Surfing: a sport for life | Photo: Thomas Tolkien/Creative Commons

If - like Clay Marzo once said - waves are, in fact, " from God...," then who in their right mind wouldn't want a chance to play with them?

They're the ultimate playthings: free, abundant, and exhilarating, and when you learn how to ride them - to enjoy the toys - they can change your life for the absolute better.

So, what pearls of salty wisdom and sunburnt know-how should you take on your surf adventures?

Consider these ten things you should know before learning to surf - a sort of Kook's Commandments.

1. Surfing Will Shape You

Yes, waves will shape you in more ways than one.

Your physicality and psychology will both be sculpted by the demands of surf and everything you learn along the way.

2. Waves Are Free But Sometimes Come At a Price

You might encounter hostility and localism. Play it cool.

Displays of courtesy establish a common understanding and fair play for all, so err on the side of humility.

The currency of surfing is respect. Make sure your account is full, and tip generously.

3. The Ocean Is a Complex, Sometimes Dangerous Place

Don't fear the water, but do nurture a healthy respect. Strengthen any water skills you might already have and develop any that you don't.

Learn to read and interpret ocean conditions. Treat these skills as lifelong and continue to build them.

4. Our Oceans Are Fragile Ecosystems

Now, more than ever, it is our duty to be guardians of the sea. All of our interactions with it - and even our habits on land - must take on a responsible focus.

A surfer must never pollute, alter, or cause damage or harm to any waters visited or to the wildlife found there.

A surfer is automatically also a warrior for the cause of environmental safeguarding.

5. Wax + Friction + Sensitive Belly Skin = A Most Heinous Rash

Get yourself a rash guard, or throw on an old t-shirt before you go. A little preparation goes a long way.

Figure out what conditions exist where you're attempting to surf and decide how to protect yourself from the unpleasant stuff.

Cold water? Wetsuit. Really cold water? Add a hood and booties. And please don't forget the sunscreen.

6. Wiping Out Is Part of the Game

On the long road to surf mastery, you're going to take a lot of spills.

Get used to the concept of falling down. Embrace it. Figure out a way to do it with style.

7. You Are What You Eat

After your first session, you're going to notice how profoundly, ravenously hungry you are.

Surfing burns many calories, and you'll need powerhouse nutrients to stay healthy and strong.

Learn about surf nutrition and how to stay hydrated. Your body will thank you.

8. Take Care of Your Equipment

The gear you use out there - from your board and its accessories to your suits - is your investment in fun and the future of personal surf progress.

Bone up on how to take care of your equipment in order to maximize lifespan.

This responsibility will add immeasurable substance to your pursuit and save you lots of money down the line.

9. Respect the Ocean and Your Peers

Every budding surfer should also know that out on the waves, you're responsible for more than just yourself.

The ocean is a shared resource, and bringing a speeding projectile like a surfboard out to enjoy it means you've got to be on the lookout for anyone else in the vicinity and practice avoidance measures wherever and whenever possible.

This includes fellow surfers and non-surfers alike.

10. Surfing Will Change Your Life

It's going to change your life. No, really. "It's like the mafia," Kelly Slater once famously said. "Once you're in - you're in. There's no getting out."

Once you learn to surf, you will never be the same again. So be ready for it because it is so worth it.

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