Shaka: surfers love it

The Shaka sign is the famous surfers' hand gesture. The story of the popular sign goes back to the roots of Hawaiian culture.

When the surf culture grew and spread through California and America, during the sunny 1960s, a new body gesture was gaining enthusiasts. Surfers from Hawaii started saluting fellow riders and friends with an original hand sign.

Shaka is physically done by extending the thumb and smallest finger while holding the three middle fingers curled. Rapidly, the original Shaka from Hawaii had an alternative nickname: Hang Loose.

Fortunately, the surf sign prevailed and expanded into Europe, Oceania, Asia and Africa. Shakas were being thrown in more water sports and even in the celebrity circus. When the presidents of the USA send Shakas, the hype is universal.

What's the real meaning of Shaka? In fact, it can mean many positive things. "Hi," "Thank You," "All Right," "See You," "Peace," "Goodbye," "Take Care," and "Chill Out" are some of the daily reasons for delivering Shakas.

Interestingly, the surfers' official salutation has a few different meanings in some countries. In China, it means "six" and, in Russia, a similar gesture can be an invitation to drink a beer. In some Caribbean islands, it may suggest sexual contact.

Polynesian researchers know that the word "Shaka" is not of Hawaiian origins. The strongest clue refers to Hamana Kalili of Laie (June 18, 1882 - December 17, 1958), an Hawaiian fisherman from the town of Laie who lost three middle fingers of his right hand, during an accident at the old Kahuku Sugar Mill.

Because he could no longer work in the mill, Hamana became a security guard on the sugar train that used to travel between Sunset Beach and Kaaawa.

Apparently, he was always trying to keep kids off the train as they jumped into it to ride from town to town. To communicate that the way was clear, these kids would start signaling each other with the future surfers' hand sign.