Why Surfing and Jiu Jitsu Go Hand-in-Hand

September 25, 2021

Kelly Slater, Joel Tudor, Eli Olsen…. what do these famed surfers have in common?

They all practice Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Surfing and jiu jitsu have a long history of parallels and shared practitioners. Surfers often find themselves turning to jiu jitsu as a way to train both physically and mentally while out of the water. Likewise, BJJ practitioners often find that the ocean presents them with something new and different to challenge themselves with.

At Beach Break Surf Camp, we’re proud to offer both expert jiu jitsu training along with world-class surf instruction. We love introducing surfers to the art of jiu jitsu (and vice versa) and we’ve seen first-hand the physical and mental “crossover training” that the two can provide.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu share physical demands

Did you know the warmups for surfing are similar to warmups for jiu jitsu? That’s because both sports work your body in a similar way– that is, all the ways.

It’s hard to find a sport more physically demanding than either surfing or jiu jitsu. An hour on your board or on the mat will test your strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination. It’s a holistic effort– you can’t simply muscle your way to triumph in either surfing or jiu jitsu.

In both surfing and jiu jitsu, the people out there are not necessarily the biggest or strongest. We’ve seen the tiniest people drop in on the gnarliest wave and flip a 6’3 guy on his back. It’s not about strength, it’s about using the mechanics of your body in a way that’s smart, strategic, and energy-efficient.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu foster mental strength

The psychological demands of surfing and jiujitsu can be just as intense as the physical ones. You have to maintain absolute focus, overcome your fears, take calculated risks, and believe in your ability to triumph.

There are real consequences to getting too “in your head” in either surfing or jiu jitsu. If your thoughts drift off to your email inbox while you’re on the water, you’re likely to be rewarded with an angry wave crashing right in your face. Similarly, if you lose focus or get frustrated on the mat, your opponent (if he or she is any good) will likely take advantage and catch you in a submission.

Most surfers and martial artists can attest to the remarkable sense of flow they experience while on the mat or out on the water. The absolute focus that surfing and jiu jitsu demand is part of the attraction.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu both involve an element of risk.

Whether you’re navigating double-overhead swell or are sparring with someone a few levels up, both surfing and jiu jitsu involve some level of risk. You can expect to have your heartbeat elevated and adrenaline peaked. You can also expect a few bumps, bruises, and scrapes along the way.

There are steps you can take to limit your risk in either surfing and jiu jitsu. Knowing your skill level is of critical importance, as is knowing and respecting your comfort level. You can further reduce your risk by teaming up with others who know what they’re doing– whether an instructor or experienced friend.

While we should take steps to limit our risk and respect our skill level, we can all admit that without a little risk-taking, surfing and jiu jitsu wouldn’t be as much fun.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu create a shared energy with the world.

When you surf, you are literally sharing energy with the planet. Waves are created by energy passing through the water, and surfers exert their own energy to ride those waves. It’s an amazing exchange of energy between the surfer and the ocean– not to mention the energy created by interacting with other surfers in the water.

In Jiu Jitsu, you’re sharing energy with another person in combat. You’re learning to read them, anticipate their moves, similar to how we attempt to predict the next set of waves. You’re ultimately converting their energy into your own as you flip, spin, and pin your way to victory.

Off the mat and out of the water, surfers and martial artists continue to share energy as they foster a community of like-minded friends and partners.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu demand a healthy lifestyle

It’s hard to show up hungover for a sunrise surf session or hand-to-hand combat. Surfers and martial artists tend to adopt a healthier lifestyle as they become more devoted to their sport. They recognize that treating their body and mind properly are paramount to being able to do the thing they love most.  

It’s common to find both surfers and martial artists actively engaged in other healthy hobbies. Yoga is popular with both surfers and martial artists as a way to connect with the mind through movement and breath. And while it takes a lot of calories to support a surfing or martial arts lifestyle, plates tend to be filled with the foods we know are going to properly fuel our next sesh.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu provide a sense of meaning and peace

You don’t find a lot of casual surfers or martial artists. Once people bring surfing or martial arts into their lives, it tends to become the lifestyle. That’s because both surfing and Jiu Jitsu provide, for so many, a deep sense of peace and even purpose in life.

The connection to the mind, body, planet, and others that both surfing and jiu jitsu provides goes well beyond a few casual benefits. Whether they plan their weeks, vacations, or lifestyles around surfing or jiu jitsu, you’ll find a lot of smiling faces on the ocean and on the mat.

Surfing and Jiu Jitsu are both at Beach Break.

Did you know Beach Break Surf Camp offers jiujitsu training? Held in our modern fitness center just footsteps from the beach, our expert instructors love introducing surfers to the rewarding world of jiu jitsu (and vice versa!)

Experience the magic of surfing and jiu jitsu at the same time. Our surf camp packages include unlimited jiu jitsu classes, as well as yoga, kickboxing, pilates, and functional fitness.

Explore our surf camp

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