EXPLAINED: What Is the Ocean Warrior Course?


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Updated 350d ago

Interview by Mike Jennings

By now, you may be well acquainted with the Ocean Warrior training program, aka, big wave hellman Mark Visser’s carefully sculpted course to help you during wipeouts or to cope with hectic situations when everything goes wrong.

We’ve already spoken to Mr Visser about how the course helped Kelly Slater prepare for the Pipe Masters (HERE), how the new elite mindset program works (HERE), and grabbed five quick tips you can remember for when you take on bigger surf (HERE).

But let’s pump the brakes for a moment and focus on exactly what you go through in the new Ocean Warrior program – which helps people maximise breath holds in practical, real surf situations. We’ll also find out why someone with a nine minute breath hold might be worse than a fat unfit dude when it comes to dealing with two wave hold downs. Fascinating stuff ahead, read on.

If the course is good enough for the King, it should be good enough for anyone.

If the course is good enough for the King, it should be good enough for anyone.

Hey Mark, can you run me through what you actually do in the Ocean Warrior program and what’s been added with 2.0?
MV: So firstly, the first course teaches the absolute fundamentals and basics – there's a free course called the Foundation Series, which teaches a whole heap of helpful tips about how to survive before you even go out in the water. Like, understanding risk assessment, understanding certain scenarios, little tips that just make life a lot easier when you're in the ocean. That's a free course, and then it goes into a safety course which is done by Brian Keaulana who's kind of like the who's who of lifeguards in the world, and in Hawaii.

Yeah, a great Hawaiian waterman.
Yep, great Hawaiian waterman, his son and his nephew, they do the video, and it really talks about the key things that you need to know. Do I recommend that someone goes and does a two or three day safety course to understand it in more detail? Absolutely. But the thing is not everyone's going to have the time or want to do that. So what this does is really takes the main few things that we know that if anyone just knew those, that could be enough to save someone's life.

It's really cool, and the course has been designed in a way where it has all the different types of the ability of how people learn, so you can download the PDF to read the information, you can watch it, and then at the end of it it has a quiz, so people can retain that information. It's online, it's all connected within the whole program, but it's really done to help educate people so they really remember the key things that they need to do. And they can access it and do it like in five months time if they're going on a surf trip, they're like, “Ah fuck, what was the ratio to that and they can go online.

Get dunked.

Get dunked.

Yeah, straight back into it....
That was the biggest thing, and the reason we did that was because I did my Bronze Medallion as a lifeguard and you have to do it every year when you want to do that sort of stuff, and after six months, if you said to me, “Do you know the rate of this?” I'd be like, “Shit, I've got no clue,” you'd forget right?

Yeah you forget, you freak out, “What is it again? Fifteen compressions? Thirty?”
Yeah, and it can sometimes be quite intimidating when you're doing it in a scenario with someone that's a real expert in that space, so what we really wanted to do was go, let's make it easy for everyone. If they're not going to spend the time and do a three day course, well let's just give them enough so they can retain what they want, and each video is designed to be at a length where you're not falling asleep watching it. And then five weeks later if you're like, what was it? You can do it again and again and again.

Then the next phase is the land section. It's really just focussing on teaching people how to do the right breaths in the water when they're in certain situations, and then also the right breath to do if they want to calm themselves down to sort of eliminate stress and that kind of technique. And that's what we've been finding, everyone keeps coming back just saying I did this course and I used it for this but I'm finding it's really helpful for this

Then it goes into the beginner exercises, which is a three week program. And then it goes into the advanced water exercise, which is another three week program. And then from there, there's another two three week programs, which is the realistic section – a beginner realistic section, and an advanced realistic section.

So that's what's in the old one, and then the new one, Ocean Warrior 2.0, has all of that and also includes another six stages in the elite mindset program, which is the science of what's going on with your mind and how that works and how you can apply those certain tactics to all of the exercises but also in life. And that's what we've been finding, everyone keeps coming back just saying I did this course and I used it for this but I'm finding it's really helpful for this and we have so many people writing in saying that on a weekly basis. So we know we're sort of on the money with it.

While I have you, I've got a tangential question, because you've worked on this with kinesiologists and whatnot. I've been trying to get fit. I run around this park, then stop at a station to do pull ups, run, then stop at a station to do dips, run, then push ups, etc. And then I stop at a station and do a minute of planking, and the planking makes me sweat the most, it feels like I’m working the hardest at that point, but on my watch it shows that my heart rate goes right down in comparison to what I was doing before, even though it feels like I'm working harder. Can you tell me what's going on there?
It's the cardio response, so the biggest muscle groups in your body are your legs – hold the most blood….

And how would that apply to like a hold down?
Same scenario, so if you're physically doing push ups or squats or burpees you’re using certain muscle groups that burn more oxygen. If you're in a plank position, you're predominantly loaded mainly in the core, like if you're locked out pretty well depending on what your positioning is on, your muscle groups are not overly working, so that means that you've got time to recover.

So in a wipeout scenario - in the course this is what we teach people – they have to do these land exercises to really understand which muscles totally fuck you up more than others, and when they understand it, then it's like, “Right, if you use your legs, cause they're biggest muscle group in your body, holding the most blood, holding the most oxygen, that burns oxygen at the highest rate, so if you minimise your legs, then you're going to minimise your oxygen burn rate.”

So if you're a hero that's like, “Yeah I've got a nine minute breath hold, and you kick around like we all do when you’re scared, and panic, and try to swim to the surface after getting flogged, your oxygen burn rate goes through the roof. So a person that can hold their breath for nine minutes and has no clue about any of this would be useless, versus someone that's totally fat, no training ever but understood that information and kept their legs still, they would smoke the person with the nine minute breath hold.

Right, wow.
Maybe not smoke, ’cause the person with the nine minute breath hold would have some really good understanding of how to go through the pain tolerance of convulsions and contractions, but physically, heart rate-wise, if the person that had a nine minute breath hold was kicking around like an idiot, their heart rate would be through the roof, and the unfit person's would be really low, so the unfit person would be doing it totally easy. And that's one of the main things, this isn't about beating the shit out of people, making them have to go through these gnarly painful exercises, it's about teaching them how to be super smart, even if they don't train at all, how to be really efficient with their body. Anything in any area of excellence whether that be a football team, a business group, whatever, being efficient in your craft is the total way to be excellent at anything. That's what Kelly Slater is really good at, he's super efficient when he does something. Someone could be stronger, faster, whatever, but if you're efficient at what you do, that's really one of the keys to success.

Find out more info and sign up over HERE.