Gripping the flags while marching
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Author:  Peacemaker [ Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:20 am ]
Post subject:  Gripping the flags while marching

This has been bugging me for years so now that I can ask others from around the country I will.

It seems that most clubs teach their pathfinders to hold (grip) the flags with the back of the hand facing the pathfinder, if they were to extend their thumbs they would be pointing down. I was told by some of the best DI's in the game back when I was a pathfinder that this was incorrect and the back of the hand should be facing away from the flag holder. When I got back into teaching drill and marching last pathfinder year I came across this and so I looked online and saw that all of the military photos showed the back of the hand facing away from the flag holder (extend your thumbs and they would be pointing up).

Is this just a tradition that was carried on and never corrected? I'm curious as to how we've arrived at what appears to be incorrect method being the common one.

Author:  PathfinderDI [ Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Gripping the flags while marching

Since there is nothing in the NAD Pathfinder Drill Manual about how to carry flags, I cannot say that this is incorrect from a Pathfinder standpoint.

I can tell you that in the Armed forces there are several ways the flags are held. The prominent grips use the palm facing towards the flag carrier (ie. thumb would be pointing up if extended) I use a combination of Army and Marine styles.

Here is the reason I don't use the palm out method: Pathfinders tend to get more sloppy with this grip and you end up with your flags carried at a 45 degree angle. That, of course, is totally incorrect. Flags should be as straight as possible. you can test this yourself: carry a flag at both grips and see which one is more comfortable. My color guards usually have to carry flags and stand at attention for quite sometime. The reverse grip just gets uncomfortable, and Pathfinders become fatigued faster.

That's my two cents. Hope it was helpful. Feel free to ask if there is something that is not clear or need more elaboration.

Author:  veteranpathfinder [ Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Gripping the flags while marching

This is going to sound really weird, but I use a mix carrying flags. I usually have a Pathfinder's lower hand palm in. I usually have a Pathfinder's higher hand palm out.

As PathfinderDI said, there isn't a specific method in the NAD Pathfinder Drill Manual for carrying a flag. Try different methods until you find one that works for you.

Author:  dwclarke [ Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Gripping the flags while marching

Here in Canada I'm seeing someting similar: Pathfinders gripping the pike (the pole to which the flags are attached) in a two handed-grip with the backs of the hands facing inward. In accordance with our drill standards the pike should gripped in the the right hand at mouth level with the Colour held tightly against the pike, back of the hand outward and elbow bent so that the forearm is parallel to the ground. The left arm is kept straight at the side as for the position of attention, except when marching in which case the arm is swung shoulder-high. Holding the flags with either two hands or with one hand but with the back of the hand inward prevents the Colour bearer from rendering a salute by 'Let fly the Colour'. In letting fly, the hand is dipped sharply downward along the pike until the corner of the Colour slips free of the hand. I don't know if there's a similar procedure for paying compliments in the US armed services by letting fly but I do know that just last night I saw video of a US Navy flag party holding the flags with the back of their hands outward.

Author:  PathfinderDI [ Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Gripping the flags while marching

Getting back to your question of why Pathfinders utilize a grip that is "incorrect."

I really don't know why. I don't think anyone does. I have had time to put together a couple of theories.

1) With the lack of an official resource, instructors will frequently make up something rather than do the research to find reliable sources. This leads to differing (and often incorrect) ways of instruction that are passed down from instructor to pathfinder. Each new instructor takes what he is taught as the right way to do it. In addition, like a good student, never questions the correctness of that idea.

2) this is, in part, a result of the first: An instructor will get so ingrained in his way of doing something that the thought of being wrong is so distasteful he will refuse to do anything different. Since there is no "Pathfinder" rule, one has a hard time making the argument that he should change his style. Especially if that's the way he has been teaching it for the past 10 years or so.

This is the case with quite a few things in Pathfinder Drill. Instructors both new and old should always be examining how they do things to make sure we do not continue this cycle of continuing some of our poor practices just because "that's the way we always did it."

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