A bunch of little topics here....
Different lengths of rope: Even a single rope can be folded in two, and a long rope can be doubled yet again. It can be used as a single-ended rope dart at long range, two poi at medium range, a short flexible stick at close range. Doubling adds weight and affects speed. Doubled ropes also require a little more care to keep extended, so that the ends flop apart only when you want them to.
I got into a session today with a twice-doubled ten foot rope, in underhand grip as well as overhand. Underhand Figure8s, in either direction, were particularly instructive. Hand-to-hand transfers require more care than with a stick, because the twelve-o'clock position is inherently unstable. Even a four-foot rope has a useful new personality when doubled. Poi folk work with a constant length, sometimes wrapped and shortened, but an actual rope offers constantly changing length. It's very, uh, flexible.
Cane twirls: Lots more two-handed, transfers in front or behind, the far end of the cane always looping, following its weight. Fewer specific patterns, more groups of patterns now. The rope has really had a beneficial effect on twirling the stick: I have a lot more sense of rotational planes now, am driving the cane less, letting it do the work. Too much to really describe, but I feel it growing each week.
One nice little example: Elbows at hips, forearms extended with thumbs pointed up, cane held at each end in each hand, thumb on top and side of forefinger beneath. One hand pushes down and releases, and its end rotates around the stationary other hand in a large circle. It's a combination of a finger twirl between first and second fingers and turning that hand thumb-down which accomplishes the full rotation. Then that hand pushes down and releases, doing the same rotation about the other hand. Looks like two large alternating circles, around the stationary hip-high hands. Can be varied with different hand grips and rotations, or pushing up and releasing instead of down, or different paths with each hand, or adding a second spin in a different plane, and so on.
Cane for defense: The more I think about it, the less I'm into these "powerful strike" systems. It's true that it's more mechanically efficient to use a whole body turn in a strike, but this adds a windup, and people watching could perceive it as threatening. Baseball swings are a natural reaction, but I want to learn to do better. I've been watching videos from Ted Tabura and Mikhail Ryabko, and they have a very relaxed look to them, seems like they're hardly moving. A lot of their work is in targeting, timing, complementing and amplifying the attacker's momentum. They work on wrist development, for snapping strikes against bony areas, so there's no telegraphing, no body tension. Once the attacker's attention is captured, leverage and locking techniques can continue to affect the direction of their motion. Some of the big stick-bashing techniques may be good to teach to a newbie in a class, to give them at least one technique quickly, but I'd like to move more naturally, less threateningly, with a finer degree of responsiveness and control.
Rotational planes: I've been trying to hit certain angles more cleanly... the right and left planes, the front plane, forty-five degree angles. Sometimes I'll move the hand up and down, left and right, while maintaining the front plane... it's like I'm washing a wall. Crossing the hands so that right and left planes are switched, keeping them stable. Doing 45d in front, then cross the body at 45d to define an outward-facing V, then a third rotational plane behind, defining a triangle around the body... a double Figure8, with three distinct circles.
Switching between perpendicular planes is a little trickier than a regular Figure8, particularly with a rope. It needs to slow down at the top of its arc, so the arm can pull it into a new rotational plane. The goal is to have the rope always straight, never slacking and curving.
Jumping rope: I don't have a good practice environment... my apartment is the top floor of a hardwood Victorian... the parking lot at work has a concrete base... I'm too self-conscious to start learning in the park. But I have been timing leg flexes with loops, as if I was actually jumping. I've finally found a way to start making progress here.
Weave patterns: I've got one pattern down, but am still working on the tools to generate different patterns. The basic weave has two different planes for each hand, usually two circles cross-body to one circle same-side, with the two hands off-cycle to each other. I've been trying to move in and out of this to dual-circles, dual-Figure8s, one hand Figure8 one hand circles, cross-body circles... just ringing the changes.
There's variation possible in the circular planes for each hand. I've been working a lot with overhand rotations at forty-five degrees, out-of-phase with each other so the tips constantly come down a foot or two in front of my body. Either hand can alternate into a circle behind the back, with the arm pointing down and the fingers pointing back. Ends up being Figure8s with the apex out to each side of the body, one circle in front, the other behind. I want to do 2-1 weave-like patterns with this too.
Have done a little work towards doing these weaves underhand too, so the ropes rise towards someone watching from the front, but I'm not yet sure which parts to reverse when, and which turns to take. It's coming.
Wrist strengthening: When standing waiting for something, I'm often invisibly flexing my wrists against the cane, wringing, bending, pulling, pushing. Lately I've been trying to isolate and relax the shoulder muscles while doing so.
Cane as rope, rope as cane: I've mentioned this before, but it's a squishy subject... I'm definitely applying things I learn with each instrument to the other. I haven't seen any other traditions which do stick-style hand exchanges with rope, but it sure does work, sure does make sense. I think jo-style sliding-hands techniques have affected my desire to work with different effective lengths of rope. Rope practice is definitely improving my ability to let the weight of the stick do the work. Lots of fun.