Laurent and Gypsie have been working Disc Quan Do in the Digital Dojo. For the last week, we’ve been hanging out in the Dojo in the mornings chatting about their work. It’s been a lot of fun. Below is their Yellow Belt Challenge Test, a video featuring all of the White Belt Forms. Team Gypsie passed the Belt Challenge Test and are now Yellow Belts in Disc Quan Do.
About Team Gypsie
The team is fairly advanced; they’ve got great skills, some advanced tricks, and nice energy. Laurent seems to be a natural handler, and Gypsie is a clever, athletic border collie. I’ve seen them developing over the last year or so and was pretty excited about getting the chance to work with them.
Like most developing teams, Team Gypsie were doing amazing things, but were doing so with some mechanical issues. Gypsie was dropping on opportunity, and that opportunity was happening very early; like right after the catch. The retrieve was being cued by the handler, leaving the responsibility for carrying the disc to the handler. It’s no fun to be responsible for the retrieve with a dog who drops on opportunity.
Laurent was playing and handling well but the communication and clarity was lagging a bit; again a common issue for growing young teams. Gypsie’s mechanical issues with the drop and retrieve put extra pressure on Laurent, and that extra pressure exacerbated the communication and clarity issues.
These and other common mechanical issues can be worked around, many teams do this, but mechanical problems make getting settled and comfortable on the field a tough prospect.
Enter Disc Quan Do
The Disc Quan Do White Belt Forms are simple, baseline foundational skills. Many handlers might look at them and think they are not worth working on,”That stuff is too easy,” or,”I got that stuff already, let’s do some cool stuff!”
To Laurent’s credit, he understood and accepted the foundational gaps in Team Gypsie’s game, and understood the value of a strong foundation. He’s a good student with some martial arts form experience from his “old Karate sessions”.
Working the Drop and Communication Indoors With Simple Forms
We started out with Stance Shifting, a silly little skill that is completely critical for team movement and Set Up and Position. It’s a simple form, purposefully changing stances from clock to counter. These shifts of stances manipulate the positional pressure coming off the handler. Doing them without the dog and practicing the form frequently makes shifting stances a physical and mental habit.
The Low High Form, another almost too simple skill, was next on the agenda. Laurent decided to do it with the dog, as an experienced player it’s a good option. We cleaned up his Low High Toss, and Gypsie started to get the idea of the Trigger that the A Low High Toss is a special delivery used to hover discs and create a reliable trigger for the dog.... creates.
We identified the cued Drop issue and also the unclear communication, and used the Low High Form and the Bitework Form to address both of these problems. All of this was done in his living room after work.
After a couple short sessions and some discussion in the Digital Dojo, both Laurent and Gypsie were well on their way to solving their mechanical problems. Gypsie was clearly waiting for and responding to the cued Drop and Laurent was doing a great job being consequent.
Taking It Out to the Field
Both Laurent and I were interested in how the skills would transfer to the field, and I have to say it was pretty amazing. Gypsie performed rather flawlessly with the cued Drop in the Setting the Flank and Directional Feeding Forms. The team had a cued Drop! 100% success with strong operant display by Gypsie; she knew that the cued Drop made next happen, so she needed to carry the disc.
The team demonstrated clock and counter clockwise movement in both their Directional Feeding is the underlying essence of disc dog freestyle. As a concept, it consists of reading the dog’s line and delivering a well placed disc that elicits a leap where she is going to be. Directional Feeding is an important drill and skill for all disc dogs and handlers. It teaches the handler how to read a dog and... More and Setting the Flank means to throw out to your right or left. It’s really simple, just face any direction, send the dog Around, and then turn and throw the disc out to the side. It is important to face forward first, as the Flank is out at 9 or 3 o’clock, and you want to condition the dog to be... More forms, and even wrapped up their session with a nice clean Leg An Over is any leaping catch that happens over top of the handler’s body. Overs are usually named by the part of the body over which the dog flies, i.e - Leg Over, or the position you are in while doing the Over - Seated Over, Spinning Over, etc. Overs should be taught before Vaults.... More, a skill that had been plaguing the team due to a lack of a strong trigger for the leap.
Taking the Yellow Belt Challenge
After a week’s work, with their new cued Drop and clear communication, Team Gypsie was ready to submit their Belt Challenge Test to earn their Yellow Belt in Disc Quan Do. It’s a pretty solid performance, which earned the rank of Yellow Belt and it’s now the example video for the White Belt Forms module in the online Disc Quan Do class.
Team Gypsie will be working on the Yellow Belt forms in preparation for their Green Belt Test. These forms build upon the White Belt Forms and add some practical flatwork.
In addition to moving on to new skills, the team will be revisiting the White Belt forms for warmup purposes and to further hone their foundational skills.