Posted by: Celia on Feb-04-13 3:08 PM (EST)
Balance brace is a somewhat different animal than these - except the balance brace can complement learning other braces because it can leave a paddler feeling more comfortable about coming up from a deep recovery. But I don't see anyone suggesting it replaces a solid basic brace.
Bracing is taught to beginners, and reliability tends to arrive with other intermediate skills like rolling. Anyone who wants to leave beginner stage is going to be practicing this.
Some coaches are focusing more on the low brace though. It has less shoulder risks (done right) than the high brace, and a failed low brace leaves you time to go for a second try at recovery via a high brace or a balance brace position. A failed high brace tends to turn into a roll, or at least some aggressive sculling up.