Thursday, April 08, 2010

StokeTIP 55: Go See Local Surf Flicks

Novice StokeTIP 55
Go See Local Surf Flicks

Here in Northern and Central California almost all of us surfers have surfed in Santa Cruz at least once, if not once a month, or every day. The quality of the waves is almost always better than my home breaks in Half Moon Bay and from novice friendly Cowells to highly competetive Hook and the Lane, the place has a lot to offer and further up the coast we got Mavericks break right in my home town of Half Moon Bay.

As you surf more and become familiar with surfing, you will start hearing about "The West Side" and "The East Side." And sooner or later you will become failiar with surfer names like "Flea", "Ratboy" and "Barney." Even if you don't want to hear about them, you will hear about them on local regular news-talk radios and in the front-pages of San Francisco Chronicle or San Jose Mercury news. In many ways, California and surfing are part of our daily life; everyone is influenced by it from the slang we use to what we wear even to work!

As you surf more in Santa Cruz, you will also get to know about the "West side" and "East side" surfing culture you will learn that they often crash, even sometime to the point of physically being violent. So it has always been curious in mind how these different cultures come about.

And of course these things being as culture they invlove people, and every so often our own surfing communities has produced great surfing documentary movies that are prouced often by the very people who grew up within.

Such is the case with the new upcoming documentary film "The Westsiders." The film was produced by Joshua Pomer who grew up with the big 3 names in Santa Cruz West Side surfing scene. Joshua got a hold of portable video camera from his high school and started to shoot videos of his surfing friends and so he knew right from the start to some day tell the story about what it is like to grow up with top surfers and being immersed in the scene. Also very important in the formation of the culture is one dominating character, Vince "The Godfather" Coller who pretty much controlled The Lane and for good or bad, he was the key part of creating the force in the Westside culture to put these surfers and Santa Cruz Stemer Lane on the map. Like a Big Bang, the melting of all forces have created some of the darkest part of the surf culture as well as some of the brightest and innovative breakthoughs in surfing like legitimizing aerials as a surf move and even surfing upside-down inside a barrell and of course the big wave surfing.

The movie is a serious and important documentary about Santa Cruz surfing culture and the history of the West Side. It is a nice and intentional departure from "just surf" type movies where you only see people surfing on the waves for an hour, and it really provides a deeper look inside how it is to grow up in the environment. Interviews include numerous people from the surfing community and partents. Jason has also used his networks of friends to collect interesting home movie clips from the 60's and 70's. Because of this approach the movie can be enjoyed by both surfers and as well as non-surfers.

My words are not going to be adequate to describe all what I have expeirenced at the preview, but one thing for sure, you being a part of the surfing culture today, you must go see this and many other surfing documentary movies produced by our very own local film makers who also surf.

The movie was selected and premiers at the Newport Beach Film Fetival on April 24th, 2010 and shown at the Santa Cruz Film Festival on Saturday 5/8 at 6:30 PM (More information about the Santa Cruz Film Festival)

For more information about the movie, here are additional web sites you can try:

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

StokeTIP 54: The Importance of a Positive Attitude

Novice StokeTIP 54
The Importance of a Positive Attitude

Posted originally on:

Yes, we all know that having a positive attitude is important in just about everything. But I have been reading up more on this stuff from a neuro surgeon.

I am going to quickly summarize this. Based on our current knowledge of our brains, it appears that when our brains process information one of the first things it does it to distingulish "like" or "dislike."

As we all grow up, we tend to accumulate in our brain to process more stuff into the "disklike" category. To make things short, that occurs because our brains tend to work in the manner for preservation. So we always tend to take a safer approach.

You can see that as we get older or observe people who are older than us, they all tend not to like new things, lose curiousity and then witter away.

So what does this got to do with surfing?

Actually what I want to point out is what does this got to do with our "Stoke."

To me the Stoke is driven from our curiousity and constant queests for better experiences on the wave. I refuse to get in the mode where I waer a T-Shirts that says "I rule!" and I refuse to tell people "I only surf at this break only when it is the greatest."

So, maintain your curiousity, always hope for a better wave, better tomorrow, and even when the waves are crappy let's get out and come back and blog or tweet about how much we got out of each of our session, exchange, and share the joy.

Your brains will appreciate it!

See you in the lineup!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

StokeTIP 53: Find a Limitation To Expand Your Skills

Novice StokeTIP 53: Find a Limitation To Expand Your Skills

Most of us want to be technically better surfers. I certainly dream about being on the wave freely making all sorts of interesting and creating moves very often. You could be lucky in this regards with a cat-like 3D agility that you can fly with your boards. But in most cases that's usually not how we are equipped with.

When it comes to surfing for me, each paddle out is a practice that never ends. In many ways, I almost can't tell if it is the first time I have ever tried surfing or not. Surfing can bring many humbling occasions; just I thought I've learned something, next time out, I cannot repeat what I've learned and many times I feel like I hit a limit of some sort.

To this effect, I know and I do forget one thing, which is understanding my own limitations.

This seems to be obvious to many, but when you are on a wave and ready to catch one or trying to make that cut back ahead of the changing wave, it is difficult know "live" where your limit lies.

That's where I think that analyzing and truly understanding our own limitations can help improve our surfing skills (and anything else I do) and I think we don't give much time for it.

If you understand the boundaries that limit your current abilities to accomplish things clearly, that can help you set up clear goals and then remove these obstacles. For example, for me right now, I need to work on the take-off technique on steeper waves, and I am currently working just on that. To be more exact, I am too timid right now to take on steep waves, but I also know that every once in a while it works and when it does I have really great rides.

So next time, don't just blame things that make your surfing experience less than perfect. But just think and analyze what really are limiting factors in your current ability to surf the way you want.

Don't set too high of a goal, in most things in life we need to chew a little bit at a time.

Keep On Stoking!
See You on the Wave Soon!

Monday, April 05, 2010

StokeTIP 52: Volunteer for a Local Surfing Organization

Novice StokeTIP 52
Volunteer for a Local Surfing Organization

Have you ever volunteered to work in an organization of any kind? If you have, that's wonderful, but if the thought of doing that never came to your mind, then it is time to think about doing it.

Needless to say, you can make great contributions to your community with your volunteering efforts, but on this post I am going to touch more on the benefit to you, most of which are not immediately obvious.

I was involved in Surfrider San Mateo chapter and through this experience I have found that that;
  • I had to help solve problems that I was not normally exposed.
In my situation, I was fully unaware of local environmental issues and how peoples interests were conflicted, met and resolved.
  • I was able to understand and work with people skill issues that come with any organizations
If you have a party of 2 or more we do agree and disagree. At an organizational level being able to meet the challange is very important skill set to acquire. Also you get to meet people who are from much more diverse backgrounds that think (often) quite differently than you do. This will enrich your knowldge and ability to be a more diversely participating member of the community.
  • I had to demonstrate my leadership skills
As a part of organization, you do need to take charge and make things happen, I had both success and failure in this area, but I did learn a lot what works and what does not thoughy my efforts.
  • I got chances to meet or network wtih people with whom you would not normally be able to hook up including community people in Half Moon Bay all the way to nationally known surfing figures etc.
This is probably one of the greatest benefits to me. I got to expand my network in a very meaningful way. Many of people are live and real friends I met in local community, we do business or even go surf trip to other countries with! I also got to meet the top notch surfers, surf movie makers, surf publishers and such both locally and nationally, and that's really exciting.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

StokeTIP 51: Be Well Hydrated To Prevent Muscle Cramps

Novice StokeTIP 51:
Be Well Hydrated To Prevent Muscle Cramps

Since I took up swimming in collage days, I have been bothered by calf muscle cramps. Now I get this painful muscle spasms when I over-stretch or stress the calf muscle; frequently enough. The most devastating time to get this is when I try to kick the water hard while taking off... imagine if that's the best wave in a surf competition! I also get one when I stretch in the morning in the bed.

While there is no complete cure for this either by drug or doing warm-up/stretch exercises there is one thing that seem to lessen the chance of this happening for me, which is the importance of being hydrated.

With the help of friends, I found out this article at this Mayo Clinic web site

If you are like me, so stoked and busy forgetting to drink water pre-sessions (somehow I don't forget to drink Beer post session but that's actually causes more dehydration) .

Since then I drink a glass of water at home before leaving and packing a eco-friendly water bottle full of tap water and remember to take a drink before a session and also immediate after it too, since an elevated heart rate does cause my kidney to work hard too... I am sure you can relate.

Also for me a sudden stress in the calf causes the issue so I should try to move the leg often while in the lineup. It is also a good way to stabilize your position yourself while in the lineup after all.

This site has more information and also many Folk Remedy techniques. I am not entirely sure if any of them work other than I try to eat a Banana in breakfast for potassium, but instead of over-drugging myself I will stick with the Hydration and stretch methods as my main means.

Keep on Stoked and See You in the Lineup!

Manabu Tokunaga

Friday, April 02, 2010

Novice StokeTIP #50: Go Take a Rest

Novice StokeTIP #50
Go Take a Rest

More often than not, after a so-so session, and while changing, I see some great weave coming through at the spots that I was not realizing while I was in the water, but the time is already out for me to move on to other stuff in my daily life.

So, especially when you are not having so good of a time, get out of a water in the middle of a session and observe from the shore what is happening and re-assess your lineup.

I think I will try to do that myself.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Surf Tip 49: Go See a Pro Surfing Competition Live!

Novice Surfer Tip 49
Go See a Pro Surfing Competition Live!

I find that going to see a live professional competition is a part of the essentials all new surfers should experience. As a budding surfer, you owe it to yourself. Whether you agree with the principal of competing or not, you can get a lot out of it from just one day of attending.

You might say, you can see all that on a Fuel TV or DVD, but here are some of the things you may be missing out of:
  • On the TV (especially DVDs), you are only seeing what they want you to see. Mostly pictures of the top people just surfing on the waves. As a person learning how to surf, you get a whole lot more out by watching how the real professional surfers take off, from the wave spot selection to the direction to which they take off. Then how they set up for the initial turn. Most videos won't be able to capture that phase of surfing; they want to cut directly to them catching some air or getting tubed. But to me the initial 5 seconds of surfing is the most critical part of succesful surfing.
  • By being there, you will also get to see everyone, from the top notch competitor to the ones that do not have the right day. Again, videos tend to capture only the top people. You should watch and compare among all competitors.
  • Also, you can see all different sorts of styles how people surf and compete.
  • The excitement of being among the live audience is also just something you cannot experience even if you have a 500w surround and 1080p HD television system.
For the people in Bay Area we got many top international level professional competitions that hapen at Steamer Lane or Pleasure Point, among few others, so it is worthwhile checking the calendar and plan on spending a day.

One of the most amazing things about going to Santa Cruz is that due to the configuration of the cliffs, you can see the surfers often from all the anges of the wave, from the front, side or even from the back. This is something that would be difficult to do at beach break compeitions unless you can get on the pier.