Intro

Christopher Crowhurst has recently announced that Rolling With Sticks is now available as a free download – both the DVD and the book. Christopher explains that:

Rolling with Sticks® started as a fun project to document the progress I was making as I learned the different Greenland style kayak rolls. This work evolved into the water proof guidebook that is available for sale in the webstore. After completing the book I realized that during the time I learned the rolls I had recorded enough video to assemble a video guide of all the rolls. Both projects have now paid for the costs of production and rather than continue to charge money from these projects I have decided to release both and make them freely available for download.

However, for folks who would like a physical copy of the DVD or the waterproof, ring-bound book can still purchase them from the Qajaq Rolls website. I reviewed the book and DVD combo for Ocean Paddler Magazine last year and, with thanks to Editor Rich, have re-published this below.

Rolling With Sticks: Product Information

The Rolling With Sticks ‘brand’ is being developed as a cottage business by Christopher Crowhurst, a UK ex-pat and greenland paddler now living in the USA. Over the last two years, Christopher has created the first, waterproof guidebook to rolling followed swiftly by a DVD which supports the guidebook. Its worth noting that Christopher donates a sizeable chunk of the proceeds from these resources to Qajaq USA a non-profit organisation that works to preserve the greenland kayaking traditions.

Example of Rolling With Sticks BookDealing with the guidebook first. It is divided into four sections; layback, forward finishing, throwing stick and hand rolls. Christopher states that the order is deliberate as a natural progression through the various rolls. In total the guidebook covers 25 different rolls.

Each roll is laid out on a separate page in landscape orientation. The title and subtitle provide the English name, greenlandic name, competiton number and points for the roll.

The roll is broken down into 4 stages for the purposes of diagrams. Each stage has a front view and plan view diagram drawn in a distinctive ‘stick-man’ style with arrows indicating the movement of either the paddler or paddle. Along side each stage of the diagrams are detailed written notes and instructions for performing the roll focusing heavily on body, boat and blade.

The book itself is printed on Xerox premium NeverTear water resistant paper which has then been spiral bound. It is organised and laid out in such a way that once you have selected a roll to work on, it can be opened to the relevant page and then tucked under the kayak deck lines whilst you practice. Christopher has tested the book heavily in the Pacific Ocean and by rinsing in cold fresh water after use (much the same as your paddling kit) and drying naturally out of direct sunlight it remains water resistant.

Turning to the DVD. The orgainsation of the DVD is idential to the guidebook. It is split down into the same 4 sections and order of rolls. After a brief introduction the DVD jumps straight into the main content. The opening shot for each roll is as an inset on the right hand side of the screen with the ‘stick-man’ diagrams from the guidebook shown on the left hand side of the screen. underneath the is a lower-third showing the name of the roll. This lower third remains present throughout the section whilst the diagram disappears and the inset video clip expands to full screen.

The video comprises of repeated shots of the roll performed from an impressive range of angle including many underwater shots either side on or looking up from the bottom of the pool at the paddler. There is a split between footage filmed in a swimming pool and out on the open water. Similarly, Christopher uses a combination of slow motion and actual speed footage to highlight sections of the roll.

Throughout the entire section, narration describes in minute detail the technique required to perform the roll, all delivered in a very calm and measured voice.

Rolling With Sticks: In Use

Although the book and DVD are available separately, the combination of both forms of media clearly provides the best learning experience. For me personally, watching the various clips of a given roll repeatedly then heading out onto the water with the book as a aide memoir worked best. On the couple of occasions I attempted to use solely the book I found it more difficult to visualise the complete roll.

In terms of the book, the key to using the diagrams was to lock into my head the fact that the second column of diagrams were plan view. Once I did this, the angles of the body and boat depicted made total sense. The written descriptions were comprehensive and at times could be a little overwhelming if I had not seen a demonstration of the roll or watched the video footage. With a clear picture of the whole roll in my head they became very useful to breakdown the roll and try to refine my technique.

The layout and organisation/construction of the guidebook is very cleverly thought out. It sits perfectly under the decklines whilst rolling, remained totally readable and with the aftercare instructions followed has remained in excellent condition throughout the review period. I have yet to progress through the entire book, however to date I have tended to follow the recommended progression of rolls and can already see the logic behind Christopher’s chosen order.

The DVD is very different to other rolling DVD’s which mix footage of rolling with presenters discussing technique direct to camera, footage of coaches instructing students, rolls being used in rougher water and so forth. Rolling With Sticks is much more focused and the consistent order and breakdown of each roll offers an alternative approach. This means in the 33 minutes of the DVD Christopher is able to cover all the content of the book but the DVD is much more of a reference tool or training aid than than a ‘presented’ coaching DVD. In no way is this a criticism as it works very well indeed.

The quality of the footage is very good and the range of shots/angles utilised impressive. Over time I found I began to pick up the specific angles and shots I found most useful and would skip to those sections immediately. Another paddler who has used the resource extensively commented on the fact that for him, the number of different angles shown is at times confusing. Similarly, at times I watched the footage with the sound turned off to enable me to fully focus on what I was watching. However, other paddlers have commented on the usefulness of such a wide range of shots.

What I think this highlights is how successful Christopher has been in catering for everyone – without turning this review into a discussion on preferred learning styles he has the visual and audio styles completely nailed.

Conclusion

If you are interested in delving into greenland rolling and trying to learn a range of different rolls this book and DVD are invaluable. As stated at the start of the review, the combination of DVD and guidebook is, to my mind, the best option. Whilst no DVD or book can replace practice and coaching to learn or improve it can speed up and enhance the process and provide the logical next steps, particularly if the DVD and book are as well thought out and produced as these are. I heartily recommend visiting Christopher’s website, www.qajaqrolls.com to find out more about the book and DVD as well as make use of the wealth of free resources he provides.

Useful Links

Qajaq Rolls – Christopher Crowhurst’s excellent website