Coming to Qajaq Camp was an incredible and memorable experience. The skills training and mentorship pushed me to become a better paddler and the teamwork-based games and competitions allowed me to grow close with many new friends throughout the weekend. I left camp inspired to keep practicing, excited about the great community of paddlers that I met and looking forward to next year! – Ethan Pope
I will overgeneralize and expose myself to the possible wrath of the internet, by saying that it has been my experience as a rolling mentor, that when learning and practicing kayak rolling, men overly rely on their strength. I was recently mentoring at Pagaia, a kayaking event in Llançà, Catalonia. I was putting the group through their paces using a technique I call bombproofing.
Getting your nose or chin to touch the foredeck of your kayak should be a goal of anyone serious about developing a great Greenland kayak roll. It is not by chance, that the literal translations of many of the Greenland kayak rolls refer to being “at the masik”. In case you didn’t know, the masik is the deck beam that supports the front of the cockpit. Thus, being “at the masik” means being on the deck, forward. Whether you are starting a Standard Greenland roll low, or finishing a Storm roll forward, your ability to get close to the foredeck will affect the effort and grace of your rolls.
Despite my desire for rolling to be a purely relaxed, gentle and meditative practice, I cannot overlook that strength is needed if one’s rolls are to be successful. Repeatedly practicing rolls helps develop strength in the muscles needed to roll if the rolls succeed, otherwise, you run the risk of developing the muscles (and memories) needed to fail. By using yoga to develop strength, before trying to roll, you give yourself a better chance of success. You start your rolling practice knowing you are physically capable. Then, the rolling becomes a mental activity, one in which we learn how to apply our strength and flexibility.
One of my favorite rolling practices afloat is to partially perform a roll and end in the balance brace position, where I hang out for a while stretching. The balance brace position is most effective when the shoulders are held in a horizontal plane with the chest facing the sky. Balance braces require not just torso rotation, they also require considerable bending backward. It can be a tough combination of motions on the spine.
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to perfect an advanced kayak roll like the Rock Roll, or getting your very first Standard Greenland Roll, we all need to be able to finish our layback rolls low. The higher you lift your body, the more power the roll needs to have, and power usually corresponds to speed and muscle strength, which eventually leads to overuse and injury.
if you are like me, looking to improve your rolling, you may find the answer in yoga. Through my yoga practice I have become a more naturally fluid roller. My body moves, stretches and bends in ways that help facilitate safe, powerful and graceful rolling. Yoga is not just a physical practice or set of exercises, it is a holistic practice of mind, body and breath. By spending time now working on your whole being, before the (USA) season starts, I hope that your season of paddling and rolling will be enhanced, and you can progress safely through the process of developing as a roller and paddler.
I tend to spend my winters building and rolling indoors. This year more building than rolling. However I had a brief moment to put together a rolling list to help me remember what to practice. Too many times I have been practicing and completely forgot to perform a particular roll, or remember what what rolls I need to work on. With this list printed our and then laminated and slide under my deck lines I can now practice to my hearts content.
This summer I have been running a series of rolling session at our lake home in Minnesota. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list for the sessions please send me an email at email@example.com. Due to the demand I am not publicly announcing each session, instead invites are going out via email. I am still offering private rolling sessions too so feel free to reach out and request those also.
I don’t consider my journey a crisis, but we lack a better way of describing a transformational period during our mid-life, I am, after all, getting dangerously close to the big five oh. …… I have experienced rather a lot of changes in these past twelve months, I am currently a bearded, tattooed, vegetarian, teetotal, Yogi, Greenland paddler who meditates every day, and I love it.
An appreciation of the subtle joys of the traditional paddle Like religion, people newly converted to traditional paddling can be a little over zealous. Proclamations of the Greenland paddle’s superiority over other styles are rampant on the internet, and are...
So why worry about preserving the past? Why preserve the Greenland Qajaq Culture? It is my belief that history has value. Amongst the many things history can teach us are skills, values, identity, and it can provide a legacy around which communities can be sustained.