From the beach to the tatami, there's only one step. Relson or Rickson Gracie, Joel Tudor and many others master their surfboards as well as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A long-standing relationship marked by actors from both worlds.
BJJ and surfing, spots in common
Practicing BJJ and interested in surfing, I always wondered about the origin of the close link between these two sports a priori so different.
According to BJJ Heroes, it is once again in Brazil that we must go where members of the Gracie clan fell to the pleasure of sliding. Relson Gracie, for example, totally adopted the surfing lifestyle and in 1988 moved to Hawaii to teach BJJ and surf the island's famous waves.
For some, the meeting of BJJ and surfing would have been marked by clashes and reconciliations that gave rise to many exchanges between the two sports.
Urban legends or proven facts, a certain origin should be the geographical proximity of surf spots and Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies.
It has been the fruit of many exchanges as evidenced by the one between Kelly Slatter, currently the blue belt, and Rickson Gracie.
Another example, the Bintang Black Belt Challenge surfing contest, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and invitation surfing competition, exclusively reserved for black belts. Great names such as Ricardo Arona or Leonardo Leite meet there for fights which are fought as much on the beach as in the waves :
The BJJ: a preparation tool for surfers
Beyond sponsorship, a real sporting complementarity exists between surfing and jiu-jitsu. Many surfers practice this martial art as part of their mental preparation. Yannick Beven, BJJ black belt, and the former professional surfer are in charge of the preparation of the Quicksilver Elite Team at national and international level (among his athletes are Jérémy Flores). He also has his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Capbreton.
Yannick Beven relies on Brazilian jiu-jitsu to strengthen surfers' confidence and composure and thus enable them to "better manage their emotions to cope with big waves or failure situations".
This collaboration sometimes gives birth to jiu-jitsu champions like Joel Tudor. The black belt under Rodrigo Medeiros, he recorded in addition to his surfing record, a title in the Pan American championship and a national title in the United States. For him, the similarity between the two sports is present in the way a wave is approached. It "moves constantly and is unpredictable like your opponent during a fight. You learn to think fast and your body reacts faster.
Because of its physical requirement, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is also a good tool for physical preparation. Bixente Lizarazu, surfer and purple belt (and of course former professional football player world champion with the French team in 1998!), underlines the benefits of the BJJ which "brings him an extraordinary physical condition and an incredible energy" (considering his last cover of the magazine Fight Sport last July/August, I confirm!).
Surf and BJJ, to try!
For those like me who don't have the chance to live near the ocean, big names of both sports offer you to discover or deepen surfing and BJJ through summer camps. Other option? Bring your Gi when you go on holiday to the sea. In the South-West of France or abroad, all you have to do is choose your destination!
Waves, sun, surf, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu... Todo bem!
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