The Heart of a Warrior…

Perpetuating values and traditions is an important part of keeping cultures thriving and strong. Every year since 1992 a festival that revolves around Samoan culture is conducted on the east side of Oahu at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The festival celebrates culture through learning and performance. There are a variety of exhibits of traditional customs, skills, songs and dances.

One of the major highlights of this festival is the Samoan Fire Knife Competition. It is a competition where young men display their knowledge about Samoan culture using their athleticism in their preparation for battle through the use of a Nifo Oti (Samoan War Club). Along with the use of clean burning fuel, the Nifo Oti is lit up on both ends and spun in a variety of moves to entice an audience.

In 2007, the competition expanded to include women and a duet category. Warriors from as young as 6 years old compete against one another. There are 3 main categories (juniors 6-11yrs, Intermediate 12-17yrs, & Open).

Last night we attended the Junior and Intermediate divisions of the World Fire knife Competition. It absolutely amazes me how these young warriors train to develop their craft and are able to perform in front of an audience. There were 9 contestants in the junior division and 13 contestants in the intermediate division (including 2 female competitors).

All competitors exhibited their skill using the fire knife. Each performer showcased their pride and love for their culture. It seemed to me that they had made a deep rooted connection with their culture and they were simply sharing that pride with the audience.

Fire knife dancing is by no means an easy task to complete. It takes great courage and skill to be able to successfully incorporate traditional movements while using a fire knife. The audience was in ‘awe’ while each performer commanded their attention. They each started their routines with one fire knife. After a set, they came back out to dance with 2 knifes. And a few performers even added an additional knife, making it even more risky and complicated. After each performance, the performer would take a bow to show respect and gratitude.

The winner of the junior division was a young man named Mose Lilo from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. And the winner of the intermediate division was a female competitor named Jeralee Galeai from Hauula, Hawaii. They were both unbelievable performers that portrayed their skill and love for their culture. Mose displayed the heart of a warrior. Jeralee graced the stage with elegance as her artful skill and technique blew everyone away.

The fire knife competition was an absolutely amazing experience. I love that culture is being perpetuated. Watching all these young men and women perform is magical. In my eyes, all the competitors were champions. They are the next generation that will continue to perpetuate their cultural values, beliefs and traditions. They are the future…

40 thoughts on “The Heart of a Warrior…

    1. Ili

      This is a wonderful place to learn about the different Polynesian cultures. You can learn so much in the different villages. And it is also very entertaining. PCC also serves cultural dishes at their buffet dinner.

    1. Ili

      I know right… Isn’t that crazy… 6-11 year olds with knives… and then you add fire… But these youngsters were absolutely amazing.

  1. Growing up in a country with cultural diversity make me appreciate all kind of culture background, and I love to see more of traditional dance, attractions, and things like that. It is something we don’t see everyday.

    1. Ili

      I love that in Hawaii there are so many different cultures. The Polynesian Culture Center does a great job to showcase the Polynesian cultures.

    1. Ili

      It was definitely amazing… And what was better was that we knew a few of the warriors that were competing. If you ever visit Oahu, PCC is a must do…

  2. You had me at Hawaii! Seriously! We’ve been to the Polynesian Cultural Center and seen all the cultural aspects/dances there. We loved it! We’ve been to Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. We have yet to see Kuaui! Love the fire dancers. Thank you for taking me back to a wonderful memory!

    1. Ili

      You are so welcome. I’m glad you got to experience some of what Hawaii has to share… Kauai is also very beautiful…

    1. Ili

      Yes… PCC definitely give you the ability to immerse yourself into all different Polynesian cultures. Through song, dance, story telling, food and more…

    1. Ili

      This is definitely a must-do experience. If you visit during May, I would look up the competition and Polynesian Cultural Center.

    1. Ili

      This was definitely a cool competition. It was very entertaining. And what a special treat to see this practice done by the younger generation.

    1. Ili

      I think this is one of the things that makes Hawaii so rich with culture and aloha. People of all ages are very connected to their culture through these practices. Amazing training… Amazing children… Amazing love for culture…

    1. Ili

      It was super exciting to see the bravery of these children. They all showcase their love of their culture through dance.

  3. Started in 1992…I wonder if that’s when we, BYUH TV Studio was asked to video tape the festivities. It was so fascinating to watch! I remember during the day time they did the coconut husking competition and fire making, I think. There was another day for the girls to dance, and the fire knife competition. I really enjoyed watching all of the talent and skills! Definitely something to experience if given the chance!

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