/*23 Breaths: Riding the Mat*/

Monday, March 9, 2009

Riding the Mat

Another great water shot by Kaser at Daily Bread

You can't be in a hurry.

There is a fair amount of unlearning that goes with the mat. You need to get past the “this will be easy, it's just a mat” stage. Did your last board dramatically change shape during the ride and utilize variable inflation?


You have to be prepared to devote your whole life to your practice.

I used to think in terms of “getting it wired” etc. Now I think that learning to surf with the mat will take the rest of my life and more. I am really happy about that by the way, it means there is always something new to discover.


It's not a matter of spending money, you have to spend your life.

Yes, you need a mat, and a good pair of fins is very helpful but you have to spend time in the water.


There is a great deal to learn and you can't do it quickly.

I know guys who can get a board wired in like three waves, two if they get some good waves.  Then they go out and get a new board.

The mat takes time because you aren't riding the mat, you are working with the mat to explore the wave and waves are infinitely complex.


Mat riding isn't something that can be put into words. You have to practice before you can understand.

“Jet propelled body surfing”. That is as close as it gets and it doesn't even scratch the surface.


The mat teaches us to be natural.

Riding a mat doesn't really have any standard set of maneuvers. Yes, you can do bottom turns, it's great in the tube and it's bat-out-of-hell fast but it all really depends on the wave. The wave leads and you try follow along in a complementary way. The best times are often had when you just relax and marvel at the wave unfolding in front of you.


You can't force things, including practice.

The biggest advances will be made when you aren't trying. I have had sessions that I thought were going to be “marginal” turn into major turning points. This will have you spending weeks afterward trying to figure out what just happened and how to do it again.


Understanding is something that happens naturally.

Eventually you get it or at least a glimpse of it and you'll want to rush out to find someone to tell. Unfortunately when you find someone, the things you say don't capture it at all. But that's ok.


It's different for everyone.

How could it be any other way.


The main thing is is to reduce your desires and quiet your mind.

Take off, turn in, and hold on!


Practice takes a long time and you have to stay healthy.

You'll spend a lot of time in the water swimming. This constitutes one of the best all around exercise workouts ever. You should combine it with some yoga and some attention to your diet. I would expect mat surfers to live longer lives. That's good, there are lots of things to do.


About this blog post. I have been trying to think of something to say here that would be of a more instructional nature.  I don't really think anyone can teach you how to surf but I wanted to try to come up with something.  I had been working on it for a while and had  made no progress. So I gave up and put the whole idea on the back burner.  I got all of the bold lines from a book I am reading that has nothing to do with surfing,  every sentence seemed to speak directly to the mat riding experience and I just wanted to pass it along.



11 comments:

Surfsister said...

Quite well said! I think with mat riding, you have to be willing to just go with it and really have no expectations. When I surf now, I can kind of dictate the session I'm going to have. I decide what I'm going to work on, etc. The mat is totally different. As you say, the mat is always changing shape. I can't dictate what will happen. I literally hold on and try to learn from the mat and the conditions.

I've yet to have a defining moment on the mat. I know it's coming though. I'm patient. I've only ridden it about five times. I know, and am excited by, the fact that I've got a long way to go.

Dale said...

Well said!!!

Someday when you write

Zen and The Art of Mat Surfing

Put me down for a copy!

Dale said...

"Understanding is something that happens naturally.

Eventually you get it or at least a glimpse of it and you'll want to rush out to find someone to tell. Unfortunately when you find someone, the things you say don't capture it at all. But that's ok."

Yeah, I can certainly relate to that. Rush out and find someone to tell, and their impression is of "mental health issues"... not the joy of mat surfing.

It's even worse for me. No one to rave with about the minutiae of 8 ounce mats and hydrophilic surfacents.

Some things are better left unsaid...

borntoloser said...

The little note about how you're not riding the board but using the bag to ride the wave is very true. I can envision what I want to do "to" a wave when I surf on a hard board. When I mat I try to envision what the mat will do "with" me and my mat. I'm going to try to make it on the 29th!

kaser_one said...

i need to start charging rent for photos. i'd make a killing on this site.

gwara teag said...

Do nothing,say nothing ,expect nothing,get everything,that`s the mat.

pranaglider said...

Surfsister - glad you liked the post. You are on the path, no worries.

Dale, thanks for everything!
PS always interested in the design and materials details! Keep'em coming!

BtL - Looking forward to seeing you on 3/29! Pray for surf.

K1 - You can have my unemployment check or my Citi stock. Take your pick!

Gwara T - Yes! That's it!

PS Surprised that no one asked what the book was.

Anonymous said...

The Way isn't something that can be put into words. You have to practice before you can understand. You can't force things, including practice. Understanding is something that happens naturally. It's different for everyone. The main thing is to reduce your desires and quiet your mind.

(Hsueh-tou Chih-chien)

Anonymous said...

kaser_one said...

i need to start charging rent for photos. i'd make a killing on this site.

what?? no more free mats for you!!!!

pranaglider said...

Anon1 - ding ding ding close enoungh! The book is "Road to Heaven - Encounters with Chinese Hermits" by Bill Porter. The quotes are attributed to a Taoist master Porter meets traveling in the Chinese mountains. Good book if any of you are so inclined.

Anon2 - I really like K1's water shots and I don't think he minds too much that I use them here. He does sell shots if you are ever interested in using them commercially.

Anonymous said...

searching for that glide
warp speed on some
looking for that bump
the energy line
way out into the green
just subtle input
trim adjustments
heaps of speed

on the paddle back out
the white bubble wake
tracks indelible
s turn shape
leading back
to the takeoff point