The basic Chinese Wheel is a style of jumping rope that involves two jumpers and two ropes. The two partners stand side by side and exchange the handles in the hands closest to each other. The ropes are then turned on alternating beats. The jumpers share the responsibility of turning both ropes. Each jumper does a “double bounce” while jumping. This means that each jumper jumps twice for every revolution of their rope.
You will want to use ropes that are slightly longer than you would normally use for single rope jumping. While a single rope normally comes up to your arm pits when you stand on it with two feet, a Chinese Wheel rope should come up to your ears. Beaded ropes are usually the rope of choice for Chinese Wheel since they are more visible to the audience.
The most difficult part of learning Chinese Wheel is unlearning the arm motions that are associated with normal single rope jumping. You must turn the ropes in a sort of “swimming” motion; when one hand is up the other is down. This is completely different from the arm motions that have been drilled into your head ever since you first picked up a jump rope. The common mistake that beginning Chinese Wheel jumpers make is that they try to turn their arms together as if they were jumping single rope. They may start out with their arms alternating up/down, but they slowly drift back to jumping with their arms turning in unison.
A good way to practice the turning motion is to forget about jumping for a little while. You will need 3 people to do this. The person practicing their turning stands in the middle. The other two stand on either side facing the turner and their job is to just hold the ropes, no jumping is required. Let the turner just focus on turning the ropes in the “swimming” motion. It is important that the two side rope holders do not help turn the rope at all. Make the turner in the middle do all the work. Focus on keeping an even beat (click.click.click.click and not click.click…click.click). Once the turner can keep an even beat, then the turner can try jumping in place while still turning the ropes. Nobody is actually jumping any ropes, this is just for the turner in the middle to practice the necessary arm motions. This is much harder than it sounds. The first few times you try it your natural tendency will be to start turning your hands in unison again.
Chinese wheel can also be done with more than 2 people. You can actually make a wheel with as many people as you want, but the most common wheels are done with 2, 3, or 4 people. Before you start adding more people to the mix, you should be very comfortable with the basic 2 person Chinese Wheel. Here is a video that demonstrates what a basic 2 person Chinese Wheel looks like. Notice how the jumpers turn the ropes and how they do a “double bounce” for each turn of their rope.