Level: Level 2
Here are some drills that I like to use to prepare students for hip key. Drills are the least-likely thing to be shown on social media, so I'm guessing that some of these may be new to our audience. Perhaps that may change as more aerial eduation happens, but here's some ideas for breaking down the hip key. Use this break-down of the skill to spur other more quality break-downs of skills that are traditionally messy or challenging for students.
One drill that I didn't show is the standing scissor side-jump from the ground. While that one is great, you can also cheat a lot as you jump, so I start off this video with the same thing but from a pike hold. This is MUCH harder. You are welcome to start on the ground and progress to this version. But this will start to change your hip key when done correctly.
Add in all these others to help make your training more effective.
In this video, we have:
(1) side-scissor from bent arm pike. This mimics the very first motion of the hip key, where the back leg must swing around the under the silk. Try to start and end in bent arms, but work towards leaning and straightening your arms as you swing the back leg. Whatever you do, please don't sickle the bottom leg as it tries to reach for the ceiling. I often add in tons of grounded warm-up and conditioning to activate the inner thigh without sickling the foot.
(2) body smiles in the knot. I call it a "body smile" since your shoulders and toes are reaching up like the corners of the mouth trying to smile with your whole body. This is the standard "scissor" position that is used for hip keys as well as scissor beats. The legs are 90 degrees, with one leg in neutral while the top leg flexes at the 90 degrees of flexion. The glute of the bottom leg will activate in order to maintain the neutral extension, but you don't have to press the leg behind you. Both legs are squeezing towards each other.
(3) From the body smile, windmill action the leg around, picking up the tail and ending in a hip key on the knot.
(4) From a hip key in the air (which perhaps was entered through a Russian sit), pick up the top leg and try to tap the pole. Try to keep the hips high and don't slide!
(5) (HARD) If the last exercise is sucessful, try to keep the plank-like shape as you lower down.
(6) Again, this builds from exercise #4. From a hip key, bring the top leg up, this time pass the pole and enter a straddle. Try to keep the hips high. Don't sink as you retrograde back to the hip key. If your hips are still right underneath your hands (no gap), congratulations! You have mastered this drill.
(7) Once again, I show the sliding descent of one leg high and one leg low.
Find more details on this progression in The Aerial Fabric Manual Volume 2.