& Tiki Culture
War God Temples
warriors of Hawaii, or Koa, used a variety of intriguing weapons. They
were arcane masters of shape achieved for dark purposes, weapon making
was an inventive and deadly art. Tactics of ancient Hawaiians included
raining missile weapons, like deadly sling stones and spears down upon
enemies from high arcs. Closing with pikes, spears 12' to 15' long in
a formation allowing the first ranks or warriors to attack their enemies.
Then decimating foes in melee combat with a terrifying array of ancient
weapons. These weapons included short spears, clubs, shark
toothed clubs, strangulation cords, trip weapons, throwing axes and the
infamous hawaiian daggers. Kao warriors were brutal and disciplined. The
nobles wore spectacular feather capes as a form of armor. Kao warriors
practiced an ancient marshal art called Lua, in it they trained to kill
by breaking bones, using pressure points, and more.
were unique to Hawaii amongst the polynesian islands. Five kinds of daggers
were written about by early explorers. They were the heavy truncheon dagger
with a hole in the handle for a loop made of olona fiber to be attached,
long-bladed daggers, shark-tooth or marlin bladed daggers , bludgeon daggers
and curved bladed daggers. Captain James Cook wrote about them himself:
"They have a sort of weapon
which we had never seen before, and not mentioned by any navigator, as
used by the natives of the South Sea. It was somewhat like a dagger; in
general, about a foot and a half long, sharpened at one or both ends,
and secured to the hand by a string. Its use is to stab in close fight;
and it seems well adapted to the purpose. Some of these may be called
double daggers, having a handle in the middle with which they are better
enabled to strike both ways."
Another ancient weapon of Hawaii is the strangle cord, generally made
of woven olona fiber. Bishop Museum displays several of these cords with
ivory or wooden handles attached. Unlike the rest of Polynesia, Hawai'i
had a designated public executioner, who meted out punishment to those
who broke the kapu (established taboos, or laws). The executioner, called
"mu," prepared victims for sacrifice and used the strangling
cord to dispense of them to the god of war, Ku.
When it came to warfare the sling was the weapon with the longest
range and was the deadliest weapon. Bows and arrows were known in ancient Hawaii,
however they were used only for games and hunting. This is similar to warfare
in the ancient Greek world where contemporary writers and military historians
mentions that sling weapons out ranged bows (at Thermopoly for example).
Early Hawaiian's crafted rounded conical stones from the dense volcanic
rock making an extremely deadly weapon. Rocks can be flung two to three
times the speed thrown, distances from modern slingers using these archaic arms can be from 100 - 200 yards. These were fashioned out of a pouch
woven of strips of hau situated in the center of longer plaited ropes.
Hawaiian Throwing Weapons
As opposing Hawaiian armies came even closer it was time to let lose the javelins.
These attractive and deadly spears are 6'- 8' and 'decorated' with sharks
teeth for serration and feathers. The armies of ancient Rome used javelins,
called pilla, in a similar manner before their legions closed with enemy
ranks. Once enemies were within approximately 20', Hawaiian throwing axes could
be used. These weapons were serrated and used to target individuals with
high accuracy. They could be used to hit a warriors legs to trip them
or to kill with a deadly strike to the neck or chest. These exquisite, original hawaiian,
arms were usually not a primary weapon, but one were one more strike from their
Warriors and Armor
Tribal Warriors or Ancient Commando Army?
Ancient Hawaiian warriors,
or Koa, gave their name to the hard wood tree that most of their weaponry
was carved from. They shaved before battle and lathered their bodies with
oil to prevent enemies from getting a grip on them. Warriors specialized
in various arms but carried multiple back up weapons into combat. A warrior
might use a missile weapon (Javelin, Sling), followed by a first strike
weapon (Trip Weapon) and then finally use a finishing off type weapon
(Dagger, club). They entered battle only wearing a loin cloth, however
nobles wore protective helmets, capes and in the final years of ancient
Hawaiian combat even woven armor. The helmets were made of gourds or woven
fibers and protected a warriors head from missiles. Hawaiian nobles wore
capes, also made of woven fibers but with feathers, that they held in
their left hands and used to block attacks and or to trip enemies before
finishing them off with the weapon in their right hand. The capes and
crests of Hawaiian nobles were covered with red, yellow, and black feathers
in colorful patterns. The King of ancient Hawaii had a "King Akhenaten's
Sword" of sorts in his cape, passed from high king to high king.
Grant Dyck wrote:
was common, and was more elaborate among nobles. It typically featured
concentric circles, or lines, or various animal patterns. In one instance,
a queen who lamented the death of her husband had her tongue tattooed.
When asked if it hurt, she said 'not in comparison to the loss of my husband.'"
Kao warriors were brutal, stayed fit with olympic
style games and trained constantly at their arts. Nobles used an ancient
Hawaiian martial art called Lua. They specialized in bone breaking among
other deadly techniques. Captured enemies might have their end trails
removed and all of their bones broken before being transported to a temple
for sacrifice. On the brighter side, battles could at
times be averted by singular battle of two champions though.
- The Ancient Hawaiian Martial Art
Origins: Ancient Hawaii. The
exact age of the art is disputed. It is generally accepted however, that
Lua has existed for almost as long as Polynesians have inhabited Hawaii.
Lua History and Its
Decline: Lua is much more than a martial art. It is a Hawaiian cultural
legacy. One famous Lua practitioner was King Kamehameha, who united all
the islands by 1810.
Lua had a strict "Kapu"
or oath, that forbid practitioners from teaching people outside of their
class or to non Hawaiians. Eventually, with the influx of missionaries,
Lua was looked down upon as a pagan, "black" art, and was forced
underground. Over the years, the Lua all but died out.
The Rebirth of Lua:
The Lua style was saved by a handful of people who worked to spread the
art to Hawaiians as a cultural treasure. These people included Charles
Kenn, who studied Lua during the first quarter of the 20th century, his
students Richard Paglinawan, Jerry Walker, Mitchell and Dennis Eli, and
Moses Kalauokalani, and Solomon Kaihewalu, who teaches his own family's
particular style of Lua. Through the work of these dedicated Olohe, or
masters, Lua is making a comeback.
Philosophy: Lua is
a system of fighting based on the theory of duality. Lua warriors would
combine the traits of Ku, the god of war, and Hina, the goddess of the
moon. Lua seeks to balance good and evil, male and female, destruction
and healing, dark and light.
combat system consists of kuikui (punching),peku (kicking),hakihaki (bone-
breaking), hakoko (wrestling) and aalolo (pressure point attacks). However
in keeping with the focus on duality, there is also a focus on healing.
Lua practitioners historically trained in lomi lomi massage, as well as
other natural methods of healing.
Similarities to Other
Styles: Lua utilizes dance or "kata" in their martial art system,
similar in method to capoeira. This martial dance is called haka. It is
is said that lua and haka are the mother to hula, the famous Hawaiian
dance. The dances were used to calm warriors before battle, intimidate
their enemies, and to hide martial techniques from those seeking to steal
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