Be better than best.
Two days ago, one Com Curren wondered allowed, “Should life-long mediocre surfers who strive to improve upon said mediocrity for the first time as an adult be relegated to the same surf caste as the VALs?” and proceeded to dive headlong into the seedy world of online surf coaching. Part one featured OMBE.
Today we Wave Ki.
In the previous segment, we discussed a phenomenon that you might have been familiar with—the Mediocre Adult Developing (“MAD”) surfer. We also discussed my unsuccessful foray into the Jurassic-era surfing method of OMBE.
Having failed at becoming a surf dinosaur, I was not done trying to foolishly throw money at the mediocrity problem. Indeed, there was another, much different iSarf Program that seemed to offer a proven track record of both success and failure developed by a much more acclaimed former pro.
The iSurf Program: Wave Ki
The Pro Surfer Owner: Brad Gerlach
Resigned to the fact that T-Rex surfing just did not comport with my body type and determined that I would still find the one true magical remedy for my mediocrity, I looked elsewhere and found a program with an entirely different approach—Wave Ki.
Wave Ki is the brainchild of Brad Gerlach. For those unfamiliar with him, Gerr was a force to be reckoned with on the tour in the 90s before bowing out for personal reasons (which I’m guessing was little more than his recognition that no one was ever going to beat Kelly). He also appended a nice little coda onto his professional career by making a name for himself as a big wave tow-in surfer in the early to-mid-00s. And like Greg Noll, who surfed an impossibly giant wave at Makaha and seemingly disappeared for the next decade, Gerr won the XXL awards in 2006 for a monster 70ish footer he rode at Todos Santos in 2005, but then quit surfing altogether to join a clandestine monastery of warrior monks in Tibet known as the League of Shadows.
Ok…that last part was referring to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins and not Gerr, but I have no idea what he was actually doing for the next decade after winning the XXL, so I’m sticking with the Batman explanation, particularly given the martial-arts approach to Gerr’s Wave Ki system (more on that below).
It is beyond dispute that Wave Ki has proof of concept. To this point, Gerr has worked with Conner Coffin for years, meaning that Wave Ki is capable of skyrocketing a pro surfer to #4 in the world in one year, yet resulting in that same surfer being axed in the midyear cut and failing to requalify via the QS in the following year. It is undeniably a system of surf instruction equally capable of producing excellence as it is capable of producing bitterly disappointing shortcomings.
Wave Ki’s approach involves no surf skates, bosu balls, blow up dolls, or any of the other accessories required for OMBE. All you need is a space to practice Gerr’s forms on land, which are much like the katas that I learned in karate as a kid. These are slow, repetitive movements designed to be ingrained into your muscle memory over time to apply on the wave. Think Mr. Miyagi’s muscle memory chores in the Karate Kid, but actually explaining the techniques for which you are waxing cars and painting fences to train.
The thing is, the martial arts katas I learned at the YMCA karate classes as a kid never really worked for me. I had my ass absolutely beat down by the bigger kids doing anything resembling kata movements and until I grew to be big enough to stomp them via less elegant means. In that sense, Wave Ki might not prepare you for taking an 8-foot set on the head.
In furtherance of its martial arts-like approach, Wave Ki starts you at the beginning at the pop up, but any further progression is not “unlocked” until weeks thereafter. Is it a methodical approach designed to make sure that you master each movement before moving on to the next, or just a clever business tactic to keep you paying money every month to unlock the next level not unlike the Church of Scientology? I never quite figured out the answer to that.
Given that Gerr was someone I had at least heard of and who had achieved success both in the competitive and coaching arenas, I stuck with Wave Ki for the better part of two years. At the end of the day though, Wave Ki proved to be less of the 2021 Conner Coffin and more of the 2022 Conner Coffin for me. I was still just as mediocre as I was when I started.
I will admit though, I still do Wave Ki on a regular basis along with Gerr’s instructional videos, and namely because that voice of his is just that preternaturally soothing. The guy really could have a second gig as a DJ for late night jazz radio or recording stuff for the Calm App.
I am still not any better of a surfer, but Gerr’s silky-smooth intonations within Wave Ki’s practice modules are practically hypnotic and seem to melt away my anxieties, fears, and insecurities, if only for a moment.
In the next segment, we’ll have a BeachGrit exclusive, and all I can say about it right now is that this is going to be very, very big.