Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Zen of the Free Hip: Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about the position of the free hip as it relates to my skating. Today, I want to outline the free hip positions for some basic edges and turns.  These basic rules of thumb, are useful to experiment with if you are interested. If they don't work for you, well, I'll post a picture of a dog down below so it's not a complete waste of time for you to read this post.

I got these tips/rules of thumb/guidelines from the excellent videos by Joan Orvis on  Her edges video and her three turns video were what helped me sort this out.

So here are the four rules of thumb I started with:

1. Forward outside edge--hip in the back position.
2. Forward inside edge--hip in the forward position

3. BACK outside edges--hip in the forward position
4. BACK inside edges--hip in the back position

Okay, at this point you may have got an intuitive insight. DO THE OPPOSITE!

Forwards outside--hip back.          Backwards outside--hip forwards
Forwards inside--hip forwards.      Backwards inside--hip back

There's also a neutral position, which is what most people seem to have naturally. (Not me) When I'm stuck, I shove my free hip into the neutral position and try that.

My first try was with FO3.  I did a couple of crossovers, stroked into the 3 and held that free hip back all the way through the turn. BAM! nailed it. I mean I just floated through the turn. Hold the free hip back, down up down, magical three turn. Well, that was on my good side. When I tried it on my 'bad' side, same magical three turn.  The position of the leg didn't seem to be critical as long as it was pressed against the skating leg at the thigh. Dance style, freestyle turn, figures style. 

So, I next tried FO and FI 8's. Really smooth. Much less wobbling, stable transitions.

My back edges are divine works of art. No kidding. I feel like I'm skating on rails. When I'm skating back edges I am a  dynamic figure of elderly adorableness.

I spent  a couple of sessions playing with the Rules of Thumb, and  then I ran into the mohawk. After looking at a number of videos of people doing open mohawks, what seems to be happening is this: Enter the mohawk with the free hip forward and the free leg in an externally rotated position. When stepping down, the hip seems to go to a neutral position and  transitions to being the active foot by externally rotating the free leg. The new free leg seems to be hip forward with externally rotated leg. Using this approach, I've been able to sort out the issues with my bad side mohawk. My bad side hip is naturally back, and I really have to jam the free hip forward just to get it to neutral. I've still got strength issues on that bad side, but that mohawk is now dependable and not just luck.

What about the FI3? Yeah, bane of my existence. The Free hip forward is working for the glide. "Why can't you make that turn?" my coach will ask, "Everything's in position and nicely balanced."  Meh, I've got head issues.

So, what is this good for? Well the free hip position seems a reliable technique for long edges. The fact that holding it through the three turn improved them, was a complete surprise.

I also learned my hip positions are unequal which probably contributed to my good side / bad side depending on the element I'm doing. I can now identify and mentally document what I'm doing that is consistently successful.

The fact that I'm able to separate the hip position from the rotation of the leg in the hip joint means I no longer have to memorize arbitrary leg positions that coaches give me. I can now break it down into free hip position and leg rotation.

I'm not saying that the Zen of the free hip works all the time everywhere, but for me as a beginner skater/intermediate skater it allows me to specify what I'm doing right or wrong, and either follow the right stuff up, or reject the wrong positions.

So, this post is finally out of my system.NOW FOR A FUNNY GIF!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Zen of the Free Hip

Over the past couple of months I've been manipulating my free hip as a way to gain better control of my edges and turns. This post and the next are the results of some explorations I've been doing.

I can see some eyerolls out there via my psychic powers. "Oh, she's going to be talking about closed and open hips, how droll." You would be wrong. I've heard the terms, and I've had coaches tell me to hold my leg in a certain way and say "That's open." or "That's closed". Those coaches may know what they mean but I can break down the free hip position into SIX positions. Open and closed don't cut it for me.

So here's a picture of a dancer in what is (probably) an 'open' hip position:

Not to me. To me this is a hip in the back position, with externally rotated leg. Next up:

(Tenley Albright?)
This is probably considered to be a free hip in the 'closed' position. To me this is a free hip in the forward position with the leg with neutral (or possibly external) rotation.

So here's how I've broken it down:

Hip position--Forward back neutral

Leg rotation--External neutral internal
How does this work for me?

FO3--Free hip in the back position, externally rotated.

FO edge--Free hip in the back position, neutral  to external rotation

BO edge--Free hip in forward position, neutral rotation

FI3--Free hip in forward position, external rotation

Mohawk--Going in: Free hip in back position, neutral to externally rotated leg. As I bring the free foot forward to the arch of the I bring the free hip to the neutral position, step down and switch, bringing the new free hip into the back position with external rotation.

This is nothing you could explain to a child. But as notation it certainly is more reliable and descriptive than 'open' and 'closed'.

For me this has proved to be a life saver. Because I have one hip that is naturally back and the other neutral, I've had to struggle with 'sidedness'. By understanding what's going on in a detailed way in my free hip, I've seen a lot of improvement as I'm able to make adjustments based on my knowledge of my own body.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

First Skate of the Winter

I break out my Autumn skate jacket.

I have my Winter coat in the wings, ready to go!

And believe it or not, I have a Ushanka, that my mother bought for me when she was traveling by train across the USSR/Russia during the week the USSR died.
And yes, I do look like this.
Only cuter!

Can't wait to skate in it!