THERE IS NO NEED TO LEARN THIS LESSON THE HARD WAY.
Many aerialists are now aware that a 14-year-old girl fell on her head (with no mat) in an attempt to execute the kamikaze drop at a competitive event called Aerialympics.
The trauma to the aerialist (who has sustained severe injuries but is expected to fully recover), her family, and the disturbance to the aerial community can not be overstated.
I have heard that the drop is now banned at the event which is good--however it never should have been allowed in the first place. I have also heard that mats will be mandatory for all youth--as they should always have been.
I wanted to take a moment to explain what makes the Kamikaze drop one of the most dangerous drops in silks to aerialists of all levels and to call for a community/cultural response to this drop..
What makes the Kamikaze drop so dangerous is not what you might expect. Without knowing about it, you might guess that maybe it is extremely complex, or requires immense strength, or even requires great height. But in reality, even an intermediate-beginner aerialist could successfully wrap this drop. It requires only the strength and coordination needed to invert, crochet, and cross fabrics behind the back.
So What Makes it Dangerous?
It is the combination of its accessibility and the likelihood of wrapping it wrong that makes it so dangerous. For example--someone might watch a youtube video of this drop and think they get the gist of it. But without understanding the nature of the drop--without understanding the theory, when they go to try it out they are risking their life without realizing it. The alarm bells that one might have when wrapping a higher-risk dropare totally absent--and therefore so are the appropriate precautions.
Easy to get into+easy to get wrong+upside down & vertical = extremely risky drop
The Theory Behind the Danger: Crossing and Uncrossing
To wrap this drop you would invert, crochet, cross the fabrics behind your back. Create slack by wrapping the knees, and then cross the fabrics again behind your back.
But which way did you cross?
One way makes a safe foundation to land into.
The other way uncrosses the first cross and leads you to a fall straight onto your head.
Even if you know which way is which, you might do something different if you are performing, because nerves. Or, you simply forget.
The drop COULD be made safe by incorporating a third crossing. According to the videos I've seen online it appears that this is not common practice.
Rebekah Leach explains it verbally and visually here.
Naturally, the recent incident has sparked outrage. One would think that anybody who knows the drop well enough to teach it would 1) NEVER teach it to children and 2) REQUIRE a double cross at the end as a safety. One would also think that the dangers of this drop would be recognized by anybody holding an aerial event and would therefore be initially banned at the event. The fact that these precautions are NOT universal practice signals to me that aerial needs to leave the drop behind forever.
Because we have proven unable to incorporate the safety measures that protect aerialists from this drop, and because the reach of careless videos is greater than our ability to educate, it needs to become taboo. It needs to evoke extreme discomfort and rejection so unanimously that the message spreads: "this drop has harmed and can easily harm again. We do not permit it in our studio or at our event, and we are outright against the digital distribution of this drop."
How can we get the word out? Explain the drop to students. Ban it at your studio. Report youtube videos that demonstrate it even if they have a warning on them. Other ideas? Please share. There is no need to learn the lesson the hard way.
Thank you for reading and supporting your aerial community.