USK’s basic teaching philosophies.  Capsizing is a part of kayaking.  However, if you are fast enough and have developed the right skills, your chances of staying upright increase dramatically.

Over the years I have found a great progression for teaching bracing that allows the paddler to learn the necessary movements on land and sitting in water before they try it in their kayaks. This way they can learn the blade and body movements without the concern of capsizing.  When the students feel they understand the blade and body recovery movements, they can move into their kayaks on the water with a much higher success rate when trying their braces.

In addition, I have included a number of on water exercises that help develop better bracing skills. Some of these techniques are also methods you can use to keep you from ever getting to the need for a brace. We also introduce the concept of bracing environments to help expand the paddler’s awareness. Our goal is to provide you with the tools you need so you can start mastering the “Art of staying upright.”

If want help staying upright, you can purchase this video at the USK Store. Once you go to the USK Store, select the DVD's Instructional link. Click here to go to the USK Store.

Video Resources

As with all of our instructional videos, we have included an insert in the DVD case with the list of all of our chapter stops to make it easier for you to reference where you would like to go on the DVD. If you loose the list or wish to see the details of what is included on the DVD, you can go to the Volume 5 Chapters Link to access a copy to read and/or download.

In addition, this video contains a few practice lists. Visit the following links for those lists:

Recommended bracing development sequence

Side to side blade manipulation sequence

See the rest of the USK "In-Depth" Instructional Videos in our series.

We tried our hand at producing a video guidebook called "Paddling Hawaii, Kaua'i Day Tours" in our new Places To Paddle Series. If you want to paddle on the Island of Kaua'i we highly recommend this video.

Sponsors and Advertisers

We wish to thank the following sponsors and advertisers for supporting our video and USK:

Current Design Kayaks
Werner Paddles
Chota Outdoor Gear
Paddling Partner
GAIA Sports
Snap Dragon Spray Skirts

We are selective in the companies we approach for sponsorship. We choose companies that produce quality products and work to take care of their customers. We hope you support our sponsors.

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