Brad Gerlach Re-Envisions Surf Training with Wave Ki
Since the 1980’s, Brad Gerlach has been a quintessential So-Cal surfer. He’s had flowing locks coiffed into ever-changing styles, a witty command of classic dude speak and, most of all, an obsession with making every wave look smooth and stylish from take off to kick out. He grew up in Encinitas, moved to Huntington Beach […]
Since the 1980’s, Brad Gerlach has been a quintessential So-Cal surfer.
He’s had flowing locks coiffed into ever-changing styles, a witty command of classic dude speak and, most of all, an obsession with making every wave look smooth and stylish from take off to kick out. He grew up in Encinitas, moved to Huntington Beach in high school, roamed the world both on the tour and on the chase for big waves, developed the “The Game” concept for ESPN, and then he casually split his time between Los Angeles and Bali as a surf coach to the stars.
So what’s a rock n’ roll guy now doing living in a quiet, country town in Australia? A slow-paced place that’s a world away from the bright lights and fast lane living of Venice and Seminyak? Well, turns out he fell in love and married an Aussie woman while she was living in LA. He bailed with her to Victoria in early 2017. They’ve now got two little boys together, appropriately named Zsigmond and Zeppelin, leaving Brad to roam the cold, rugged Southern Ocean coastline whenever he gets a break from Dad and diaper duty.
He’s also been spending the time fine-tuning his life’s obsession, Wave Ki. Gerr’s creation is one of the things in surfing that only a few people know about and even fewer understand. He originally developed it with his father who was an Olympic diver for Hungary and Evel- Knievel-style daredevil in the 1970s. Brad’s kept his method’s principles and practices close to his vest going on two decades. But now it’s finally here in the form of a subscription-based course. This isn’t just another fitness app or a bunch of random trick tips, it’s a whole new way to learn and practice the fundamentals of surfing on land.
I’ve known the Gerr for almost 20 years and have traveled the world with him. He’s always been one of surfing’s most colorful comedic characters, but Wave Ki was something he took incredibly seriously. I’ve always had a general idea of what his teaching method was, but I deliberatively didn’t ask him too many questions about it. Even when I started shooting and editing for him on this project, I wondered if his technical advice would be relevant to a highly average surfer like me who didn’t think even the best instruction could do much to change my lack of natural talent. I surfed only for fun and cringed if I ever saw a photo or video of myself on a wave.
Then I watched the Wave Ki tutorials and was blown away. Brad is the first surfing teacher I’ve ever seen who demonstrates how to do the fundamentals in a step by step way. It’s so much better than hearing someone bark general principals at you like, “bend your knees more but don’t squat.” Even better, Brad’s method shows how to practice your form on land, which is a game-changer. Before Wave Ki, I never considered that I could actually improve my surfing. I only wanted to try and slow my inevitable age-related decline for as long as I could. Now I can see myself getting better for the first time since high school, which is hugely motivating no matter what the conditions are.
Brad’s 54 now and he’s coming off surgeries on both of his knees. You can be the judge of what his training regimen has done for his surfing and overall fitness. He’s still on thin, finely tuned, WCT style shortboards and loves nothing more than riding big waves, getting tubed, and carving with his one of a kind style. He’s also his own worst critic. His first words to me after almost every session were, “God, I’m such a kook.”
That’s how pretty much all of us feel when we surf, which is probably because, during any given session, we rarely spend more than a minute or two actually riding waves. Wave Ki will no doubt be of interest to the legions of pro and competitive amateur surfers and coaches. Some of them will likely question its merits, rip it off, or come up with something different. The thing is, I don’t really think Wave Ki is for that 1% crowd. It’s the rest of us punters and battlers trying to get a wave off of those guys who will benefit from its wit and wisdom the most.
So how does Brad feel now that his ideas and concepts, which have been mostly confined to his brain since the ’90s, are finally out in there in the world? “I hope the reaction will be that the person choosing to practice Wave Ki finds their surfing has progressed to being easier, and/or they have more confidence and thus have more fun,” he says. “It feels good to be able to share my life’s work and discoveries. Looking forward to the feedback!”
The Wave Ki subscription is $29.95 a month of $259 per year. It includes 60+ video tutorials and practices in both regular and goofy foot, plus written guidance for each form, access to live streams and Q&A sessions with Gerr.
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