I love jump roping. It’s one of those things that can, in a heartbeat, take me back to childhood and make me burst with pure joy – like jumping on the bed or eating a giant ice cream sundae. That’s why I mostly think of jump roping as a recreational activity, at most a way to get a little exercise or train for other sports. Until I met Ho Ting Lam, that is. He came to the San Francisco StoryBooth with his teacher at San Francisco International High School, Elizabeth de Rham, aka “Ms. Elizabeth.”
Ho Ting is a competitive Jump Roper. He says nothing gives him more joy than to jump rope and be a part of this growing international sport. It’s a global phenomenon now, with annual team and individual competitions held in cities all over the globe over the last few years, from Cape Town to Toronto to New Delhi. Ho Ting described this competitive kind of jump roping as a “new fusion of gymnastics, acrobatics, and break-dancing”- all with a jump rope in hand! Almost every day, he spends hours rigorously training and practicing intricate tricks with names like “the Frog” and “the Donkey Kick” in his backyard in San Francisco. His favorite tricks to practice these days, he explained to Ms. Elizabeth, are different kinds of “releases.” These are moves where the jumper somehow throws the jump rope up or out into the air mid-flip or handstand, and then comes back up to catch it and continue jumping. Check out some videos of these incredible acrobatic and creative feats:
Ho Ting’s dream is to ultimately become a World Champion in the sport. This dream has become a lot harder to work toward now; he and his family moved to the U.S. from Hong Kong just over a year ago. In Hong Kong it is a really popular activity for young people, he said, and the move meant suddenly leaving his coach and his team that had become like a family to him. Although there are a handful of U.S. cities with jump roping clubs and teams, there isn’t one here in San Francisco, and he has had to practice alone for now, a hard challenge on top of adjusting to a different life in the U.S. He does plan to join a team about an hour away, and in the meantime, he’ll continue to be focused on training and learning new tricks to perform. As Ho Ting put it beautifully at the end of his conversation in the recording booth, jump roping has given him “friends, courage, and success.” With his amazing dedication, he’ll keep on jumping for joy.