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The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun

Famous Hawaiian surfer, swimmer, and waterman, Duke Kahanamoku is quoted in saying, ‘The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun.’

Now this is a quote you’d likely expect from someone who wasn’t too good at surfing, a way of justifying their position.  A way of saying, I may not be that great at surfing, but I’m still the best surfer as I’m having the most fun.  But far from it, Duke Kahanamoku is a swimming and surfing legend, a pioneer in the spread of surfing around the world, and yet it is he who is the owner of these words.

This got me thinking on his motivation for saying this.  Someone as accomplished as he in surfing, a swimming Olympic gold medalist, a business man, an actor, the list goes on, even after all of this achievement, he still sees the best person at something to be that person who enjoys that something the most.  And whilst I cannot know his motivation for this quote I can speculate, or at least provide my interpretation.

Most people start a hobby, pastime, or sport, with the hope of achieving some kind of enjoyment from this activity.  As people improve in their hobbies, pastimes, and sports they may come to compete in these activities to test where they stand as compared to others, they may come to excel in competition, but sometimes the pressures and demands can become overwhelming and they can lose their enjoyment of such activities.  In the eyes of those around them they may be perceived to be the best in their field, or very good, but in truth they have actually failed to achieve the enjoyment they had originally sought from their pursuits.

When an activity is started for the pursuit of some type of enjoyment, and you are achieving that enjoyment, it is fair to say that you are excelling in some part of that field.  Now this is not to say that you are the most technically proficient, that you are the best performer, but rather you are the best at achieving your original objective, which was to have fun.

If you translate this to Jiu-Jitsu it still holds true to some extent.  We all  start Jiu-Jitsu for varying reasons, common reasons include; to learn self defence, to learn how to fight, to get fit, to meet people, to lose weight, etc.  Jiu-Jitsu is a little different to surfing because of the martial component, we don’t all start it for the pure pursuit of enjoyment, but many of us stay in Jiu-Jitsu because it is fun!!!  When Jiu-Jitsu is no longer fun I truly believe we are failing at it to some extent.  We may be winning tournaments, excelling in the gym, whatever, but if you are not longer having fun you have somewhat failed to achieve your reason for sticking to it in the first place.

So whilst I would not personally say the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is the one having the most fun, as the factors that make a good Jiu-Jitsu practitioner far exceed just fun in itself, I do think there is something to be said for that person who is enjoying themselves the most on the mats.  That person is definitely winning, and definitely excelling at an area most of us set-out to thrive-in during our Jiu-Jitsu journey.

So next time you step out on the mats in the gym or in the competition arena ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?’.  If your answer is ‘Yes’, you damn lucky person, you are already a winner; if your answer is ‘No’, spend some time thinking about this, and thinking about how you can bring the enjoyment back to your Jiu-Jitsu.


Thanks for reading and happy rolling,


Ryann Creary

Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts

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