Kelly Slater, Parko, Mick Fanning, Tom Curren, Jon Jon, Dane, Jordy… the list goes on, all surf with such grace, power and speed. Its like they are dancing on and with the wave, free from fear and bodily restrictions. Great martial artists perceive the threat of a fight as ‘an invitation to dance’ because they have gained a higher awareness of their bodies and there reaction times. This confidence and heightened self knowledge is only gained through experience and training.
Surfing is unique in that you don’t get to practice surfing the wave very often. If you get 2 mins of standing surfing from a 3 hour stint in the water then you are doing well. So we don’t get to practice the skill of surfing as much as we would like. We see a similar situation with martial arts, outside of sparing you don’t get much actual fight time, (proper fights usually end with someone getting hurt or submitting). Sparring is very sports specific for martial arts and a lot of time is spent training specific movements to gain body awareness, strength and control.
You now may be asking what is surf training’s ‘sparing’ equivalent. Great question. A short answer would be ‘practicing the movements of surfing to gain awareness, strength and control’. In martial arts awareness is gained through practicing individual movements slowly, as in ‘forms’ and ‘kata’ etc, strength is gain from conditioning and control combines awareness and strength against another; sparring.
If you are inclined to exercise even if the waves are flat or its too dark before/after work, then why not make it surf specific. Practice the movements of surfing to gain ownership and strength of each movement. Time spent with challenging surf specific training scenarios will improve your surfing performance. Practice surf specific exercise e.g. Pop-up and consider your health when making nutritional choices e.g. Nutrition Principles . Surfing health & fitness is a choreography of graceful movement, functional strength and solid nutrition.