Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love to travel. One part that has always intrigued me is the opportunity to learn wherever you go. Last month I took a trip to Florida to watch the world jump rope championships (FISAC edition…for those of you outside of the sport, there are 2 different world championships now, FISAC is the real one). While there I got to see a lot of great jumpers from around the world and then I stayed on to help teach at their workshop. Just because I’m teaching, doesn’t mean I know it all, I’m there to learn as well.

There are so many different styles in rope skipping that it’s next to impossible to master them all. I have spent my career constantly learning and incorporating these styles into my show. I will admit that I am better at some than others, but this is primarily due to the fact I have spent more time working on certain styles. One of the more recent styles to catch on has been the introduction of break dancing (I am quite white…as can be seen in the OREO picture below, but I will always give any style of jumping a fair shake). The Japanese have been one of the biggest promoters of this style of jumping and as such, they are the furthest along. Certain jumpers in the US and Europe are getting into it as well, but the Japanese definitely appear to be the most comfortable with it.

I spent a bit of time with Sada, a well known and respected jumper out of Japan. He does many professional demos over there and is actually about the same age I am, thus we hit it off. During one of the sessions, the goal was to focus on learning some break dance skills. I was teaching a group next to his, but had to defer to him as it’s a style that I have a long way to go with. He was very instructive and helped my group (and me) learn some of the basics and how to incorporate them into Double Dutch. This is where jump rope is so amazing. He speaks very little english. In fact part of my group spoke hardly any english, so what he did say, they didn’t understand. And yet, we all were able to learn together.

Jump rope has certainly taken me around the world. I was able to catch up with some good friends while there (below are Sandile and Sbu from South Africa), and make plenty of new ones. It was funny how many people knew me that I had never met before. Whether it was from a camp I taught at long ago, or from people who have learned by watching one of my instructional DVD’s. I’ve been able to teach people in every corner of the globe…yet I always try and learn from those same jumpers whenever I visit. I always like this quote from Einstein, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” Wherever you are in the skill spectrum, take up the challenge to learn something new this year. It will be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. Even old dogs can still learn new tricks.

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