Chas Smith and Richie Vaculik
Fighting is the least pretty of games. Ain't a man who exits battle with his dignity intact. But sometimes, y'just gotta stand there and hit back. Chas Smith prefers sexin' to fightin'. But he ain't adverse to the concept of defending honour. Here, we see Chas and his instructor the UFC warrior (and very good surfer) Richie Vaculik. | Photo: Rod Owen (


MMA fighter Richie Vaculik shows how to retain a little dignity in the most undignified game of all… 

I am not a fighter by nature. Most modern men aren’t. Evolution has canceled our need to fight for the most desirable woman, thereby dulling our desire. Desirable women will just as soon go with bandy armed artists as beach-muscled Hercules.

But. There comes a time in every bandy armed artist’s life when he must step up and be counted. Your best friend in the world is about to be pounced upon. Your girl is being called a slut.

Here comes a time to fight.

Men who have not fought fear what they don’t know. Fear the degrees of potential and actual pain. To help enlighten I step onto two different mats with MMA champion, Bra Boy and fearless surfer Richie Vas. First, Brazilian jiu-jitsu then kickboxing. I assume Richie does not go full but I try to incite. I lead with my head. I slap. He causes me pain.

How it feels to be hit in the head with a 16-ounce boxing glove: It is a dull thud that rattles thoroughly. The pain, and force, travels down the back of the neck and into the middles. My head felt full of cotton the next day. My face was puffy. It deadens the reflexes. I fell to the ground after a series of punches simply because I could not move my legs properly.

How it feels to be hit in the body with a 16-ounce boxing glove: Sharp and more painful, initially, though less debilitating than a head shot. Body blows take a toll, over time, and it becomes difficult to breathe fully. Or stand upright.

How it feels to be kicked in the kidneys: Of all the blows, this one angered me the most. Or caused anger to rise in me. I was not mad at Richie, of course. It wasn’t a cheap shot, of course. But the kidney kick made me want to bite at him. I wanted to head butt.

How it feels to be hit with an MMA fingerless glove: The pain is not dull but sharp. It stings. Stars and tears in the eye, instant. It causes a headache and a bruise. It hurts like a bare fist.

How it feels to be in a guillotine: (The guillotine is jiu-jitsu move where the head is locked, while standing. Wind and blood are cut off). I came in, head first. Richie grabbed around my neck and raised his body straight. It felt like imminent death. Instantly I was caught ‘tween earth and sky with not one good outcome. I could not think of what to do to get out of it. Every move felt wrong. If I tried to raise myself choking would get worse. I would have to carry Richie. If I fell down I would dangle on the noose around my neck. And room for lucid thoughts quickly gets crowded. I gagged. I laughed. I almost passed out.

How it feels to be arm barred: (When joints are bent the wrong way). Richie had me on the mat and my left elbow ready to break. It felt very not good. It hurt, badly. A torturous sort of hurt followed by a panic that rushes in at the thought of a useless, dangling wing. I didn’t like. All fight was chased out of me. I simply wanted to leave.

How it feels to Brazilian Jiu Juistu: Each move is tedious and meant to render the opponent totally useless. Initially it is not so scary, as, say, fist fighting. But once on my back with Richie’s hands searching to break my will, it felt worse than scary. I felt not manly and not competent. I had always assumed that the taller man is at serious disadvantage on the ground. But Brazilian master Bruno told me it is not true. A thin man with length can put opponents in positions where height leverage can be employed. I tested, with Richie’s permission and compliance. It worked! I could pop his head off by stretching him to my own height. A revelation!

How it feels to kick box: Richie stood an arm’s length away with a full arsenal of potential. Any move could render me paralysed. I neither fear nor run from pain. But it was difficult to stand, toe-to-toe, and watch a fist come flying at eyes. My reflexes were not nearly up to the challenge. To fight, at all properly, eyes must be kept on the opponent. Which means all the punishment is seen before it is felt. A double helping. It is said, in war, that the bullet you don’t hear is the one that enters you. Kickboxing is not the same. Everything is seen, and then enters. Until all goes dark.

How it feels to pass out: A rush of well-being. It is finished.

Now, let me tell you how to fight…

How to throw a punch: Keep your jaw tucked behind your off shoulder. Like, pretend you are holding something between chin and shoulder. Awkward but important. Fists up in front of chin. Feel out distance with off arm. Punch straight with strong. Elbows tucked in. If the elbows are out they telegraph punch. Swing from the hips. Twist and throw. It all starts with the footwork. Don’t windmill. Keep your eyes on the chest of your opponent.

How to take a punch: Best not to take one but if you have to? Brace for it. Keep jaw shut. Keep your jaw shut.

Best first move: First and best dressed. It is best to throw the first punch or attack first. Aim true and throw straight. Again, don’t windmill. A punch thrown wide and wild will not do any damage. But a gentleman’s way to stop a fight is with a choke hold. Less can go wrong. Getting someone in a submission hold is more polite.

Worst place to get hit: Temple, jaw. It rolls your brain and then you knock out.

I surfed with perry farrell!

Or, Celebrities! They're just like US!

I surfed with Perry Farrell this afternoon. He used to front Jane’s Addiction before starting Lollapalooza before fronting Porno for Pyros before fronting Dobel tequila. He wore a shortsleeved fullsuit. I wore an Xcel vest (Hawaii has taken deep root in my heart).

The waves were small but fun, the water warm, the sun too hot. We bobbed next to each to each other waiting for set waves, which took forever to appear. He caught some lefts. I caught some lefts. I couldn’t see how good his backhand approach was (he is a regular foot) because I always waited for the better waves but I could see his head moving very very very slowly down the line. He rode a thick, too long egg. I rode my wife’s (and Dane Reynolds’) Neck Beard.

Kelly Slater Invitational

The surfing celebrity is always a wonder to behold, in nature, because surfing is humiliating and I have never really seen a celebrity surfer actually shred. God bless them for trying, not because our favorite pastime needs A-list (or in Perry Farrell’s case F-list?) endorsement, but simply because surfing is also fun and celebrities, whichever alphabetical perch they inhabit, are more than welcome to partake. And in any case, I’d rather watch Perry Farrell than you. He has a great voice.

Afterward, he put on a broad brimmed straw hat. His wife, with fake breasts and red lipstick, yelled at their kids. No one mainlined heroin. It was a great day.

Watch! Kolohe Andino and the Best TV Ad Ever!

Kolohe orders pizza inside six-foot Tahitian tube. For reals!

Three weeks ago, the writer Chas Smith reported on the making of a Visa commercial at Teahupoo and starring the Californian Kolohe Andino.

Chas wrote: “The television commercial really is top secret, though corporate veils cannot block an island’s rumour mill. They say that the woman in charge is mean, like Anna Wintour, and fires multiple people a day sending them home in shame. They say the giant, agitated crew of 70 eats so much that a food shortage lurks. They say that the commercial is for the Super Bowl. They say that its narrative arc includes Kolohe ordering a pizza on a cell phone while standing in a heaving tube.

He zipped by me on a ski, while I was sitting in the channel, mouth agape. He did not stop to say hi but his eyes appeared very mischievous. I could almost feel him spending the thousands of dollars I owe Visa. His friends may call him “Corpo” but his name really means “li’l rascal” after all.”

And now, here it is.

The narrator, whose voice is a beautifully deep, perhaps even African-American baritone,  patches us in: “Visa checkout is the easier way to pay online… But can Kolohe Andino really pay for pizza inside one of the heaviest waves in the world?”

Of course!

All the cynicism and capitalist envy in the world ain’t going to blunt the fact that this is as good and as audacious and as clever as anything manifested tween surf and mainstream.

Nathan, Ivan and John Florence
Ain't Nathan just the most adorable thing y'ever see (he's in the middle of the top photo and on the left in the bottom)? And he has an accent that is a beguiling mix of Bruce Irons and Jamie O'Brien. Those easy shrieks at the end of each satisfying sentence and the italicising of words are Bruce and the agreeable mmmhmmms and mmmmmm's that prefix most responses are ever-so reminiscent of Mr James O'Brien… | Photo: courtesy lil Ivan's IG


Nathan Florence, the middle bro of the Florence cabal, is the best-read surfer west of Kelly Slater.

Today we explore the innermost workings of the middle brother of the Florence cabal, Nathan, the most interesting of the pack if you really wanna know. How many pro surfers can you think of who were gobbling novels when they were six and who’ll reference French author Guy Sajer’s seminal wartime novel The Forgotten Soldier?


This was the first book I ever read and it’s what really turned me onto reading.  Four kids in wartime Britain get sent to live in the countryside so the Stukas don’t get ’em in London. These  kids explore the house and discover they can enter a magical world called Narnia through a wardrobe. The killing of Aslan sure gave me the yips. But, then, ah yes, the plot thickens…

2. THE TALISMAN by Stephen King

I’ve read it twice and its still one of my favourites. It’s about a 12-year-old kid who flips into another reality and goes on this crazy adventure so can save his ma who’s dying of cancer.


This is the most creative series of books I’ve ever read because every one of his other books has a little part of the other in it. It’s all about a gunslinger called Roland Deschain searching for “a man in black.” And, he’s a gunslinger, but it ain’t the Wild West but a kind of parallel universe.

4. THE EGYPTIAN by Mika Waltari

This was first published in Finnish and it was deciphered from from ancient scrolls. It’s the autobiography of a guy’s life in ancient Egypt. Eight hundred pages and ain’t a page where your eyes glaze over.


Here’s a book, originally in French, about a German conscript soldier fighting the wild Russkis in World War II. Read about the unbelievable cold, the viciousness of the Russkis and the endless cycle of horrible violence. The best war book I’ve ever read.

6. A GAME OF THRONES series by George RR Martin 

I’ve read all five of the first series and I like ’em because they keep you guessing the whole time and, always, somehow, they continue to baffle  you. Man, it’s hard to explain this twisted, radical series.

7. THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane

This book set in the American Civil War is about something we can all relate to, or at least in surfing. It’s about overcoming your fear and pushing your own limits, although, yeah, surfing is a lot less dangerous then war and especially this particularly nasty one.


I read this in, like, the sixth grade and was so hooked I couldn’t put it down for a week. Then, man, I ended up so depressed cause the dog, that beautiful ol coonhound, died in the end. Yikes! Sorry bout the plot spoiler!


This is by far the craziest non-fiction that I ever read. I think it’s why I liked it so much. It’s about a guy that had been in and out of prisons and institutions since he was 10, wound up in drug dealing, robbing banks etc. He’s, like, the toughest human ever.

10. ANYTHING by Charles Bukowski

I got psyched on all of Chuckie’s books  because he would just write about all his chicks he was getting while being an alcoholic writer living in shitty little apartments.

Editor’s note: this story first appeared in Stab magazine and is further evidence of BeachGrit’s ability to repackage and rebrand. Like Vissla! Post-post modernism! 


Chris Malloy with knife
Is that a knife in Chris' hand? Maybe he uses to punish interlopers, those bad people who make him "miserable with hate." | Photo: courtesy of Farm League

How to Bar Fight with Chris Malloy

Being a renaissance man ain't just about pick-ups and organic leaves. Sometimes y'gotta know how to swing a punch…

There are three brothers, as you might already know, in the Malloy house. Chris, Keith and Dan. Chris is the eldest, having just straddled the horse (warning: many masculine metaphors to follow) of middle age. Chris is a former pro surfer, a serious climber of mountains and makes fine documentaries and television commercials.

Let’s go deeper. He likes to chew tobacco (“It’s the dumbest habit in the world”), had a childhood fantasy to become a saddle bronc rider until he saw a guy get gored in the groin and then bleed out (so dead!), wants to make a film about the late Hawaiian big-wave surfer Todd Chesser (“But Hollywood always fucks up surfing even if surfers are involved. If I fucked up Todd’s story he’d come back from hell and haunt me for the rest of my life. He’d come back and piss on me while I slept”), is saddened by the ultra-crowding of surfing although he’s aware of the hypocrisy of complaining about crowds when your game is making surf films, once rolled a truck four times on the North Shore (“My back has never been the same since”) and together with his brothers spent an entire summer, as kids, camping on the beach in a teepee (“Dad or my mom would come by in the evenings when he got off from his construction job and bring us food and firewood”).

Have we established Chris’ woody credentials yet? Now let’s talk bar fights!

Wait, before bar fights, let’s talk hate! 

Yeah, for sure, but it just takes so much goddamn energy to hate people that I just sort of tried to give it up. Dan got into a fight at the beach a few years back and right as he knocked the guy on his ass the guy’s mate came from behind and king hit Dan. The guy he knocked on the ground got back up and they double-teamed him pretty bad. For a week after that I was at that beach looking for those guys. I really wanted to kill them. I was miserable with hate that week. Then, one morning I woke up and just said, man, you gotta snap out of this! But, I wont lie, I hope those two stay on the meth and that they end up giving blowjobs to score their next fix.

In an interview, you once said, “We get wasted and we get in bar fights and we do stupid things.” Do you, or did you, really get into bar fights? 

 Yeah, we had fun in a scrap here and there. And, yeah, I remember that interview. The guy was trying to build us up to be something we weren’t. So I just told him that fact so that he’d shut up. Over the years, we had good manners on the road and while we lived in Hawaii. It just seemed silly to get stupid when you’re in these amazing places surfing good waves. But, yeah, at home, over the years, we won a few and we lost a few. It’s hard to grow up in a giant Irish family and not have that side to you. There’s a little gem of Danny boy on the internet. Look  up “surf rage” on youtube.

What is the general provocation for a fight? 

It’s always different and usually not worth it the next day.

Do you have tactics? 

Our only tactic was to end up on top. It worked a few times.

Have you ever thought, hoo!, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here?

Oh yeah. I was in a restaurant in Waikiki with this girl I really liked. A Canadian hockey team walked in and one of them just started feeling her up. Right there in front of me! I was out-numbered but it drove me crazy. I jumped on the guy and got him good, three or four times with a beer mug. The rest of the team beat the shit out of me. I woke up in a cop car. The next week I was in G-land and my ribs were so sore I could barely surf. Perfect Speedies and “m in the channel wincing. Another lesson learned.