Slater was introduced to jiu-jitsu during his first trip to Brazil in 1982. During the trip, Slater met the Gracie family, a family that promoted a style that focuses on the principles of leverage and technique, instead of brute force and strength.
In a NY Times article, Slater commented:
“Truth is, surfing is like a martial art. Good martial artists use the most efficient moves for getting the body to produce more energy. In surfing you have to master the same things – base, balance on your feet, the act of turning, bend and extend your legs. I love watching two guys fighting. It’s like human chess.”
Slater at practice