4 Ways to Improve The Kink in Reverse Bending
If you are bending steel with the reverse technique, you may be having trouble moving on to the next bending level. Chances are the thing holding you back in the reverse technique is your kink strength. If you get a good kink on the nail, bolt, or stock, it will be that much easier to finish the bend off. However, if your kink is weak, you will have to work harder in the transition to double overhand.
To clear a few things up, if you are new to steel bending, here are some pictures to show you what exactly I am talking about.
Reverse Bending (also known as Terminator Style)
LOTS OF TIPS ON REVERSE BENDING IN THIS POST ==>
In reverse bending, this is the initial grip used to get the kink started. The idea is to get a sizable arc into the piece of steel with the kinking grip. From there, if the objective is to crush the steel down into a U-shape, then a transition to double overhand is made.
The kink is the first arc put into the steel. A small angle is usually called a wobble, but generally the goal is to bend the nail as far as possible. In reverse bending contests, the objective is to bend the steel to a 40-degree angle within 30 seconds. (40 in 30). For a certification bend, such as for the Red Nail, there is a transition to DO.
DO is usually the way steel is finished off in order to get it to the U-shape. The transition from reverse to DO is usually a quick one, so the steel stays warm and the bend can be more easily completed.
With these terms established and explained, now let’s look at some ways to strengthen the kink. Again, if we can improve on our kinking strength, then we can improve our chances of finishing the nail off. Let’s list several possible errors that take place with the reverse bending technique, and the follow it up with how to correct them.
Loose Upper Body / Bending the Nail with the Grip ONLY
Many benders make the mistake of being too loose in the upper body when bending. Although bending is associated with grip strength, it is not done solely with the grip alone.
I suggest to new benders and those trying to move up to their next level bend to flexing the arm pits prior to hitting the bend. What I mean by this is squeeze all the muscles around the shoulder – pecs, delts, lats, etc. This creates radiant tension from the upper torso down into the hands. Radiant tension should always be initiated prior to any bend, not just reverse style.
As you tighten up, you should be able to feel the radiant tension travel down your arms as it moves from the shoulders, to the upper arms, through the elbow, into the forearms, through the wrists and into the hands and fingers. Once you can feel that tension pulsing down your arms, then hit the bend.
Establishing this radiant tension will also help you transmit as much force into the nail or bolt as possible. If you are loose, you not only bend just with your lower arms, but you can also be unstable. If you shake a lot or if the nail or bolt moves around erratically while you are going for the kink, then you may need to assess your radiant tension a bit more.
Applying radiant tension correctly takes practice, and you have to go by feel in order to get good at it.
Short Cutting the Kink
Some benders are guilty of short cutting their kink on easier bends. Instead of powering through the kink and continuing the first pull on the nail or bolt, they give it just enough effort to put a wobble in it and then transition into DO. I suggest holding the kinking effort for a longer period of time or hitting it twice to work the wrists and go for a bigger kink, especially on pieces you murder. By working through your normal kink ranges, you build endurance, and this could mean a sizable difference in the amount of kink you get on your next attempt to bend a PR piece of steel. Remember, some bolts, like the grade 8, spring back, so you have to either pull through far enough or hard enough to negate the spring-back.
Wraps need to be tight, whether you use suede, cordura, or towels. Tight wraps make a huge difference when bending. If wraps are loose, they slide around when you try to bend the steel. If the wraps are tight, then the force you generate from your body will translate into the steel more efficiently. I wrote a post about this last year: The Best Way to Wrap Steel
Using Only One Action Hand
When bending reverse-style, as I mention in my Nail Bending eBook, one hand takes the roll of an anchor and the other is the action. Sometimes benders get into a habit of over-preferring one hand as the action hand. After a few near-maximal bends, if you use the same hand as the action hand every time, that hand is going to eventually get tired. While one hand may be stronger, or it may seem that one hand is more coordinated than the other, I suggest using both hands as the action hand. This will keep them more balanced in strength and will result in a better kink in the long run because you can hit it with your strong hand first and then follow it up with the other hand and get a few more degrees.
There’s a few techniques you can use to build up the strength to finish off tougher bends. If you need more information, please check out the Nail Bending eBook. I have more tips just like these, plus a ton of other exercises you can use to build more wrist strength to help you blow through the next piece of steel on your list of goals.
All the best in your training!
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- Intro to Nail Bending
- Dan Cenidoza Bends the Red Nail
- Nail Bending and Variation of Metals
- What is the Best Material for Wrapping Nails?
- 5 Important Lessons for New Steel Benders by Chris Smith