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What Is A Shaka Sign In BJJ? How This Thumb And Pinky Sign Originated?

What Is A Shaka Sign In BJJ How This Thumb And Pinky Sign Originated

When we consider martial arts, we observe it has unique history and traditions. It also uses special symbols that only BJJ persons can understand. These BJJ symbols have an underlying meaning and background.

The culture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu encompasses numerous signs and symbols that necessitate both expression and comprehension, akin to other deeply rooted customs. The “Shaka Sign” is another well-known sign in the field of grappling, similar to the BJJ triangle sign. It is time to learn more about the origin of this hand gesture of Hawaiian culture. Continue reading to get the complete information.

What Is A “Shaka” Sign In BJJ?

The thumb and pinky finger are extended while the three middle fingers are curled in the shaka hand sign. When making the gesture, you can show the front or back of your hand, and you can even twist it back and forth to add emphasis.

Theories Regarding Thumb and Pinky Sign’s Origin

There are various schools of thought regarding the origin of the shaka symbol. Here we will discuss the shaka sign origins while considering various global contexts and perspectives.  

Shaka Sign In Hawaii

The majority of people think that Hawaiian residents introduced it in the 19th century. While one of the workers lost three of his right hand’s middle fingers during his work. Following that incident, the employee began to show their sympathy and support. Children imitated his all clear thumb sign, which he used to scare off noisy kids who boarded trains, and this sign eventually became known as the shaka.

However, some individuals think the Spanish nationals in Hawaii are responsible for introducing JiuJitsu’s well known shaka. To express empathy for their friends, they made the distinctive hand motion of extending their thumbs while simultaneously folding their middle three fingers. They started using this thumb and pinky sign more frequently than ever.

A salesman named Lippy Espinda, who also worked on the renowned American drama series Hawaii Five-O, has a different version of the story about how the shaka sign came to be. Shaka is thought to have been well-known after Lippy Espinda employed it in a television ad.

In California

Following Hawaii, California players (those interested in games) started using the shaka gesture. They made the pinky and thumb sign a celebration after winning a game or a way to say “hello.”

In Australia

Shaka signs were used as invitations to smoking parties by Australians. To request someone’s participation in smoking marijuana, they would raise their thumb while keeping their pinky raised.

In China

The Shaka symbol has taken on various meanings in China depending on the various foreign origins. When it arrived in China, people adopted hand signs for the number “6”.

How Did It Get the Name “Shaka”?

In the 1960s, the term “Shaka” was especially adopted for the well-known hand motion after Lippy Espinda did so in his television commercial. People started using the hand movements associated with the name “Shaka,” which had another name previously.

Shaka Introduction In BJJ 

You might be wondering now when Shaka entered jiujitsu. Everything began with Brazil’s surfer culture. Jiu Jitsu started to take off in the US and adjacent areas in 1970. The surfers from California and America started giving each other the enthusiastic “Shaka” salutation.

Midway through the 20th century, the Gracie family in Brazil inaugurated the period of jiu jitsu gi. Rolls was the first member of the Gracie family to enjoy surfing. The shaka was well-known in Brazil for its “Hang loose” surfing culture. The Jiu Jitsu community began utilizing hang loose to convey various emotions and gestures.

In an interview, Master Renzo Gracie, a 7th-degree Coral Belt Champion, discussed the introduction of shaka to Jiu Jitsu.

“Many people think that the Shaka/Hang loose sign was used by Jiu-Jitsu fighters because it was imported by surfers that also trained Jiu-Jitsu, but that simply isn’t true. Before the Shaka, BJJ fighters would just do a regular thumbs-up. I was the one responsible for popularizing the shaka in Jiu-Jitsu. When I fought and knocked out Oleg Taktarov in a bare-knuckle MMA fight in 1996, I broke my hand. Every time I posed for a picture after that, I wanted to do a thumbs up but since my hand was broken, the pinkie kept going out, so it looked like a shaka (laughs). Next thing you know, all the Jiu-Jitsu guys started doing the shaka

 (Renzo Gracie)

How Is Shaka Sign Made?

The act of making a shaka gesture with your fist sounds simple. To make a perfect gesture, you must adhere to all the instructions.

  • Hold the hand loosely fisted in the initial step.
  • Next, extend your tiny finger (pinky) and thumb in opposing directions, upward.
  • When giving the shaka to someone, the back of your hand must face them.

Final Words

 The shaka symbol is now widely utilized in BJJ and can be seen being used by everyone at various times. The Shaka sign has a variety of distinct but good meanings that vary according to the setting and circumstance.

This pinky and thumb sign is used in Jiu Jitsu to express the words “thank you,” “hello,” “goodbye,” and “hy.” For friendly messaging, the shaka sign also conveys phrases like “Take it easy,” “Things are great,” etc. After winning the competition, BJJ players also utilized this gesture in their photos. The thumb and pinky sign is a gesture of love and affection used by Hawaiians in many situations.

In various parts of the world, the shaka symbol has a variety of meanings. Although it was first used in the 19th century, Lippy Espinda utilized it in a television commercial, giving it the Shaka name. This rock hand sign also acknowledges others’ victories while meet and greet.

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