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 (

How to: beat hell out of someone!

The UFC's Rich Vaculik and 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 UFC champion, Bra Boy, fearless surfer, and soon, author, 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.

Shane Dorian Maldives
Dorian beats Rasta to win in 2015, automatically generating an invite to this year's contest, as well as ten thousand dollars prizemoney. | Photo: WSL

Soon: “World’s Most Luxe Surf Contest!”

Be front-row for a dazzling showcase of elderly surf talent!

Coming this August is the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy, a WSL-sanctioned speciality event it calls the “world’s most luxurious surfing contest.”

Better than, say, Fiji, where an inexhaustible fountain of booze flows and where the strongest men you’ve ever seen (husbands are advised to cover their wives’ eyes) will carry your suitcases and surfboards from boat to cabana, or bures as they call them in the Mamanucas, and where helicopters can be beckoned to take you golfing on flat days?

It’s a hard call although the Four Seasons’ 96 thatched huts, including some with “a sexy glass-walled pool” do sound like a stimulating pleasure.

The Four Seasons Maldives etc is an invite-only event, has been running for three years, features heats on singles, twins and thrusters, and was won by Rasta in 2014 and Shane Dorian last year.

This year’s invitees are: Shane Dorian (as last year’s winner), Jamie O’Brien, Travis Logie, Taj Burrow, Rob Machado, Bethany Hamilton and local surfer Abdullah ‘Iboo’ Areef.

There is a total of $US25,000 in prizemoney and, oddly, the older you are the longer your heat. Shane Dorian is almost forty-five, Machado is forty-three (in October), Taj Burrow just turned thirty-eight and therefore will be given, relatively, almost twice the game time of one-armed surfer Bethany Hamilton as there is no provision for surfers with a disability.

Want to go and watch it? Packages range from $US7695 (five nights, beach pavilion with pool) to $US10,93o (seven nights, beach bungalow with pool). Add a 23.2% service charge and you’re in business. From the press release.

Indulge in the ultimate private group experience with daily eight-hour surfaris with expert Tropicsurf guides. Sail to the best breaks of the day in remote, awe-inspiring surroundings. Then return to luxurious oceanfront accommodations and unlimited full board dining in four world-class restaurants. To further heighten the experience, book to stay at Kuda Huraa during the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions (August 8 to 14, 2016) and get right on top of the action with competition day passes aboard Four Seasons Explorer and rub shoulders with the competition’s World Champion contestants over sundowners on the beach.”

And this:

“Places are granted by invitation-only to six world champions…”

World champions? Travis? Taj? Shane? Bethany? Machado? Jamie? Abdullah?

Is this a profound overstatement? Will anyone notice?

Opinion: “Kid Diddlers Play Pokemon!”

Do you play Pokemon? Do you diddle kids? There's maybe a link!

I was a young adult when Pokemon was first released. I’m aware of what it is, a form of pseudo-gambling marketed to stupid children that turned into a successful video game franchise.

But I’m not into it. Too old when it started, no interest in that kind of thing once I had access to booze and drugs and pussy. I was into Magic: the Gathering for a minute. Because I was thirteen, have always been a huge fantasy dork. It had cool pictures of unicorns and wizards and shit on the cards, was ostensibly a game of skill.

Traded a bunch of my comic books to the local nerd store owner for a deck. Got hideously swindled in the exchange. Immediately learned that the kids whose parents would dump ridiculous amounts of money into their offspring’s dumb hobby were always going to win no matter how hard I tried.

Or, like, some middle-aged childless guy who likes to hang out at the playground and watch the children. Super innocent, right? Wrong! Super weird, total molester move. Kid’s are terrible, unsocialized, monsters. Nothing innocent or fun about them.

So I stole a bunch of shit from the comic store as revenge for ripping me off, then never played again.

On the subject of comic book stores, as an adult I immediately distrust anyone who creates a business built around luring in awkward, friendless, unsupervised, children. It’s weird. Sordid. I can only assume he’s lookin’ to get diddlin’.

Or, like, some middle-aged childless guy who likes to hang out at the playground and watch the children. Super innocent, right?

Wrong! Super weird, total molester move. Kid’s are terrible, unsocialized, monsters. Nothing innocent or fun about them. Parents spend the first eighteen years trying to beat decency into them, then hope for the best. Watching little kids play is like watching a pack of wild dogs fight over a scrap of rotting meat.

What’s the point here?

If you’re an adult playing pokemongo you’re probably a child molester.

Look at these straw-sipping freshwater trash, lounging lakeside while playing on their phones. No doubt trying to convince some hairless little boy to hop a plane out to their awesome beachfront party mansion. All sorts of candy and giggle juice just waiting to be had. Sometimes the giggle juice makes you sleepy, then your bottom feels sore.

One of them is even dressed up like a girl, no doubt so he can sneak into public toilets and watch ladies go pee. True perversion.

Get high...
Get high...

Let the bad times roll!

Advice for our terrible present!

Sometimes we go on surf trips and our flights are all on time, our boards arrive un-dinged, the sun shines, the waves barrel just barely overhead and the locals smile at us while we are weaving through their barrels. When we come home we tell our friends and lovers all about it. We say, “Oh boy did I ever score. And the stewardess on the way home, she was brunette and leggy and wowza honk honk aaaahhhoooogaaahh and she made eyes at me the whole flight long.”

And they listen, half interested, until the bit about the stewardess and then they roll their own eyes deep inside their skulls. Perfection, you see, is boring. Perfection is fun in the moment but not a good story afterward and not even particularly memorable.

Because sometimes we go on surf trips and our flights catch fire and divert to Panama City, our boards don’t arrive, the sun either sizzles like the heat of hell or stays completely hidden, the waves tower and eat us alive or don’t show up and the locals pull machetes on us or try to shoot us, as we camp on the beach, because they know that white people turn into devils at night.

And the stewardess on the way home is a fat man from Djibouti who insists on wearing shorts well above the knee. When we come home and tell our friends and lovers about it, when we say, “I spent seven days in a Balinese hospital because little amoebas decided to eat my intestines” their eyes go wide with fascination. Hardship, you see, is the stuff of legend. Hardship hurts in the moment but is a wonderful story afterward and will be remembered forever.

And so, on your next surf trip, don’t always take the easy way. Keep your eyes wide, looking for possible adventure. Is there a one legged man who tells of a secret wave far in the distance? Go to that secret wave. Is there a border to sneak across to get into a forbidden zone? Sneak. But don’t and I mean DO NOT try to create some hideous cliché and pass it off as amazing. Like, do not stay in a hostel and sit up smoking weed all night with the Danish bar manager. Do not drink the magic mushroom milkshake and dance under the moonlight.

Do not go to a native village off the beaten path, come home and tell your friends and lovers, “The natives live so much more simply and, by extension, they are so much happier.” That is the most hideous of clichés. The natives are not happier. They yearn for high definition and paper money pegged to the U.S. dollar with a narrow band.

moments before the almost disaster...
moments before the almost disaster... | Photo: Pete Taras

The day BeachGrit almost killed me!

I've just realized what evil lurks herein.

The other day we republished a Robert Fazio piece (5 things you need to stop doing (now)!) that made people (rightfully) livid!

To be completely honest, I didn’t read it when it went up, though I skimmed, and I didn’t read the comments, though I should have. It was one of the best feeds we’ve ever had with discussion of circumcision, Baroque art and Evangeline Lilly. It is totally worth going for a read.

In any case, in my skim I thought Mr. Fazio had written something about wrapping a leash around a board being uncool. I never do that except for when I ride my bike to the beach.

And today with Mr. Fazio’s advice in the back on my mind I got lazy and did not wrap the leash tightly at all. Instead, I lazily pitched it around the racks then took off.

I peddled lazily up the Pacific Coast Highway while cars whizzed by. As I continue to be completely honest, I was white wine drunk. Swerving a little. Not paying attention. Getting internally angry at people who put Hawaiian island stickers on their motor scooters. Etc.

Next thing I know, a man is screaming at me from a Jeep with probably a Hawaiian island sticker on its bumper. He’s screaming, “Your leash!”

I look back and he’s right! My leash is dragging far behind almost getting clipped by cars, almost snagging on guard rails. Etc. I swerved when I looked, a lot, and a car almost hit me.

I almost died because one of our fucking things.

Now I know how WSL CEO Paul Speaker feels.

P.S. I just read it and Mr. Fazio never wrote anything about wrapping a leash around a board. Where did that even come from?