Surfing: A Lost Art Form
A Lost Art Resurfaces
To the Ancient Hawaiian people, surfing was not just considered a sport or recreational activity that many of us see it for today. It was a vital part of their culture and lives and considered it a form of art which they referred to as he'e nalu, which translates to "wave-sliding." They would pray to the gods for protection while they practiced their art and even would enlist the help of priests or "kahunas," as they were called in Hawaiian culture, to help them ask the gods for mighty waves in case the ocean was calm. Interestingly enough, this is where the phrase "Big Kahuna" originated from. Kahunas were defined as being priests, magicians or masters of their profession, with Big Kahuna indicating the best of the best. Surfers sometimes use this word amongst themselves to tag a fellow surfer of supreme skill and athleticism, though others put aside this title as they feel it only applies to its original meaning and association with Hawaiian religious leaders.
With such devotion and dedication to the art and culture of surfing, it is no big surprise that the Hawaiians were mainly responsible for reviving it in the early part of the 20th century. The development and culture of surfing was centralized in three locations: Hawaii, California and Australia. The Hawaiian George Freeth, who is often honored as being the "Father of Modern Surfing," brought surfing to California in 1907, where he spent a lot of time giving surfing demonstrations at Huntington Beach. Surfing soon migrated to the East Coast in 1912. James Matthias Jordan Jr. demonstrated his surfing abilities to locals at Virginia Beach, which today has become one of the main areas of East Coast Surfing. Another famous Hawaiian by the name of Duke Kahanamoku, was instrumental in introducing surfing to other parts of the world and brought it to Australia in 1915. Kahanamoku was known as the "Ambassador of Aloha" and was an Olympic medalist, whose surfboard is still on display at the Freshwater Surf life saving club in Sydney Australia.
Gaining in Popularity
In the 1960s, surfing truly gained notoriety and world-wide exposure with the release of the wildly popular surfing movie Gidget. Surfing, which at one time bordered on extinction, quickly became a national sensation and fad. Other surfing movies soon followed, as well as the emergence of surf music from popular musical groups such as the Beach Boys and Surfaris. These forms of Southern California culture and entertainment gave way to the world's first general impressions of surfing and surfers. Despite the entertainment's portrayal of the sport of surfing and surfers, this activity continued to grow in popularity and to further change and evolve over the course of the next few decades. The long board way of surfing made room for the short board. Flashy surfing styles became a well-known sight on many beaches and eventually this recreational activity exploded into the professional sports arena.
Today, there are many surfing tournaments and championships that are held at multiple, prime surfing locations all over the world.. Hundreds of surfers compete, while thousands of others are content to just surf the waves for fun. More and more people everyday are being introduced to this very popular beach activity and are getting their own opportunity to experience the sensation of being able to stand on water and slide down a wave. From the sport's humble beginnings almost 3,000 years ago to its place in the forefront of water sports today, it seems as though surfing is in no danger of disappearing again anytime soon.