There are many reasons to roll and there are many reasons to try to prevent rolls. Learning your first roll can be a frustrating and at times scary experience, you are doing something that your instincts tell you is putting yourself at great risk. If you are like me your body will go into survival mode, you will fight to get to the surface as quickly as possible and you will inevitably end up wet exiting blowing water skywards like a whale.
I have to admit that I have moved on since my whaling days and now am officially obsessed with rolling. Rolling has many of the same benefits to physical and mental health as yoga. Increased flexibility, enhanced strength especially in your core, increased lung capacity to name a few. When learning a roll I find that I was completely absorbed mentally. When hanging upside down in a pool of water (fighting) for your life it is hard to focus on anything else other than learning to save yourself efficiently. As you progress and develop your skills and control, rolling becomes a graceful process, one not dissimilar to Tai Chi or the other meditative martial arts, each move carefully rehearsed and precisely executed in a graceful fluid motion.
Learning to roll will teach you about yourself, you will learn to control your fear, you will learn the limits of your flexibility and muscle control.
Learning and teaching are critical elements that attracted me to Greenland rolling. The Inuit culture has ensured that the survival skills of hunting and rolling have passed from generation to generation through patient teaching and study from parent to child. Many of the greatest modern Greenland Style rollers have adopted this culture of passing on their skills to others and I am indebted to the likes of Helen Wilson, Alex Pax, Ron Steinwall, Jeff Bjorgo and many others who have patiently coached me through the learning process whether in person, on line or in a video tutorial, they are each ensuring the continuation of a great culture, tradition and skill set.
What makes me feel I am eligible to write with any authority of rolling? It is not because I am a great roller, I am not, I aspire to become one. The reason I am writing about learning to roll is that I have for the past 8 months immersed myself in rolling, spending hours each week researching, reading, watching videos and then getting afloat and learning how to do it. I thought it would be valuable to capture the thoughts and ideas of what worked for me and what didn’t during this past season of learning, and share that with others as they embark on the own learning and discovery.
I have yet to discover any authoritative source of teaching for rolling, I would recommend the Dubside DVD as a great starting point, and I would also recommend reading many of the great blogs by the likes of Helen Wilson and others, but nothing beats one on one attention and training with a good teacher, seek one out and ask for help. I can assure you people want to keep these skills alive and will be happy to help you if you are receptive to their coaching. So please don’t take anything I write as gospel, it is just my interpretation of what I went through to learn the rolls that I can do today.

Go ahead and blame the kayak
First paddle of the season

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