Friday, April 18, 2008

Fist of Boof Returns

Fist of Boof Dojo


The Two Stroke Tuck

Photography By Leif Embertson

Welcome back to the Fist of Boof Dojo. Sensei Stafford caught a lot of flack over the first installment in the Fist of Boof series. Probably what he should have expected, since he was attempting to give practical advice on technique while also, at the same time, trying to provide a humorous and satirical look at technique articles themselves - an obvious contradiction. A contradiction for which many of his un-enlightened friends drew objection to, not understanding if he was trying to be serious (at which point they would have claimed he was being facetious) or humorous (at which point they would have claimed that he was only “mildly” funny). When in reality, why should he have to choose between seriousness and humor? Why can they not co-exist at the same time? A working paradox, he might argue.

While we accept at this dojo that life is contradiction, that yin and yang, light and darkness, God and Satan, birth and death are not separate entities but merely two sides to the same coin, we are not immune to criticism and have therefore restricted Sensei Stafford to waxing poetic on technique and technique alone. Were he to find humor in the techniques themselves, that of course would be fine, but we have restrained him from asking of you, the gracious reader to “wash his truck,” or to “sweep up the dojo.” There are lessons to be learned there, but for now we only ask that you “sweep up” the dojo of your mind and focus on the techniques and photographs presented. Okay. Here is the Sensei. Bow to your desktop.

The Two Stroke Tuck is a waterfall technique that is used quite often, although you may not recognize the name, because I made the name up (or maybe I didn’t even do that, but I haven’t heard or seen anyone else define it as such). I certainly can not take credit for the move itself and, in the sequence below, I’m not even executing the move to perfection however, it is close enough that you can get the idea.

The Two Stroke Tuck is a great advanced technique for running the larger variety of waterfall, a waterfall of significant enough height that you would not to want to boof. I am not here to define the height at which you would or would not want to boof .This can vary from waterfall to waterfall and from person to person, depending on the volume of the river or channel, the aeration at the base, the depth of the pool, the strength of the participants back, their confidence in the execution of proper form and an innumerable amount of other variables. It is best to practice waterfall technique on low consequence waterfalls, of significantly less height than you may dream of running one day (i.e. lay-ups). When you go for the big one you want the move to be natural and instinctual so practice on something you are already comfortable with running.

The Two Stroke Tuck provides a method to stay in control during a long freefall, while still allowing the paddler the ability to tuck and enter the pool at a steep angle, distributing the impact through the bow of the boat and away from the spine. The technique is different from the classic Oregon Tuck, as you will attempt to maintain paddle contact with the veil of water beyond the lip and well into your freefall. The idea is to maintain control as long as possible so that you are that much more prepared to resurface in command of your vessel and make the next move.

One: Enter the waterfall moving slightly faster than the current approaching the lip. Plant your paddle beyond the lip of the drop while maintaining a slight forward lean. This first stroke is similar to a boof stroke, however DO NOT pull your knees up as you would to flatten your boat. Instead use this first stroke to set your angle somewhere between 50 and 80 degrees. This takes a fair amount of practice. Your goal is to use the curtain of water, your core strength and the resistance on your blade to subtly bring your bow into your chosen angle.

Two: Follow through and plant your paddle on the opposite side to maintain blade contact with the falling water and to make any minor corrections to your angle that may seem necessary. At this point in the sequence I am looking pretty well on target. I could be leaning forward slightly further and the angle of the shelf at the lip has thrown me off so that I am leaning to the right. Ideally you want to be leaning forward over your bow looking straight down at the landing zone. Sideways however is better than flat and it is still possible from this early in the drop to pull yourself into a forward leaning position before you land.

Tuck: Finish your second stroke with your upper body rotated to the side of that stroke, with an aggressive forward lean and with your blade still in the veil behind you. Your angle should remain the same as when you first set it, however your blade is still in contact with the curtain allowing you to use the resistance on your blade to make minor adjustments. These adjustments can come in handy but they take years of practice to make happen while in mid-air.

Maintain: This is the position you are aiming to maintain into the landing zone. The good news is that if you have timed it properly you are at least a third of the way down and because your blade is still in the veil it will be easier to maintain your angle. Those who are very skilled at this technique can draw their second stroke out until they over two thirds of the way down to the pool. By doing this they are making it that much shorter of a duration that they need to maintain that perfect angle and tuck position, as compared to tucking from the top as you are falling over the lip.

Stab the Pool: At the last moment before entry thrust your entire body an extra inch forward and stab your paddle into the pool. This will initiate your hull into a strong resurfacing motion and will get your paddle moving into another stroke that will help you surface upright and in control.

Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you….

- Sheng-yen -


Anonymous said...

yo man it was good paddling with you guys out in CO last summer! hope to get on the river again soon with you


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