So, what is a kook in surfing terms?
You’ve likely heard the term before, and you’ve probably even been called it behind your back (I’m sure I have, I know that much), but what does the term ‘kook’ in surf slang actually mean?
Let’s dig in a little and find out…
WHERE DOES THE TERM 'KOOK' COME FROM?
The term kook is thought to have originated from the term 'cuckoo'.
Although the term cuckoo obviously refers to the bird, it's also slang for someone that's a bit nuts, someone that's a little insane.
It's thought that this term transmuted in the 1960's surf culture in California, and has since become common place in surf lingo the world over.
WHAT MAKES YOU A KOOK?
A kook is somebody that:
In a nutshell a kook is someone that tries too hard.
HOW DO YOU SPOT A KOOK?
A kook will generally be the guy/girl getting suited and booted in the carpark draped in all the latest, top of the range surf gear.
They’ll be talking all about swell directions, swell period, winds, tides and everything in-between to anyone that’ll listen to them (don't be that guy).
They’ll likely - not so elegantly - drop into the conversation their lack of fear in big waves, and their technical prowess in all other conditions too.
However upon entering the water, the picture is much different…
They’ll aggressively paddle for waves (looking ridiculous in the process), and either fall instantly, or stand up poo-man style and try to rip the wave to pieces.
In their head, they’re Kelly Slater ripping Lower Trestles, in reality however, they look kinda ridiculous.
That my friends, is a real kook, a proper kook if you will.
But there is another kind too.
THE OTHER KIND OF KOOK...
Let's call these the 'lesser spotted' kooks.
These types of kooks are the surfers that are likely to wear a pair of goggles in the surf, or a shower cap to keep their hair dry.
Maybe they've got their wetsuit on the wrong way around, or their surfboard fins back to front.
Or maybe they're practicing they're pop-ups on the beach and doing elite stretching pre-surf like this guy 👇
These type of kooks are the ones that literally have no idea of surf culture whatsoever.
These are oftentimes the funniest ones to watch.
WHY ARE SURFERS CALLED KOOKS?
The word kook is kind of unique to surfing, and over the years it’s morphed a little from its roots, now being used as slang for anyone that’s being a bit of a dick or a bit clueless.
All in all, the word kook has grown into a word with many use cases, in a multitude of scenarios.
HOW TO SPOT A KOOK
Here are some tell-tale signs that you are a kook, or how to spot one in the wild...
These are just a few of the tell-tale giveaways.
HOW TO STOP BEING A KOOK?
To stop being a real kook just stop trying to be someone you’re not. Quit trying to talk-the-talk without walking-the-walk, and just be real and be humble.
Pretty simple really.
However, avoiding being a 'kook-kook' if you know what I mean is much more difficult.
In fact I probably sound like a right kook writing this now
*Note to self, stop trying to be funny when you write you kook.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A KOOK AND A BEGINNER?
Being a beginner doesn’t make you a kook, not at all.
Not unless you start dropping in on people and talking yourself up that is.
A beginner is authentically at the start of a learning cycle, a kook is at the same place in the learning cycle but thinks they’re not.
WRAPPING IT UP
As with everything in life, be authentic and be genuine.
That’s what being cool really is.
You can’t fake it…
Even if you try.
So wherever you are in the journey of surf progression embrace it, as people can see inauthenticity from a mile off.
Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.