Bangkok is hardly a skateboarder’s paradise. The sidewalks are so uneven that even walking on them can be a challenge. The traffic is so heavy that it makes skating out of the question, even if you did want to be in amongst the thick exhaust fumes. It’s not easy to find a skateboard park in Thailand, and security guards are common, making it difficult to find an ad-hoc skateboard park to use. All these factors, and more, mean that skating opportunities are limited in Thailand, but that’s still not enough to deter some.
Geng Jakkarin is a professional Thai skateboarder, born in Bangkok, whose skateboard background started when he was just 9 years old. As with most other skateboarders, Geng started with a junior skateboard that helped him get started but wouldn’t allow him to do any tricks. At 12-13 years old, Geng progressed to the kind of skateboard that did let him do tricks, and he’s been doing tricks ever since.
Skateboarding isn’t the only sport that Geng has been interested in. He used to have a sports scholarship playing basketball – a scholarship that would help to pay for his education. It’s perhaps understandable that Geng’s mom wasn’t exactly over the moon when Geng said he wanted to skate. After some resistance, Geng’s mother allowed Geng to follow his passion even if she wasn’t entirely approving of it. Having seen where skating has taken Geng, however, Geng’s mom is now very accepting of her son’s passion.
Geng entered his first skateboard tournament when he was just 13 years old and was the first runner-up in the amateur’s category. When he was still in high school, Geng entered a contest to qualify to represent the Thai national team at the Asian X games in Malaysia. He was the 1st runner up and represented his country on the international stage. Ever since, Geng has entered skateboarding competitions around the world, picking up the occasional trophy along the way.
We had the pleasure of Geng’s company where he spoke with us about his experiences in life as a skateboarder. Not only did Geng tell us about the effect skateboarding has had on his life, but he gave us some skateboard lessons and even taught us how to do an Ollie on a skateboard.
Geng also gave us 5 key takeaways that can apply not only to skateboarding but also to life in general. Here’s a look at the 5 key takeaways of our interview with Geng and how you can use them to improve yourself and your life, regardless of whether or not you have any interest in skateboarding.
Geng’s 5 Key Takeaways
1. Don't Be Afraid Of Falling
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
Skateboarding is a sport where bumps, bruises, and even broken bones are commonplace. From beginners learning how to start skateboarding, to pros learning complex tricks, it’s almost inevitable that a skater’s body will be meeting concrete at some point. One of the first things that many skaters learn is how to fall off a skateboard and, perhaps more importantly, how to just get right back on it again.
Geng himself knows this all too well and tells us of one occasion where he broke his elbow in Myanmar. Although the injury took place in the capital, Nay Pi Daw, there was still nothing that resembled a hospital nearby. Geng was driven for 2 hours to see a guy wearing a Sarong and next to nothing in terms of medical equipment. The saronged gentleman gave Geng an injection and a scribbled map to a hospital. 5 hours after breaking his elbow, Geng eventually made it to a hospital where he could get the treatment he needed.
Despite this experience, Geng still tells us that skaters should not be afraid of falling. No matter if you are brand new to the sport or a seasoned pro – falling off your skateboard is not failure, even if it can be painful. You need to be willing to try new things if you are going to learn and improve. Those who do fall off their boards are those who are more likely to learn quickly.
It’s easy to see the parallels between falling off a literal skateboard and falling of a metaphorical one. Being afraid to fail in life in general may hold you back from succeeding; it can prevent you from learning the skills and experience you need to succeed. Falling is also not failure. It can be an important step that takes you closer to reaching your potential.
2. Always Improve Yourself
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Geng tells us that to become a professional skateboarder you need to keep on trying to improve yourself. But Geng doesn’t only mean practicing to improve your skills but improving yourself overall. Keep on trying to improve your concentration, your discipline, your physique and your communication skills. Focus on these in addition to technical skills and you have a better chance of making it and getting selected ahead of other people.
This is a lesson that we can all learn from, even if you have no intention of ever setting foot on a skateboard. We can always be better at what we do, and we can always work to be a better person. Working on our patience will help give us a better approach to life overall and improving our discipline will help us to stay on course when it might otherwise be easy to lose our way.
We should all do what we can to keep ourselves in good shape physically. Being in good physical shape will help our mental state no end. Good health will help to keep us feeling energized and ready for whatever comes our way, and give us the physical and mental stamina we need to keep on pushing through those tough days. We don’t necessarily have to join a gym or eat a strict diet, but taking reasonable care of our bodies can help to make us a better, happier, and more successful person in so many ways.
3. Think Outside the Box
“No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to see the world anew.” - Albert Einstein
Geng believes you should not try to copy others to be a great skateboarder. Instead, you should try and think outside the box and experiment. Be creative - work to your strengths and try mixing skills and trying out new combinations. When you think outside the box as a skateboarder, you will develop a style that stands out from the rest and helps people remember you as an individual. Thinking outside the box can help anybody improve as a person and become more successful. It’s not always necessary to conform and do what everybody else is doing. Allowing yourself to be restricted by norms can mean that your skills are not being put to good use and your talents are being wasted.
Also try thinking outside the box when it comes to problem-solving. What might seem impossible to begin with might actually have a fairly simple solution – if only you shake off rigid trains of thought and look for a different solution instead.
4. Have 2 Versions of Yourself
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” - Albert Einstein
Geng has found it important to have two versions of himself as a skateboarder. There’s one version where he thinks about technique and getting everything just right, and there’s the other version that is just confident in what he is doing and goes with the flow. Away from skateboarding, it can be all too easy to get hung up on details. We can become so obsessed with the need for perfection that we forget to look at the big picture; we can forget that trying to be perfect can mean it doesn’t get done at all and we will make no progress.
We are often at our best when we are confident in what we are doing and just have confidence in our ability to just go with it. Don’t forget about the details completely. Details are still important and it’s good to learn and practice the details when you can. But know when it’s important to let go and just go with it.
5. Stay Hungry & Have Fun
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
Geng also believes it’s important for us to stay hungry. We need to keep on wanting to get better and improve our skills. Don’t become content because you won a competition. Instead, focus on winning more competitions, and better competitions. Think about how to start skateboarding even better than you already are. If you don’t stay hungry then you will stagnate. You won’t develop any further, you won’t get any better, and you won’t achieve what you’re capable of.
Geng also believes it’s important to have fun in whatever you are doing. Don’t let what you’re doing become a chore otherwise it can become boring. If it’s fun, you will keep your hunger and you will want to continue to keep on getting better.
Keeping hungry in what we do can apply to any person, no matter what they do. Whether it’s a sport or another pastime, or your profession, keeping your hunger gives you something to look forward to.
Direct Benefits of Being a Skateboarder
While we can all learn from skateboarding in a metaphorical sense, we can also learn from it in a more direct sense. It is also an inexpensive and accessible sport to get involved in, with reasonable quality boards being affordable to most people and skateboard lessons aren’t necessary. Despite scratches and bruises being common, skateboarding is also not as dangerous as you might think, with just around 2% of sporting injuries coming from the sport.
Skateboarding is beneficial to our mental and physical well-being in numerous ways, including:
- Relieves Anxiety
Geng himself told us that he would focus a lot of his negative energy on skateboarding. Getting on a board and practicing tricks can be a wonderful way to release anxiety. You can forget about your troubles and, for a while at least, just do something that you love to do.
- Increases Self-Esteem
Pulling off great tricks can help give people a real sense of achievement, especially after so many hours putting in the practice. This can give skaters a sense of achievement and give their self-esteem a boost. Not only can this help people feel better about their selves, but also in life in general.
- Increases Pain Tolerance
Skaters are always picking up knocks and scratches but still learn to just get back on the board again. Exposure to pain helps people become more tolerant of it, helping to give them a more comfortable life overall. It can also reduce a person’s fear of pain, encouraging them to get involved where others might step back.
Skateboarding can be very hard work, making for a great workout. Muscles and the cardio-vascular systems are pushed to their limits helping to make people stronger and fitter. Good physical health is also conducive to good mental health.
Geng tells us that, through skateboarding, he has family wherever he goes. The skateboarding community is a welcoming one, and one that is there for each other. No matter what else might be happening in their life, skaters will know that their skateboarding family is always there for them.
Anybody who is reasonably mobile can learn to start skateboarding, and skateboarding lessons are fairly affordable. It can be a great way to get onto shape, meet new people, and have a lot of fun. Perhaps better still, skateboarding may also teach you things about life that will help to make you a better and more successful person.