The Answer Is Not What You’d Think (Actually, Neither Is the Question)

“Here’s a question,” I said to Kate and Samie as we were working out on the backyard aerial rigs. It was a chilly October morning, the silks were dancing in the breeze, and for the moment, all seemed right with the world. But I couldn’t fully enjoy the morning until I got an answer to the question that had kept me up the night before.

Samie and Kate stopped what they were doing and looked at me.

“My question is this,” I said. “If there were bad guys chasing you…”

Samie gave me a strange look; Kate simply nodded at me to go on.

“…If there were bad guys chasing you, and you came up to a river — or, like, an alley between two tall buildings and you were at the top of one of the buildings, or if you came to a chasm — and there were silks hanging there, and you had to swing across on the silks, would you do a double wrist-wrap or a wrist-lock? Or would you just grab it and go?”

“Sooo, this is hypothetical?” Samie asked, laughing.

I mean, sure it was hypothetical, but it was also (obviously) of utmost importance. After all, one must plan for the future.

“I’d totally do a wrist lock,” Kate said. There was no hesitation in her voice.

Left: double wrap. Right: wrist-lock

“Really? Even though it takes longer to undo? The bad guys might catch up with you.”

“It doesn’t take longer to undo. You just drop your wrist.” [Note: Kate knows best; she’s the owner of the studio and the keeper of all knowledge. Trust her on this one.]

She added with authority, “Listen, if I’m swinging out across a chasm, I want to be as locked in as possible. I’m going for the wrist-lock and maybe an invert. A hip key or something.”

“Oh, yeah, totally,” I said. “Wrist-lock and invert. Maybe I’d hook a knee.” (My hip keys leave a bit to be desired, but a knee-hook would totally lock me in). I demonstrated.

An extremely secure – not to mention artistic – way to swing across a chasm

I know exactly what you’re thinking about right now. Tarzan, right? You’re thinking about how he swung through the jungle never worrying about wrist-locks and inverts. He just grabbed a vine and went for it. So maybe you assume you could nab those handy silks and swing across, no problem. I have a couple of things to say about that: first, Tarzan did nothing else all day except swing on vines. His grip strength was epic, everyone knows that. Second, vines are knobbier than silks, and are certainly less slippery. There’s a good deal more to grip onto. Third, Tarzan was swinging on vines before he could walk. He was an expert, people. I didn’t start silks until I was nearly fifty. And fourth, Tarzan is fictional. So don’t start making comparisons and being judge-y.

No wrist-lock

Of course, I know that the likelihood of this happening is pretty low. When I’m being chased by bad guys and come to a chasm, there probably won’t be a set of silks hanging around. It’s more likely that there will be an awning I can grab and swing on while it rips down the middle, or a really big flag on a handy flagpole. Or, if I’m on the top of a building, maybe a rope from a nearby window washer. I mean, I’m being realistic about things, here, obviously. But I feel better, now, knowing how I’ll handle the situation, and will rest easy tonight with this question no longer haunting me.

But here’s a warning, guys: if you’ve never taken a silks class, if you don’t know how to do a wrist-lock or even a double wrist-wrap, you could literally be risking your life. So join me and check out Kate or Drake’s classes at Live Beyond Limit. You won’t be sorry, because you’re never too old to learn a wrist-lock/invert/bad-guy escape sequence.

Anyway, lots of love and have fun til next time,



PS: I asked another friend, Amanda, the same question. She said she’d just grab the silks and swing, never mind a wrist-lock or wrap. She seemed confident of her grip strength, which, I have to admit, is pretty damn impressive. I told her I’d never make it that way without applying rosin, the sticky stuff some of us use in the studio to make our grip better. She suggested I carry rosin with me at all times, which is a great idea. I need a rosin-holster, though, cause my clothes don’t always have pockets. If you know of anywhere I can purchase such a holster, please let me know.

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