Black Belt Surfing: Why Martial Artists Make the Best Surfers

March 29, 2022

Martial artists make the best surfers. 

We’re not just saying this because we run Beach Break Academy, the martial arts side of our surf camp in Playa Venao, Panama. 

Many of the world’s best surfers, including Kelly Slater and Joel Tudor, also practice martial arts (specifically Brazilian jiu-jitsu, our favorite here at Beach Break). Both sports hone similar physical and mental strengths that practitioners put to use in the waves and on the mat.    

Here’s why martial artists make the best surfers (and vice versa). When you’re ready to experience the magic for yourself, come join us at Beach Break Surf Camp.

A beach break surf camp instructor riding the waves.

They’re in top physical condition 

Surfers and martial artists have to work every inch of their bodies when they’re in the waves and on the mat. These are full-body sports, requiring strength as well as balance, posture, endurance, and hip mobility. 

A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class in action

Some common surfing warm-ups even translate to the mat, and vice versa. Anyone who practices both surfing and martial arts is bound to be in top physical shape.

Two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters sparing on the mat

They know how to react under pressure 

Both surfing and martial arts require fast decision-making under high pressure. In surfing, you have seconds to decide whether to go for that wave or where and when to drop in– and making the wrong call could lead to a nasty wipeout. 

In martial arts, you may have even less time to decide how to react to that elbow strike coming your way. Both sports require making fast decisions in moments when getting it wrong could seriously hurt.

A surfer going through the tunnel wave

They know how to focus 

Surfing and martial arts both require intense focus and a clear presence of mind. Surfers describe being completely present in a state of flow when they’re riding a wave. Martial artists can’t afford to be distracted by passing thoughts or negative self-talk. 

Like any muscle, our ability to focus gets stronger with use. With martial artists and surfers getting so much practice on their board and on the mat, they’re likely to build up razor-sharp focus and clear presence of mind.

A woman meditating on the mat.

They take care of themselves 

People who surf or do martial arts are likely to take care of themselves, as both sports are so physically demanding. Surfers and martial artists expect a lot of their bodies– both during the sport and in recovery– and they must treat themselves accordingly.

A yoga instructor doing yoga poses on the beach at sunset.

Eating and sleeping well, stretching, meditating, and avoiding excessive alcohol or drugs are a few ways that surfers and martial artists may choose to optimize their health. Putting so much time and effort into their health reaps dividends on and off the mat. 

A group of Jiu-Jitsu masters and their students taking a group photo on the beach.

They know when to be humble  

There are few things quite as humbling as facing down a giant wave or foreboding opponent. No matter how good you are or get, there is always going to be a bigger wave, a better surfer, or a stronger fighter. 

Surfing and martial arts both provide so many humbling and transformative experiences. They offer practitioners both the gift of humility, and the opportunity to rise to greater heights. 

A surfer riding the waves at sunset.

They’re committed to their craft

Any surfer or martial artist will tell you– it’s not exactly a casual sport. Surfing and martial arts both have a way weaving themselves into our lives, not just our time in the ocean or the gym. It becomes a lifestyle– something you schedule your life around. 

Whether they do it once a day, twice a week, or every chance they get– surfers and martial artists are committed to their craft. They love what they do and are always dreaming up their next time in the waves or on the mat. 

A Jiu-Jitsu master and his student taking a photo together.

Blend Surfing and Martial Arts at Beach Break 

We are proud to be one of the few surf camps in the world that also offer martial arts training. 

Held in our modern fitness center just footsteps from the beach, our expert instructors love introducing surfers to the rewarding world of martial arts (and vice versa!)

Experience the magic of surfing and martial arts at the same time. Explore Beach Break Academy!

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