The Lost Arts 1: Skipping Rope

Most of us were, probably, first exposed to skipping rope as a child. During Phys-ed classes, that mean old teacher would torture us with what seemed like hours of skipping. Of course, one of the first things we discover is some of us aren’t that adept at skipping rope.

I was okay at it. Apparently, I’m good at memorizing and performing monotonous, repetitive activities (hence, the Black Belts!).

Next Level Skipping

However, the girls in the class took rope-jumping to the next level and began skipping outside during recess. Instead of having individual ropes, someone had brought this extra, long rope to school requiring two people to handle so a single person could be in the middle and jump rope on their own.

Some bright spark then decided to add a second rope to the proceedings thereby doubling the difficulty of skipping rope. This is where I first heard the words Double-Dutch.

Double-Dutch Insanity

Things would get crazy from there. The ladies, who were easily the best at this, started adding people in the middle of the mix. At first, it was 2 to start. Then 3. Then it was starting with 1 person and the other 2 would have to time the ropes to jump in, find their space and start jumping without disrupting the rhythm.

At some point, a song was added and the stunts became more elaborate.

Jump, half-twist.

Jump, full-twist.

Now do it backwards.

Now do it in unison with 2 other people.

It became quite a show and a lot of times, it would draw an audience.

Girly-thing to do

But, like most school trends, it fell by the wayside as people got older and lost interest. Worse yet, I suspect, because the ladies were so good at it, it became “a girly thing to do”.

That antiquated notion can be set aside in the modern world with a tiny bit of research on skipping rope in the combat sports world which is very much, male-dominated.

Still Prevalent

There’s a reason why skipping rope is still prevalent. It’s a fantastic way to exercise! There are so many ways skipping rope can benefit a person from a simple cardiovascular exercise to an agility routine as mentioned above.

Then there’s the mental aspect of it. It is meditative. Like jogging, skipping rope becomes an empty-mind exercise where you become so practiced at the activity you can shut your brain off and let muscle memory take over. This is incredibly relaxing.

Mushin is the Empty Mind

Now, once you have achieved Mushin, don’t just stay there. This is bit of a trap in modern day mental fitness, where people seem to think the empty-mind is the only thing to achieve. It’s not.

Take the empty-mind, that blank slate, as an opportunity to focus singularly on one subject. Pay attention to bio-mechanical efficiency while skipping.

Bio-mechanics & Relaxation

Is your head bobbing around? Are you looking down at the floor hoping not to trip on the rope? Still your head. Eyes should be forward. Crown of skull points up. Earlobes over shoulders. Shoulders and elbows are relaxed, hands down by your side. About the only things working are your wrists. This allows for the same sort of relaxation you might find in Tai Chi Chuan.

Tai Chi Chuan

Make Popcorn

Do you have to jump a meter in the air? No.

Do you have to lift your legs up? No. Think more like popcorn.




The goal is to minimize the expenditure of bio-mechanical resources, only using what you need to accomplish the goal of jumping a quarter-inch rope.

Once you get good at this, it opens the door to go faster.

Then you get to realize you can efficiently operate at a high-rate of speed while being utterly relaxed.

This is a proficiency you can implement straight to your martial arts lessons.


–Sensei Jim






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