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This chapter describes some of the two rope tricks I've seen over the years. The objective of this chapter is to sketch out the mechanics of each trick rather than to describe it in detail. However, since all the tricks described in this chapter are combinations of previously described tricks this should not be an obstacle to the learning process.
Most of the descriptions presented here are based on video tape of Vince Bruce currently one of the world's greatest ropers. Vince performs almost all of these tricks in his show.
Just spinning two Flat Loops at once will take some getting used to and you will probably need to spend some time working with the hand that's been taking a siesta all this time. To work on two rope tricks you'll want to have two 15 foot ropes (or perhaps even shorter). The main concern is that you should be able to spin the two ropes, holding the end of each spoke in its respective hand, without the two loops touching.
There are several different variations of spinning two Flat Loops where the differences depend on the direction of spin of the two loops and the relative phase of the two hondas. Since each loop can spin in one of two directions and the hondas can be in or out of phase there are a total of eight variations. However, only four of these eight will be useful for the tricks to be described.
Alternate Double Crow Stepping, as the name implies, is alternately Crow Stepping in one Flat Loop then the other. This trick is performed by spinning the right loop in the counter-clockwise direction and the left loop in the clockwise direction with the two hondas spinning ``out of phase''. What I mean by this is that each hand seems to be 180 degrees out of sync with the other. To be specific this means that when the left hand honda is at 12 o'clock the right hand honda is at 6 o'clock and vice versa.
With this configuration for the two Flat Loops the roper alternately jumps from the right hand loop on the right foot to the left hand loop on the left foot and back again. This makes for a rapid two step dance number where each foot leaves its respective loop just the time necessary for the spoke to pass unimpeded underneath. This trick leaves you with the impression to be running in place.
As for Alternate Double Crow Stepping, Simultaneous Double Crow Stepping has the right hand loop turning in the counter-clockwise direction and the left hand loop in the clockwise direction. However, now the two hondas must be turning ``in phase'' with each other. This means that the two hands seem to be mirror images of each other each doing the same thing at the same time. More specifically this means that when the left hand honda is at 3 o'clock the right hand honda must be at 9 o'clock and vice versa.
With this configuration for the two Flat Loops the roper simultaneously jumps from the right hand and left hand loops at the same time where the two feet leave the two loops the time necessary for the spokes to pass unimpeded underneath. This trick leaves you with the impression to be hopping in place.
A variation of this trick is to jump with both feet together alternately from one loop to the other. That's to say that both the left and right feet jump together into the left hand loop and then into the right hand loop and back again.
This trick consists of alternately passing the left and right hand Flat Loops around the back in a One-Handed Merry-Go-Round. To do this trick the right hand loop is turning counter-clockwise, the left hand loop is turning clockwise, and the hondas of the two loops are in phase (see the description of Simultaneous Double Crow Stepping).
There is an important difference between the One-Handed Merry-Go-Round described in Section 2.1 and the way it must be performed for this trick. To do the One-Handed Merry-Go-Round with the right hand it must be able to clear the Flat Loop being done by the left hand before it passes over the left shoulder and behind the back. The remark is equally valid for the Merry-Go-Round to be done by the left hand. Consequently, it will be necessary to lift the loop before bringing it to the position shown in Figure 2.2(a).
An useful observation is that you will probably have an easier time learning this trick if your Flat Loop ropes are a little shorter than what you normally use. This will help avoid the possible collision of the loops while you are lifting and/or passing them behind the back.
In this trick the two Flat Loops are alternately lifted over into the Wedding Ring position and then popped back off. This trick, like the Alternate One-Handed Merry-Go-Rounds is done with the right hand loop turning counter-clockwise, the left hand loop turning clockwise, and the hondas in phase.
A trick which seems like it would be impossible in a two-rope routine is a Two-Handed Merry-Go-Round. Nevertheless, it's not a very difficult trick, I can even do this one myself! Frank Dean attributes this trick to Will Rogers and in roping circles this trick has a mythic prestige associated with it.
The idea of this trick is that the two Merry-Go-Rounds are done simultaneously. Each loop exchanges hands at the same time, once in front of the roper and once behind. To start the trick the right hand loop is turning counter-clockwise, the left hand loop is turning clockwise, and the hondas are in phase (see the description of Simultaneous Double Crow Stepping).
The exchange of the two loops occurs when the two hondas are at 12 o'clock. To perform the exchange you will have to lift slightly one of the loops to avoid a collision. The feeling that you should have is that you are putting one loop onto the other. To make the exchange you must be able to take in each hand the spoke of the other loop. This task is made easier by leaving a small bit of spoke sticking out the back of the right hand. This allows you to grasp it with the left hand by bringing it behind the right hand while, at the same time, the right hand takes the front part of the left hand spoke.
You would think that disengaging the two loops at the moment of the exchange would be difficult but it really is not so tough. After a couple of tries I'm sure you'll get it. Once the two loops are exchanged the new right hand loop is spinning in the clockwise direction and the left hand loop is spinning in the counter-clockwise direction. If you've already mastered the Two-Handed Merry-Go-Round as described in Section 2.1 you've already confronted this change of spin direction, at least for a loop moving around the body in the counter-clockwise direction.
The trick is completed by passing the two loops behind the back where they are re-exchanged. This final exchange reverts the spin directions of the two loops to as they were at the beginning of the trick.
Some beautiful two rope tricks can be done by combining a short Flat Loop rope and a long Flat Loop rope. These combinations consist mainly of doing a Wedding Ring with one hand while doing an assorted number of other Flat Loop tricks with the other hand. Normally these tricks are performed with the small loop in the right hand turning in the counter-clockwise direction and the large loop in the left hand also turning in the counter-clockwise direction. There is no technical reason that I can think of, though, that would prevent these tricks from being learned with the large loop turning in the clockwise direction.
The first trick to learn is a Wedding Ring with the large loop in the left hand while doing a Flat Loop inside the Wedding Ring with the right hand. This trick can be started in a number of ways. One possibility is to start the Wedding Ring and once having stabilized it to start up the Flat Loop. Another possibility is to start with a Flat Loop for both the small and large loops and then perform a Lift Over to a Wedding Ring with the large loop.
Once you can do the Wedding Ring and the Flat Loop at the same time you can try embellishing this by Crow Stepping in the Flat Loop. In fact you can try any of the variations of Crow Stepping described in Section 2.2.
If you are successful with the Wedding Ring and Crow Stepping you can pass to the next level of difficulty by exchanging the positions of the two loops. That's to say the large loop is lowered from the Wedding Ring while a Lift Over to Wedding Ring is performed with the small loop. Since the large loop was lowered and not lifted off the two loops are now encircling the body and so you'll be required to do one of the Crow Stepping variations where both feet are in the loop at the same time. The variation seen the most often is the one where the two feet trot over the spoke one at a time. Clearly the success of this trick depends on timing the lowering of the large loop and the lift of the small loop at a moment when the spoke of the large loop won't impede the upward traveling small loop.
If you spent some time getting used to spinning two Flat Loops you'll have fun working on spinning two Butterflies. Since you don't have a free hand to hold a coiled up spoke as you would with a normal 15 foot rope you'll probably want to work with shorter ropes around 10-11 feet in length.
As with the Flat Loop there are eight variations for spinning two Butterfly loops. Each loop can be spun as a regular or reverse Butterfly and the loops can be spun in phase or out of phase. I define two Butterfly loops as being in phase when both the right and left hand loops are passing from the right to the left at the same time and vice versa. They are out of phase when the right hand loop is passed to the left while the left hand loop is passed to the right. Obviously the loops must not travel past the middle of the roper in an out of phase sequence if the two loops are to avoid colliding with each other.
Passing the Butterfly behind the back was not described in Chapter 5, however, it is very esthetic as a two rope trick. To pass the Butterfly loop behind the back it's necessary to give the loop a good spin acceleration on the right side of the body so that the loop can pass to the left behind the roper, make a spin on the left side (still behind the back), and return to the right.
Vince Bruce performs this as a two rope trick by spinning two regular Butterfly loops out of phase with each other. The left hand loop first passes to the right side in front of the roper while the right hand loop passes to the left side behind the roper. This is followed by passing the right hand loop to the left in front of the roper while the left hand loop is passed to the right behind the roper. This alternating passage of the two loops in front and behind the roper makes for a very nice effect.
A cross shoulder roll is performed by rolling a Butterfly loop spun by the right hand from behind the back and up and over the left shoulder. Similarly this can be done with a Butterfly loop spun by the left hand where now the loop rolls from behind the back up over the right shoulder. To perform alternate Cross Shoulder Rolls requires spinning the two Butterfly loops in phase (see the beginning of this section for a definition of spinning two Butterfly loops in phase).
Some pretty two rope combinations can be had by spinning one loop as a normal Butterfly while the other loop is spun as a Reverse Butterfly. For example, if you do a continuous Arm Roll with the right hand you can simultaneously do a Cross Shoulder Roll with the left hand. As described above the Cross Shoulder Roll is done with a normal Butterfly and after a little thought about the direction of spin of an Arm Roll which rolls up over the front of the arm you'll realize that this is based on a Reverse Butterfly.
An interesting aspect of this trick is that the two rolls are based on a different number of turns. The continuous Arm Roll is based on two turns of the loop. The first turn pulls the loop downward and the second turn rolls the loop up the spoke and over the arm. The Cross Shoulder Roll is based on four turns of the loop. Performed with the left hand the first turn is on the right side of the roper, the second turn passes the loop to the left, the third turn pulls the loop downward and behind the roper, and the fourth turn rolls the loop of the right shoulder.
The best presentation of this trick is obtained by turning the right side to the audience. From the audiences point of view there is one loop rolling over the arm in the counter-clockwise direction (the Arm Roll) and a second loop rolling behind the first (over the shoulder) in the clockwise direction (the Cross Shoulder Roll) but at a rhythm only half as often as the that of the Arm Roll.
Clare Johnson was the first person to show me this trick. Although this is not really a two rope trick I've put it in this chapter since it requires doing two things at once. To do this trick you'll need a lasso long enough to skip rope and do a Butterfly at the same time. A 15 ft rope is probably not sufficient.
The idea of this trick is that you skip rope while doing a regular Butterfly. To begin the trick start by pulling enough of the spoke between the left and right hands and behind the legs in preparation to begin skipping. Then pull the remaining spoke into a Butterfly loop that you start to spin. The Butterfly that you do for this trick does not travel from right to left as for a normal Butterfly. Rather you must limit the leftward passage of the loop so that it goes from the right side to just in front of you.
In the following description of the trick there are two important phases. There is the phase where the part of the spoke used for skipping is in front of you and there is the phase where it is behind. The success of the trick depends on timing the Butterfly loop to be in front of you at the same time as the skipping part of the spoke (that's to say that the Butterfly loop is inside the jump rope with you). The Butterfly must be to the right of you (or outside the jump rope) when the skipping part of the spoke is behind you.
Making this trick work depends on separating the work of the two actions. Skipping rope should be totally controlled by the left hand while the Butterfly is controlled by the right hand.
It is possible to do a Texas Skip and a Butterfly at the same time. To do this trick a Vertical Loop is begun with one hand and a Butterfly is begun with the other. I'll describe the trick assuming that the Texas Skip is being done with the right hand and the Butterfly with the left.
The trick begins with a turn of the Texas Skip loop on the right side of the roper (in the clockwise direction) and a turn of the Butterfly loop on the left side of the roper (also in the clockwise direction). This is followed by a pull on the Texas Skip loop to the left side while the Butterfly loop is pulled to the right. The left hand and arm must pass under the right allowing the entire Butterfly loop to pass under the upward traveling spoke of the Texas Skip (see Figure 3.1(b)). The Texas Skip loop then makes a turn on the left side of the roper and the Butterfly loop makes a turn on the right where now the two arms are crossed, the left under the right. To finish the sequence the two loops are pulled back to their respective starting sides with the Butterfly loop again passing under the upward traveling Texas Skip spoke thus uncrossing the arms.