Shaka History | What you need to know
Let’s talk a bit about Shaka history and one of the great stories behind it. The Shaka is without a doubt the most popular hand sign among surfers. Nobody doubts that it originates from the roots of Hawaiian culture. But for most of us that’s about it. Let me get something out of the way immediately. You don’t do a Shaka or make a Shaka, especially Germans love to make everything, let’s make party, make my picture. No, none of that! You throw a Shaka.
How it’s done
The Shaka is a classic Hawaiian greeting or wave. In the nineties and early 2000’s it was more popular to call it the hang-loose sign. When you’re new to surfing, don’t know much about it, or fresh from the mainland (as Hawaiians would say) you’ll probably throw a very tight Shaka. Hawaiians and core surfers throw very loose Shakas. Once you get used to them you’ll be throwing them everywhere. To the kid who’s making you a coffee, a police man who’s diverting traffic, or your favourite teacher, everybody gets a Shaka. But all of them have positive meaning. “Hi”, “Peace”, “Thank You”, “Take Care”, and so on.
Now, one of my most favourite things about the Shaka is one of the stories behind its origin. Shaka history suggests that the word “Shaka” wasn’t an authentic Hawaiian word. As a matter of fact one of the strongest clues of its origin refers to Hamana Kalili who died in 1958. Hamana was a Hawaiian fisherman who lost his three middle fingers of his right hand.
Apparently, after his accident he started working as a security guard on the sugar train. Whenever kids jumped on the train it was his duty to keep them off. The kids started to communicate with Shakas to signal that Hamana wasn’t looking.
There are a couple of other stories about Spanish travellers indicating they wanted a beer. Which is a very similar gesture. Another story suggests it’s a sign whalers use to signal a catch. However, I’m going to stick with the Hamana story, our favourite.
Quite recently we saw one of the fastest Shaka’s ever. Check it out here.
And this video teaches you how to become the best you can be at throwing your Shakas.