Brad, an REI Outdoor School instructor, demonstrates basic kayak paddle strokes in this video: the forward stroke, turning strokes, and boat-control strokes. For the forward stroke, think about placing your blade in the water and moving past it, rather than pulling the blade through the water. This increases your efficiency. The forward stroke is made up of 3 elements: the windup, the catch, and the unwind. Rotate your torso (the windup), place the blade in the water by your foot (the catch), rotate your torso (the unwind) to move your boat forward, and then take the blade out of the water when your hand reaches your hip.