The internal logic of surfing | A Summary

Photo: Yael Martinez

Dihuen Cibeyra & Jorge Ricardo Saraví
Universidad Nacional de La Plata

In this article we have carried out an analysis of surfing based on its internal logic, understanding this concept from the perspective of Motor Praxeology (Parlebas, 1981, 2001). This work originates from an investigation related to the teaching of surfing, in which we carry out an investigation about this aquatic practice and its possibilities within the framework of school Physical Education (Cibeyra, 2019). The general objective of this research was to analyze the non-competitive surfing practice that takes place on the coasts of Mar del Plata, Argentina, and to investigate its possible link with the field of Physical Education. Among the specific objectives, we set out to analyze the internal logic of surfing, taking into consideration as analysis criteria the relationships between the surfer and his/her peers, with space, with time and with the materials used (Lagardera & Lavega, 2003; Parlebas, 2001). We also seek to investigate the ties that these bodily practices and the subjects that carry them out, establish with the environment and the surroundings. The methodology used was qualitative and interpretive. The data construction instruments were semi-structured interviews and participant observations. Some secondary sources were also consulted, such as documents, internet pages and social networks (Instagram, Facebook), through which we were able to obtain a broader dimension of surfing as a social phenomenon.

An analysis of the internal logic from the Motor Praxeology perspective allows us to study, know and better understand the unique and foundational characteristics of a bodily practice such as surfing.

Our study concludes that the practice of surfing in the sea takes place in an extremely changeable environment, with different levels of uncertainty. The difficulty of accurately predicting what a wave will be like when taking it leads to the practitioner being forced to continually make motor decisions. The link between the surfer and the spaces used becomes central, because the subject seeks to permanently decode signs of what happens in that practice environment. In turn, when analyzing the relationship between surfers, the conclusion in this regard is that surfing is a psychomotor practice that can be developed both in co-presence with other participants (that is, in co-motricity) as well as alone. In this research, no motor interactions or cooperative or oppositional actions were found, therefore we cannot consider it as a sociomotor practice. The surfboard is the basic and fundamental material on which the internal logic of the practice is based. The rest of the components (leash, paraffin, grips, wetsuit or other type of clothing, and fins) have different functions, utilities and advantages for the surfer, but it is necessary to point out that without them it would still be possible to surf. All the interviewees mention the importance of climatic factors, motor actions that occur during practice and physical exhaustion as a determining temporal factor in the duration of a session. The research carried out determines that it is an activity whose temporality is self-managed or self-organized by the protagonists.

Surfing is not a mere body technique that refers to a human being who, being in the water, seeks to stand on a board. It is a driving situation that takes place in close relationship with the spatial environment. And that happens in precise times. That is why we consider that, both from the research perspective that we have developed and from the teaching point of view, it is necessary to have a systemic view of this practice; the subject in close relationship with his/her peers, the environment, objects and times. All these aspects intertwine and are inextricably linked to each other. An analysis of the internal logic from the Motor Praxeology perspective allows us to study, know and better understand the unique and foundational characteristics of a bodily practice such as surfing. However, when it is put into motor action, an expression and a manifestation of the motor behaviors of the acting subject will become evident. This holistic vision is the one that we should not lose sight of, taking into account that the purpose is to understand how surfing is organized and to address in the most complete way possible the complexity of the practice.

Copyright © Dihuen Cibeyra & Jorge Ricardo Saraví 2021

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