Article about FreeStyle..what why..the benefits

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The bulk of my paddling is done in a fully loaded canoe with two people and a week's gear in it. On flat water it moves just fine. In wind and waves, the last thing I want to do is heel it over to try to improve the way it handles. It is usually set too far into the water with that load anyway for it to do any good. Granted, sometimes I am out in waves that I should not be. At that point straight is more important than speed.

Boat control is more of what I try to focus on. Learning to quarter into the waves and how to run with a following sea when necessary. How to hold station and let the wind push you across a body of water insted of trying to cross it sideways to the wind. There is always the issue of confused seas to deal with too.

I tend to see my canoe as the Datsun pickup of the boat world. Really handy and fun. But utilitarian. We do fish and explore unladen which gets interesting if things go south weather wise. I have never really had any issues with it being too slow or not responding to my attempts to make it do what I need it to.Be it a Coleman or a Jensen.
I will concede that I would have liked to find an easier way to turn that Jensen. ( Other than upside down).

yippe eye oh kiyeh, goon stroking all the way.

Christy
 
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I have Found the Instruction I received ay paddling symposiums has really advanced my skill set and my enjoyment for my tripping experiences , both on flat as well as moving water.
 
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I have Found the Instruction I received ay paddling symposiums has really advanced my skill set and my enjoyment for my tripping experiences , both on flat as well as moving water.

Howdy Dan and welcome to the site. Very glad to have you here.

I fully agree with your comments but it has been decided here that anything freestyle does not relate to nor has any business on a canoe tripping forum. Curious but true.

But a hearty welcome to ya, sir and I am looking forward to ordering one of your excellent covers for my Magic in a few months. I need to finalize my seat design and placement before making the order.
 
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Hey, this is my first post and I just joined this week. I am so happy to find this forum and especially this thread. I just read it and I don't know if anyone answered the question that was asked. I am in awe of some of the posters, whom I know by reputation. I will submit my humble offering. I worked at a summer camp in the late '70s (Ontario) and taught canoeing. I was a "lakewater" instructor, which was the Ontario term for "Canadian Style" at the time. I had a trick for the campers to prove a point. I would sit in my canoe in the swimming area in three or four feet of water and dare anyone to dump me. Never happened. Some kids were as big as me. They would lift the bow, yank and push down the gunnels and I would shift my weight and brace and pry. I could do this with success because I could spin and dance, forward, sideways and reverse a boat with an inch of freeboard... even in a bit of chop. Targeting docks and jamming stop turns developed timing and accuracy in space around objects. I am not a champion paddler, but I am efficient. To be able to accelerate a canoe in an arrow straight line with little visible rock or yaw means that one is not over correcting or losing glide from excessive rudder. These skills would be the same as those gleaned from "Freestyle." The other benefit is in moving water. I am not a big water guy and haven't managed to stretch my skills greatly in my smaller life, but I have an efficiency in targeting lines and nailing eddies which I feel is directly attributable to solo style canoeing background. I have noticed that most people never really develop the skill/need to paddle on target... especially the average canoe tripper/river runner. The paddler that, by discipline, has developed subtle balance and control skills in freestyle would have an enormous natural advantage in maintaining boat position and heading because they have moved beyond a skill set of strokes for situation solutions, to a place where they just naturally, and without thought adjust body and blade to have the canoe react in the present circumstances.... be they wind, big waves or complicated currents. The boat ends up just doing what the paddler wants it to do and go where wish it to go. That would be the value of the discipline of "Freestyle." My personal prejudice is toward "Canadian Style" paddling because of its basic requirement of a still boat (ie: no discernible rock or swing of the bow), but that is just me. I am not a fan of the music routine competition thing. I am not a competitor and I know that not being a natural athlete, anyone who spent the same amount of time and practice would probable beat me (which may be why I've never been a competitor!) I really do love to go out and heel a boat over and swan around like Becky Mason (well... only in MY mind like Becky Mason) because it is incredibly fun and satisfying in spite of the agony of 56 year old knees.
Hey, maybe someone just has to slam together a harsh, dynamic routine to some edgy Rap tune and the tide could turn....
I would like to ask your indulgence to check out this video as an example of a departed skateboarding discipline called "Freestyle" which was a big deal but have been defunct for more than two decades. I have a 28 year old son who's love of skateboarding reflects my love of the canoe. I have been a "Hockey Dad" to this sport (which may well be the greatest sport ever... but let's not go there), so that I have followed the development with interest. There were three main disciplines: Street (all those tricks of flips and sliding down handrails and jumping down steps); "Vert" (vertical... those "u" shaped half "half pipes" which are now on ski hills because of it); Freestyle (done in a small area, often in one place and depends on board control). The first two are more "Extreme" and so they eclipsed Freestyle and eventually it just disappeared. Young people want the rush, I guess. But!!!! Interestingly enough, Tony Hawk (who, I will make the assumption, that many people with no knowledge of skateboarding have heard of this sport billionaire) when interviewed about the development of his sport was quoted saying (roughly), "The rest of us were skateboarding... I don't know what Rodney Mullen was doing!" That was pretty much the ultimate compliment of the discipline... and yet it is gone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U-cgn3cEGA
So, these things come and go... but they have value and so I hope that Freestyle has a resurgence in some form, otherwise, I believe that we will lose a bit.
(Oh ya... all of the folks that I know that had their start in W.W. slalom say the same things about targeting and subtle balance and edging developed in their sport and I agree. Whatever road... the same destination... fine by me!)
Steve in Guelph ;)
 
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The thread on P net became a monster...almost unfollowable.. Part of the problem is not the discipline at all but that people see no value any more in instruction. And the instructors and symposia organizers are volunteers. I for one would like to see them not take a monetarybath at each event
Back in the days Canadians had one boat. One boat . Not sixteen. That boat had to do it all..cruise lakes and navigate twisty streams.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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To me, there is only one skill: maneuvering a canoe with a single blade in different water and wind conditions. The maneuvers include going straight (forward and backward), turning (onside and offside), side slipping (onside and offside), bracing, and rolling. Related skills include reading moving waters, tides and winds. I call this totality of single blade skills by the simple word "canoeing".

I don't see any need for any other words.

"Lakewater canoeing", "quiet water canoeing", "Canadian style canoeing", "freestyle canoeing", "northwoods style canoeing", "river canoeing", "whitewater canoeing", "creeking" -- these are all just words used to describe artificial subsets of the fundamental, basic, historic single blade skill set:

CANOEING.
 
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To me, there is only one skill: maneuvering a canoe with a single blade in different water and wind conditions. The maneuvers include going straight (forward and backward), turning (onside and offside), side slipping (onside and offside), bracing, and rolling. Related skills include reading moving waters, tides and winds. I call this totality of single blade skills by the simple word "canoeing".

I don't see any need for any other words.

"Lakewater canoeing", "quiet water canoeing", "Canadian style canoeing", "freestyle canoeing", "northwoods style canoeing", "river canoeing", "whitewater canoeing", "creeking" -- these are all just words used to describe artificial subsets of the fundamental, basic, historic single blade skill set:

CANOEING.
Quite true and in olden days we picked up tips from those willing to be mentors.. OOPS.. lacking here.. I don't have a canoe roll. Took a course from Bob Foote and he gave up on me in favor of one younger and more svelte
 

Glenn MacGrady

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A canoe roll is just a subcategory of the low brace. The kayak roll is a high brace.

I don't have any problem with dividing canoeing up into subcategory words for the purpose, for example, of listing different courses in a symposium. The actual danger I see -- to the single blade sport I love -- is that people begin to think some arbitrary word like "freestyle" or "lakestyle" or "Canadian style" is actually different from historic canoeing. None of these lingo terms are different from canoeing; they all are canoeing.

Taking a course in, or learning informally, any one of these lingo-istic subcategories of canoeing will make one a better overall canoeist and will make it easier for that person to develop other canoeing skills. Single blade canoeing is a spectrum of related maneuvers and skills. You don't need to be proficient in all of them, and don't even have to use some of them, but they are all mutually reinforcing components of the ancient art of canoeing.

I harp on this terminology stuff occasionally because the art of single blading -- canoeing -- is dying in this world, just as open canoes are rapidly disappearing. I fear that by ignoring or rejecting one of these lingo-istic subcategories of canoeing, we will contribute to the overall decline of the single blade skill set and thus the death of the canoe.
 
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I am with you, Glenn. The only problem is that the "great unwashed hordes" vis a vis the canoeing public are either happy doing what they are doing or they want some help. Opportunities exist to develop the necessary skills under present categories if the individuals in need can perceive what or who will be able to help them. Most people are not willing to just get good at what they are doing by just working at it. It is a sign of the times.
A named discipline doesn't matter if you just want to paddle well enough to do what you want to do. I live there. As Ray Goodwin said in that "this is canoeing" dvd (approximately) "Always practice good stroke, so when you need one... that's all you have."
I pretty much pole all of the time if the water is shallow enough, which makes me about the only person anyone has ever seen doing it around here. I don't know why no one else poles or why they won't . We don't have water in our rivers after July. My argument has always been that it is just canoeing and just another part of the skill set. Most think it is something else. I found it easy to start poling because I could paddle a canoe by myself. I understand why the boat acts the way it does when the water or wind does something to it and I do something. Most just don't want to "know" so much... they just want to do "this."
Sorry to say that the "Generalist" is dead in every discipline in our society. Every old skill set/ trade/ discipline has been subdivided to the extreme. I am as sorry about that as are you.
Glad we can come here... I guess.
 
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To me, there is only one skill: maneuvering a canoe with a single blade in different water and wind conditions. The maneuvers include going straight (forward and backward), turning (onside and offside), side slipping (onside and offside), bracing, and rolling. Related skills include reading moving waters, tides and winds. I call this totality of single blade skills by the simple word "canoeing".

I don't see any need for any other words.

"Lakewater canoeing", "quiet water canoeing", "Canadian style canoeing", "freestyle canoeing", "northwoods style canoeing", "river canoeing", "whitewater canoeing", "creeking" -- these are all just words used to describe artificial subsets of the fundamental, basic, historic single blade skill set:

CANOEING.

Glenn, how would you describe someone who has some of the abilities within your "one skill" but not all of them?
 
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Sorry to say that the "Generalist" is dead in every discipline in our society. Every old skill set/ trade/ discipline has been subdivided to the extreme. I am as sorry about that as are you.
Glad we can come here... I guess.

What is a generalist? Is it someone who has a wide array of knowledge but lacks in-depth knowledge or skill in most related areas?
If you accept that term, then - if I were so inclined - I'd argue that generalists are alive and well in most, if not all, disciplines in our society. I would describe someone who has all the elements of Glenn's composite skill set an expert, not a generalist. But I'm sensing some condescension in this thread and have no taste for argument. Rather, I'll leave my comments at this, simply noting that I'm happy to be a generalist and my sailing and canoeing students - not to mention my consulting clients - have been the better off for it.
 
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I dont see any condescension at all. The purpose is to keep canoe paddling alive. The bulk of people seeking help are merely getting acquainted with canoes and have a preconception that canoe are heavy clunky and hard to control.
The first goal is to show them ( or give them the tools) to self discover how they can get from a to b easily. Then come straight ahead strokes and steering strokes. Some of you come by this easily or all by your self but some need some guidance. When its easy for each person to do active manuevering strokes they are ready for more.

Some are happy with that and do not seek further instruction. This is entirely expected.

The goal is to keep them out of heavy kayaks in environments where they don't NEED a kayak
 
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Freestyle is important because it expands the boundaries of what is possible with a paddle. In order for canoeing to survive, it needs some modern edginess.
The current fad of plastic kayaks appeals to people that have no paddling skills and have no plans to get any. That is where freestyle comes in . It shows the way.
 
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What is a generalist? Is it someone who has a wide array of knowledge but lacks in-depth knowledge or skill in most related areas?
If you accept that term, then - if I were so inclined - I'd argue that generalists are alive and well in most, if not all, disciplines in our society. I would describe someone who has all the elements of Glenn's composite skill set an expert, not a generalist. But I'm sensing some condescension in this thread and have no taste for argument. Rather, I'll leave my comments at this, simply noting that I'm happy to be a generalist and my sailing and canoeing students - not to mention my consulting clients - have been the better off for it.
 
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By "generalist" I do not mean a dabbler, who lacks in depth knowledge, but one who pursues and/or embraces (or hopes to/ would like to) the whole body of skills/knowledge. I meant no condescension, only that so many areas have been parsed to stream line processes in industry or so that some paddlers can drive to a play spot with an eight foot boat, but have no interest in other parts of the discipline. This is just my observation and a matter of definition. Peace.
 
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....
I pretty much pole all of the time if the water is shallow enough, which makes me about the only person anyone has ever seen doing it around here. I don't know why no one else poles or why they won't . We don't have water in our rivers after July. My argument has always been that it is just canoeing and just another part of the skill set. Most think it is something else. I found it easy to start poling because I could paddle a canoe by myself. I understand why the boat acts the way it does when the water or wind does something to it and I do something. Most just don't want to "know" so much... they just want to do "this.".....

Wow. I had to look twice to realize I hadn't written this. My experience almost exactly. All the while, I am almost surrounded on the local river by SUP's. And they look at me as if I'm doing something strange and difficult. Is that what people thought when they saw their first bicycle?

I'd love to get some of this formal training I hear about. It just isn't available here, near as I can tell. All I can do is read, watch videos, and practice. In the meantime - I keep telling folks that poling is "cheating", it is so easy to learn......and hoping it sparks a renewed interest in canoes.
 
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Wow. I had to look twice to realize I hadn't written this. My experience almost exactly. All the while, I am almost surrounded on the local river by SUP's. And they look at me as if I'm doing something strange and difficult. Is that what people thought when they saw their first bicycle?

I'd love to get some of this formal training I hear about. It just isn't available here, near as I can tell. All I can do is read, watch videos, and practice. In the meantime - I keep telling folks that poling is "cheating", it is so easy to learn......and hoping it sparks a renewed interest in canoes.



Haha .. no it isnt.. Well maybe you can get from a to b quickly but to progress to a level like Harry Rock.. nooooo.. BTW he does FS edging and moves with a pole.. To watch him spin a canoe around with an pronounced heel and pole plant is very exciting. Anyone who calls poling cheating has clearly not immersed themselves in poling.. SUP? WHY the canoe is the best SUP
 
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Haha .. no it isnt.. Well maybe you can get from a to b quickly but to progress to a level like Harry Rock.. nooooo.. BTW he does FS edging and moves with a pole.. To watch him spin a canoe around with an pronounced heel and pole plant is very exciting. Anyone who calls poling cheating has clearly not immersed themselves in poling.. SUP? WHY the canoe is the best SUP

Oh, I've been baptized plenty of times. ;)

Seriously, compared to paddling solo in a tandem canoe, poling feels like cheating - once you get the balance down. Right, Steve?
 
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BTW - good to see you still here, YC.

Re: Freestyle. ...GGuess I have to agree with Glenn's take on the name problem. Out here in the west, whenever that discipline is mentioned, it's hard to miss that so many see it as an eccentric pass time. More so than poling - which is merely viewed as difficult. For whatever reason, poling (as a concept, anyway) seems to have acceptance as a practical skill, while single blade technique in the form of freestyle competition seems not so much. Just what I perceive - I could be wrong.......
 
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