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Spins and Turns
Exercise 1: Turns on One Foot

Turning with the weight held over one foot requires that you have a solid understanding and awareness of your left- and right-side axes. The following exercise teaches your body, very slowly over time, how to find and maintain your balance on one foot as you turn around these axes.

turn4.GIF (9741 bytes)Example 1

Following the description in Lesson 4, Part 2: Turns With The Left and Right Side Leading, step sideways with your foot and leg turned toward the direction of your step. Leave the free foot pointing to the side for the duration of the exercise. Note: Your body will feel this as a side step, but your foot and leg will feel it as a forward step. (See Example 6.1, above).

Make sure that your weight is properly positioned over the standing foot, so that you retain absolutely no weight on your free (pointing) foot. If you feel any pressure on your free foot, it means that you still have some weight on it, so you must move the body more completely over the standing foot. You can spot-check yourself by trying to lift the free foot an inch off of the floor for a few seconds. Your body will automatically shift to the correct position to do this, or else you won't be able to keep the free foot off of the floor for longer than a second or so.

axis_right.GIF (13760 bytes)Example 2

You have now established an axis through the shoulder, hip and foot. When you turn, the side of the body of the free foot will rotate forward or backward around the side of the body of the standing foot.

Using the muscles in your standing leg and foot, turn your body with just a small fraction of a turn. (1/16 of a turn or less). The direction of rotation is arbitrary. Although the leg and foot are the motivating force, the entire body should turn as a unit. The body position itself should actually remain unaffected... try to avoid any wiggling or bobbling. Make sure that the body weight remains exactly over the standing foot.

Continually repeat the above process, turning in the same direction, with the same small increments of turn. With each increment, you should feel that your weight remains over the standing foot, with the free foot pointing to the side. Your body should not wiggle or bobble; It should turn altogether as a whole unit. You can use the free foot to lightly paddle, but you should not feel any pressure whatsoever into the foot.

This exercise should be practiced 4 ways:

  • Weight on LF, body turning to left.
  • Weight on LF, body turning to right.
  • Weight on RF, body turning to right.
  • Weight on RF, body turning to left.

The goal of this exercise is to teach yourself how to remain on your standing foot and axis as you turn. Therefore, you should always turn in small enough increments to maintain this balance. If you find yourself putting pressure into the pointing foot or worse, shifting weight between the feet as you turn, it means that your increments are too large, and you must slow down.

Over time, you will gradually increase the increments to the point where you can take an entire turn at once. It is not necessary to try to increase the amount of rotation; It will just happen. The most important thing to remember is that at any and every point in your learning process, your increments must be small enough that you can consistently maintain balance over your standing foot. If you focus your efforts on maintaining your balance rather than testing to see how far you can turn in one step, you are teaching yourself how to find the axis, and you will naturally improve over time. If you give in to your own impatience, you will rob yourself of this opportunity.

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