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Turn sequence

Surfing is simply riding a wave.  But what makes surfing amazing is we can turn on water.  But there's more than one type of turn.  



Fins out -tail slide cutback at the start of the wave.  Front foot becomes the pivot/balance point as the tail swings around it.  


Coming out of that turn, He goes to the bottom and angles up ( bottom turn ).  Eyes look back, shoulders/hands twist back before mid way up the face.  ( notice the front foot is flat )


Now at the top, his front foot goes back on it's heel by raising up the toes. That "gives" power/leverage to back foot over the fins.  Speed Check top turn since he wants to keep going down the line.  


Now back onto the inside rail and twisting coming off the bottom turn.  ( bodyline strong inline with the angle of the board )


Which sets up a  snap turn.  He gets his butt past the outside rail to stop short his momentum ( see the spray coming off the left rail ? )   Also notice the turn over point by the fins/rail/tail making a gouge in the wave's face.


Performance surfing. Progressive surfing. Advanced surfing envolves Turns.   But it also envolves Speed, Power and Flow.  It's the Flow part that links all those different turns together in one smooth ride.   


Please check out Matsunosuke Kugenuma on Facebook to see more surf photos.  



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Turtle Roll or Rolling Thru

If you don't have the ability or your board is too big to Duck Dive,  you need to Turtle Roll to get past waves on your way out to the break. 


Basically, you paddle up to the breaking wave, grab the rails with both hands, spin the board over, let the wave past over you, then flip the board back over.   Simple ............  but it's not.  


Like in Sumo, Rugby, American Football,  you have to match power with power.  Don't just wait for the wave to come to you.  Paddle full speed up to it.  If you just wait, it will just run you over. 


Go straight into the wave, perpendicular to the waves face at a 90 degree angle.  If you go in at a angle, there's more area for the wave's energy to hit. There's less of the board that the wave "sees" if you go straight.


If your board is at an angle, it is more likely that it will get ripped out of your hands, then maybe hit the people on the inside of you ( girl in purple ).   Also never follow others up the face, since they block you from going straight over sometimes. 


One secret to Turtle Roll, is timing.  Flip over at the very last second, almost to when the white water touches the nose of your board.  Most people turn over TOO early and just wait under the water.  You need to paddle hard, flip at the last moment AND kick hard under the water with your feet.   


( also notice her hands are in the middle of the board.  She should grab further up to create a V-wedge under the water )



But maybe the best way to get out isn't Turtle Rolling ?

"Best way to avoid a punch, is not be there"  is what Mr. Miyagi taught.  In other words, don't put yourself to be in a position to get hit in the first place.


If you can, paddle AROUND the break.  It might take longer, but it's safer. 


If you are in whitewater, YOU can get hit by Spray of a Rider or the crashing lip of the  wave. Don't be there.  


Long boards can take off earlier.  Shortboards can take off on deeper steeper waves.  Be careful when you mix the two.  If you are a longboarder, better to stay where the longboarders are.  If you are a beginner, stay where the beginners are.  If there's no longboarders or no beginners out, there's a reason why.  


If you don't have the paddling technique, speed or stamina to get out to the break, you shouldn't be out there. If you are getting tired Turtle Rolling then maybe:

1) the beach break waves are too hard to get out.

2) the swell has waves that are too close to each other

3) you don't have good enough paddling technique

4) you don't trim and ride to the side of the wave. If you go straight, you end up in the line of fire. 

But most important,

5) you don't undertand the ocean / waves.  

To get out past waves, use more of your BRAIN and less of your BRAWN.  Sometimes wait on the inside, then paddle back out.  Count the waves of each set.  If you catch the 1st wave of the set, 3 more are likely to after that, so wait until they pass.  Maybe sometimes it better to paddle in more, then around, than trying to fight your way back out.  


In Aikido, you use the opponents energy against themselves.  In surfing, we CAN NOT fight Mother Nature / Waves.  You can not just keep forcing you way by brute strength.   Learn the waves, work with the waves so you have less problems getting out.  


please check out Hope Cheng on FB to see more great surfing.  





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Small secret to Backside Bottom turn and Backside Cutbacks

To turn better on your Backside Bottom turn and Backside Cutbacks, make sure your to turn your palm UP and OUT.


Notice his palm is open to the wave.

Front leading shoulder turns into the wave. 

Lots of space for the head to turn and look around.  


Open palm opens the shoulder to the wave. Which allows the torso to twist around.  More twist = more turn.


Palm Down and Closed leads to the shoulder pointed inwards.  It rolls the upper body forward and to the right, when he actually wants to go left. 


Palm facing the wave, locks out the elbow, throws the shoulder forward and blocks the chin/head from turning.  

Back hand is bracing off a invisible wall, when it should be coming around the chest. It's hard for it to come forward because the front arm is restricting the movement.  


When good techinique of a Open and UP palm, it allows more freedom and movement.  Here his hand and shoulder are going up.  His head is just turning back the other way.  


He OPENed the door going up the wave. Now he CLOSES the door shut.  His board was on the inside rail, then rolls over to the outside rail to finish the cutback.  Shoulder points in the direction of where he wants to go.  


To bottom turn  and cutback backside, have your palm open and up.  The small change makes a big difference.  


Please check out more surf photos form Hope Cheng on FB.    



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Reaching Down

To lower your Center of Gravity ( CG ), in hopes of improving balance or turning ability,  you could bend at the waist or bend at the knees.  By reaching out with your hand, you force yourself to be lower, but is that good ?


This surfer is quite low, so low his knee is skimming the water.  But he is not bent over. His bodyline, head thru feet, is strong and same with the angle of the deck.  His back hand is gauging the angle of the lean into the bottom turn.  


Coming out of the backside cutback, his back hand creates a Pivot Point.  

Body inline with the deck

Back Foot over the fins

Eyes looking ahead to the next move


Bending down to get lower in itself is not bad.  But if ........

1) you look down

2) front foot closed facing the rail which causes the X-factor knee bump

3) Turning from the middle of the board

4) Reaching down.........


That reaching down, causes the head to go beyond the rail and the butt to stick out.  Bodyline is broken. Knee together locks out the suspension of your legs and lessens mobility. 


All that ends up to LESS turning ability. Board tracks straight and the rider gets bucked off.  Better to stand tall and utilize the the whole body to turn the board. ( with the importance of being on the right spot of the board ) 


Rider takes the drop. Foot is NOT over the fins becuase he is not turning.  Nose is close to the surface to let the board plane and gain speed.  Eyes focuses ahead.  Front hand in Neutral position.  


Front arm opens up to twist the body and engage the inside rail.  ( spray coming off the outside rail )


In the turn, his back arm feels the angle of the lean into the turn. His hadn isn't "grabbing", his finger tips are "feeling". 

Although his hand is in the wave, he is NOT bent over. His body is still inline with the deck. Back foot far back to bring the nose up and make the board "shorter". 


Coming out of the turn, he releases his hand and begins to transfer from outside rail to the flat bottom. 


Right before the oncoming lip, he then rolls from flat bottom to inside rail. That complete a full wrap cutback ( round house cutback )


To turn better and have better balance, you DO NOT need to lower your CG or reach out. 

You need to have:

1) good eyes looking up and out to the next move

2) strong body line from head to butt to feet

3) proper position on the board 

4) arms working in conjunction with the rest of the body ............( not just reaching down )  


Please check out Hope Cheng Taiwan surf photos on FB to see more.   



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Beginner surfer -Tell Tale Sign something's wrong

When you see a car weaving side to side on the road, you know something's wrong.  In surfing, there's also a Tell Tale Sign something's wrong for the beginner surfer.    A hand up above the head. 


A hand up is an unconscious effort to keep you from falling. But it also points out other problems:

1) Front arm locked to the body

2) Front foot pointed to the rail, when it should be more towards the nose

3) Stance too narrow, should be more than shoulder's width apart


When the front arm can't steer and the front foot is "closed", it limits the twist of the torso.  So now the surfer LEANS instead of TURN.   Falling back, hand automatically goes up.


Looking DOWN makes the hand go UP.  Front hand locked to the body cuts mobility.


Again looking down brings the back hand up.  Front arm is bracing off an invisible wall, so it's not leading the turn/action.  


Even in Noseriding, if the hand is up, it is showing there's problems:

1) Looking down

2) Rushing the steps  ( Walk to the nose, not run )

3) Board / rail not set in the wave to trim


Hand raising up is the body's reaction to:

1) Back hand bracing 

2) Eyes looking down

3) Stance too narrow  ( back foot not firmly planted but on it's side )


1) Narrow and Parallel Stance ( both feet pointed towards the nose )

2) Front arm locked to the body and trying to STEER from the wrist


Watch people whose hands go up above their head.  Can you see some things faulty in their technique ?


Hand Up above the head is not a Bad Habit, it's an automatic unconscious reaction.  But the other things like looking down, locked front arm, narrow stance, wrong foot positioning ARE bad habits.  Make sure you correct them before other  surfers think you're just being nice and waving "Hi !" to them.  


Please check out to see more.  





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Aerial Surfing for Newbie Beginners

Doing a Aerial or "Air" is the ultimate maneuver for progressive surfing.   But how does a newbie surfer get to that point ?


Aerial surfing doesn't need a really big wave. But it needs many things:

1) Speed

2) Timing

3) Position ( on the wave and for the body on the board )


Everything is better, your carves, your airs, if you have more SPEED.  So you need a good paddle, a good take off, pop up and a good bottom turn to create the drive to get yourself up and out.      


TIMING is not only when to go up but when to turn back down. Notice his body is twisting back down. The board still going up will follow the tragectory of his body.  


Of course you need to hit the right POSITION / PLACE on the wave like a skateboard ramp to get air.  But your body also has to be in the right POSITION on the deck of the board to control it as it's in the air and be stable when it lands.


Coming off the bottom hitting just the end part of the curling beyond vertical lip of the wave.  Almost like going up a skateboard ramp. 


Same surfer, similar air but different wave.  He hits the closeout section to let the wave slap him UP and OUT. The wave actually throws him like a catapult. 


So surfers need SPEED, TIMING and POSITION to do airs.   So just as you need to crawl before you walk, then walk before you can run,  you need to have those basic skills down.... First. ( Strong bottom turn, Pumping and Stalling, Transition from inside rail to outside rail and back again ) Basically if you can't do a carving round house cutback like this surfer girl here, you won't have the neccesary technique to do Air.    Are you ready to FLY ??


Please check out "Philippines Surf Report" on FB to see more awesome surfing.


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Cutback Harder or not ?

People ask me "how do I learn to cutback harder ?"   Be careful cutting back or turning HARDER might not be a good thing.


Big guy cutting back backside on the shoulder.  But some problems

1) Body not inline with the deck of the board. Head way past the toes.

2) Both Hands reaching out to grab the wave.  Feel or Gauge with one hand is okay, but not grab.   

3) Too much rail is engaged. Water flowing over the nose.  


All that leads to lose of speed. Then the board catching an edge and the rider goes down.


Again too much hand. Too much rail. Looking down. Back hand twisting away from the turn.  Hard place on the wave to turn.  


Closer to the curl the wave is steeper. Better to draw out the turn to the shoulder where it is softer.


Here everything looks good except the back hand bracing on a invisible wall.  ( but notice the bump on the wave's face )


Bodyline is strong and inline with the deck.  Back foot is solid on the traction pad back on the tail.  Board is on rail way back on the last 1/4 of the board.  ( but now the bump is doubled )


Her board now is really on edge. Her hand reaching out now creates a brake. Water moves up to half way up the deck. 

( bumps now triple up )


Ending in a face plant.  Her cut was really STRONG, but she never turned the board back the other direction.  Inside rail to outside rail then back to inside rail again.  Once the wave gets too steep, too strong, the rider can not keep enough pressure.  Back foot comes off the board and board flattens out.  


Just like you shouldn't just "Grip it and Rip it" everytime in Golf or Billiards,  you shouldn't just try to cut back HARDER.  Cutback SMARTER not HARDER.   Learn  WHERE to turn. Learn WHEN to turn.  NOT just how hard to turn.  What does it matter if you got a big motor if your tires spin out of control ?  


Please check out the Taiwan surf photos from Hope Cheng on Facebook

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What goes Down must come Up

There's a saying "What goes Up, must come Down".  That's usually for planes, balloons, rocks.  But in Surfing if you want to go Up to the top of the wave, you must go Down first.


This is the AFTER photo.  Nice turn off the top.  


This is the BEFORE photo.   Notice the strong angle of the board coming off the Bottom Turn.  Spray coming off the outside rail.  Bodyline fron top of head to bottom of the foot is strong.  


Surfer travels down THEN up.  Strong inside rail engaged.  Bodyline inline with the angle of the board.  


Look at the trail the spray coming off the rail makes.  He resists and fights the wave off the bottom, and then gets shot upwards.  Resist then Relax. 


Now you can't just come off the bottom anywhere when ever you want to.   You need to work with the wave.

On some waves it's just not possible to climb.  On a pitching dumping beach break .............


..............the wave's speed and angle is just too steep and fast.  


In mushy crumbling whitewater, there's no face to climb.  Once it just whitewater foam the wave is basically finished.


If you still try to engage the inside rail, you'll either end up faceplanting into the wave or being straighted out and flipped back like in this photo.  


"So what can I do to practice going up the wave ? "

Easy ................  Go down the wave and then go straight up instantly.............. and keep going.  

Orange line is the normal smooth line to take to set up for the trim. 

Pink line is a tighter harder line to take.  


Just go Up and Out.  Up and Out.  Again and again.  ( but don't waste waves that other could go on ) 

Make sure to keep your feet solid on the board and not fling the board out. 

( you can work on the Turn Down later )


Other then Up and Down, there's also a transition from Right to Left rail.  See the break in the trail line ( pink to orange ) ?   But that's important after you learn to go Up and Out.  


If you want to go Up to the top of the wave more, you need to have a good Down first.  The Bottom Turn leads to everything else after.  And you need to be at the right place at the right time.  You can't force it, you need to work with the waves energy so it helps you up the face.  


Please check out  and Matsunosuke Kugenuma on Facebook to see more.  


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Straight legging cutbacks

Straight legs is not only good for jeans, but also good for cutbacks.  

That front leg is extending straight out to draw out the carve, while the back knee is fully bent to compress the body weight over the tail.  

Notice also:

1) Toes go up at full extension 

2) Body is bent at the waist, but bodyline is strong 

3) Back arm ( the drive arm ) coming around in front of the chest 


Almost same here but here front arm/hand is creating a anchor/pivot point for the board to swing around. 

Again straight front leg, cocked back knee, toes up, back arm coming around. 


Same anchoring front hand.  His front foot is flat to the deck which is okay to maybe keep the nose from chattering from the strong winds or rough surface of the wave.  


This is a bit earlier than the apex of the cutback, but you can see her really set up for the turn.   

1) Front leg beginning to go straight

2) front arm leading 

3) back hand rotating palm outwards

4) toes slightly lifting off


Different wave but same great form thru the turn.  


Look at these pictures to learn proper form, but DON"T look at your own toes, hands, knees, etc. while you are riding.    You need to "FEEL" your way thru the turns.  Good body mechanics / form will feel right.   If something feels wrong, stiff or hard to do, then get someone to film or take a photo of your surfing.  You might see something is off.  


Doing a nice cutback is not as easy as straightening out your front legs. ( just as buying straight leg jeans won't make you look more handsome or sexy ) It's your whole body working with the board and with the wave.   But you might notice the good surfers have a straight leg in their cutbacks.    


please check out to see more.  



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Life is Short ........ Go Surf.

Surfing is not only standing on a board, it's being out in the ocean with Friends.  


Two of my Waikiki surfing friends have past away recently.

Terence was always the furthest out at Queen's surf break.  He always had a hydro backpack so he didn't need to waste time paddling in to the beach to get water.  


Tom C. Wentworth to my left with the white beard,  always surfed at my favorite surf spot "Canoes". 


I used his photo to show proper foot placement.  


Here is going Right over Harada's Reef.  When I showed up, he would go Left so I could have the Right.  


I will miss surfing with both Terence and Tom.  


Here in Japan, I surf with a legend in Shonan,  Gara-san.  

Here we are checking out the line up at Kamakura. 


Gara-san is 75 years old and rips !   He easily out paddles most surfers ( and me ) half his age.  


He told me all of his surf buddies his age have already past away.  


Surfing is more than just you and the wave.  It's the people you talk with, share a wave with, cheer for when they get a good one, 


Life is short, so go SURF...................  and cherish those times with your surf friends.  




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