Kelly Slater jiu jitsu
The photo on Instagram that lit Joel Tudor's fuse.

Blood Feud: Kelly Slater vs Joel Tudor!

It's blue (or maybe black, who knows!) belts at ten paces!

One day ago, the self-described “jiujitsu nerd” Vince “Bear” Quitugua posted a photograph of Kelly Slater and pal on his Instagram account (@bearsyr). The caption read: “Kelly Slater and Zach in a session with Mendes Bros , Shaun and PM. The world is a better place with Jiu-Jitsu.”

The longboarder-turned-jiujitsu-black-belt Joel Tudor (@joeljitsu) was enraged by the photo. “Crock of shit – the guy has been wearing a blue belt for years in pics and always made excuses when I would call him on it!” he wrote in the comments pane. “If he wants his belt , tell him to go sign up and put in the work like everybody else who starts at white and goes through hell to graduate to blue – anybody on here talking shit to me more than likely doesn’t train and has zero clue about Jiu Jitsu.

Pat Tenore (@pmtenore), founder, along with Conan Hayes of RVCA, hit back: “love this || joel is officially the commissioner of the jiu jitsu police cry baby club || listen grumpy smurf when you call out kelly like this you are basically calling out the mendes brothers and their integrity on who can wear a blue belt or not in their academy || as far as I can see it wasn’t a rainbow belt and blue belts do exist at AoJ and kelly is deemed worthy to represent || go do yoga calm down || love you joel || we all do but chill || don’t be a hater ||”


Joel Tudor
Joel Tudor, hello to you!, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has won “numerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu titles such as the Pan Ams and US Nationals.” Kelly Slater, however, makes him furious! Image by Lewis Samuels/PostSurf

The other man in the photo, @zachnminskey replied: “Why are you even jumping in to this conversation? It’s completely irrelevant to you in every way, shape and form. You are missing message of Jiu Jitsu which should be to try and build the sport worldwide. Bear posted this photo to celebrate the cross over of different communities, not to judge one person by the stripe on their waist. It’s not like it’s a fake black belt like we’ve seen recently. I’m pretty sure, being that I’m the other person in the photo, that Kelly wants to simply understand the sport and has been training for long enough to do so. I trained with him first hand and I can say, he is most definitely a blue belt, formal promotion or not.”

There’s a ton of back and frothing that’s worth a scroll for laughs. And the feud continued on other accounts.

Over at @PMTenore and from pmtenore: “this is what jiu jitsu is all about || not belts || what did mr miyagi say “belt is to hold pants up” he got his at Sears || don’t be a cobra kai’r and hater || all good”

From haydengerson “Kelly stop being a poser. Earn your belt and wear it with pride. You shouldn’t be proud of wearing a belt that you have not earned.”

And Kelly?

“I didn’t have a belt and that’s all they had handy. Chill out.”

Just in: Nathan Fletcher Biopic Heavy Water!

It's sexy as hell, and maybe just a little melodramatic… 

Michael Oblowitiz is a director I met several years ago at a surf film festival in San Sebastian. He is a man of the most theatrical looks (brooding pouts, dinner plate sunglasses) and Hollywood tastes (we danced all night!) and he once made a movie in Bulgaria, I think it was, with a very over-the-hill Val Kilmer.

Olowitz won that year’s festival with the never-released, but maybe soon, or never, Sea of Darkness, a documentary on drug trafficking within surfing that contained some references to Quiksilver.

Sea of Darkness was the best thing I’d ever seen about surfing, even if it had this weird spin at the end about Quiksilver’s global circumference on the Indies Trader called The Crossing. I figured the little PR hit at the end was to repair the damage to the (then) clothing giant from some of the earlier scenes.

I always wanted to watch Sea of Darkness again (I saw it twice during the festival) and, as fate’s hand would play it, a download of it fell into my computer last year. It was every bit as good as I remembered, although the end felt even more incongruous.

After Sea of Darkness, Oblowitz chased Sunny Garcia hither and yon for a documentary. That, too, as far as I know, has never hit a screen.

Did anything he make ever hit a screen for public viewing?

Now, yes!

Heavy Water, a film about Nathan Fletcher, once the cutest little blond boy in the whole world now a taciturn 40-something, and his predilection for big waves, is premiering in San Sebastian on September 25 (#savagecinema), with general release shortly after. Lets examine the press release:

“From his first sorties at big Waimea at 11 years of age, Nathan Fletcher showed a prodigious aptitude to big wave surfing. He grew into a professional surfer following in his father and grandfather footsetps, trying to conquer the giant surf of the Hawaiin Outer reefs. In Sion Milosky, Nathan found an equally driven peer. Together they reignited the “big gun” style of paddle in surfing. Our story follows our modern day Big Wave adventures as they live out the drama in an
arena that encounters life and death.”

Mix Michael Oblowitz and big waves and you do get melodrama.

Willing to pay the ultimate price.

A brotherhood.

Gnarliest big-wave charger anyone had ever seen.

But who doesn’t love a little blood in their phallus?

Watch the trailer here!

(Please forgive an early posting of this piece with Sion Milosky’s name misspelled.)

Exciting: Surf a Tsunami!

It comes to California in a few hours (I think. I'm in Rome.)

A massive 8.3 earthquake rattled the Chilean coast last night, forcing Santiago’s skyscrapers to dance and sending over a million people out of their homes. Thankfully the death toll has been relatively low and a tsunami is on the way to Hawaii and Orange County, California. The first waves are supposed to arrive at 4:46 am west coast time. Dawn patrol!

The Huntington Beach Police Dept. issued a tsunami advisory saying:

• The impact of this tsunami will be stronger than normal currents and possible higher than normal tidal surges along the beaches.  Stay out of the water.

• There will be a strong outgoing tidal current at the same time the tsunami arrives.  The combined effect could produce very strong currents in harbors and bays.

• A Tsunami event is a series of waves that can last for several hours.  The first wave is usually not the strongest.

Local Coastal Officials are monitoring the situation and directing all persons to be advised:

• Beaches, harbor and marina will be closed starting at 4 AM.
• Local officials will determine when areas are safe to open.
• Contact your local jurisdiction for more specific information.

Of course it’s a horrible idea but would you like to surf a tsunami? Would it be fun or a let down? Like visiting the Sphinx in Egypt? (It is real small, fyi.)

A Punic Celebration of the Hurley Pro!

Literature or cruel, child-like poems?

Emily Dickinson once commented, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

In this interlude between Hurley Pro lay-days, new guy to the BeachGrit scene and aspiring poet laureate, Mr. Mariano Landa, has a go at rhetorical decapitation.

Those riding the swells of Lake Trasimene:

Julian Wilson:

Ever you fail us,

dashing golden-locked man child.

Caught more gash than waves.


Taj Burrow:

Flick, flick, smile, flick, flick!

(Johnny Gannon chokes on his

voluminous lips).


Bede Durbidge:

The commoner’s champ:

Father, fisherman, tall guy.

Hype? Longevity.


Miguel Pupo:

Pete Mel claims your flair

for smooth heel whips is his own.

Erudition weeps.


In anticipation of a lone Carthaginian:

Filipe Toledo:

CA surfing died

upon relocating there.

Dino cries feebly.


Joel Parkinson:

Written off, jokes made

about his title laurels?

Beseech overhead waves.


Adriano de Souza:

Australia hates you?

So do I if you triumph

over Wiggolly.


Wiggolly Dantas:

The formidable

right-footer displaces storm clouds,

adroitly brilliant.


Adrian Buchan:

Wait a hot minute!

It’s 2015? Aghast

that you’re still standing.


Mick Fanning:

The Tweed River has

more melanin content

than your heat pairing.


Gabriel Medina:

Thoroughbred glutes, ‘midst

a marvelous boxer’s chin,

alas, all business.


Nat Young:

Chopes or Lowers,

Actinic Keratosis

threatens your success.

Tomoz, or maybe the day after, Filipe, here, is going to swing his blade to a real impressive, if unsurprising, win at the Hurley Pro.

How to Win Trestles Without Trying!

Want to know why Trestles is a skate park one day, a burger drive-through the next?

I’m not even going to try and shit you. I wrote this a year ago.

But the knowledge contained herein is timeless and, I maintain, even now, useful. It features, as most things I do about Trestles or even vaguely mainland America, the quotes of Matt “Mayhem” Biolos, a shaper who stole my heart a sixteen years ago with a round-nose fish I scooped out of the racks at Pukas in Spain.

Matt, as you might know, has been living in San Clemente and surfing Lowers since the eighties. Half the tour grabs a Mayhem pre-Hurley event.

And, with the finals maybe tomoz, or the day after, I figured, how about a little stroll down memory lane? It’s not as if the physics of the wave have changed.

BeachGrit: Who owns the lineup outside the contest?  

Mayhem: As with any spot that is easy to surf, you have a crew of older, respected, average-ability guys that kinda rule the outside sets. Most the sets get ridden by average skilled surfers actually. Then there is the mid-pack and you have a revolving door of regular rippers there: Yeomans, the Gudangs, Ian Crane, Jer Carter, Jeff Lukasik. Theres an old guard of great surfers like Cordell Miller, Kenny Caldwell and Robo type guys. Kolohe is the best surfer every time he paddles out. He catches bombs, insiders and mid sets. He surfs it as good as anyone alive. Then on the inside you have the super groms. Griffin Colapinto is prob top dog right now. There’s too many of them to even list. It’s crazy how many good 11-to-15 year olds there are in town right now. After all that, you have Chris Ward. He is the one who really owns the line-up. He has special contact lenses that make everyone else in the line up disappear. I think he gave a set to his daughter as well.

BeachGrit: Describe the effect on the wave of the different swell and wind directions, this time of year? Sometimes it’s burger-y; sometimes it looks like the most appealing of skate parks. 

Mayhem: A pure solid, long-lined south swell is best. Super sharp hurricane-angled south-easters are sectiony and closed out. The more west it gets, the mushier the right gets and the left gets shorter. Broken-up swells are not good. Too peaky, makes the waves soft and broken up. The wind is pretty mellow. The only truly bad wind is a south wind. It’s like the Devil Wind at J-Bay. Unless you have full-on storm condition, of course, then west and northwest wind is bad too. We actually like a little onshore ripple, it holds you in the wave. Offshores look pretty but they limit the variety of moves the good surfers can do on the waves.

BeachGrit: Why does Kelly win nearly ever year?  

Mayhem: If he isn’t the best surfer at any given time, he makes up for it by being  the best competitor.

BeachGrit: Brother’s been surfing the joint for a doz years. Is he ever likely to win? 

Mayhem: Some day he will.

(And here are the quarter-finalists!)