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Conceptual Kiting (Read 6150 times)
Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
Matthew_McGee   Ex Member

 
Ok, hereís a repost of something I wrote a few years ago.  Itís been referenced on other threads, so I thought a resurrection as a sticky might be in order.  This was originally posted on the GWTW forum, and Steve liked it so much he copied it onto its own page with some goofy pictures of me.  Iím not posting those, but if youíre interested in seeing the original, hereís the linkÖ

here



Preface

Since writing this several years ago, not too much has changed in my thought process about flying dual line kites.  If anything, the development of all the pitch-unstable moves makes my case even more strongly.

Conceptual Kiting

Recently a friend of mine called me out on what he perceived as an unwillingness on my part to talk with new flyers and answer the questions they tend to usually ask.  This isnít because I donít like people, or that I donít want to help new flyers along.  Itís just that the questions I usually get asked always seem to me to be slightly counter-productive.  If asked the usual ďwhat are your hands doing when you?Ē or ďis that pull-pop-pop-slack, or pull-pop-pull-slack?Ē I always wince.  (hopefully internally)   Wink   I understand the motivation behind the questions, but it seems to me that approaching flying in this way doesnít really get to the root of understanding.  Since Iíve been thinking about it for a while now, I thought Iíd put pen to paper and write it out.
I think what Iíve come up with might be helpful food for thought to beginning flyers. Itís a bit philosophical and concept-oriented, but if youíre like-minded what follows could prove helpful in getting your head into the right place to be a better flyer. Maybe not, but Iím going to write it out anyway. Take if for what itís worth - one personís opinion. If it helpsÖ great. If not, you just blew 10 minutes of reading. Sorry.  Shocked


Basic Stages of Development:
1 Ė The Kite Flies You
2 Ė You Fly the Kite
3 Ė You and the Kite Fly Together
(credit to Lord Elrod for the above)

Iíll start at the end and work backwards. Higher ethics/goals and beliefs aside, the basis for flying well is having an established connection with the kite. It tells you things, and the wind tells you things. You process this data without thinking about it. You just know what to do to get the kite to perform. You know whatís possible and whatís not given the changing conditions around you. At this level, conscious thought goes into composition and structure rather than execution. Or, you can choose to flow in the moment and take what comes along, picking up loose change as you see fit. Everyone whoís been at it for a while knows this feeling. Itís flying in the zone. At first it only happens for a few seconds at a time, but this will increase in frequency (and duration) as you improve.

Before this point, youíre the one using your physical power to force the kite around. Youíll probably notice times when a move you know how to do just falls apart and wonder why. The reason is simple; you are flying the kite. Youíre also probably not listening to it very well. The results are familiar to all of us. An axel that doesnít flatten out, but rather turns full-sail into the lines. The pancake that is really more of a lawn dart. The 540 that rotates up on the horizon and tangles itself.  My advice at this point?  Take a break, sit down with your eyes closed and fly the move in your head. Visualize the kite, the bridle, the hand movements, the lines and you. Try to understand the relationship between all these elements. You can be mechanical and mathematical in your analysis, or as poetic and metaphorical as you please. Whatever works best, but if you donít find a vocabulary that works for you, youíll never really be able to progress and build on individual skill sets. The moves will fuse together and youíll find you can only do (for example) an axel with your left hand after a ground pass leading to a stall. Or only get into a fade after a pancake. You get the idea. You want to be versatile. To be versatile you have to nail down the individual elements.  Then you have to nail down the possible entrances and exits for each, then you have to be able to seamlessly put them together in any order you wish. (Or more likely, in the way that the conditions best allow.) This is where listening to the kite makes a difference. Know when you just canít pull the move off.  It happens to everyone. Too much sail pressure for something. Maybe too little. Too high in the window. Too low. Whatever, you get the idea.

Eventually these limitations begin to recede as you become better and better at overcoming or compensating for the wind. This is a learned process without shortcuts, you just have to spend a few thousand hours with a kite in your hands to get there.  Wink  Throughout this stage keep thinking about how the kite works. Get short lines so you can see the bridle move and the kite react. Youíll notice youíre becoming more efficient. You need less movement to do the trick. Eventually, if the wind is good, youíll just be moving back and forth in the same 5 feet of ground twitching your fingers and wrists. The kite will be doing all sorts of acrobatic maneuvers, but because you understand just when and where the kite needs your help youíll have very little to do to achieve the results you want. Iíve always called this flying with soft hands. (Maybe something I heard from some one else?) This doesnít mean that you donít hit the kite hard when you need to, it just means you donít beat the crap out of it for no reason and break sticks anymore.

On a side note, before anyone who remembers when I first started says anything, I was a champion stick breaker. Had a set of cement hands that would have turned the Mafia green with envy. Avia Sport has a carbon wrap machine with my name on a plaque. I was horrible but I learned, so hope is not lost if youíre like I was. Chin up, pip pip and all that. Wink


And now we end at the beginning. Itís always helped me to visualize whenever Iím trying to learn a new skill-set, especially ones that are dependent on muscle memory. All of the basic building blocks of good kite control are muscle memory moves. Straight lines, clean corners and crisp snap stalls are all muscle memory. The best way to begin to learn these moves is to watch people that can do them well. Watch the body positioning. Watch the hands. Watch the movement of the body throughout the move. Try to get a feeling for the flow of the move. Put it in your mindís eye. Lock it in. Watch the videos, memorize hand movements if youíd like, but all of that is prelude to actually feeling the kite and learning to interpret what itís telling you. (I understand the argument that you have to start somewhere. I agree completely, but real growth will only happen watching good flyers in person and getting as much time on the lines as you can.) The secret is in the synthesis of observed behavior and applied experience.

Most importantly, for Godís sake learn to stall! Start small and easy, but really learn to do it. One of the moves I can do in my sleep, and I often would do on demo fields just to waste time, is the axel, fade, 540, fade, 540, etc. and people would come up and ask me how to do it. When I ask them if they can do a snap stall, Iíd get all sorts of answers from confident ďyesĒ to ďmaybeĒ and ďkinda.Ē In almost all cases the flyer really couldnít do what I would consider to be an acceptable stall. Youíve GOT to be able to stop the kite, and stop it hard and level. BANG, just that fast. If you canít, STOP wasting your time. Youíre learning bad habits and re-enforcing muscle memory youíll have a very hard time undoing later. (Many canít, are remain mid-level flyers.)

Trying to learn complicated moves without the basics is like building on quicksand. Not gonna work. You have no hope of being confident in combination moves unless the specific elements in the combination are rock solid. So, to do the axel, fade, 540 move, you HAVE to first STALL the kite. THEN axel. THEN fade. THEN exit and 540. If one is weak, the move wonít be solid. House of Cards Syndrome. It all comes tumbling down. You can develop many things side by side, but the snap stall is the best move of everything out there to practice till you have is down cold. The rest just starts so much easier.

Hereís another thing I wish someone had stressed to me when I was starting. Learn to fly straight lines and hold your speed. If the snap stall is the foundation your tricks are built on, then the concrete in the sub-basement is straight lines and corners. Flipping and flopping the kite around only looks good if it looks like you meant to do it. If everything is hair-ball squiggly, then it just doesnít look sharp no matter how difficult the move. Think about all the stories youíve read when someone doing an impressive combo has a passerby thinking theyíve just screwed up. But blast out of a slack line move on a hard 90, then angle back to the ground and bury a tip stab and you look like a God. If you can start your trick combo after turning some perfect corners and carving solid lines, then the counterpoint brings validity, credibility and justification to the slack line moves. What am I going on about? Learn the basics REALLY well. Youíll be better off. Itís not like its work or anything. All you need to do is to take the effort and remember to separate your moves with some lines and corners.

Thatís all I can think of, but it touches on the major points I wanted to make. Just so I donít get a bad reputation, I really donít mind talking kites I just like to talk about them in more specifics than most people are looking for. And as an end note, I do usually tell folks the hand movements!  (even if I donít think it will help in the long run.)

Matt
 
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Reply #1 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm

groundeffect   Ex Member

*****
 
Matt - thanks so much for the re-post, an awesome read!!


Cheers,
Dean
 
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Reply #2 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
bud_g.   Ex Member

 
Matt thanks i will work on snap stalls only

  bud
 
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Reply #3 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
UBNVUS   Ex Member

 
Matt, I remember asking you about this article. Up on Kite Hill last year. You just smiled and said what are you doing, reading up on me? Ha! Of course I was, how else would I know that the ElRod you introduced me to was the one that made up the three levels. I'm still a rookie level 2. I need about 3,000 more hours to get to the advanced level 2. So what was your answer you gave me when I asked you the first time to help me with my flying? I forgot I must have gotten my hair cut too short and lost some of my memory.

BTW, it was a great article. I think I recommended it as a must read to some of my freinds.
 
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Reply #4 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
Matthew_McGee   Ex Member

 
UBNVUS wrote on Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm:
Matt, I remember asking you about this article. Up on Kite Hill last year. You just smiled and said what are you doing, reading up on me? Ha! Of course I was, how else would I know that the ElRod you introduced me to was the one that made up the three levels. I'm still a rookie level 2. I need about 3,000 more hours to get to the advanced level 2. So what was your answer you gave me when I asked you the first time to help me with my flying? I forgot I must have gotten my hair cut too short and lost some of my memory.

BTW, it was a great article. I think I recommended it as a must read to some of my freinds.



Ah yes, my old friend Reggie.  Good to hear from you!

Seeya on the hill,

Matthew
 
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Reply #5 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
caseace   Ex Member

 
Great read. I have recently gotten back into flying and I believe that every beginner should take your advice. My corners and straight lines are sloppy and my snap stall is horrible. Then I wonder why my axles look like crap. I'm just looking forward to the entire journey. I know if I concentrate on learning the basics very well that I will be way ahead of the learning curve later down the line. See ya in the skies!
 
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Reply #6 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
Robalex   Ex Member

 
Good morning,
I have only just joined this forum and just purchased a Nexus, but have learned more about kite flying by reading Matt's article than I have managed to pick up over the last two or three years. The Flight Training segment of the Prism Site has also been and will continue to be a huge help also.
Alex
 
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Reply #7 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm

Dean_Groundeffect   Ex Member

*****
 
Quote:
Good morning,
I have only just joined this forum and just purchased a Nexus, but have learned more about kite flying by reading Matt's article than I have managed to pick up over the last two or three years. The Flight Training segment of the Prism Site has also been and will continue to be a huge help also.
Alex



Hi Alex, welcome to the Prism Support Forum. Glad you've finding some useful information here.

See you around the forum.

Smooth Winds.
cheers,
Dean
 
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Reply #8 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
noobfarm   Ex Member

 
I only joined these forums a few weeks ago and while I wrestle with the Jazz, my Zephyr is on its way and posts like this are in many ways, better for me than the training video I just watched.  Impressive read my friend.  Thanks a ton.
 
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Reply #9 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
BrightLights   Ex Member

 
Roll Eyes Roll EyesOOOOH! so this is the stickies!!!  Roll Eyes

Totally stuff worth reading!!!!

Tongue Tongue Tongue
 
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Reply #10 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
BrightLights   Ex Member

 
Grin Grin Grin Matt this is both genius and GOLD!!!!!!!!! Grin Grin Grin
 
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Reply #11 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
Matthew_McGee   Ex Member

 
Quote:
Grin Grin Grin Matt this is both genius and GOLD!!!!!!!!! Grin Grin Grin



Awww, you're gonna make me blush!   Embarrassed Roll Eyes

Let's not talk about me... that would be rude!  Let's talk about you.

What do you think of me?

Wink Wink

But seriously, thanks for the kudos.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  Grin


Matt
 
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Reply #12 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
idloveaguinness   Ex Member

 
I'm just getting around to reading this after kicking around the board for months.  Great read.  Visualization CANNOT be understated.  I fenced competitively for nearly 15 years, and I can say without hesitation that visualization is something that helps you focus, gets you into the right mindset and builds / maintains muscle memory.  Watched the Olympics?  See those shots of divers before they walk up the stairs?  Gymnasts, downhill skiers, Ski-Jumpers and other athletes all do the same thing. They visualize with their eyes closed and make silly looking hand movements and facial expressions.  I would stand in front of a floor to ceiling mirror for hours a week practicing without a weapon, just watching where my hand goes and constantly refining and tuning movements and tempo.  After flying for just a few months and making those same silly movements at night while watching the DVD (and without the wife around to make fun of me), I can tell you it will help your flying - it did mine.  Don't just go out there any try new moves.....think about what you plan to do first, and try it out.  I bet it will cut the number of tries before you 'nail' a trick by half, possibly more.  I can really see this helping out with combo tricks too.
 
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Reply #13 - Dec 31st, 1969 at 4:00pm
disciple1234   Ex Member

 
Good Morning... just got turned on to flying a couple of months ago and just got info about the "forum" last week... AWESOME Read!!! You've given me alot of "food for thought" and for "Action"... Thanks a Million Matt ...slack lines,tight lines and smooth winds... kraig  Grin
 
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