Some say eleven-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater has a fighting competitive spirit. Well, he quite literally does, and he recently opened up about his passion for Brazilian jiu-jitsu to globotv – moments after sparring with Brazilian judoka and jiu-jitsu black belt Flavio Canto.
Over the years, photos and videos have surfaced around the Internet of Kelly Slater training jiu-jitsu – from sessions with former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort to world jiu-jitsu champion BJ Penn, but we’ve only seen glimpses of his talent on the mat.
SurferToday recently detailed Slater’s history with martial arts, which started as a young boy when he met Don Dragon Wilson, a world kickboxing champion. According to the article, Slater then enrolled in Wilson’s academy and did karate until he was introduced to jiu-jitsu during his first trip to Brazil in 1982.
During his trip, Slater met the Gracie family, widely recognized as godfathers of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a style that focuses on the principles of leverage and technique, instead of brute force and strength.
Interestingly, when the Gracie family (and other jiu-jitsu practicing Brazilians) migrated to the United States and spread jiu-jitsu, their primary destinations happened to be surf spots. Rickson Gracie, considered by many to be the greatest Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner of all time, used to surf in California.
After Slater became close with the Gracie family in Brazil, he began exchanging surfboards for jiu-jitsu classes with Rickson, according to SurferToday. Apparently, the connection between surfing and jiu-jitsu was not coincidental. In a NY Times article, Slater commented:
Continue reading and watch the video, here