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Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Brian Hsu!

Brian and I first talked on an episode back in 2019 and we’ve connected again to recap the current state of the jump rope world. In case you missed the first episode, Brian is a very accomplished 16-time world champion who also co-founded the American Jump Rope Federation.

We cover a wide range of topics, including the process to host a virtual national tournament, the two most undervalued techniques in jump rope right now, physiologic changes during very long speed step runs, new competition formats that could foster growth in the sport, limitations and growth during the pandemic, defining what “new” jump rope skills are, and a whole lot more.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With episodes lasting over an hour, it can be difficult to catch minor errors.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon MusicStitcher, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Nate K-G: Brian, welcome back to the podcast we’re doing a round two. I hope you’ve been well. How are things going?

Brian Hsu: It’s been going really well. Good to see you again, Nate. I think last time we really talked was around kind of the summer for national stuff. So it’s good to see you again.

Nate K-G: Yeah.

01:41 What Is It Like Trying To Run A Virtual Tourament?

Nate K-G: Let’s start there. Let’s talk about nationals putting on the virtual am JRF nationals last year. And then, we were talking a bit beforehand, so we have a lot of other things to get to. So let’s, let’s talk, let’s talk about nationals. How did, how did that go? What is it like trying to run a virtual tournament?

Brian Hsu: Yeah. , well, I mean, I am not a producer or editor by trade at all. So really the whole experience kind of felt like… trying to bake a cake without knowing the recipe. And you’re just like, well, I know what it’s supposed to look like at the end, but I just, I’m going to throw stuff together. Or like I have kind of a plan and people who can help and, we’re just going to see what we can do.

So, yeah, it was just learning as I went and learning a lot about the intricacies of, you know, editing, like the audio stuff that I’m sure you do, you have to tune all the little ups and downs, and then you have, you know, kids who have submitted videos that are shot with like weird angles, like a fish. One of them was a fish eye lens video of like this amazing, okay, we’re going to make this work.

but yeah, it was a great learning experience. And if we do have to do a virtual event, for fun or for like an out of necessity in the future, I think you know how to do it better now.

Nate K-G: That’s cool. What are some of the things. That you would think about like on the backend, because I know many people don’t know what really goes into putting on an event like that, even though it’s virtual and it happens on your computer, it’s still, it’s still not necessarily simple. So what are, what are some of the things that you would think about tasks you would you’d be trying to figure out?

Brian Hsu: Well, I mean, as you know, my number one point of paranoia was like, what if like the stream goes down? Or like, what if there’s a connection issue or whatever. And so in the beginning I really wanted to try and pre-record everything as in like get the, the scenes already set, have the commentators, watch it and then have them record their responses and just stream like a raw video file basically.

But to your credit, you’re like, no dude, this is like, it’s

Nate K-G: We talked about that so much.

Brian Hsu: Yeah I’m like two weeks into it I was like starting to finally come around. So, I mean, if we’re thinking back to like my first initial thoughts that was like, do we do it live or do we do it pre recorded? I think live was absolutely the right way to go because people, they want to like talk and stuff in the chat.

Nate K-G: Well, and like when we were talking about it, I remember I think you pinged me and you’re like, Hey, this is what we’re thinking. Like, you know, I see you on Instagram a lot. Like, I know you do stuff. Like, what do you think? You know? And I was like, well, I think, I think he didn’t even, I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I think I was like, it’s gotta be live. And like, I guess you could prerecord it, but that’d be like, kind of weird. And I think you were like, hoping that I was going to say like, yeah, just pre-record the whole thing, you know? And you were like, oh no.

Brian Hsu: As an engineer, I value stability so much. So it was like, just do something that’s going to work.

Nate K-G: It’s tough too, because like in the jump, at least in the competitive jump rope space, competitive jump ropers they can be very entertaining on some of the high-level jumpers can be very entertaining on stage. It’s so much different to try to be entertaining on a live stream, commenting on things versus actually doing it yourself, you know, and definitely need to shout out Devin because of the amazing job that he did consistently over the several, several days and stuff, and everyone else who was hanging out. But yeah, it’s, it’s a way different task. So in terms of like stability, you are just kind of hoping that these jumpers can also show that talent as well.

Brian Hsu: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, perhaps do you guys for helping pull that off because truly it would not have happened without like you and Devin and Nick and Kaylee and you know, Mike had a baby that day, so we had to scramble and find like commentators to fill the spot. But yeah, I think it all worked out pretty well.

Nate K-G: That was good. Would you do it again? If someone said Brian nationals, are we doing it virtual? What would your answer be?

Brian Hsu: Do I have… Well, it could be a fun medium in the future.

Nate K-G: Where you just going to say, do I have to, was that like the initial phrase came to mind

Brian Hsu: If it’s between, do we do nothing or do we have to do a virtual because we have to do a virtual, then I want to do something besides nothing but yeah dude in-person stuff is just so much better.

Nate K-G: Yeah. It’s a different, different vibe for sure. Also like being able to high-five your friends, you know, like just, just that part alone, like nice job, dude, whack, you know.

06:03 Performing vs. Filming Competitive Routines

Brian Hsu: Also I’m really curious how the whole having to film a routine. Like you can do it as many times as you want. Right? So I’m, I’m really curious how that affected… You know, people who are perfectionists like myself, I’ve never had a routine, perfectly clean and competition. So you best believe I’m in the gym. I’m going to record it a billion times until I do hit it perfect. But then like, that’s a whole different kind of stress you have to manage, with yourself. Because you don’t have an audience to like cheer you on.

Nate K-G: You also don’t like at competition, everyone kind of, at least in my mind, I would always assume like, there’s probably going to be a mistake. Like I don’t want there to be one. I’m going to train for what to not have one, but you also know what to do in case you do have a mistake and you kind of plan your routine around that. And you’re like, okay, well there’s obviously always an option for that. I’m going to throw in something crazy. I’m going to put a Shoemaker in. I’m going to do a bunch of splits because I’m Brian and I’m really cool and I can do splits and like that kind of stuff. Right? So, so you, you, you stack and everyone’s got a different kind of method, but you stack some pretty powerful skills to boost the point value and stuff like that. But when you’re videotaping. You know, like you could do whatever you do, whatever you want. And I talk with Grim, Grim Leaper a lot about this, because there’s definitely a lot of merit to filming something like with speed as well, like getting like PR in your speed, but it almost kind of removes a little bit of the sport element when you don’t have that pressure to perform.

And that’s like a really big piece of things.

Brian Hsu: Also I’m really curious how the whole having to film a routine. Like you can do it as many times as you want. Right? So I’m, I’m really curious how that affected… You know, people who are perfectionists like myself, I’ve never had a routine, perfectly clean and competition. So you best believe I’m in the gym. I’m going to record it a billion times until I do hit it perfect. But then like, that’s a whole different kind of stress you have to manage, with yourself. Because you don’t have an audience to like cheer you on.

Nate K-G: You also don’t like at competition, everyone kind of, at least in my mind, I would always assume like, there’s probably going to be a mistake. Like I don’t want there to be one. I’m going to train for what to not have one, but you also know what to do in case you do have a mistake and you kind of plan your routine around that. And you’re like, okay, well there’s obviously always an option for that. I’m going to throw in something crazy. I’m going to put a Shoemaker in. I’m going to do a bunch of splits because I’m Brian and I’m really cool and I can do splits and like that kind of stuff. Right? So, so you, you, you stack and everyone’s got a different kind of method, but you stack some pretty powerful skills to boost the point value and stuff like that. But when you’re videotaping. You know, like you could do whatever you do, whatever you want. And I talk with Grim, Grim Leaper a lot about this, because there’s definitely a lot of merit to filming something like with speed as well, like getting like PR in your speed, but it almost kind of removes a little bit of the sport element when you don’t have that pressure to perform.

And that’s like a really big piece of things.

07:46 How Different Countries Train Competitive Routines

Brian Hsu: Totally. Going back to what you said real quick about, uh, you know, we kind of expect that there’s going to be a miss. Do you think that’s a U.S. thing?

Nate K-G: That’s a great question. You know, I think it’s probably individual or team-based. Because then I think of someone like I’ve been watching the 2019, uh, Asia Pacific championships and like there’s a lot of jumpers there in some of those jumpers. From all across the world, just going at it hard, you know, they miss a lot, but then there’s like jumpers too. Like I think of, even in the U.S. Like Graham hits his routines, so clean, like so clean, like you, you can tell by the way he does his skills, that he’s drilled that routine so many times. I think the us is probably more likely, cause I think overall the U S has a little bit more stunt focused in terms of pulling off like the big skill, whatever that is for that jumper. And I think that’s not quite as common because I think the rest of the world… I don’t know, I’m a little bit, not as up to speed on this, but I think the rest of the world is a little bit more focused on actually stacking the points in their routine, which is typically multiples. That’s kind of the sweet spot of like highest points for the least amount of time that you can.

Brian Hsu: That’s totally what was in 2019 Norway, that’s exactly. It, it was just like systematic multiples, getting as many as you can. And it was clean, but to your point, yeah, I think it is very team-based cause like back on Hotdogs, when the judging system was a little bit more subjective, the coaching advice was literally just yeah. Stack it, if you make a mistake, your tricks are going to be big enough that it doesn’t matter. Also part of it back then. The in-person workshop culture was so big that part of the whole thing around doing big tricks and competition was just to get you into that, that workshop circuit so that you could get trips and start going places and getting known outside just on the competition floor.

Nate K-G: The people who host the workshops would see a jumper and be like, “Oh, that jumper is really good. I got to bring them on.” Because if you could do a hard skill, that means that you could probably teach it, which is not one-to-one. But in considering the history that considering the history of jump rope, like it made a lot of sense, you know? It’s funny when you bring that up because like hot dog, I feel like is like the team that is the one that pushes that mindset of like, just go hard or go home, like, who cares about a miss? Just hit the big trick. You know what I mean?

Brian Hsu: I mean, this isn’t great… I’m not like proud of this, I wish it were different… We’ve never hit it perfectly clean fusion routine, or even like the regular double Dutch. I don’t think,

Nate K-G: I mean, that’s a completely different animal. Like you, you need to go take like legitimate dancing classes and have a dancing coach as much, if not more than, your jump rope, which means you’d need to full-time job amount of time to actually make that happen

10:40 Recent Double Dutch Fusion

Nate K-G: Have you, have you been watching any of the Double Dutch TV, fusion routines or anything?

Brian Hsu: Not super recently now, is there new stuff that’s coming up?

Nate K-G: There’s a lot of new stuff in Devin actually did a stream just for fun the other week. Uh, yeah, and we, we watched some of those videos. Unfortunately, my internet went out. I wasn’t able to watch the whole thing, but, we watched a couple of those routines and they are so phenomenal because they’re like an even split as you know, from doing fusions, an even split between like Double Dutch and jump rope, and then dance. Like, neither of the two really overwhelms the other. Whereas like typically whenever you see a different discipline being meshed with jump rope, one of the two kind of takes over. Like if you see a gymnast jump rope, you can typically tell that they’re chucking flips while holding a jump rope. Yeah. You’re, you’re, it’s for those who can’t see, which is everyone, and you’re moving your arms like really wide and like swinging them around in a big circle with the shoulders. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

11:42 Thoughts On “Battle” Competition Style

Nate K-G: So I think that that’s one of the, one of the really cool things that Double Dutch TV has been posting a lot recently though, is battles. They’ve been having a lot of like tournaments that are structured as battles. Which I think is a very interesting concept because… I’d love to get your take on this is going to go into like judging rules and stuff. But from what it seems like in the battle, and I don’t know how the judges are trained so I could be wrong, but they’ve all got a flag. A blue or a red flag and there’s two people battling each other, right? They each do their run, whatever they’re doing. And then the judges just put up a flag. So it’s like extremely subjective, just who do you think did better? There’s a lot of nuance that could be lost, I guess. But at the same time, like every time I’ve watched them, like, yeah, I agree with that decision. I wonder what, like, what are, what are your thoughts as someone who’s like been very involved with the judging rules and criteria in jump rope? What are your thoughts on that?

Brian Hsu: I’m all about it. I think it is fun to watch. People don’t think about how the sport can be, distributed or sold as a media piece a lot, but that format is what it’s going to have to be in at least the beginning. So, yeah, I’m all about it. It’s also really fun.

You get to go out there and some of it’s kind of improv and you can see people like making stuff up or like, throwing it back at whoever just want to at them and that kind of stuff. Yeah. It just sells really well.

Nate K-G: And it’s like this whole idea. I think I want to say I was talking to Celina about this awhile ago, but it’s like this whole idea that the rules are – it was probably all of us when we were talking on the, on the calls when we were prepping for nationals. the rules in jump rope dictate the way the sport progresses. And like, that’s such a huge thing. Currently as it stands, obviously you’re trying to always maximize your point value. That’s the point of any sport. You’re trying to win, in competition, but the skills that are awarded the most points currently, the way the system is set up in the hierarchy set up is like we were talking about the best opportunity is a multiple under skill. Because you can stack. I mean, if you’re good enough, you can do 20, potentially 30 quads in a row.

Maybe they’re not all super hard quads unless you’re Luke Boon and you’re just smashing them, but like you can put them all together. And in that that would probably take you somewhere around 30 seconds to complete, which is less than half of your routine. You could get some really high scores from that. And so like, versus what we just talked about, the battle… There’s no point value, it’s just who looked better. And who looked better dictates a much different set of skills. What do you think about that?

14:32 What Changes Would You Make To Competitive Rules?

Nate K-G: And then also, like, if you could change anything about the rules or, or test something different, what would that, would that look like?

Brian Hsu: So context, I actually have not done a ton of work on the rules specifically, like in their creation. But I do have opinions I can give you those. So, um, I think like zooming way out, if we look at other sports, Olympics, cause everybody watches or has seen something from the Olympics, right? When you watch a performance sport, you can kind of tell who’s winning. And like, if you’ve watched it enough, you can see as someone’s doing like a high bar routine in gymnastics, like, oh, they kind of are a little off axis, like that’s going to hurt them.

And so if your sport, if your rules aren’t clear enough to where an audience member can be like, ah, that was the thing that maybe shouldn’t have happened or what would help them win… if the audience is like lost at the end of the day as to why somebody won, there’s a problem. And obviously jumping up as super young and we’re still kind of figuring out what our stride is and how we’re going to be, you know, marketed just the world and all that kind of stuff.

But that’s like my big thing at the end of the day is if somebody watches a winning routine versus a second or third place, they should kind of know.

Nate K-G: That’s like when you watch, I’m probably going to get you the names. I think it’s like Registyle in like Japan, the fusion, like you watch them do their routine and you’re like, yeah, these guys are the champs. Like you just, like you just said, you’re no, like, it’s like, this is nuts. This is incredible. They hit all the time into the music. The skills that they do are technically difficult, but they’re obviously difficult. Like there’s obviously a lot going on there. In addition to the nuance that a, more seasoned jumper would pick up on.

This to me is like, I feel like we’ve talked about this a lot, but like leagues in different leagues of jump rope… it feels like there should be several, whether it’s organizations or different tournaments sponsored by the same organization, it doesn’t really matter. But the point is like different, different opportunities and leagues where like, there’s like the classic traditional competitive jump rope experience, which is what it is now. High pressure, high level skills, all that stuff.

Then there could be other battles.

16:41 Physiologic Changes With Long-Duration Speed Step Runs

Nate K-G: There could be, uh, we were talking about today, actually this morning I was, I was live on Instagram. We were talking about a speed-only tournament with like five minutes speed, 10 minutes speed, 30 minutes speed. Yeah, because like, from a, from a physiological perspective, I mean, you have to enjoy speed to a certain degree, but from a physiological perspective, that’s pretty similar to running a marathon or doing like these very endurance events.

And if you’ve ever, if you’ve ever jumped consistently for like a half an hour straight or, or done speed for 10 or 15 minutes or whatever, you’ll see that your heartrate, and this is replicated as well in other disciplines like cycling or whatever, where your heart rate changes at different intervals.

So If you hold the exact same pace, the effort required in your body changes at certain intervals, 10 minutes and 15 minutes being those points. I would imagine if you did it for an hour, half an hour would also change as well. Assuming the power stays the same, your heart rate and your physiological, like not symptoms, but like what’s happening in your body changes because of a lot.

Brian Hsu: I’m assuming it goes up right?

Nate K-G: Yes. Yeah. I did a couple of 10 minutes and 15 minutes speeds… It’s probably a couple months ago now. And when I, when I was doing the 15, it was interesting to see… I’m going to share heart rates, but my heart rate data should not be other people’s. Just as a very clear qualification because there’s because of many reasons, but it shouldn’t be the same.

But anyway, I would get into the groove. For a 15 minutes speed I’d probably be around like a 1.9 pace, nothing fast. Right. I did it to do it, not to break any records or anything. And so I’m cruising about at 1.9, it stayed pretty similar because if you’ve ever done speed longer than three minutes, you know that like your body can’t… at a certain point, you can’t really slow down or speed up.

Like you just kind of get locked into a certain pace because it’s actually more uncomfortable to change it. So I know that the pace stayed pretty much the same. I could see within the first minute or two, the heart rate went up to about 184, 185, and then it stayed there for probably the majority of the first 10 minutes.

And then like about every minute after that, it went up by about one beat per minute. And I finished around like 189 ish. And so it’s really, this just kind of goes back to the whole idea of like different leagues, different tournaments for different purposes and different jumpers, because we now… we’re now at the point with all the, all the lockdown jumpers, you know, all the, all the adults that have started jumping recreationally, it’s amazing the talent that we see from these jumpers.

And there’s such a wide variety of skills that people are interested in. The same thing that we see in competitive jump rope, right? Except for I’d argue, there’s more people interested in speed step in the recreational side of things then the competition. With the exception of like the Hong Kong and the south Korean teams, those, those, those jumpers are dominating like consistently across the board.

Brian Hsu: I will say there is a certain, like, I don’t know if not euphoric state, but when you’re hitting like your stride and speed and you just like, you’re warm and you’re just going, it feels so good. I can see how that would be tantalizing for some people.

Nate K-G: It’s funny how, like, I don’t know if you’ve done like a, I mean, this, you could apply the same thing to double unders, right? Like double unders for like a couple minutes straight, which if you’re going for a PR… for you, like as a competitor who can probably do a bunch of triples back to back, I’m sure you can hit hundreds of doubles in a row if you wanted to. Which, to some people might sound like a lot, but that’s actually relatively straightforward in the, in the competitive environment.

So yeah, when you’re doing hundreds of doubles or you’re doing like a round of speed for 10 or 15 minutes or whatever, it’s really… I found it very enjoyable to watch heart rate as a marker of effort, rather than like numbers or scores or anything like that.

Like the, the goal changes to like, instead of, “I need to go really fast” it’s, “I need to hold my heart rate steady for this amount of time.” It’s exactly what you just said. Like you get into the zone of like, it’s a lot of effort, but it matches your ability. I think it’s usually easier to get into that with double unders cause you kind of just go on autopilot and you can kind of feel it a little bit more easily.

But I noticed like for me, 184, 185 BPM for heart rate… it’s still a lot of effort, but I can just cruise. But if I’m doing freestyle or like messing around or trying different things, if I hit that heart rate, I want to stop immediately. But when I decide to do like speed step or doubles, which are very low intensity, you can just kind of mainline that. And just keep going, which I think is… I think is a very, undervalued, not as much known, side of jump rope yet.

Brian Hsu: Is that like a training tool that you use?

Nate K-G: You know, it’s one of the tools in the toolbox, right? Like the way I’ve been changing my approach to speed step over the last six months to a year or so… Is that I think in jump rope… I always refer to competitive jump rope as just jump rope. In competitive jump rope. Um, we always just want to go faster. That’s the whole point of speed step is to go faster. The majority of training is set up to go really hard.

There’s definitely some jumpers who have different paces and they, they focus on pacing. I haven’t spoken to every coach. I wouldn’t know everyone’s drills, but it seems like a lot of competitive culture is like, “If you’re going to do speed, you’re going to go pretty hard.” Even if you’re doing like a two minute speed, like you’re still going to be at a pretty decent pace, which makes sense.

One of the things I’ve been changing is actually focusing on a lot slower paces and longer durations and not as much like brutal pain from speed. And then you have a lot of… at least for me, it’s been, it’s been a lot, a lot more fun. To do it a lot easier cognitively to get yourself into it.

If you plan on doing 10, you know, 30 second speeds at 60 or 70% of your maximum, which could be so relaxed, you know, probably 60 is a little low, but like 70 to 80% of your max, that’s not going to be a problem. And even if you miss, you’re like, whatever, this isn’t that hard.

And then by the time you’re done with those 10 rounds and you’re just kinda chillin, taking it easy. You’re like, “Why don’t I just try to go hard?” And then like all of a sudden it completely changes it, right? Cause you’ve already set yourself up mentally for success. You’ve already done something that was successful.

And then it makes the rest of the training a lot more enjoyable. Have you been doing a lot of speed step or how has, how has your jumping been?

23:28 Improving Lower Back Injuries

Brian Hsu: Well, so unfortunately I’ve, I’ve had like a lower back injury. That’s been around for like a couple months now.

Nate K-G: Was it like a sprain and strain or is it just some kind of random thing?

Brian Hsu: I think it was, I’ve always had back problems. I’m like, I’m a tall man. Six, three.

Nate K-G: That’s tall.

Brian Hsu: Pretty thin. So yeah, back problems also just like are in the family. So I gotcha. I’m fulfilling my fate I guess. But I think it was a combination of overuse. I did like a ton of hiking and rock climbing and then just not doing the right, like care afterwards, like stretching and all that foam rolling and stuff like that. And so just over time, I think it compounded into something else I have yet to like, go see a medical professional about this.

Nate K-G: Do you do like a lot of sitting everyday for work and stuff?

Brian Hsu: Yeah. I have a standing desk, but it’s like not a lot of standing.

Nate K-G: I’ve used a standing desk too before. And like, even if you do use it a lot, it’s like, it’s definitely nice to shake it up, but I don’t see as many of the benefits as they suggest it would give you. Cause it’s like you’re still tight and locked up, you know?

Brian Hsu: Yeah. Breaks are better I think, than standing up and down. But so I would love to get back into speed because I was doing it a little bit before I hurt my back. Um, kind of what you were saying, just like keeping it kind of chill, but just… Getting in a good pace, feeling, like in your rhythm, having people watch you at the gym and try not to feel super self-conscious about your metal speed rope.

Nate K-G: Yea, right?

25:03 Jumping Around Other People At The Gym

Nate K-G: Has this happened to you where you go to the gym to jump and then like, you’re just getting warmed up and someone’s already in there jumping. Has that ever happened to you? Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Then you kind of feel awkward because you’re like, I want to jump, but like, I don’t want to like, make this person feel weird. Cause like it’s going to get a little bit out of hand.

Brian Hsu: Yes. I have fully embraced the fact that, I mean, this is going to sound so cocky, but I’m like, I’m a former world champion. I need to just do my thing. Yeah. Like part of the problem with me for so long was that I never broadcasted or like got people excited about jumping up because I was too worried about making people feel small.

Nate K-G: Yes. Yes.

Brian Hsu: Ah, I’m just going to do this because I’m good at it. And I want to have fun. And if people want to like join in the orbit then great.

Nate K-G: That is a hundred percent. I understand that because that’s the exact same way. Like, I haven’t been to a gym a while, but I would go to like 24 hour fitness a lot. I had a membership there. So when I would go and there was someone there, I would always modify my jumping and just hope that they were going to leave by the time I was done warming up or something.

Brian Hsu: Were you like very conscious of it or was it a self-conscious thing?

Nate K-G: Yeah. Oh, it was so, so conscious. I was like, ah, that person’s jumping.

I was like, man, like, I don’t want to be a jerk, but I also, like, I really want to do some triple frogs, but I don’t want that person… I don’t want to be a jerk.

Brian Hsu: Dang boy triple frogs at the gym, oh my God.

Nate K-G: And they, they, it would take an hour to get there, but like, yeah. It’s but like, you know what I’m saying? Like, you want to throw down a… Like you’re feeling a strength sequence. Like you want to do some quads, like it’s so loud. And like obnoxious, if you don’t know what you’re looking at. That has happened to me before I have actually gone to the gym and jumped and a person who was jumping, packed up their stuff and left.

And it was, yeah, dude, it was the worst feeling ever because it’s like, I don’t like, that’s the opposite. Like, I don’t want you to stop. And then like, you know, the gym people get kinda self-conscious there. And I was like, oh man, this blows…

I’ve thought about wearing shirt that says, like, “Ask me about jump rope.”

Brian Hsu: Or like, just something that’s like, Hey, I’m not like a huge uninviting person. You can come talk to me about that.

Nate K-G: That is honestly a great idea. I have had the, the times I have had people come up to me, it was when I was there, like with a friend, like if I saw a friend of the gym or if I went with someone and we were just talking and I was jumping, then people will come up because it looks approachable.

But you know, like when you’re just by yourself, you’ve got gym face. You know, they can look a little bit serious.

Brian Hsu: I have gym face 24/7, so yeah.

Nate K-G: Oh man, that’s funny.

27:43 Un-Learning Competitiveness As A Jumper

Nate K-G: To wrap back around to speed step, I feel like that’s a really big thing that would help so many competitors. Is that knowing that you don’t have to always one-up yourself every time you show up to a session.

I feel like I’m still like recovering as a competitor in that respect. Every time I show up to jump, I’m like, “Well, I’ve already done it. There’s no reason to do it again.” You know? I don’t know if you feel that way too.

Brian Hsu: Yes. At the beginning of lockdown, I would try to go out into these concrete parking lots and I’m like, and feel disappointed that I wasn’t throwing like Darkside or backwards pushups things.

And like, I was like, wait, maybe I can just do jumping to a song and like have fun. Yeah, the discovery of that was life-changing.

Nate K-G: Yeah. Like I don’t I’m on concrete. Let’s be real about what I can actually do… Although… Brian, I’m pretty sure you posted a couple videos where you were actually still throwing down some pretty solid strength and multiple under skills. I’d have to go back and look, but I feel like I remember you being like, wow, Brian’s doing that on concrete.

Brian Hsu: Those are probably very concerted choices around, like I’m going to do 30 minutes and then we’re going to call it and be happy with whatever happens.

Nate K-G: I think that this would be a really good thing for competitors to remember is like, you can, you don’t have to try to be a world champion every single time you show up to jump.

Even if you are a world champion in your case, you know, you can still just vibe and hang out and like you can do speed step, slow for just getting your heart rate up or something. You know?

Brian Hsu: I wonder how well I would have taken that advice… You know, like 10 years ago?

Nate K-G: Not, well, probably I wouldn’t have!

Brian Hsu: I get it now, but man, back then, it was just like, you were hungry for it. No one was going to stop you from just like destroying yourself.

Nate K-G: Well, I mean like, well, okay, well, first of all, let’s look at the, I mean, if you, if you’re talking about when you were on the Hot Dog USA team with a group of other jumpers, when it was like, when you were with that group of insanely stacked jumpers, like that makes sense when you’re hanging out with like this massive team of like the top of the top jumpers and yeah.

That, that you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna roll up like, “What’s up world champs! Why don’t we just take it easy? Let’s spend like two hours just doing some standing wraps, like not the complicated stuff, just some basic step throughs.” Like, no!

I’m thinking more like, um, like when people go to college and they’re no longer with a team or practicing, you know, like at that point it’s like, why not? Like if you want to still compete, then still compete. As soon as you’ve hit a couple years of a streak, not competing, maybe consider that you can still jump without putting a bunch of pressure on yourself, you know, because I agree with that. Like, if this was back when I was still looking at competition and planning to go to competition, there’s no way I was going to relax, no. And it wouldn’t make sense to cause you’re competitive.

30:29 Jumping Limitations & Growth During The Pandemic

Brian Hsu: I don’t think my mindset would have changed had it not been for a global pandemic. That’s how ingrained that thinking was. Yeah.

Nate K-G: Yeah. I can see that. Like when you’re, for me, like being jumping on the, I have a tumbling mat that I jump on, on concrete. Which… don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for cause it’s a lot of cushion. But if I try to do, if I tried to do push-ups skills, my feet will sometimes go off the mat or like the rope bounces a lot on it. Cause that’s just the way it goes, you know? And then there’s like seams in it. So if you’re trying to do things that catches or most times I’m in like the garage jumping, so I’ll hit the ceiling on multiples. And so there comes a point where like the only way to not be frustrated is just to like accept the fact that you’re not going to be jumping at your peak right now, you know?

Brian Hsu: Acceptance! Good enough for whatever you need right there.

Nate K-G: It definitely forces, it has forced me to, uh, try out different skills that I wouldn’t usually do. Definitely a lot more like wraps and like really weird swinging style skills and stuff that I wouldn’t wouldn’t normally do.

Are you looking at doing more jumping this year? Are you trying to adjust or change things? How are you at kind of approaching this year?

Brian Hsu: I would love to jump at all this year. So far I haven’t because of the injury. I mean, it’s getting a lot better, so I think, yeah, pretty soon I’d love to jump again. A couple of times last year I met up with Alysia from Instagram, cause she’s in the Seattle area too, and those, those mornings were like the best. I just want as much of that as I can this year, just meeting people. Cause we talked about doing like a jump rope meetup over in Seattle. So in my personal life, that is like, yes, I want jump rope with other people.

Nate K-G: I feel like everyone’s been missing the in-person stuff. You, you need it with jump rope, you know?

31:18 Rehabbing Lower Back Injury

Nate K-G: With the back injury, do you do a lot of, like core and quad and stabilization strengthening or anything?

Brian Hsu: So, yeah, I went to PT a couple months ago and kind of worked through that initial injury. Um, and then I’ve just been now every morning you wake up, you do your, your meditation and then you get right into like 15 minutes of just like… it’s just consistency. It doesn’t have to be crazy hard just everyday.

Nate K-G: What exercises are you doing?

Brian Hsu: Starting with just like bridges, just lay on your back. Not even like on your hands, just shoulder on the ground, feet on the ground bridges. And then some stuff like band work and, I was on, somebody showed me from TikTok. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube anywhere. It’s just like find an elevated a platform and like, let your hip kind of sag and then bring it up. It’s like a quadratus lumborum thing for your core. Yeah, there’s a whole thing, but just being consistent with that has helped a ton.

Nate K-G: That’s a lot of stability and strengthening stuff. Nice. And have you felt like that made a difference?

Brian Hsu: Yes, and then also reteaching yourself the basics. Like I’ve been into rock climbing a lot lately and that’s kind of how I got injuries is because I had, it was just throwing my body at these fake rocks when it’s like, actually you have to relearn like breathing and core stabilization while you’re on this wall. So it’s just been back to square one for a lot of things, which I think would have really frustrated me back in the day. But now it’s just kind of like, oh, I’m relearning, like learning is fun again.

Nate K-G: Yeah, how does rock climbing, what kind of got you into rock climbing and how does that fit with jump rope or, around jump rope or next to it?

Brian Hsu: Yeah, that’s a good question. I actually got into it from Samantha Fisher-Powers. She used to run the world, jump up tournament with me for many years. She was my jump rope wife. And her actual husband had a birthday party at this rock climbing gym. And so I went and hung out and had a great time. And I just like ever since have been doing it.

And I don’t think it really fits in with jump rope except for maybe like the core stuff. Cause it’s all pull. Jump rope is push for the most part, a lot of push. Um, and then this is all pulling, so it kind of compliments nicely. I think that’s cool. Yeah.

Nate K-G: Yeah. That is lower impact because your style of jumping is very strength focused, which is very hard to maintain

Brian Hsu: Unless you fall, but even then it’s like this squishy mat, so you’re good. Yeah.

Nate K-G: The goal in rock climbing obviously climb to go higher… Is that a really motivating thing? Does that feel different than jump rope? And do you do, does it kind of feel like the same type of motivation, like you’re moving towards a goal or is it different?

Brian Hsu: I think it’s different because I’m not moving toward a goal. I just go just to hang out with people and climb and hopefully hit some good routes. And if I don’t then whatever, and no one’s like coaching me to be like, this is the objective for the day, blah, blah. Your practice here. It’s just totally different and really good.

Nate K-G: It’s just hanging out. Yeah. That’s cool.

Brian Hsu: Community.

Nate K-G: That’s, that’s pretty neat.

35:36 A New Language For Jump Rope

Nate K-G: Let’s, let’s get into a couple of the things we were talking about a lot of stuff. Pre uh pre-call you got into a bunch of stuff. So we were talking about notation skill notation, which is fascinating. And this is, this originally started with Lee Reisig. I’ve had on the podcast before we’ve talked about this.

He went through and basically took most skills at the time and represented them with characters and symbols in a way that made it a lot more readable. So rather than saying like “a swing to a cross, to an open than a double under open cross,” it would just be, you know, like S comma, C comma, O, comma, OC, or whatever the skills are.

Right. So it was very quick, very readable, but it was very abstract, really abstract. And so, um, I actually would like to know, cause you were you, I read it or I think around the time it came out, but you probably were much deeper into jump up and more aware of skills than I was when I first read it. What was your initial reaction to that?

And if you remember what was kind of the general reaction in the, in the community at the time?

Brian Hsu: Hm, my God dude. This was a long time ago.

Nate K-G: If you don’t remember, that’s totally fine. But I do want to know also we can just go right forward to the, to the paper that you wrote in college about this. If you want to go there.

Brian Hsu: That’s the other problem is it was a long time ago, too.

I remember kind of having that same feeling you did in that it was abstract and was very cool. And I think it got people excited about jump rope in the right way, but I don’t know that it had any like immediate application in the sport. Like people weren’t distributing emails with the routines written down in the code, you know what I mean?

And I did write a paper in college about it. Uh, it was the subject was information architecture and I honestly forget what the prompt was, but I used the paper.

Nice. Yeah, but that was, that was like over a decade ago so it’s been a while.

Nate K-G: I think it’s really fascinating to, first of all, that Lee did that, but I think, uh, I think originally he did that to come up with a list of multiple unders that he then presented to an organization is what I think… I don’t, that might be a little bit fuzzy, but I think that that’s what happened.

I’ve gone through and done that myself recently. Um, I don’t know if Lee published those documents. I didn’t see them anywhere, but the way he kind of structured things, at least initially it was, he took all of the nine, well, technically he included chicken as a 10th placement, but I wouldn’t include that for a different reason that we could get to later if we wanted to, but nine placements, uh, on a, on a horizontal vertical axis to create a, basically a grid of all of the main crossing skills.

And then from there, following certain sequencing skills you could create a lot of multiples. And I went through and like, thought about that, wrote them down, did some math and it’s like something around something to the tune of like 6,000 multiples. If you go up to quads and that’s of course theoretical, because a lot of that, a lot of those quads would be something like a, um, like an Inverse Toad Leg Over Swing.

And then the quad starts with that. So like, is it actually real? You could consider that some jumpers could do that. Especially some of the more talented ones that we see doing like six under quads, like they’re nothing. You know, or six under skills, not six-under quads, that’s wrong.

But yeah, so like there’s all that, but that this system, Chris and I have gone back through and kind of made some adjustments. Chris really did a lot with, with wraps and floaters and releases and stuff. And I’ve been poking around at strength skills and we’ve had a lot of very, very deep discussions about not only how to write these things out, but as you go through trying to figure out like, what’s the best symbol? What’s the best punctuation? What’s the best way to sequence these things? You have to answer like basically philosophical questions about what is a sequence, what does define a skill? What is, what is considered a mechanic versus a style? And all these different things. So we were chatting briefly about that. And you said, let’s save this for the podcast cause I have a questions.

Brian Hsu: Well, I had this vision come to me of like, I play the piano also. And I watched videos of incredible musicians who were just sight reading these insane pieces and I’m like, wow, the human brain is nuts, but then you’re talking about creating a language for jump rope. And now I’m imagining like there’s a marquee keyboard and these, this code is scrolling across the screen.

People are like doing a routine on the spot because they are just looking at symbols.

Nate K-G: Well, that would be amazing. I mean, it would, I mean, it would effectively be the same thing as like, you know, swinging cross and then cl and then, you know, EB and then this or whatever. But instead of having all these words, it would just be faster and more precise.

Like one of the big things too is like, you can’t actually do cross to a CL directly. It would have to be across to an open to a CL. And then there’s the assumption that you understand the mechanics behind that. So even though it’s an open, you are actually transitioning to the CL during that open.

Brian Hsu: Yeah. Ah, man, I really would love, I haven’t seen this yet, so I would love to look at it. I think that like also coming from like the engineering mind, I think if you have a structured, like the movements that we do in a lot of cases can be represented really well, but there are, like you were saying earlier, tons of edge cases.

And so like, do you think you can capture them all?

Nate K-G: I don’t know. That’s a great question, Chris, Chris and I have been, I feel like now I should have invited Chris onto the podcast to be part of this as well, but yeah, I’m going to, I’m going to have to, um, maybe we’ll do actually a different episode or something, but, um, he, yeah, there there’s, there’s a lot of it gets really nuanced.

I don’t know how like detailed to get with it. I’m trying to think of like a good example, but, you probably can capture all skills that are mechanics, but then you run into issues with things like what we’ve been calling a yo-yo release, like a, see a lot of like I’m Lauren from YMCA Super Skippers doing these. And Devin where you are… you basically have split the rope into two ropes where there you’re holding like one handle, a different section of the rope is being held to some degree, whether that’s your hand or like you’re holding it in a leg placement or something. And the other handle is swinging around freely doing like an extra rotation.

This could all happen in a wrap, so you could be wrapped and then your hand could be like rotating the rope around you launches it up, catches, it keeps going or whatever the skill is. And so the question is, what is that like? Is that a jump rope skill? Yeah. You know, and that’s a, that’s an interesting question, you know, because strictly speaking.

Up until this point, we’ve only considered jump rope as the rope in between two handles to two points at which you are grasping the rope. And of course you could switch to one handle grasping, both handles, or you could do no hands, not holding either handle like a floater, like a full release or something, but we’ve never considered splitting the rope into effectively two units. Which the, the crazy thing is man, like, as you go through this, obviously you’d pick like if we, if we walked through it, you’d see very quickly the, the enormity of it.

But basically, um, like if you think of the multiple unders… there’s 6,000 possible multiples, which is a lot. And we see people doing six under tricks that are not just like swinging open, open, open it. Like it’s not just the basic they’re actually doing like swing EB stall backwards, AS like crazy stuff.

Right. Really hard. That would suggest. There would be a potential to do some other really wild, like for example, the, um, like the Inverse Toad Leg Over Swing, starting with that actually sounds kind of reasonable. Can you pull off a triple or a quad in that position? I don’t know, but I also know, I don’t think anyone in competitive jumper thought that you could rationally do like a, a Back Tuck TJ AS Quad like Porter did.

I don’t think anyone expected that a decade ago. You know what I mean? And I don’t think anyone expected being able to hold a three per second pace for three minutes straight. But it’s happening, you know? And so like, all this stuff is really, uh, really fascinating when you consider like, what is actually the limit with jump rope and how, how far are we really? I think in terms of just the speeds, that’s simplified things.

I think there’s still a long way to go. I think that four per second is not actually as crazy as it seems. right now. Because we see it in Double Dutch pretty frequently at the, at the elite levels, you know?

Brian Hsu: Yeah. You’re, you’re like making me zoom way out now.

Nate K-G: This is where my head’s been at for like literally a long time, like the past year.

And then it’s like, how do you condense all of this into a way that does not seem psychotic for someone who’s learning jump rope?

Brian Hsu: Okay. So the whole purpose of it is as a training tool, that’s, that’s kind of like the main impetus?

Nate K-G: It kind of serves two things. It’s both training and a way to talk to jumpers.

So like, as you learn it for the first time, you’re like, oh, that’s what that is. Oh, that’s like, for example, a lot of skills are actually several skills put together. They just appear as one skill, depending on how you jump through it. We were talking about the Archer release before this, where you do technically, it’s a Behind The Neck Backwards Swing to a Backwards Same-Side Mic.

And that’s like two characters if you’re not considering the catching. Right. But we call it an Archer release. Well, if you’re trying to explain it to someone and they, if assuming they understood notation, they’d be like, what is it? Oh, that’s an Archer release. And like, you can see it broken down very clearly.

And then it also makes it very simple where you’re like, say you’re at the gym and you’re, trying to think of like a, a good example, like, like I did a 360 turn into a double down, you know, push up CL up and it’s like, okay, well, did you jump in the middle of the 360? Did you not, you know, like as you went down to the pushup, like, was it an actual double, or was it a single under your feet to the push-up? Like all these like slightly inconvenient things that typically you say the combo and then you spend 10 minutes talking about what the combo actually is, you know?

And so it kind of simple, but all this stuff, like… like Lee already did this, you know what I mean? Like this was like, this was Lee’s vision so long ago. And then Chris and I have just been kind of changing up some characters and adding some things that, um, that didn’t the Go-Go’s were a thing, but they weren’t like as widely done then, whereas now you see Gogo’s in so many, usually like swing Gogos, cause there’s a lot easier to kind of pull out, but you see them a lot. You see floaters like a lot and like a bunch of different, different skills. So it’s just kind of, as Chris and I have been working with a lot more like adults who have gotten into jumping up, not competitively, you have to be so precise with what you’re discussing.

Whereas like, I think we’ve talked about last time, like the youth competitive jumpers, they, they know half of what you’re going to say already. Like you, you can go pretty quickly through whatever you’re explaining. So, but Lee’s system would be… In terms of your question, like, is it, is it a teaching tool or is it like communication?

It’s actually both because as you explain it to someone, you can’t separate the philosophy with the decisions that were made about how it was created. If that makes sense. It’s a little bit abstract and hard to understand. And if you don’t have like an actual thing in front of you

Brian Hsu: I’m also super visual. So I’m just trying to picture like, okay, what is the, is it’s like you’re using an English alphabet or like the Latin based characters?

Nate K-G: English characters for most things. And then Lee used a lot of punctuation for, I believe it was punctuation for like strength skills. And I’ve been playing around with, a different, I think it’s the Greek alphabet, using those symbols to represent strength skills instead,

Brian Hsu: Don’t use Delta or Omicron.

Nate K-G: Dude honestly. Can’t can’t use that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So, anyway, that’s the long story long. That’s kind of the. The thing with, like skill notation and, and all of that.

I would like to hear, I know that we, we touched on this on, on our first podcast, but you were actually number 16, so it’s been a while. I didn’t realize that it had been that long and I’m, now this is probably gonna be like 80 or something, so, yeah.

Yeah. So, or maybe, maybe 78, maybe I’m overshooting a little bit, but either way it was, it was a while ago. And, um,

48:08 Defining “New” Jump Rope Skills

Nate K-G: let’s talk about the skills that you’ve created. I really want to talk about skill creation with you because, you’ve seen the development of so many skills. You’re a world champion and you understand jump rope at its highest level.

Let’s start with the skills that you’ve created and kind of their origin stories.

Brian Hsu: Okay. I can think of three off the top of my head. it was actually kind of my goal this year to put those out into the jump rope mainstream, whenever you on Instagram, whenever as kind of like things that I’ve made, because I think that we need to have people taking better ownership of what they’ve made for themselves.

And also just for kind of like the history of the sport, we need to put people onto these tricks instead of just like they didn’t just materialize. Right.

Nate K-G: Well, I think was like as a major point of clarification too, because most people who are jumping now have… sorry, let me clarify. Most recreational jumpers who have begun jumping less than three years ago, typically don’t know about the competitive side of jump rope, but so much of what jump rope is has developed because of the competitive culture.

There’s a lot of parallels between the two, even though they haven’t communicated that much, which is interesting about jump rope, but I agree that… being clear about what skills exist and, uh, what’s a new skill versus a new way to do a skill is, is two very different things. Anyway, continue.

50:32 Skills That Brian Created (Crazy Wrap, Shoemaker, Spider)

Brian Hsu: Yeah. Um, one of the first ones that I came up with and there’s actually truly no good way for me to verbally tell you what this trick is. I don’t know if you need to post the link somewhere, but it’s, it’s kind of like the yo-yo.

Nate K-G: I’ll include, if you want to, if you have a video of it or if you want to take a video, I can definitely include it in the show notes, for sure.

Brian Hsu: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a crazy like wrap that’s, uh, has a yo-yo element. Like you let go of it, swings around it, rebounds off of arm and goes all kinds of places

Nate K-G: over your head. I know exactly where, oh, you did this in like all of your routines for like a couple of years, right? Okay. I’ll post I’ll post. Some of those, what we’ll talk about, which one you would prefer for me to share, but I definitely will. It’s really cool. Continue. Don’t mind me just geeking out over here, like, ah, Brain’s so amazing.

Brian Hsu: I don’t know how to describe it. Maybe your, your, language can help with this, but, I think we’ve, I’ve settled on the name of like Shoestring for that one. That was back in late 2008. I don’t know how it started. I think I was just trying stupid stuff.

Brian Hsu: And that was something that just kind of stuck. The big thing for me with jump rope has always been like, not limited to, like you were saying earlier about it being a single axis or you have to hold the two handles. It’s always just kind of like, do whatever, like slide on a handle across the floor, if that’s part of your trick, What if you like surf the handle, like you just like, got it to a point under your shoe, or you could just like ride it… like that kind of weird stuff is where my brain goes with tricks.

Nate K-G: How many times have you tried that and how many injuries have you sustained from attempting it?

Brian Hsu: I leave those to my teammates to try. I do not try those tricks.

Nate K-G: Smart, man. I will put in a caveat here just because I need to, to not, do skills and slide around on a slippery floor, because I do know that there was a jumper who broke their jaw, trying a pushup and slid out on their hands. So just, this is very fun to talk about, but keep in mind that Brian is a trained professional. So just have to add that little clarification in, because, uh, don’t want people getting, hurt from getting a little too wild, but… not to dissuade the creativity. But yeah.

Brian Hsu: Again, I think of these things. I don’t always try them.

Nate K-G: Nice. So the Shoestring?

Brian Hsu: Shoestring.

Nate K-G: Yes.

Brian Hsu: And then the other, the other one, which you kind of already mentioned as a Shoemaker, which is the pushup, you do a 360, and scoop yourself in a kamikaze and land back on the ground. I when to say 360, I don’t mean rotating, like head around like a clock. It’s more like a spin. Uh, what do we call this? Like a barrel roll, I guess in place like a kamikaze.

Nate K-G: Yeah. That makes sense. So it’s like, yeah, you’re your head and feet stay in the same position, but your shoulders rotate around. Did you just think of it? Did you get it from like, cause I know in the fitness world they do a lot of this style where like they clap behind their back and then turn around and stuff.

Brian Hsu: I think it was a gymnastics drill.

Nate K-G: It was a gymnastics drill?

Brian Hsu: Yeah.

Nate K-G: Wow. That’s interesting.

Brian Hsu: One of our coaches was doing and I was like, that’s cool. I want to add a rope to it.

Nate K-G: Do you scoop it backwards? Or do you scoop it forwards as you finish?

Brian Hsu: Forwards, but I have tried the EK version. You can kind of cheat getting, so like I’ve seen some folks do it like really nice. And then other, maybe people who are just learning it, like really rely on like their leg to push them up into the spin.

When you’re doing an EK in a pushup, you’re going to kind of cheat it. So it never looked good, but you can sort of make it, make the trick happen.

Nate K-G: How do you spell the Shoemaker?

Brian Hsu: I’ve always read it “S – H – O – E.”.

Nate K-G: Yeah, I was wondering if you made it include your last name.

Brian Hsu: I’m not that egotistical, although it does include the phonetic.

Nate K-G: I feel like that’s like when, when Mike talked about like making the Mic release, he’s like, yeah, I didn’t want it to be “Mike,” so I made a mic for mic and it’s like, every, everyone calls it the “Mike” now. I have had people on YouTube, correct me and say, Nate, good tutorial or whatever the video was, you know, good tutorial, but you pronounced it wrong. It’s actually Mike and I’m like, well, okay, moving on. It’s it’s funny. But, um, when you do the like, I guess not just EK version, but either way, what if you’re not gonna use your foot to push you off, which is, I think in the fitness worlds, what they do, right? They bring one foot up, they hike it up almost like a mountain climber, and then use that as leverage to rotate around. If you’re not going to do that. How do you approach doing that skill?

Brian Hsu: I pretend there’s like a block next to me. And as soon as my shoulder gets to that point, I got to just throw the opposite side of my body, that’s going to be spinning, just up into the air, like elbow up in the air and then bring the other elbow around to kind of… it’s like a gymnastics twist almost, so you gotta like bring your elbows in your hips and do it, um, to get all the way around. I, I wish I had a better, it’s like a visual thing. It’s hard to explain on a podcast.

Nate K-G: There’s a, there’s a very big, limit to what can actually be accomplished, but that makes, that makes sense. How many people… what’s the most people you’ve Shoemaker-ed over now? That we’re turning Shoemaker into a verb.

Brian Hsu: Yeah, we use it as a verb, a lot. I think maybe three or four? Three, probably three.

Nate K-G: Are you kidding me.

Brian Hsu: Yeah. We used to do a subway, or like big, double dutch where, someone would be being toe-pitched over. And I would Shoemaker under the toe pitch, but over the other pushups that were happening.

Nate K-G: You’re actively in a subway? And then you Shoemaker over that person as they are a perpendicular to you? Or when they’re parallel?

Brian Hsu: When they’re… So let me rephrase. There’s like two or three people parallel to me. So we’re all together. One person’s going under perpendicular in a subway. I’m going over that subway while that toe pitch is going over me at the top.

Nate K-G: That’s crazy.

Brian Hsu: And that’s where we just, we thank our turners.

Nate K-G: If you have a video of that, or if you know where that might be, I would love to see that. I think that, that might’ve been either like Robbie or LJ’s, like highlight video that they posted a number of years ago. I think that I might, may have seen it in there, but if you know where that clip is, I would love to include that because that is hard to visualize, but also like a really amazing skill. The fact that you can get enough lift to clear several people in a Shoemaker is nuts.

Brian Hsu: Uh, that’s one of the few benefits of being six foot three and jump rope.

Do you find that a lot of skills that other people find easy are actually more difficult for you? Because of the height?

Nate K-G: Um, definitely a strength. Yeah. And I think some of the injuries stuff has come from being tall, also just like the lower back stuff. Um, but the otherwise crossing stuff, I don’t think you were limited at all by how tall you are. I mean like Eric Collins, very tall, very creative, a very good. Devin also. So yeah, I don’t think tall plays a factor in crossing or manipulation at all.

The third skill you’ve created?

Brian Hsu: The spider.

Nate K-G: Yes!

Brian Hsu: This is again, how do we explain this?

Nate K-G: Just imagine like a really odd Halloween freaky costume, but then take away the freaky costume and just put a really cool skill in there.

Brian Hsu: Uh, yeah. So you get your legs. Uh, if you’re in a pushup, I guess, or even a squat, you get your legs up over your elbows. So it’s like a yoga pose, which I think is called… TT Bacena or something, which is supposed to be a straight leg, but I just bend them because jumping whatever it’s jump rope.

Nate K-G: Yeah.

Um, I’ve only ever done it in double Dutch. And then I did try it out of a, a caboose going backward. So you’d scoop yourself under your legs backwards and land back onto your hands. If that makes any sense.

Yeah. That’s nuts. Would it be an open caboose that you did?

Brian Hsu: Yes.

Nate K-G: You could imagine, like if you were sitting on the ground in a straddle, so your feet are apart, you lean forward, put your hands, like in between your legs and you lean forward enough and bend your arms enough to the point where you could actually put your legs up on your elbows. Which is kind of the, honestly, there’s two insanity pieces to that. Number one, the fact that you have enough flexibility to get into that position is awesome. And the fact that you can hold it while jumping, because like any kind of flexibility thing, while jumping gets way harder, because you’re actually activating those muscles.

And like, obviously you’re not activating your feet necessarily, cause you’re not jumping on it in that skill, but just like being tensed up while you’re doing something is really hard.

58:25 How Often Are New Skills Created?

Nate K-G: How often do you think new skills are created? Let’s kind of go into the subject of creating new skills.

Brian Hsu: That’s a great question. I mean, you were talking about those big skills earlier. As far as those like new base skills, I don’t think very often at all. I feel like one of the only people that I’ve seen do that recently has been Devin with some of the weird, like double wrappy stuff… Or it just, it was so weird and new that it was like, wow, you can do anything out of that. And I feel like that doesn’t happen very often. It’s usually built on something else.

Nate K-G: I think nested wraps are a new style of jumping, but like you said, it’s not like fundamentally a new style because you can do a leg over wrap and do an arm wrap. So you’re actually double wrapped. Theoretically, you could do more if your rope was long enough, but obviously that you start to hit the edge limits there of like reality.

But I agree with what you’re saying. Like you can do double wraps in really, really crazy ways. But I think a lot of jumpers who’ve been jumping for like less than less than three or four years, will do skills like the EB, I think is a really big culprit of this. Will do skills like the EB or something else in a way that is not visually the same as the way someone who is experienced might do it.

And it appears as though it’s a new skill. Or if you do a Side Swing Open Double Under, and you use very stiff, slashy arms, it appears like a Southpaw, and then “Southpaw” gets used, cause Jake Gyllenhall’s like really famous. That’s still a valid skill, but giving it a new name and assuming it’s a different thing is kind of… That’s not as accurate.

Brian Hsu: I gotta be honest. I don’t see a ton of new skills. Yeah. I mean, I’m also getting older and more disconnected from the idea generation… you know, part of the sport, but yeah, I mean like Lauren from the Super Skippers… constantly just like doing crazy you stuff love that.

Nate K-G: I think it’s back to what you were saying. Like there’s not necessarily new core skills, but there are very creative ways to do new skills that involve like back to the multiples, right? If you consider multiples can have a release in them that breaks all of the rules about how you can sequence skills. So you can literally, it’s literally infinite at that point. Because you could just put a floater between everything, you know, but like, yeah.

But like, she’s, she actually had just, this is going to, this is going to like date when we’re recording, but like I just saw her post, uh, I think it was a story… doing I’m going to get this wrong. It was like a, uh, a backwards rotation first stalling on her legs. As she stalls, she goes into an inverse leg over placements, like her foot kind of.

Goes underneath the other arm as she stalling, which is already kind of crazy. Like, all we’re talking about is like one backwards to forward stall. Right. And then as she reverses and brings the rope forwards, she does an inverse leg over and then finished with a cross. So it’s like technically a triple under, but it is extremely, extremely wild.

Did that, that makes sense at all?

Brian Hsu: This is how complicated that was. I stopped trying to listen and was on my phone trying to find your account, look it up.

Nate K-G: That’s amazing. She basically did backwards to forwards stall, but then as the forwards rotation, it was just inverse leg over cross, which is… it involves so much… torquing your body and control. I think she posted, she got like a lot of like leg whips from that one, but, uh, which you would off of a stall, but it’s incredible. Like that that’s, it’s very exciting. Cause I don’t think we’ve even come close to the actual like performance limit of jump rope.

Brian Hsu: No we haven’t. And also I was thinking about maybe why things have been less creative and I mean, the obvious reason is that people have stopped practicing in for awhile, in person. And so like people weren’t going as hard, they weren’t preparing for a competition where… in-person event where you’re going to be throwing big stuff like that. And I miss that a lot.

Nate K-G: Workshops. The other flip side of that I think is true in the recreational side of things. I’m seeing recreational jumpers put together sequences. There’s a jumper and Malaysia, I’m probably going to butcher her name. And I apologize in advance. I think it’s Syahida.

She is doing such strong pushups, kamikazie’s, triple unders, legitimate wrapping and crossing sequences to the point where I sent her a DM and said, “are you on a competitive team?” She said, no. There are jumpers who have been putting in so much work that in… I don’t know how long she’s been jumping, but I want to say again, somewhere in the timeframe of like one and a half to three years, I think… it could be wrong.

I think it’s around there one and a half to three years looking like a competitive jump roper. That’s for sure. Ready to go to competition. And like you’re probably not going to medal. Cause you’ve got like super crazy jumpers, but you could probably place top ten with a freestyle routine, you know? Assuming at least an, an age division that’s 15 or older because obviously most adult jumpers, like there is no competition past like, you know, like 19 is the cutoff apparently. But, um, but yeah, like so many jumpers who could legitimately hold their own and are putting together really good sequences. Granted, a lot of this stuff is coming from the competitive – these jumpers are tuning into the competitive jumpers, which is why they’re putting together these very interesting sequences and stuff. And it’s kind of stemming… I think Adam, a lot of people are loving seeing what Adam’s doing because he has those crazy awesome wraps, obviously, Devin. Um, yeah. And then like a Ridge posts, a bunch of strength stuff. He’s so powerful.

A lot of jumpers and I’m now forgetting them a bunch of people, but, it’s just really interesting to see how things are progressing, because to be honest, if you would have asked me. Five to maybe more than five, probably like seven to eight years ago. Like can an adult jumper learn combos and skills that are equivalent to like a pretty decent competitive jumper?

I’d be like, Hmm. Probably not. It’s probably not. It’s probably not possible unless you like give it 10 years. But now we’ve got plenty of jumpers who are putting down like legitimate, difficult and really cool sequences.

Brian Hsu: Yeah. But you’re, you’re part of why that’s happening.

Nate K-G: I hope so. I’m definitely trying!

Brian Hsu: I’m confident that’s why! Like you have a podcast, you help put on a national championship, you’re like I’m running programs for people and doing content and going live. To go live, even once for me, it’s like traumatizing,

Nate K-G: You should do it! Go live with me at 7:00 AM brian. Let’s do it. Grab your coffee, sit down and we’ll have a good chat. It’s fun though, man, like it’s fun. I mean, I think I do get asked like what jump rope to use and how to do a TJ most days. Those are like the two questions that I get asked again and again. Uh, but it’s fair, you know, but it’s, uh, man, like…

It’s been really cool to see how willing this new generation of jumpers, young and old, right? All ages, all age groups. Um, I’m not calling people old, I’m just saying like the full span.

This new generation of jumpers, how willing they are to do and try and succeed at all these different skills.

And even for the people who struggle the most learning. Cause there, there are some people who are just now exercising for the first time and they’ve never exercised before and they are a legit adult and they’re getting into it and it’s very challenging to learn some skills, but these jumpers are still learning significant skills. Putting together like real crossing combos, real like releasing and, and doubles and all kinds of stuff. So like, it’s been really fascinating to see that play out. And then like, we have questions on when I’d go live and stuff. There’s so many cool questions. And, for those who are curious, by the way we’re referencing… I call it caffeinated. Cause my name Nate is in caffeinated and I drink coffee and it’s in the mornings where we just hang around and talk about jump rope. And uh, that’s, that’s the sessions, but we talk about so many things and there’s a lot of… currently there’s a lot of jumpers getting into speed. Step training. That’s been like a big, big thing.

Brian Hsu: I would love to get to a place where those people can find local clubs or events to actually do this in person at a competition. Not like a full-blown incredible championship, but even, just like… A rec center somewhere like, like other sport. Yeah.

Nate K-G: Yeah, exactly. That’s, that’s how tennis is, right? Like there’s always a tournament every weekend everywhere. And if we could get jump rope to that point, that would be phenomenal that’d be crazy.

Is there anything that you’ve learned about yourself in the last year? Jump rope related? Not jump rope related? Because it’s been one heck of a year, one heck of a several years, actually. Actually, you know what, let’s extend it back to our first podcast! So I think the first time we did our podcast was like mid 2019. So basically anytime between then and now! What do you feel like you learned about yourself?

Brian Hsu: Holy heck dude. Uh, okay. I’m going to try, I’m going to blend two things with jump rope. So, okay. We talked about how, you know, during the lockdown you get out there and just start doing stuff for fun. And that was great for a while.

And then, I was talking to a new neighbor and just explaining like what jumper was and kind of just showing him… like these tricks. And I was talking through the process of like breaking down… Okay, I’m here. Like what can I do out of this certain position? Okay.

Just by explaining it to someone else, in that moment, I made a new skill that had been posted on Instagram. And it was this moment of like…

Nate K-G: I love it!

Brian Hsu: It was like, wow, I haven’t actually been paying attention. I haven’t been like being intentional about practicing jump rope for so long. Because it became just, it was so automatic for me. I would just like space out and think about like work or start thinking about like stuff I had to do for AMJRF… and suddenly this thing that was so good for me, it became… I don’t know, it was… I would just get lost in stress thinking about other things.

And so like the idea of like, no, I’m going to come back to the basics and like, just be very aware of like, I actually have to turn the rope to make this happen. And it’s like, it sounds really small and stupid, but like just being present while you’re practicing is huge. And I have started to get better at that recently.

Nate K-G: What was that skill that you created?

Brian Hsu: There’s a series of videos where I’m like on the water and these obnoxious orange shorts. It’s like a weird rap thing. That like, again, I can’t explain it to you.

Nate K-G: I’ll link it. I’ll link it.. Yeah.

Brian Hsu: Okay. It’s a crazy wrap thing. Yeah, that just came about because I stopped to pay attention to what I was doing.

Nate K-G: I really understand what you’re saying with that, because as I’ve been coaching a lot of, a lot of jumpers, adult jumpers, who not only want detail and explanation, they also are interested in different things and watching so many different things that are new to them. It is like, oh yeah, like there’s this different thing that I haven’t thought about in forever. Cause like somewhere when I was in some, at some point when I was in high school, I was like, yeah, I’m not into wraps I just want to flip my body around. You know? And so like that became a thing. And it’s it’s and like talking to Chris so much about skill notation, has forced me to think about skills that I probably still won’t integrate into my jumping that much, but now I’ve thought about them much more deeply.

And like we talked about Gogos so much that I actually have now integrated a lot of different types of Gogo crossing, cross skills and Gogo swing skills that I never thought about before. And they’ve actually become fun.

1:11:46 The Two Most Undervalued Techniques In Jump Rope Right Now

Nate K-G: So I think what you’re, what you’re saying is really, really important and also reminds me of, uh, in addition to speed step, I think there’s two really undervalued pieces of jump rope right now.

And I think speeds up is one of them. Because most recreational jumpers are not aware. Most competitive jumpers… I think push too hard, right? As we’ve already discussed.

The other opportunity I think is actually spending 10, 15, 30 minutes just doing relaxed singles to music. And it’s something that I started doing… I don’t know… sometime last year. I started doing that and every time I warm up now, I always start with at least 10 minutes of just singles to music. And it’s so easy. And like, there’s obviously like swings and stuff in there, but like… as a competitive jumper, it’s so easy to do that. It’s such awesome time to like, let your brain just think and just go, or don’t think and listen to the music and then just get excited with the music.

Like when you start jumping to the… you know, the rhythms never more than like 120, 130 BPM. If you’re listening to like, like EDM stuff or whatever. That you just get a moment to like get hyped and just relax and chill. So that might be something worth… like there there’s plenty of days I might not be excited to jump or like there’s too, there’s too many priorities on the list, you know? So I can’t do a full session or something. But even just 10 minutes of like… cause you don’t, as for competitive jumpers, you probably don’t need to warm up before you do that. Cause that kind of is the warmup, you know? And so it’s a good option just to like get a little something done. Just have fun. Just jump around a little bit.

And then what happens for me is most times after that 10, 15, 20 minutes, sometimes a half an hour, you’re ready to do whatever you want to do next. You get the energy, you know?

1:13:43 Being Mindful With Jump Rope (And Life)

Brian Hsu: Yep. I totally get it. For me it was learning to be more mindful about jump rope and pretty much everything that I do. Because when we last talked, I was like working on work stuff, jump rope stuff, uh, trying to stay… exercise and maintain a social life and all these things.

And so then you just get on autopilot learning to become more present while I’m jumping. And like, and the meditation in the morning. And like those, those moments of like, being very clear about why you’re doing something and being fully present for it has just been huge for me.

Nate K-G: I gave up on social life. Like I’ll talk to friends on the phone and that’s about it. No, I’m just, I’m just playing. I did find the, uh, the combo you were, uh, referencing in the, in the orange shorts. And, uh, it’s really awesome. It looks like you do like a Leg Over and then you go into like a rope catch. Probably not a wrap, but it almost looks like a wrap, but you actually catch the other foot or maybe it was a toad.

Let me watch it again. Whatever, whatever placement you did, you wrap the other leg that’s not in the placement. Which is really cool because it like goes around it. Yeah, that’s neat. You just got to get used to taking slow-mo of everything, man. That’s just the way things go now. Gotta always have that slow-mo ready.

Brian Hsu: Get a new phone and then I’ll break out the slow-mo.

Nate K-G: That’s awesome. Brian has been really fun. We are almost an hour and a half deep probably after we cut this down a little bit, it’ll be a little bit shorter because I had some tech stuff, but, uh, this has been really fun, man. Normally we end with what is jump rope up to you?

I know you’ve answered that question before on the first one that we did. But let’s, let’s do it again. Let’s see what comes to mind. What is jump rope to you? It could be the same. It could be different.

Brian Hsu: No, I have an answer. I have to figure out how to crystallize it.

I think jump rope helps me create a space that I can exercise feel good about, be totally present for, and it connects me with other people too. So it’s more of like a tool. I don’t know how to explain, this is when you know, something is so deeply ingrained in your life because you don’t know how to correctly…

Nate K-G: Articulate it. Jump rope is just me. That should be as much of an answer as you need for anything. When, uh, when we originally talked, you had said, “Jump rope is part of my identity and I need it to be part of my life.” And you said not in like a weird needy way, but like, it just has to be ingrained with your life.

Brian Hsu: Yeah, I think maybe more, poignantly now is the identity piece is because it gives me like a saying, like, it gives me the space to… take a break from other stuff from life. I can be doing this thing that feels like an extension of myself in a way. So I guess that’s where the identity thing comes into play.

Nate K-G: Which makes it hard when you can’t level up. When part of that identity is always like doing something harder or more challenging, and you’re not doing that. It feels like you don’t have that part of your identity. Which gets really uncomfortable really quickly, which is why it’s so important to like change the framing.

Brian Hsu: Oh yeah. Yeah. Okay. I see what you’re saying, yeah, cause I think I have conquered that where it’s it’s like I don’t have to be always a thousand percent. this is just like an outlet at this point. Nice identity. It is… jump rope is me.

Nate K-G: Dude, thank you for taking the time to chat. This was really fun. I’m glad we got to catch up a bit. And there’s a lot in here that I’m sure so many people are gonna be able to take away, whether it’s a competitive jumper, a recreational jumper, anything in the middle. I think there’s a lot of significant value and also the show notes are going to have a lot of videos. So those are also gonna be really cool.

It’s been good geeking out on jump rope with you and hopefully I can, uh, see you in person one of these days.

Brian Hsu: Yeah, that would be so much fun. Oh my gosh. You’re in Seattle. It’s a little far… at some point I’m to, don’t worry. I’m gonna fly down for like an hour jump session.

You can hang out with me and Alysia.

Nate K-G: I’m down. I’m down. Cool. All right, man. Well, I’ll let you get back to your day. Thank you again for taking the time!

Brian Hsu: Yea dude I’ll catch you later.