Improving your surfing

As a surfer, we are hoping to find ways to improve our surfing, from trying the newest surfboards, buying the latest cutting edge fins, to even wearing the lightest wetsuit on the market. Some of us have even tried the new fad diets. Nothing is better than time in the water but there are times when conditions are not right.

Enter Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Trust me, these two lifestyle sports can coexist with one another. Both require endurance, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, patience, and a focused mind.

Surfing demands a big engine (cardio), strength in the core, shoulders, back, arms and legs. BJJ also demands a massive engine (cardio), flexibility, and muscular strength of the whole body while being in awkward positions, (sometimes not by choice)……

Not only does both surfing and BJJ requires full function of the body but it also needs a clear and focused mind to understand the situation your in.

In surfing you have to understand the situation of not only the surf conditions, tides, where to sit so your not to deep or too wide of the peaks while making sure of surf ethic (not everyone does this), winds and weather conditions.

With BJJ its very similar in ways that you have to understand the situation your in, like if your opponent is new to jiu-jitsu, a veteran (you’ll know by their belt colour), or they are bigger, stronger, smaller, faster, fitter and/or more skillful then you.

Even with this known in both surfing and BJJ the key to all of it is to keep calm and trust me, Ive been on the been of a few floggins both in the water and on the mat.

We all know when we are being smashed from a few of a set, that we have to stay calm, get our sh_ together and head for calmer waters, because we know as tired as we are if we stay on the inside or in the impact zone your either going to get punished or pushed back onto the rocks, SO QUITTING IS NO OPTION.

Again BJJ is similar in that if you find yourself in a bad position like on your back, or someone has you in side control, or even worse has your back (this is bad,ha) you have to stay calm, remember what your Professor has taught you, use it and get into a safe position.

Another thing that ties surfing and BJJ together is your breathing control. As your tired from paddling all day one of the first things that goes out of rhythm is your breathing.

After a big one, your paddling back out, duck diving, trying to get back into the line-up, your breathing may become fast, or you start breathing improperly which will make your muscles in/around your neck and shoulders to tense up as well other muscles will that you don’t use for paddling will start to use energy that will contribute to your heart rate to rise.

BJJ is the same as when your on the mat while sparring, someone is trying to submit you so your body will go into survival mode, by not going burko and thrashing around like a mad man your only going to “GAS OUT”, you should stay calm, breathe with big full breathes, not short and sharp (when you inhale your stomach should rise, not you chest) and focus on the situation.

A good thing with having the lifestyle of surfing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is when there are no waves on offer there is always a mat to roll on at Gracie Barra Burleigh Heads. Which means on those super long dry spells of sh_tty surf or its blown Northerly for days you can still keep your fitness/ condition at its best, as well nothing is better than rolling and going for a surf after.

I was once told by Professor Pedro Rodrigues before my first competition, “YOU TAP, YOU DIE”. It was kinda daunting at the time but its something I’ve kept in mind for everything in life. Well you think about it? Your out the back, your tired from surfing all day and a massive set comes in your got 3 options.

1. Paddle your ass off to get under it,

2. Paddle your ass off and get into position,


3. Cop it on the head (which is never fun)

With all this said and done, to improve not just your surfing but your whole way in life, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the secret weapon not just in fitness, life awareness, keeping you humble and in your place, get down to Gracie Barra Burleigh Heads catch up with Professor Pedro and Daise and improve the greatest project you will work on, YOURSELF.


Matt and Bron Spyer

Matt and Bron are true Burleigh locals, living in Burleigh and they know the local surf and businesses inside out.

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