Too hard, too cold, too random, too expensive, too warm, too crowded… just too much. That’s why surfers often need a hobby. A different pastime to get our heads out of the ocean, but not into real life. But what are the best ones for surfers? And why? Here we take an in depth look at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Golf, and later will check in on music, crochet, photography, mountain biking and macrame. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

What is it? 

Based on the principles of Judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) was style adapted by the Brazilian Gracie family and promotes the theory that small dudes can successfully defend themselves against much bigger dudes, by taking to the fight to the ground and then using joint-locks and choke holds to force the opposition into submission. The sport first came to world wide attention in the early 90s when Royce Gracie won a succession of Ultimate Fighting Championships using BJJ. Despite being significantly smaller than his opponents, having a rather silly name and his opponents using traditional techniques like kick boxing, karate and wrestling to try and rip his head off, Gracie came out on top, BJJ was taken up by most of the MMA fighters and its popularity spread around the world. 

What has it to do with surfing? 

At first glance you’d think that two grown men rolling around, indoors, on a soft mat, grappling with each other’s nether regions has fuck all to do with surfing. And yet, the surfing community was one of the first tribe to really take to BJJ and, literally, roll with it. This was helped that the Gracie family relocated to California and were keen surfers and so helped to introduce the sport to the coast. High profile surfers also hopped on board and it quickly became one of the key training programs for a lot of surfers. Fans say it is more a way of life, one that boosts physical fitness and helps build character, so a bit like surfing. Sort of.  

Who does it? 

Kelly Slater and Joel Tudor are probably BJJ’s highest profile exponents. Tudor is a Black Belt under Carlson Gracie and has won numerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu titles. Slater was also introduced to BJJ by the Gracie family and there is footage of him grabbing the testicles of former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort and world jiu-jitsu champion BJ Penn. Jeremy Flores and Michel Bourez Instagram accounts are full of smug pictures of the crew all smiles after a successful choking and back mounting session. In Oz, the Bra Boys all use BJJ to ride massive slabs and, allegedly, shake down local businessmen. Jack Freestone too is a big fan. 

What’s right with it?: 

“Good martial artists use the most efficient moves for getting the body to produce more energy,” Slater told the New York Times a while ago. "In surfing you have to master the same things – base, balance on your feet, the act of turning, bend and extend your legs. I love watching two guys fighting. It’s like human chess.” And the costumes are ace.

What’s wrong with it? 

Skin diseases like herpes, ringworm, staph and impetigo come with the skin abrasions and sometimes unsanitary mat conditions. Those aside, some surfers find that having someone incapacitating you in a front mount, scarf hold or knees to the stomach is about as far away from riding a wave as Kelly is from a haircut. 

Golf

What is it?

Based on the principle of hitting a small white ball long distances into a small white hole with the use of a stick. The first written record of golf is James II banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. To this day it remains one of the most popular distractions in the sporting world. So wide is its appeal, even Matt Wilkinson does it. 

What has it to do with surfing? 

Again, the art of whacking a ball, and then walking after it to do it again, a process which is repeated for five hours doesn’t seem to be that close to getting tubed. On the other hand, the sport invokes rare passion, involves a degree of discipline, has a tech and equipment element and is outdoors, which may explain why surfer’s have taken to the sport with incredible zest, using it a common tool to fight off flat day boredom. 

Who does it? 

What professional surfer doesn’t? Kelly Slater says he plays at least 150 rounds a year and despite only starting when he was 23, has a handicap of 3. Julian Wilson is said to come a close second to Kelly and scored a hole-in-one last year. Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne and Bruce Irons are fanatics. Former pro Benji Weatherly had caddied for US Open champion Adam Scott at a PGA tour event, and Scott is best mates with Wilson. Golf does suit those people who have both an excess of time and money; which happens to be the job description of a professional surfer. See below for a hilarious clip featuring Occ and AI trying their hand at the game.

What’s right with it? 

Golf can be addictive and the thwack of sweetly hit drive weirdly provides a surge of adrenalin. Few sports also provide the chance to talk shit with your mates, drive a small motorised car and have a beer at the end of it all. You can also be a fat bastard and still get around the course. Oh and unlike surfboards airlines actually let you take your clubs on the plane. 

What’s wrong with it?

Mark Twain famously said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled” and when you add the frustration, the expense, the time, the excessive rules, dress codes and the rich, old, snobby fuckers that you are forced to share the course and club with, surely a surf, any surf, is going to be a much more beneficial way to spend four hours.