When I was younger I remember writing in my ongoing journal – of sorts – that I would always be alright in life as long as I kept fitness, music and comedy within my life, and I still stand by that statement to this very day. This is the reason why I think it is important to keep a place in your life for the things you loved growing up.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2 were released in 1999 and 2000 respectively. These were exciting and inspiring times for me and many others in the same age range. I was playing at a time when I was coming to the end of my time in secondary school and I had the whole world ahead of me. We had new exciting new sports. games and technology and we were moving on to times of discovery and growth. I loved the combination of punk and rock with skating and I spent hour after hour on those two games which also helped me find the music that would go on to dominate my tastes in the years to come. The incorporation of the real life pros in the games was a big deal, I’d love spending time collecting all the tapes and completing all challenges to unlock each characters very own ‘movie’ segment – and this was in the days before YouTube too. The ‘movies’ were real life highlights from each characters’ careers and seeing these inspired me and some school friends to pick up a board and give it a go ourselves. This lead to some of the most satisfying experiences in my life trying out tricks on a friend’s estate whilst drinking and blasting out tunes from the garage.
Being English and looking back on skateboarding now I find myself inspired by Geoff Rowley. The guy found his passion and honed it on the mean streets of Liverpool before moving further a field to London, before then taking the huge leap to Southern California and total upheaval from such a raw early age, a real risk but also a real adventure. I’m not sure that I would have the balls or the conviction at such an early age but he took the plunge and made the move. He became a pro skater in the big ol USA and the legendary skateboarding parts ‘Sorry’,’Really Sorry’ and then ‘Extremely Sorry’ would follow along with his appearances in The Tony Hawks pro skater games. He took the risk, took full advantage and made it work. He also happened to be friends with the late, great Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead, as can be heard on Geoff’s ‘Extremely Sorry’.
I think I’d struggle with skateboarding now because of the knocks I would take, being around a stocky 13 stone I’m not sure that my build would allow it anymore, but I’m going to try the next best thing, surfing. I see this replacing cycling and mountain biking in my life in my quest for the healthiest possible mental and physical well-being. I can’t think of a better thing for mindfulness than surfing. Both skateboarding and surfing, having their similarities, and are great for both distraction from the continual thoughts of the mind and keeping you in the present moment. Visualization is another positive factor that can be utilized whilst away from the board. What can be better than removing the nagging, niggling useless anxious thoughts from the mind by replacing them with visualizing landing the perfect trick in your favourite spot? In much the same way I still have my interests from the past in combat sports and I can keep this alive with my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training and competition. I have my first BJJ competition lined up for the 26th of March this year and I’ll use this as an incentive to get in great physical shape. I hope to employ the same mindfulness techniques in the sport as I would with surfing although being in the moment in BJJ competition can be somewhat more intense. Visualizing whilst away from the mats is again a must, with BJJ being a mental chess game as well as a physical battle. The more technique run through the mind and the more outcomes visualized the better. The power of the mind should never be overlooked. BJJ also has crossover benefits with certain yoga styles such as yin yoga. I find the two fairly interchangeable and you’ll find that doing one will help out with the other.