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Brent Reitz is not only an accomplished paddler, he's a professional instructor. He knows from experience how to communicate his expertise effectively and efficiently. This video is an information-dense, tightly-edited condensation of his individual forward stroke class, clearly and concisely explaining and demonstrating not only what to do but how to do it and why, with tips on timing, visualization, even how to keep the elements straight and practice them sequentially. It is, as advertised, a focused clinic.
He spends a moment propounding on the benefits of wing paddles, and many moments on his preferred stretching exercises. As with the rest of the video, these bits are cogently presented, if slightly idiosyncratic. However, that's also the video's strength: instead of being a least-common-denominator committee product, it's the personal expression of an excellent teacher, unafraid to dispel myths and prescribe tested techniques for perfecting a specific skill. It's ad-libbed but organized, distilled instruction. He even performs the music, playing us in and out. Oh, and it's shot in beautiful Monterey Bay, a minor but decidedly positive note.
I recommend this video with only minor qualifications: it's almost 15 years old, now, and might benefit from modern animation and photographic techniques supplementing its directly-addressing-the-camera style.
It could have been slightly less concise; there seemed an urgency to keep it short, which is unnecessary on DVD. And I'll add that learning to maximize efficient force transfer is useful for everyone (as an instructor once said: sometimes speed is safety), but for non-competitive paddlers other considerations often supersede. Paddling as efficiently and powerfully as possible is the standard from which to dial back when the situation warrants (which Reitz explicitly acknowledges), and attention to technique is always worthwhile, even in a group, but practicing it as Reitz seems to (exclusively, diligently, solo, on a fixed schedule) is unrealistic for most of us. Undivided attention and unbridled application is only polite alone or with like-minded people and only makes sense if actually going somewhere. A good bit of non-competitive sea kayaking involves a high ratio of navigation, negotiation, correction and evasive action to distance-made-good. The forward stroke is still the most-used skill, but it's rarely unadulterated for long in real life.
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