J stroke question: reverse rotation

Ok so paddling on the right side, a j-stroke is finished by rotation the paddle counter clockwise. But it the purpose of the stroke is to keep the canoe on track, why not rotate the paddle clockwise? It accomplishes the same thing and is easier on the wrist (at least for me).
What is the downside? Is there any? Is this a stupid question?

If you rotate the paddle clockwise that is known as a stern pry, it is efficient at getting you back on course but it also slows you down as each time you turn the thumb up you put a brake on the boat.

I started with the stern pry and it took me awhile to learn the J, the way I figured it out the thumb goes up on the pry and down on the J. the advantage of the J is you can do it very subtly every stroke, it eventually becomes the pitch stroke with just a little correction at the end. I can do it with a racing bent shaft paddle.

You can also easily turn it into the Canadian stroke, see the other thread on J’s for description of these.

It is a perfectly good option. Turning the grip thumb up instead of down involves switching from the power face of the paddle to the non-power face in order to execute the correction. That makes it a bit less smooth than the J stroke but potentially a lot more powerful than the J.

Bill Mason referred to this stroke with the pejorative name “goon stroke” but it has also been called the “thumbs up J”, the “river J”, and even the “modern J”. I find it very slightly slower than the traditional J when only a modest amount of correction is needed to maintain heading which is usually the case in flat water canoeing. But I have paddled alongside paddlers who use this stroke preferentially even on flat water because of wrist issues and they seem to keep up with me just fine.

A lot of flat water paddlers using the J stroke tend to allow the paddle shaft to pass their hip before executing the correction, by which time the paddle blade is way behind the body. This “paddle dragging” is very effective in controlling direction but really slows the stroke cadence. So sometimes the traditional J stroke done in this fashion is actually slower than using a thumbs up J stroke with the pry done sooner.

Good points, as I use a bent shaft 90% of the time I trained myself out of the stern pry my dad taught me, but with a straight paddle it makes sense still and in whitewater even is the preferred stroke sometimes.

I would agree that with a bent shaft paddle the J stroke or Canadian is distinctly preferred since the stern pry is considerably less effective and rather awkward.

During my teens and early 20s I used to goon stroke all the time. I discovered my bow paddler (I usually tandem paddled back then) was grateful when I learned to habitually use a J instead. During the phase where I was practicing and getting used to J stroking for extended periods I found I sometimes got sore forearms, but that passed soon enough.
What I’ve since come to appreciate is that after J stroking becomes habitual its very easy, thoughtless almost, to transition to a Canadian (briefly; slice forward on recovery, let paddle pop up, replant - good for saving energy on long days since you never really lift the paddle), or Indian stroke (slice forward on recovery, paddle - straight shaft - rotates in palm at start of next stroke and never leaves the water - good for silently sneaking up on whatever needs sneaking up on). The J is sort of a gateway stroke.

I don’t think a J is as powerful an onside turning stroke as a thumbs up “goon” or “stern pry” though. In fact, after decades of flatwater paddling, when I finally took a whitewater course the instructor had to keep yelling at me to quit "J"ing. By then it had become so habitual that I found I had to concentrate a bit to keep from J stroking. Same with “C stroking”. I took the course to learn and found my main challenge was unlearning.

As mentioned, the J will with practice morph into either the pitch stroke, or the Canadian. Short quick strokes tend to go to the pitch which does not drag the paddle at all. Essentially it is an early J, whereas the Canadian is an extended J with underwater forward partial recovery. The Goon, while offering a powerful heavy correction when it is rarely needed, should not ordinarily be necessary for easy straight line travel, or for carving moderate turns in rivers. The constant powerface J and its variations will let you cruise and maneuver in either direction comfortably all day in normal conditions. If you find wrist or forearm soreness occurring, be sure that you are keeping your wrist straight with your lower arm, all perpendicular with the paddle shaft throughout the power phase of the stroke. Do not bend the wrist at all. This straight wrist technique had kept my going strong on multiple Yukon 1000 mile races after learning the hard way during shorter races.

For people with arthritis in the wrists, it is the grip wrist that causes issues with the J stroke at least as frequently as the shaft hand wrist.

When keeping the paddle shaft relatively vertical with hands stacked out over the water, it is pretty much impossible to rotate the grip thumb downward without a fair amount of ulnar deviation at the wrist joint. With the stern pry it is pretty easy to keep the grip wrist neutral with the grip thumb rotated upwards.

Using your terms…if you are paddling on the left…the “J” is clockwise.

Well, Pblanc, the good news, I guess is, I do not have arthritis. Rotating my grip wrist does not bother me in any way whatsoever. But when I first started race paddling several years ago, I, and a paddling partner both developed painful wrist tendonitis. We both realized that we were holding a small bend to the wrist on the shaft, relative to our forearms. When we corrected that, the pain was never an issue ever again. I note that my grip hand wrist goes through quite a range of motions during my every stroke, no matter whether I am in bow or stern. I have not ever noticed any problem with my grip hand wrist.