Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Less is More by Len Barrow

When Less is More

In Daoist  and Zen thinking sometimes less is more.  A classic example is the act of cooking fish.  If you cook the fish to much it will become tough and flavorless.  If you cook the fish with just the right amount of energy, it comes out moist and sweet.  I have noticed that Surfing and SUP surfing has the same qualities as the Daoist and Zen thinking. Here are a few examples.

Over thinking/Over- Cognating  your surfing. 
The best surfing is done “in the zone”.  While you are surfing everything becomes automatic and fluid.  Without thinking, the wave reacts in one way and you automatically react to the wave.  Everything is smooth and perfect.  Take a look at Kelly Slater.  His surfing  looks as if it were driven by pure unconscious instinct.  He and the board seem like one organism.
On the other hand when one begins to think about surfing, problems arise.  I know this all too well.  Whenever  I  try to do a big off the lip and think about it, my flow and form gets disrupted and I fall on my face.  Then I make the mistake of thinking too much about why I fell and due to this, I subsequently fall again.  This can ruin your whole session hence don’t give a fault to much energy.  It will only grow and screw up your surfing.

Overpowering  A Turn.
All too often I see surfers trying too hard.  This has happened to me.  At times I wanted to destroy the wave and be a “mega-slasher”.  I would kick in turns and think I was ripping.  Ben Aipa once told me, how can you go 100 mph in a 25mph zone.  He said “you can’t see yourself but you look like a jerky, scurrying  a’ama crab (a type of crab in Hawaii)”.  I was pretty bummed at this and chose not to believe him.  This all came to an end when my friend videotaped me.  I was shocked at what I saw.  I was swinging my arms wildly, jerking here, and hopping there.  It was the most “unfluid” event one could imagine and I indeed  looked like a crab because I was putting way to much energy in to my turns. 
Ben corrected me by setting a volume from one to ten.  If I was surfing 10 foot Hawaiian Jocko’s, Ben told me to set my volume at 8, 9 or even 10.  If I were to surf  1 foot town, I was told to power down and “ride” at an easy volume of 2 or 3.  The end result is that my surfing became fluid and free.

The hardest thing that I ever encountered in surfing is the noseride.  It is here where the Zen and Daoist approach of less being more and not over-cognating  becomes very apparent.  The beautiful thing about noseriding is that everything is dictated by the wave.  You are truly at the mercy of the ocean.  If you try to force a noseride by running up the board the nose dips under the water and throws you off.  To noseride properly your mind must be totally clear and you must be “in the zone”.  Some times one waits for the noseride in a type of “necessary stillness”.  It is almost like a meditative state.  All the angles of the wave must be perfect to walk up to the nose of the board.  The wave cannot be too curved nor can it be too strait.
 When the time is right one cross-steps  to the nose.  This walk is not a bold “male” attack but a feminine dance.  The Yin and Yang is most alive in the nose-ride.  The less force that you put in your walk up to the nose the more the board lifts and the longer your nose-ride.  This may sound counter intuitive but try it.

The next time you go to the ocean whether surfing or SUP surfing maybe it is a good idea to take it easy.  Clear your mind and lower your volume and watch your surfing take off.  Remember less can be more!

Written By Len Barrow

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