Kapu Kuialua

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Hawaiian lua (1899).jpg
Also known as Kapu Kuʻialua, Kuʻialua
Focus Joint manipulation
Country of origin Hawaii Kingdom Of Hawai'i
Famous practitioners John Matua[1]
Descendant arts Danzan-ryū
Olympic sport No
Hawaiian wrestling matches during Makahiki

Kapu Kuʻialua; Kuʻialua; or just Lua; is an ancient Hawaiian martial art based on bone breaking, joint locks, throws, pressure point manipulation, strikes, usage of various weapons, battlefield strategy, open ocean warfare as well as the usage of introduced firearms from the Europeans.[2]

The fighting art was referred to as "Kuʻialua", literally meaning two hits. That name was subsequently given to the god of this martial art. Only those associated with the aliʻi (nobility), such as professional warriors, guardsmen, and members of the royal families, were generally taught Kuʻialua. During times of warfare, the makaʻāinana (commoners) were also instructed in the basic movements and functions of the martial art.

The old warriors of this art would coat themselves with a thin layer of coconut oil and remove all of their body hair in order to be able to slip away and avoid being grappled in battle. The word for Lua masters, ʻōlohe, literally means "hairless".

While living on Oʻahu, Kamehameha established three Lua schools (called pā kuʻialua) to help prevent extinction of this art. One was instructed by Hāhākea, another by Nāmakaimi, and another by Nāpuaʻuki and his assistants. This last, probably the most prominent one, taught 24 boys, including Kekūanāoʻa and John Papa ʻĪʻī of Kamehameha's court.[citation needed]

Style specifics[edit]

The modern form of this art has been adjusted to suit modern times; however, the traditional spirit of the art remains intact. Weapons used by natives of the Hawaiian Islands may have been focused on primarily in the art at one time, as it is said the fighter who loses his weapons should then resort to the hand-to-hand stylings of Kuʻialua.

Training methods include spear catching, training in the surf, and focus of "mana" or life force. This energy is described much like chi or ki in Chinese or Japanese martial arts. Exercises are used to focus this energy much like the exercise of chi kung.[3]


  • Hoe - Canoe paddle
  • Hoe Leiomano - Paddle, shark tooth weapon
  • Ihe - Short spear with barbed edges or straight point (up to 9 ft or 2.7 m staff)
  • Kaʻane - Garrote (strangling cord)
  • Koʻokoʻo - Staffs (long and short)
    • Koʻokoʻo Loa (6 ft or 1.8 m staff)
    • Koʻokoʻo Pōkole (4 ft or 1.2 m staff)
  • Kuʻekuʻe Lima Leiomanō - Knuckle duster weapon
  • Leiomanō - Shark tooth weapon
  • Maʻa - Sling
  • Maka Pāhoa - Double-edge (eye) dagger
  • Newa - Short (small) club
  • Pahi - Knife
  • Pāhoa - Single-edge dagger
  • Pāhoa Koʻokoʻo - Cane double-edge dagger

Modern culture[edit]

Lua, a mobile messaging software for business, (not to be confused with Lua, a scripting language) takes its name from the ancient martial art.


  1. ^ Sherdog.com. "John Matua MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography, and More". Sherdog.com. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  2. ^ "Discover Lua, Hawaii’s Martial Art". Black Belt magazine. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  3. ^ Warriors, History Channel program, aired: 21 August 2008

Further reading[edit]