Hawaiian Wrestling

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8. Ku-la-ku-lai - Wrestling

[Page 208] The contestants wear only breechcloths. They each put one arm around the other's neck and the other around his waist. People bet on the contest. Andrews gives ka-hu-a mo-ko-mo-ko as "a place where people assemble to wrestle."

In Tahiti, according to Ellis,1 wrestling, maona, was the favorite sport at the taupiti, or public assemblies, festivals usually connected with some religious ceremony or cause of national rejoicing. The wrestlers of one district sometimes challenged those of another, but the conquest often took place between the inhabitants of different islands. In this, as in most of their public proceedings, the gods presided. Before wrestling commenced, each party repaired to the marae of the idols of which they were the devotees. Here they presented a young plantain tree, which was frequently a substitute for a more valuable offering, and having invoked aid of the tutelar deity of the game, they repaired to the spot where the multitude had assembled. A space covered with grassy turf, or the level sand of the sea-beach, was usually selected for these exhibitions. Here a ring was formed, perhaps thirty feet in diameter. The inner rank sat down, the others stood behind them; each party had their instruments of music with them, but all remained quiet until the games began. Six or ten, perhaps, from each side, entered the ring at once, wearing nothing but the maro, or girdle, and having their limbs sometimes anointed with oil. Challenges were sent previous to the arrival of celebrated wrestlers, but if no such arrangement had been made, the wrestlers of one party or perhaps their champion walked [Page 209] around and across the ring, having the left arm bent, with the hand on the breast, and gave the challenge by striking the right hand violently against the left, and the left against the side, which produced aloud, hollow sound. Several were sometimes engaged at once, but more frequently only two. They grasped each other by the shoulders. Unbroken silence and deep attention were manifested during the struggle; but as soon as one was thrown, the drums of the victor's friends struck up, the women rose and danced in triumph over the fallen wrestler and sang in defiance to the opposite party. The latter immediately commenced a most deafening noise, principally to mar and neutralize the triumph of the victors. When the wrestlers engaged again, the clamor ceased. The victor either withdrew, which was considered honorable, or remained and awaited a fresh challenge. When the contest was over, the men repaired again to the temple and presented their offering of acknowledgment, usually young plantain trees, to the idols of the game.

Captain Cook2 speaks of wrestling being performed in the Marquesas in the same manner as at Tahiti.

Taylor3 says that in New Zealand te takaro ringaringa, or wrestling, was a very general amusement of young men, who prided themselves on their skill in throwing one another, as much, perhaps, as our own countrymen have ever done. Tregear4 speaks of it as played with any hold.

J. Stanley Gardiner5says that in Rotuma "in wrestling any fall to the ground counted. The chosen champions watched each other carefully from a distance, and then, perhaps, one would rush on the other and make a feint, only to turn aside when they seemed bound to come to close quarters. The great idea was to get one's opponent, from the nature of his or your rush, into an awkward position, so that he could be seized around one thigh, and could not avoid a fall."

1 Vol I, Page 204.
2 Vol. III, Page 244.
3 Page 173.
4 Page 115.
5 Journal Anthropological Institute, Vol. XXVII, Page 486.

Arm Wrestling

9. U-ma - Wrist or Arm-Wrestling

[Page 210] The two contestants grasp hands, their elbows resting upon the ground, and each endeavors to press the other's arm over. This is known in Japan as hizi-zumo, "elbow-wrestling," or ude-zumo, "arm-wrestling."

Prof. Edward S. Morse informs me that wrist-wrestling is practiced also by Spaniards and Cubans, each contestant putting his elbow on a piece of money from which he may not remove it.

10. U-lu-mi i-lo-ko o-ke kai - "Wrestling in the Sea"

[Page 210] One man tries to "duck" another and reach shore before the ducked one can catch him. The winner receives the stake of roast pig, cocoanuts, or whatever it may be.

Last update February 3, 2010