A term coined in the 1970's and used to describe a talented surfer who surfs for the sheer pleasure of surfing
(although they may still enter in competitions, winning may not be the main motive) - since they scorn the commercialization of surfing. The term denotes a spirituality
of surfing or
“...to pursue surfing not just as an athletic endeavor or as a sunny day diversion, but to try to glean whatever lessons you can from the practice. It means being aware of your surroundings, and respectful of the people and places that you interact with. It means being patient, mindful, kind, compassionate, understanding, active, thoughtful, faithful, hopeful, gracious, disciplined and…good.” The term originates from a 1963 surf instrumental of the same name.
The first published mention of soul surfer was in 1963 in a surf guitar instrumental by the Southern Californian surf guitarist Johnny Fortune, the song "Soul Surfer" was intended to harness the popularity of the "soul
" movement in music. The origins of the usage of the term "soul surfing" are rooted in the late '60s with the phrase most used in the mid- and late-'70s. In 1969 theologian Tom Blake, penned an article entitled Voice of the Wave, which examined the religious elements of surfing, by the early-‘70s, curious surfers began to experiment with various Eastern philosophies, such as yoga and meditation.
The concept of the soul surfer was the main focus for the film North Shore (1987) where the lead character fails to win a major surf competition because someone has cheated and yet unphased shrugs his shoulders and remarks that “it doesn’t matter to a soul surfer”. This was also a concept expounded in the The Endless Summer 2 (1994) which sees two talented surfers go round the world to emulate the original film Bruce Brown's The Endless Summer. More recently seen in a book called “Soul Surfer” about a young girl called Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a 14 foot tiger shark, and which is to be made in a feature film continues the juxtaposition of faith and surfing.Soul surfing has been described as “the highest level, the pinnacle of surfing spirituality equivalent to Nirvana, Satori, and total enlightenment, but is rarely attained. The Soul Surfer expresses himself through his unity with the breaking wave. He borrows the wave's spirit for a short while and uses his body and equipment to translate the essence of the wave's spirit into Art”.