Saturday, July 24, 2021

Flip Rescue: learn the technique that could save a life- tips from the S...

I'm proud of the graduates of our recent PSUPA instructor training class. To get certified as Stans Up Paddleboard instructors, they went through 18 hours of online training plus assignments, passed the written test, completed CPR and First Aid training and finally completed the "beach day" where we put all that knowledge to practice, do mock lessons, and finally end with rescue techniques. If you are helping an exhausted paddler that is too weak to get back on the board or unconscious, the best way to get them on the board is the flip rescue. You have to start with the board upside down, get the arms of the drowning victim over the rails so their armpits are on the rails. Then you have to apply your body weight by either kneeling or standing on the opposite rail and fall back while holding the victims wrists to flip the board over so the victim ends up on the deck. Then you turn them around, get on the back and prone paddle them to shore. Watch our group doing this for the first time and go over the most common issues and takeaways. I highly recommend practicing this technique with a partner so you are confident and know what to do if you ever have to use it. It could help you save a life! We will soon have an online course available that covers all the theoretical knowledge to become a certified SUP instructor, so stay tuned for more information on the training program. For more information, please visit, here is my instructor trainer Bio on the PSUPA page: Thank you for watching! If you enjoyed the video, please give it a thumbs up, subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications to see our latest videos posted on a weekly basis. Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Instagram: Blue Planet Surf - Hawaii's SUP and Foil HQ 1221 Kona St Honolulu, Hi 96814 Tel (808) 596 7755 open 10 am to 5 pm Hawaii Time, closed Wednesdays and Sundays Find Paradise Aloha! Transcript: Aloha friends, it's Robert Stehlik with Blue Planet Surf! today's video is all about the flip rescue on a stand-up paddle board which could save someone's life so just yesterday we completed a 18-hour stand-up paddle instructor training class and the participants on the beach day where we practice in the water finished with the flip rescue using standard paddle boards and i wanted to share the video of how we're doing it give some pointers and my hope is that for those of you watching you can learn something and one day possibly save someone's life so for the demonstration i chose the biggest heaviest participant Alim with the biggest board to make it a little bit more challenging the scenario here is that Alim is close to drowning he's uh totally exhausted can't get back up on the board my first priority is to flip the board over upside down and then help him onto the board with his armpits kind of over the rails and here's a little bit off center so i'm sliding him towards the middle of the board and then with my leash still attached to my board i end up having the my board right behind his head so that's kind of a dangerous situation so i decided to ditch my board take off the leash and push the board off so to get the maximum amount of leverage i'm gonna have to stand on the board so i put both feet on the rails of the board and get a firm grip on his wrist and lean back and use my body weight to flip him over so once again in slow motion all my weight is on the rail and the firm grip leaning back using my body weight for momentum and leverage and then just flipping the board over and now alim is on the top of the board and i can rescue him so here alim is demonstrating i'm kind of already out of it he's helping me to the board now this he has to still flip the board upside down so it's a little bit difficult while i'm holding on to the board to flip it so sometimes i think it might be best to just flip the board first and then help the victim because doing both at the same time is a little bit challenging as we found out so practice makes perfect just as with anything else and uh if you've never tried this it's good to try it with a partner uh just practice it a bunch to until you feel comfortable because if you ever have to use it in an emergency situation you don't want to have to figure it out as you're doing it so here i was a little bit off center again and alim adjusted me a little bit towards the center of the board and in this case he probably could have just used his knees for leverage but he's putting one foot on leaning back and no problem for him to flip me over and of course a bigger heavier taller person is going to have an easier time flipping the board over versus a shorter more petite lighter weight person it's going to be a lot more challenging to flip that board over so then the next step is to spin the person around on your board and get on behind them and then paddle them in in this case he asked me to help him paddle but i'm pretty exhausted so i'm letting him paddle me back in to save my life so that was a great demonstration and we we're moving on with the other participants on the right side is nicole with Zorida and they're demonstrating with a smaller board it's a 9'4 fun stick which has kind of really curvy outline and a glossy finish so the bottom of that board was really slippery and because the rails are so curved it's it was kind of easier to slide off to the side and here the there's a board right behind her so nicole pushes it out of the way and that's an important thing to remember to make sure nothing's behind you when you're falling back make sure your board is not right behind you she tries to stand up but kind of slips off and then on her second attempt she's just using her knees on the rails and that gives her enough leverage to be able to hold on to the wrists and flip the board over so and then Zorida's ending up on the deck and she's able to paddle her back in now nicole was up to the challenge she wanted to try the worst case scenario so she's gonna try to flip a limb to see if she could do that with a big heavy paddler in trouble and a big wide board that definitely makes it harder of course the wider the board is the more challenging is to flip it over on a surfboard or a long board it's definitely easier to flip that board over and you don't necessarily have to stand on the bottom of the board but in this case she's definitely going to have to use all her body weight and all the leverage she can muster to get alim on the board i liked how she communicated with alim so i'm going to let you listen to that so i thought that was really good how she checked in with the victim and making sure he's okay and to see if he can get up on him by himself and kind of explaining what she's gonna do um so here she had to flip the board over and uh almost lost him but and then another hard thing is sometimes yeah like if they can't hold on to the top and you have to figure out how to get around on the other side and obviously we're doing this in shallow water and sometimes they were cheating a little bit and using the bottom to stand on but you know obviously you don't want to use the bottom you want to pretend that you're in deep water even if you could touch the bottom okay so on her first attempt she's kind of struggling a little bit getting a good grip on alim and she's holding onto his wrist but doesn't really have a good grip on his wrist so what happens when she leans back her hands slip off and she's not able to flip alim over and like i said alim is a big heavy guy and she's petite and lighter weight and shorter so she really has to use her body weight and leverage to the max to be able to do this flip so here's her second attempt and she just doesn't carry through the momentum quite enough and she's really trying but um you know once once that momentum stops you stop moving then uh you just gotta start over again so here's her third attempt she's really determined to do this which is awesome i think and um you know you just gotta practice it to be able to do it and when when it matters right so on our third attempt she's got a really firm grip on around his wrists okay so once she got alim on the top of the board she can now spin him around so he's facing the front and so well done excellent rescue and that's probably to be the one of the hardest scenarios but of course it's even harder if you have to do this with an unconscious person someone that's not able to help you at all so then that that would be the most difficult scenario in this in this scenario we're assuming that the person is still conscious and can at least help a little bit which definitely makes it easier so in this case zory was able to kind of hold her victim a little bit while she's flipping the board over which can be tricky and another tricky thing is getting up on the bottom of the board you know like you have to have the right amount of leverage to get up on top and just as with getting onto a stand-up paddleboard it helps to kick your feet kind of behind you like you're swimming and then that helps you get up and then like we said this cord is super slippery so she's using her knees and then make sure you get a really good grip on the wrists she's standing up and it's too slippery to stand up but just using her knees she's able to flip flip the board over once i put my feet up i had to commit because that first time i did it and that's that's when i like lost it right hard to do right yeah okay so now it's barbara's turn and she also did a good job communicating with the victim so let's listen in on barber's conversation i'm a certified instructor you're in good hands do not worry okay so what i'm gonna do is i'm gonna flip over the board hanging onto your hands okay i'm gonna try to hold your hands here okay so that was really good how she reassured the victim that she's in good hands and explaining what she's going to do but once again that those slippery rails and the curvy slippery rails in the bottom of that board made it hard harder so um here's another attempt and you do have to watch out like if she slides off towards the tail the fins can be kind of dangerous so you want to make sure that you don't slide the victim into the fins like kind of that happened a little bit right there and you want to make sure that they're that you're really centered in the middle of the board so it doesn't slide to the back or the front but definitely don't want to slide towards the back towards the fins so be cognizant of that and then on this board it was definitely just easier to to use the knees instead of trying to stand up but um here she's able to do it standing up and you know if you have a bigger wider board and a heavier victim then you definitely have to get up on your feet otherwise you're just not going to have enough leverage to flip it over something to think about too when someone's drowning in the water they might struggle and kind of pull you down while you're trying to flip the board over so sometimes the best thing to do might be just push them off of you push them away while you're flipping the board and then help them get on in this case brian's asking eileen to hold on to the opposite rail of the board which is hard to do on a stand-up paddleboard because the the rails are so you know so wide so that's a little bit tricky can be tricky to go around on the other side of the board while the victim's on one side so but that worked out and then brian's able to get up and put all his weight on the rails get a firm grip on the wrists and then use his body weight to fall back and after everyone was able to complete a successful flip rescue we met and went over the takeaways so let's listen to that when you did it with that you i think you tried three times right and yeah and so what what made the difference on the third attempt so the first attempt i just completely flipped and let go of the lame i didn't have a good grip and so even you know he was so so unconscious but he did show me a better grip so the second time i almost got it but i didn't commit and so i wasn't able to flip him the third time i had the good grip and i literally had to throw my body back stand up and throw it back and when i went to once i committed to throwing myself back i could feel the board flipping over the water so that was a big feeling of accomplishment for me okay that's good any other um yeah i failed my first time yeah even though i had a small board and a small person i failed the first time because i wasn't positioned in the middle and my board was slippery so i found myself going off to the side okay so by you know doing it again in the center and going straight back made a huge difference and another takeaway was having someone conscious because one time she was actively conscious and helping me and the other time she wasn't it made a huge difference because if they're conscious you can invoke their help you can say grab onto my wrists too you can vote for their help and that makes it so much easier okay and the bottom of the board is slippery so it's it's easy to have it slip out underneath you if you're not centered right yeah that makes sense Alim do you have any takeaways just to add on to what nicole and barbara said really committing to it because initially you feel like either you or the person you're helping will get injured but if you commit to it all the way neither yourself or the person you're helping actually gets injured just all the way through okay sorry did you have any takeaways from the flip rescue technique i was using my knees because i was slipping from the feet and i had like a small girl so i was easy it was easier for me using my knees with my body weight because her board was slippery yeah so i don't know yeah i think when you have a really heavy person you need you need to get on your feet and you need to use all your body weight but otherwise just on your knees this is good do you have any takeaways commitment to it i was kind of a little giddy by getting up on my knees and kind of kind of being over someone's head and trying to stand up this little freaky so i think if you commit to it you don't you won't think about that so much i know that yeah helped right good okay so i just wanted to say a special thank you to my freshly certified group of stand-up paddle instructors you guys all did an amazing job well done and thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights i hope everybody enjoyed this and found it helpful if you liked it and think it's helpful please give it a thumbs up down below subscribe to the blue planet surf youtube channel and we'll see you on the water aloha keywords: Blue Planet, SUP, Stand Up Paddleboarding, paddle boarding, How to, Stand Up, Paddleboarding, Robert Stehlik, Blue Planet Surf, Honolulu, Safety, leash, wind, tips, coaching lesson, how to paddle board, how to sup, paddleboarding for beginners, first time paddleboarding, Ala Moana, Oahu, flip rescue, rescue technique, save a life, lifesaving, lifeguard, PSUPA, instructor training, class, leverage, takeaways

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Blue Planet Show Wing Foiling- Rob Whittall- Ozone Wasp V2, Armstrong A+ system-

Watch all episodes of the Blue Planet Show here:

Saturday, July 11, 2020

How to choose a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) for beginners

Paddle board buying guide: Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun, safe way to get exercise, even in the middle of a global pandemic. This video is a beginner's guide to help you choose the best paddleboard for your needs and budget. Covered: inflatable SUP vs. hard boards touring vs. all round board The Basics 1.) Conditions/ Functions 2.) Height/Weight 3.) Future Goals The Dimensions 1.) Length 2.) Width 3.) Thickness 4.) Volume The Shape 1.) Nose 2.) Tail 3.) Rails 4.) Rocker Line Some great tips on how to choose the first Stand Up Paddleboard when you are getting started. Get educated on the dimension, volume and shape features that matter for you before wasting money on a board that is not right for you. SUP's are NOT one size fits all and keep in mind that you get what you pay for. At Blue Planet we have a big selection of boards ranging from inexpensive, user-friendly starter packages and used boards for those on a budget to high end, high-performance boards for expert riders, and everything in between. Come to Blue Planet, the SUP HQ and get some expert advice on picking the right board for YOU. Aloha! For more information on choosing the best SUP board and graphics, please visit: CHOOSING THE BEST STAND UP PADDLE BOARD Aloha SUP’ers and mahalo for dropping in with Blue Planet Surf. One of the most frequent inquiries we get at our shop in Honolulu, Hawaii is how does one determines what size and type of board is right for them. As avid water enthusiasts, our main objective at Blue Planet Surf is to provide sufficient info to potential paddlers, so that they are equipped with the best knowledge to make the best decision when buying their first or additional boards for their quiver. With the right knowledge, one can choose the ideal board to suit their surfing and paddling needs and ultimately have more fun on the water. Thank you to our customers for voting Blue Planet as Hawaii’s Best Stand Up Paddle Shop. 12 BASIC POINTS Below you’ll find 12 images and graphs that will help you with the complex process of finding the right board(s) for you. As a surfer of many years (bodysurf, bodyboard, shortboard, longboard, and Stand Up Paddleboarding), I personally consider over 100 different variables when I’m choosing my own boards. For a first time SUP buyer, it would be excessive to consider so many variables, so we wanted to simplify the process for our customers. The boys at the shop and I were able to narrow a potential paddler’s focus down to 12 basic points which we use at our shop in Hawaii every day to help our customers find the perfect stand up paddle board for them. Keep in mind that surfing and paddling needs are very specific to the rider and their locale, so our images and graphs may not depict info that is 100% accurate for you and where you plan to use the board. If you have any questions about it contact Blue Planet Surf in Honolulu, Hawaii; or consult your nearest SUP/surf shop for more info. First and foremost, the paddler must consider what type of paddling they intend to do. By determining if an individual will be surfing, racing, cruising or doing a hybrid of those, they will have already narrowed their board selection down. In general, the shorter and smaller the board is, the more surfable and maneuverable it will be, while the longer and more streamlined the design is, the more efficiently the board will cover distance and the better the board will be for racing. For cruising, one should consider boards that are in between those two spectrums, and skew their choice either shorter or longer depending on how they want their board to perform. Height and weight, along with skill level, are the next big factors an individual should pay close attention to. Because paddle boarding requires the board to be on top of the water at all times (different from shortboards where the board may be fully submerged when not planing on a wave), height and weight dictate the amount of floatation the board will need to offer.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

New Balance Board- preview of the Blue Planet Balance Surfer

Introducing the Blue Planet Balance Surfer, a new product we are launching on Kickstarter, for details:

What initially started as a quest for comfort, has now evolved into a patent-pending design that provides 3 different levels of balance challenge in 1 tool-less Board. Competing and training for long-distance​ races like the Molokai to Oahu race kept me in shape but I was still experiencing back and neck discomfort after long days at my computer. My chiropractor recommended raising my monitor to eye level, and I realized if I mounted it on an arm I could use it as a standing desk as well. Standing up regularly helped my back but I was still prone to bad posture and would constantly lean against my desk and load one hip with all my weight. But after using an old balance rocker board I used for SUP training, I noticed how my posture improved from the small balance rocker which was requiring me to stand upright and centered yet still allowed me to focus on my work. I began prototyping new balance board versions, hired a 3D designer to perfect the prototype design, researched manufacturers and here we are today.

With 2 previously successful Kickstarter campaigns and such a great experience interacting with the crowdfunding community, we obviously thought of Kickstarter right away when deciding how to launch this product. We love bringing new products to this community and hope you can support us in this next launch.


Robert Stehlik, founder/ owner of Blue Planet Surf

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How to Stand Up Paddle with Verena Mei

Learn how to SUP with Verena Mei and Blue Planet Surf.  
Verena is a professional race car driver. She grew up in Hawaii and recently moved back to Oahu.  She got into Stand Up Paddleboarding and has been a great customer and supporter of Blue Planet Surf Shop. In this series she is getting tips on safety, technique, board handling and more from Blue Planet Surf founder Robert Stehlik.  We will post regularly new videos on our blueplanetsurf youtube channel and plan to release the parts of this series in the Spring of 2016. For new videos please check back here and subscribe to our youtube channel.  
Watch the first video in the series:
How to Stand Up Paddle Board with Verena Mei, Part 1: Safety

SUP is a great, fun, health and safe sport if practiced with some common sense.
Basic points covered in this video are:
1) Be aware of conditions. Light wind and protected water are the best conditions for beginner and learning quickly.  Light winds are fine but the chop created by the wind will make balancing more difficult and you should always make sure to paddle into the wind first to make sure you can get back to where you started.  Don't go out if the wind is strong, offshore winds (blowing you away from the shore) can be very dangerous as they can carry you out to sea and usually get stronger the farther out you get.
2) Always wear a leash.  In Hawaii we are not required to wear a personal floatation device when Stand Up Paddle boarding but you should always wear a good leash and make sure it is attached securely, that way your boards is always attached to you and acts as your floatation device.
3) Know how to swim.  This should be self explanatory, but before you learn how to SUP, you should learn how to swim first.  The rule of thumb is: don't go out further from shore than you could swim back on your own power.
This is the second video in this series: board handling and gear
In this video you learn how to protect your board from heat and fin damage, how to safely lift up and carry your board and some things to consider when choosing your first board.  At Blue Planet we always recommend trying several SUP's before choosing one as nothing beats trying a board to get an idea of whether it will work for you or not.  Balancing should be challenging at first, as your balance quickly improves.  We often talk to customers that bought their first board without trying it first and then finding out that it is just not a good board for their needs.  Let's face it, it does not matter how cheap a board is or how great the deal seems to be, if you don't enjoy using the board and it sits around collecting dust, it's a waste of money.  We want you to get out on the water and enjoy your board, so we want to make sure you get one that is right for you.  
Keep watching the playlist to see all 11 episodes on "How to Stand Up Paddle with Verena Mei"

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Stand Up Paddle Technique Drill: Catching Bumps and Waves on a SUP

Re-posted from this Blue Planet Blog posting:

If you are new to downwind stand up paddle boarding, and want to get ready to do some open ocean downwinders, these are some tips and drills you can practice in flat water to help you get ready for riding bumps on a SUP.   Check the bottom of this page for information on coached downwinders. 
This post is focused on downwinders and catching/ gliding on bumps, but this drill is also helpful for catching breaking waves if you want to learn to stand up paddle surf.
In this first video I'm showing how to take a few quick accelerating strokes and then pause, glide and skim/ brace the paddle to keep you stable and balanced while gliding.  If you are doing a downwinder in light winds, this is what you will end up doing:  a few quick accelerating strokes, then pause and glide while you are getting pulled along by the bump in front of you.  In light wind you usually won't have to move the feet back, you can keep the parallel stance close to the center of the board.  It's good to practice this drill in flat water to break the habit of paddling with long, powerful strokes at a steady pace.  Downwinders are about quick sprints and glides, so you have to learn to break up your pace.   The first step is to practice taking 3,4, or 5 quick strokes and then let the board glide for about the same amount of time, so you are only paddling for about half the time.  Don't worry about moving your feet at first and just get into a good rhythm of accelerating and then gliding and skimming your paddle for balance.  Try to skim it as far out to the side as possible with the paddle at a low angle to the water for side to side stability and behind you for front to back stability.  Just skim the paddle lightly over the surface, you don't want to break, just keep the paddle very close to the water or skim very lightly over the surface.  While skimming the paddle acts as a third leg which will give you more control and will allow you to feel more comfortable in rougher conditions.  If you do loose your balance you can lean on the paddle and push your center of gravity back over the center of the board.

This next video shows how to start in "first gear" by taking quick, short strokes for powerful acceleration.  You want to focus on keeping your stroke in front of your feet and using quick bursts of power to accelerate.  Practice this in flat water as well as you will not have time to focus on this when conditions get rough. 
When the wind is stronger and the bumps get steeper, you will also have to move your weight back on the board to keep the nose from piercing and to allow your board to release and accelerate by planing on top of the water surface and to reduce the amount of wetted surface.  So, once you are good at stroking quickly to accelerate and then gliding while skimming the paddle, the next step is to also practice moving your feet back as you stop paddling and glide.  As the board slows down and the tail starts to sink, you then have to move your weight back forward close to center quickly and take some more quick acceleration strokes.  The video below has some helpful tips for moving your feet around on the board without rocking the board and loosing your balance:
 If you do this for a while, you will notice that these quick sprints followed by pauses of gliding will actually be very hard work and your heart rate will go up to a higher rate than when paddling at a steady pace.  I find that my heart rate goes up significantly higher in downwinders than when flatwater paddling which is why it is so important to relax and rest while you get a free ride when gliding on and connecting bumps.  If you don't rest it is hard to catch the next bump.  There is a misconception that when the wind blows hard you hardly have to paddle anymore.  The reality is that you have to accelerate more quickly and paddle even harder to catch the faster moving bumps on the really windy days if you want to keep up with the really fast guys.  The goal is to move as close to the speed of the bumps as possible and the stronger the wind is and the longer the fetch (the distance the wind has to create bumps), the faster you have to move to catch them.
The next video covers the five most common mistakes made by first timers on downwind runs and will be helpful to watch as well if you want to improve your downwind stand up paddle technique.
Thank you for watching!
Robert Stehlik
Copyright Blue Planet Surf 2016,  you are welcome to re-post or share this content but please credit Blue Planet Surf and put a link to
Resources mentioned in the videos:
For more information on our weekly SUP training group, please visit:
For information on SUP lessons and downwind coaching by Robert Stehlik, please visit:
For information on downwind coaching with Jeff Chang/ Wet Feet, please visit:
For information on coached downwinders with Jeremy Riggs on Maui:
Safety first:  Downwinders can be dangerous.  Always go with a partner or group and if you are going for the first time, go with an experienced paddler or coach.  Have a plan and set up meeting places if you loose sight of each other, with can happen quickly in open ocean conditions.  Take a cellphone in a waterproof case and/ or a EPIRB.  Always wear a leash and make sure all your equipment is in good condition.
Equipment used in the videos:
Rasta downwind board: 14' x 28" 2016 Bump Rider:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Catching waves and bumps in First Gear: Quick Acceleration strokes

When I first started Stand Up Paddling, I was struggling to catch waves.  I was pulling on the paddle as hard as I could and figured the harder I pulled on the paddle and the more the shaft was bending, the more power I was applying and the faster the board would go.  Despite pulling as hard as I could I was missing a lot of waves, I also kept breaking paddles.  It seemed to make sense that the harder I pulled and the more the paddle shaft was bending, the faster I would go.
A big breakthrough for me came when Brian Keaulana gave me this tip after watching me try to catch a wave:  "You are starting in third gear!" 
He explained that first gear is short, quick strokes, way up in front, just tapping the water, not long, hard pulls.  That was a turning point for me, I learned how to use these quick accelerating strokes and it worked like a charm.  Not only was I no longer breaking paddles but my board would accelerate with just a few quick strokes and I started catching more waves.  This technique also works well in downwinders, whenever you need to accelerate to catch a bump.  Even in flatwater races you can use them at the start, after turns, or to catch up to a draft.  So I encourage you to watch the video, try this first gear acceleration stroke, and you will be a more well rounded paddler.  Not all strokes are the same, learn to use different gears when paddling and switch them up as needed.  
The gear analogy works: everyone knows that if you start in third gear, you will wear out your transmission and clutch and no matter ho hard you gas the engine, you will not accelerate quickly.  So take it easy on your body and gear and accelerate more quickly and easily by starting in first gear!

This video demonstrates how to accelerate quickly on a Stand Up Paddleboard by "starting in first gear". Quick, short, strokes create lift and smooth acceleration that will help you get the board on a plane to surf a wave or catch a bump in downwinders. 
We hope you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up, check out the other SUP tip videos on our channel and subscribe for our latest videos posted weekly. For more information on our weekly training group mentioned in the video, please click on this link:…/weekly-time-trials-in-haw…
Also check out our private coaching offerings here:
Thank you for watching,
Aloha, Robert Stehlik
Quick, short bursts of power will help you get up to speed to catch a wave or bump
On downwinders the goal is to get the board to plane over the surface of the water and surf the open ocean wind swells.  
Gear used in this video: Kai Zen paddle with 88 blade, the blue board is the 2016 12'6 x 28 Blue Planet Bump Surfer, the rasta board is the 14' x 28" Bump Rider.  Drone video shot with the Hexo+ drone, land video by Evan Leong of

Robert Stehlik

Friday, July 3, 2015

Taoism and Surfing: Go with the flow. By Len Kelemoana Barrow

Zen, The Tao and, The Ocean

Zen Buddhism has bean historically a fusion of early Indian Buddhism and Chinese cultures. As Buddhism migrated to China it naturally took on Chinese characteristics. This being the indigenous tradition of Taoism. Hence the character of Zen is both Indian and Chinese in manifestation. It later migrates to Japan and takes on a Japanese natural sensibility.

Well what has this got to do with us? The ideas of Zen and Taoism are a treasure trove of understanding and happiness in and out of the surf. How can we adapt these ideas in the surf we may ask? How may we adapt these on land?

Taoism is partially based on flowing peacefully with the energies of the universe. This is called Wu-Wei. What this simply states that if you force things arrogantly, and depend on your ego you will ultimately fail miserably.

It quite simply can be observed in reality. Go with the way of Wu Wei. In this light please let me give you an example: I used to have a 78 year old Aikido teacher who could throw 10 competent attacking male students with the minimum of movement. It blew my mind! I mean he launched them! As I learned Aikido we were taught to meditate (my first experiences with meditation). We were also taught that sometimes four fingers carefully positioned with the proper utilization of your opponents movement and energy can make him fly upside down for six feet. This seems impossible yet I have seen it and honestly done it (not as well as the 78 year old). You see, If I fought a large man arrogantly as I am a small man...but 5'9, I would be beaten to a pulp. If I utilize his attacking energy to good effect I weave around his blows and catch him. Amazingly to throw him using not my weakling force but his tremendous strength. This is an example of using energy with the best defensive effect on land and in the martial arts. This has its parallel in the water!

Arrogance and ignorance in the water, in other words, not going with the energy of the ocean can be conducted by surfers and suppers on a daily basis. I have made these mistakes before. Firstly the worst mistake you can do is to show up at the beach and paddle out. This is the normal approach in a hurried modern world. Go, go, go. Time is money supposedly money in Western Culture.

When you do this you may often run afoul in to all types of energy that nature represents. I have seen surfers paddle out directly into coral heads and reef shelves that the water had “hidden”. This could have been avoided if if the individual just took some time to pay attention before surfing to the tide and how the ocean was flowing.

I sometimes surprise other surfers and suppers at the speed to which I get up in the line up. This is not because I am a strong paddler. It is because I utilize energy of the ocean in an observant way in the same way my Akido teacher used the minimum amount of energy to throw his opponents. We use a type of Wu Wei. All of the energy of a breaking wave moves toward the beach and has the tendency to find it way back to the ocean and its deeper water. If you are fighting this concept you are fighting the energy of the universe. Again watch the water. Which way is the water moving. Time and time again, I see surfers that try to paddle through the middle of the break. This is like fighting a 300 pound boxer. You will usually loose. Side step this energy like an Akido teacher. Find the channel. As the energy of the wave is moving back out to see, jump in it, side step the energy coming in and catch the current the energy current coming out. The channel. Sometimes the channel looks like the long-way out, but again, go with energy of the universe in a Taoistic manner.

When you get drilled the worst thing to do is fight it. After all you cannot defeat the ocean. I was once taught by Mel Kinney how to flow with a pounding. I thought that he was kidding when he told me what to do as it was completely opposite to how I would try to escape a drilling. As 20 foot wave would break in front of me I used to dive for the bottom. My thinking was that this was the safest thing to do. I used to fight the wave. Unfortunately the opposite happened. Instead of flowing with nature in a Taoist manner the inevitable would happened. I would be beaten violently underwater as I did multiple cartwheels.

This was unfortunate in that I would often break my board in half. Mel Kinney taught me something that was very Taoistic in manner. These were his instructions. He told me to just lay the board to my side and go 1 foot underwater with my hand pointed above my head. Imagine superman going strait up! Well that was what he told me to do. I call this a reverse superman. How this works is that when the wave grabs your board you get pulled back towards the shore at high velocity in
that you are shaped like a streamlined pencil. This has two functions. Firstly you are pulled rapidly out of the impact Zone using the waves force. I mean this is very Taoistic in practice. When you pop out of the water you literally can end up 30 yards in. The second function is a little less subtle. If you become an anchor by diving for the bottomYour board will often break as it has nowhere to move one the leash is taught. By doing the reverse superman you and the board become a single flowing unit thus preventing board breakage.

I hope this little article can help you flow with the ocean. After all the ocean is a manifestation of the Tao itself. Why fight it. Move with it. Until next time! Aloha from Hawaii

Dr. Len Kelemoana Barrow

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

SUP in Venice: Stand Up and Gondola paddling through this amazing City

Copy of post originally posted here on the blog:

Being able to go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Venice was a dream come true.  I had it on my bucket list for a while so when we took a family vacation to Florence this January I planned a day trip to Venice despite the cold weather.  I contacted Eliana from SUP in Venice and even though her SUP business is usually closed for the winter she agreed to not only take me on a tour but also arranged a Gondola ride and Gondolier's lesson for the rest of the group as well as a Venetian style lunch and walking tour of the city.  It was an awesome way to see Venice.  Here is the narrated video of this fantastic experience:

Stand Up Paddling in Venice with gondola
While Eliana and I were on SUP's, the rest of our group was on this beautiful gondola

Stand Up Paddleboarding in Venice
Group picture at the Ponte dei Sospiri (bridge of sighs), connecting the courthouse and prison after the SUP paddle tour

SUP in venice hotel entrance by canal
This hotel, like most buildings in Venice, has the main entrance on the canal side where guests get dropped off by the water taxis.

Everyone got to row the gondola, learning from the gondoliers

After paddling we had a traditional Venetian lunch at the boat house.  The red flags on the walls are first place finishes at gondola regattas.

SUP and Gondola tour in Venice
Warning:  Please do not paddle in Venice without a guide, these are their roads and if don't know the rules, you are likely to be a safety hazard and will probably get completely lost.  So if you plan to paddle in Venice, please contact Eliana at SUP in Venice

Robert Stehlik

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dealing with a Stand Up Paddle related shoulder injury

Stand Up Paddling can be hard on the shoulders, here is a video with some tips for dealing with an injury:

In these two videos I talk about a shoulder injury I have been dealing with for over a year and what worked for me.  I hope this helps others. 
I will not repeat everything in the videos but some things not mentioned are the many things I tried to treat the injury, including: rest, icing, heat, stretching, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, massage, taping the shoulder, pain relieving gels (Arnica gel) and rubs, not sleeping on the affected shoulder, and more.
While all these helped, I feel like the main key to recovery are the PT rotator cuff exercises shown in the video.  I'm not saying not to try everything else, especially to relieve pain and discomfort but in my experience, the exercises were the most helpful to recover.  
My doctor thinks the pain is caused by Bursitis, as well as possible damage to the rotator cuff muscles and tendonitis.  This link has good information on Bursitis and how to treat it, if you are interested in reading more about it:
My doctor recommended trying a Cortisone injection if the PT did not help but since my injury has improved greatly since starting the exercises I have been able to avoid and injection.  So, if you think you may have a similar injury caused by paddling, or if you want to prevent this type of injury, I highly recommend making these rotator cuff muscle strengthening exercises part of your training regimen.
Please note that I am not a doctor or expert on this subject.  Since your injury may be different than mine, I recommend seeing a doctor and/or physical therapist.  Don't do any of these exercises if they are painful and make sure to keep good posture and form when doing the exercises.  When I was doing research on this subject I found that these physical therapy exercises were not posted online, it is how the PT's make a living after all, which is why I decided to make this video, I hope it helps others treat and prevent injury sooner. 
I'm happy to answer any questions, feel free to post a comment.
Robert Stehlik

Here is another video that explains the importance of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and I totally agree: