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Author Topic: South Pacific arts  (Read 7232 times)
SB_Mig
Guest
« on: December 02, 2003, 05:01:35 PM »

Howdy All,

When I was in Fiji a couple of years back, I purchased a LARGE (42" x 15 lbs.) handcarved war club. Since then, I have often wondered about the fighting arts in the that particular part of the world (Fiji, Samoa, Bora Bora, French Polynesia, etc.)

Does anyone know of any fighting systems or styles from the South Pacific region? If so, what are they? The warriors of this region where known for being incredibly fierce and ruthless (and in some instances, cannibalistic), but I am wondering if there are any descriptions of their way of fighting besides "They killed everyone." wink

Thanks,

Miguel

p.s. Just from the looks of the Fijian warclubs I saw, I shudder to think of what several hundred battle-crazed warriors charging must have looked like to the poor bastards that landed on the wrong island.  shocked
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2003, 05:35:13 PM »

Hi,

there are some groups of scholars who are now considering the link of the Philippines to polynesia. the theory is that the wave of migration did not all come from malaysia and indonesia into the Philippines. but instead, it is hypothesized that most Filipinos are descendants of migrating polynesians.

I have checked a website showing the close similarities of Filipino dialect words to polynesian dialects. henceforth, the "majapahit martial arts" theory which is based on the story of migration of datus and sultans from indonesia and malaysia could be soon debunked.

this is good news as it gives Filipinos a better sense of national identity rather being "grouped" by some martial artists into a "majapahit" society.


It it is interesting to mention that if you go to the new york museum of natural history, you will find the display for the Philippine Islands under the Pacific Island nations and not in the Asian section.
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Hakoko
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2003, 07:45:08 PM »

I have seen on many occasions the warrior weapons of Fiji, however, other than what the weapon was used for, was the only info that I got. I studied a Hawaiian art called the "Lua" from the Hawaiian Islands. I have seen several of the weapons, and have used them the way they were used in the ancient times. Lua is the only warrior system that I know of that exists as a system. I'm sure there are people in other parts of Polynesia that could elaborate more on the fighting systems of the other islands.

One interesting note is my cousin's husband is from an island in Micronesia, I'm not going to attempt the spelling, but it's people see the first sunlight of the day. He gave to me a weapon that was used as a secondary weapon much like the kerambit was used as a secondary weapon to the Indonesian's. It had straw at the top that hid a shark's tooth and was lined down the sides with several shark's teeth.  It looks like a popsicle stick that you didn't want to mess around with.
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LG Russ
Guest
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2003, 08:20:06 PM »

Hey Miguel and Hakoko,

Great information!

Although the Philippines is considered a part of Polynesia (as well as SE Asia), I would be curious to find out more about the fight systems of Fiji and the other South Pacific Island societies.  Hakoko's information about the Hawaiian arts is fascinating.  They do not necessarily need to be connected, let's remember.

Some South Pacific societies specialized on living at sea for years and away from other cultures.  This is untread territory (to a great extent) and worth exploring.  I once met an Australian Aid Agency guy who had worked in Papua New Guinea and was kidnapped by Cannibals.  Luckily, he had enough money to buy them another sacrifice.

Woof
Russ
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SB_Mig
Guest
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2003, 12:09:33 PM »

Hey All,

I appreciate the responses...

Wouldn't you know, I did a 'Google' after all this time and came up with the following book from the University of the South Pacific.

"Fijian Weapons and Warfare" by Fergus Cline
Harcover, 239 pages

It was just published in the past year. Looks like I may have to order it.

I found this website as well:

http://www.tribalsite.com/index.html
(Seems like a fairly new site with some potential)

In case you've never seen warclubs here are some examples:

http://www.artspacific.com/sites/fjclubs.html

And here's a large excerpt from another website:

Warfare was one of the bases of Fijian society. From archaeological discoveries; the journals of seamen, traders and missionaries; or from oral histories - the story that comes through is one of war being an everyday way of life in early Fiji.

Heavy clubs, spears and other weapons accompanied the wary Fijian on even short walks beyond his village or town perimeter. When working in his vegetable gardens, a spear was stuck into the earth beside him or a club lay handy nearby.
Many of the fights and the wars which were constantly going on were conducted on a local scale, between neighbouring villagers. Large wars between confederated chiefdoms were known as i valu ni tu or state wars and tended to be more openly conducted, with war being formally declared and allied armies marching to attack fortified towns.

More general wars involving several confederations of tribes or states were termed i valu rabaraba or widespread wars. It has been noted that the wars did not cause very heavy casualities, many dragging on for several months with thousands of warriors in the field and great organizations, pomp, bold words and excitement, but in which only a few people were killed. In other wars, battle and especially massacre casualties climbed into the hundreds, and on rare occasions, into the thousands.

The most serious and destructive conflicts were those between large tribal confederations or states under high chiefs who were bitter personal enemies. They involved allied armies or mata-i-valu of several thousand warriors and resulted in the ransacking and depopulation of large tracts of land and entire islands, sometimes continuing until one of the rival high chiefs was cut down or fled into exile. In the latter case, plotting vengeance and living to fight again when opportunity offered.

The causes of wars in 19th century Fiji were many and varied. It has been said that the possession of land and women and the commission of murder were the principle causes. Matters like personal affronts to chiefs; the refusal to give up a particular club, band or shell; the unlawful eating of the turtle; the lust of conquest; the wish to murder; a violation of the tabu; or a love affair were other causes of war.

Before engaging in a war or raid, the Fijians conducted religious ceremonies and consulted the gods in an attempt to ensure success, When consulted on serious matters, the god spoke to the people through the medium of the priest in the temple. The priest, when not too old, also accompanied the war parties in a fighting role.

For at least several days before a fight, the warriors usually kept away from their wives and isolated themselves in an attempt to ensure the success of the expedition. Religious ceremonies were conducted undethe direction of a priest or bete to make the warriors vodi or invulnerable.

Before engaging in a large scale war, the advantages and disadvantages of the war had to be weighed up. This would involve a meeting between the council of chiefs, priest and elders who would meet in the burekalau. If the consensus was agreed upon, the council appointed the turaga-ni-valu literally the war chief to be general of the army. This would usally be the paramount chief of the tribal confederation or a member of his family noted for his generalship.

After it was decided to go into a war, preparations began for it, vakalici i valu or neighbouring villages were notified of the likely path of the advancing army. Weapons were prepared and special houses were built for the shelter of the allied troops.

If a town was likely to be attacked, its fortification were strengthened or renewed. Fijian forts were generally well designed to withstand assault by warriors armed with the various weapons found in the Fijian armory.



1. iUlabulibuli - Throwing club
A companion piece to club. Throwing clubs or iUla were worn alone or in pairs, with their handles thrust through the waistband of a man's loincloth, ready on hand in any emergency.

In battle, an iUla was hurled to bring down an enemy so that he or she could be finished off with a heavier two-handled club. Thrown with great velocity and precision by men trained since infancy, its head delivered a heavy, stunning and sometimes lethal blow (it also earned the nickname of the 'Handy Billy' by early traders).

2. Cali
Spurred and bladed war club, fashioned after the clawed flower of a wild banana-like plant. These were used to inflict a cutting rather than a crushing blow. The spur may well have been useful in warding off an enemy's blow, while keeping the club in position for a quick retaliatory strike.

3. Culacula
Often called 'paddle' clubs or 'spade' clubs because of their shape. The clubs are said to be Tongan or Samoan in origin. They were widely used in the islands and coastal parts of Fiji. With these broad flat-headed clubs the blow was struck with the thin edges of the head, cutting through the bone like an axe rather than smashing and shattering it. Craftsmen making these clubs were highly skilled. A good club maker was a recognized expert, a man who earned the reputation for himself and his tribe. He had not only to see the potential of a tree, he had to know the type of carving suitable for the particular variety of wood to carve while still wet and which had to be buried in the mangrove swamp first.

4. Kinikini
A broad club with the head shaped like a shield. This type of club was more ornamental than offensive and accounts referred to it as a chief's club, which was carried as a symbol of rank and authority. Fijian clubs, amongst the finest in Oceania, were made with extreme care, a highly skilled craftsman taking months, even years to bring a single specimen to perfection. The carvings on these old clubs is made all the more remarkable when one considers the tools at the craftman's disposal - stone adzes, a nokonoko hammer, fish teeth, rat teeth and sea urchin spines for intricate carving; mushroom coral, ray skin and pumice stone for rasps; and files and shells for planes and scrapers.

5. Sokilaki
Multibarbed war spear with coir sinnet grip. Fijian spears were often intricately carved and decorated. Spears were carved from a single length of wood. Many carried a most vicious series of barbs extending behind the head for two feet or more, to make extraction of the spear from a wound most difficult.


I could read about this stuff for years. It's a shame that so much of our examination of warfare is either center on the Western approach or the Asian, and not much heed is paid to the Pacific, African, and Native American cultures and their ways.

Thanks,

Miguel
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haumana2000
Guest
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2003, 12:44:48 PM »

I included the aforementioned article about Fiji with permission from the author in the first comprehensive book entitled "TOA" contrasts in the Island Warriors. I wrote the book as an effort to instill self determination and pride in  male Pacific Island populations in inner cities. This book discusses and contrasts the martial culture history and traditions of all three main island regions polynesia, melanesia, and micronesia.  In researching the book, I found that many of my Fijian contacts, agreed that due to the stigma of cannibalism in the islands all that remains of weapons usage is descriptions in oral tradition, and in the dances meke wesi (war dances).   Lua also known as Kui'alua or Kui'aholo depending on which school you were from hails from Hawaii.  There are several strains, both in Hawaii and on the mainland which I have had the privilige of also studying, the original version being very protocol oriented with healing aspects, and ritualism.  Mainland version 1 is from Olohe Kaihewalu, who is very knowledgeable and was the first to teach those of non Hawaiian ancestry which of course upsets the tradionalists, having been at the mercy of his locks though, I can attest to his belief that his families heritage of lua, and it's willingness to change and adapt is more important, and useable than the other who's right?  im in the middle somewhere.  The 3rd mainland version is that of Kazja from San Pedro, who perpetuates Lua in the mma ring and so you will find a lot in there that is not actually Lua but works under the confines of mma.  he's always treated me cool, but neither of the other groups think too fondly of his camp. This of  course is just my perspective looking in, such a small minority and still we have the politics common to large organizations.  
other south pacific styles include patia fa from tahiti (spear throwing)  tolo (tongan spear throwing)  there is both boxing and wrestling in Samoa as well as native club usage.  The club useage survives in an old ceremony called Manumalo where a warrior would demonstrate the techniques he would use to dispatch an enemy, before lopping off the head with his nifa oti.  and in New Zealand you have mau rakau (weaponry) rangataua (a regional style) rongomaumau bonebreaking and mamaia a wrestling style for women.  an interesting note, the pahi brothers jason and timoti from NZ have competed in nhb using their native methods and fared pretty darn well.  Micronesia has both stickfighting similar to FMA though it uses a longer stick like around 4 foot, and a complete martial art called bwang from kiribati, lamotrek, and the surrounnding area.  hope this helps.
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SB_Mig
Guest
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2003, 12:58:02 PM »

Haumana2000,

Thanks for the response! How can I get a coopy of "TOA"?

Sounds like it has some great information in it.

Miguel
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2003, 02:23:29 PM »

Tangential Response to "Guest":

Guest wrote:

"there are some groups of scholars who are now considering the link of the Philippines to polynesia. the theory is that the wave of migration did not all come from malaysia and indonesia into the Philippines. but instead, it is hypothesized that most Filipinos are descendants of migrating polynesians."

As always I begin by underlining my lack of scholarly inclination and aptitude in these matters.  That said, I never understood the wave theory to posit that ALL of the migration came from Malaysia and Indonesia.  Fair enough to disagree with the wave theory, but it should be described accurately.

As for the hypothesis of "some groupls of scholars" that "most Filipinos are descendents of migrating polynesians"-- this is a new one to me.  I confess the idea that people the size of Filipinos descended from Samoans strikes me as a bit implausible, so perhaps there is something I am missing and would be glad to know what it is.

"I have checked a website showing the close similarities of Filipino dialect words to polynesian dialects. henceforth, the "majapahit martial arts" theory which is based on the story of migration of datus and sultans from indonesia and malaysia could be soon debunked."

Lacking utterly in any foundation in any of the multitude of Filipino languages/dialects, let alone Polynesian I cannot comment on this theory, but perhaps 'Guest' can share the URL for the website he mentions so that the scholarly who come to play here on our Forum may expand their knowledge.

That said, once again I find the idea of Majapahit Martial Arts being presented differently from my understanding of it.  I understood the story about the datus migrating to the Philippines being given to explain the root of certain martial arts, NOT as THE explanation of the origins of the peoples of the Philippines.   That said, May I assume that we all agree that the Majapahit Empire did exist?  And if it existed, it is hard to imagine that it did so in the complete absence of mingling within its territories.

Returning to the martial art notion of the Majapahit Empire, as I understand it is that even today the martial arts from those parts of the world which were once part of the Majapahit Empire have common thread with each other which makes them propitious for fruitful blendings-- a JKDC notion which, by the way, leads to the DBMA self-descriptive phrase of "Smuggling Concepts across the Frontiers of Style"
(c)

"this is good news as it gives Filipinos a better sense of national identity rather being "grouped" by some martial artists into a "majapahit" society."

Guest, I think in part you misapprehend the notion of the Majapahit Empire as used by Guro Inosanto, GT Gaje and others-- or perhaps I misinterpret what you mean by "a better sense of national identity"-- is it still a migratory matter for you?

Guest, you read like one of the anonymous participants in other threads nearby.  If you wish to make your case, by all means do so.  But perhaps it is time for you to share your sources and put your name to your claims and thoughts?

Woof,
Crafty Dog

PS: Sorry to interrupt the flow on Fijian matters.   Please carry on.
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haumana2000
Guest
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2003, 05:31:25 PM »

as far as migratory patterns go there are different theories for the people of the Pacific some as far fetched as Thor Heyerdals theory that they immigrated from the americas.  A lack of any written language certainly compounds the problem I am of Filipino/ French Poly via Moorea by way of Hamakua Hawaii, and hispanic, and as a sense of nationalism I lean more toward the common bond theory many samoans however find it offensive for me to say I am polynesian.  Filipinos to Samoans? not likely though both languages are distincly malayo/polynesian and share similarities Filipinos as a native peoples share more traits and physical likeness to the Micronesians.  Samoans, Tongans, and the like are more akin to the people of Melanesia, CAREFUL THOUGH! pride and nationalism run deep and rightly so, I am just trying to state a common bond here.    

Of interesting note is that Native Samoans are the only Island peoples to not link their ancestral homeland as Hawaii'ki a mythical place that most Polynesians assert as their place of origin and is supposedly located in the Tuamotus.  I think  no matter what the contention is that each DID in fact develop as peoples independantly and culturally as their own.  Did they interact, and intermingle?Huh Absolutly!  Hawaii was the last Island to be "peopled" and was a common migration spot for tahitians, marquesians, and later even Samoans.  Honolulu means the gathering place and it's people reflect this today witha colorful mix of Native Hawaiians (kanaka maoli, polynesians, filipinos, portugese, japanese you name it)  and have developed a "personality all their own"  so though all of the islands may share bonds and links, they are each very much their own.   Did they begin in Southeast Asia?  all of my research says probably, but oral tradition is sometimes stronger than fact, and as with the whole "K" word as an art issue, it's best to let people believe what they want.  Thanks for letting me SPEUWWW forth my two cents thanks!

Oh on TOA? copies should be available very soon!
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Hakoko
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2003, 01:45:09 AM »

Aloha bruddah Gabe,

I should have brought you in on this thread right away. For some reason you had slipped my mind. However, I am glad you found this thread, so that you can shed light on all the island warrior factions. Haumana 2000 is the man to talk to on the subject of island warriors and their arts. How are all your projects coming along?

A hui hou
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haumana2000
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2003, 10:28:16 AM »

Aloha braddah Hakoko!  howz training?  Good I hope!  As it relates to FMA, I understand that traditional Lima Lama ala Samoan Tino Tui'olosega of Olosega Samoa was developed from thirteen methods of stickfighting he learned growing up. Now in the Filipino mindset a method does can either mean an entire stand alone or a "style" which reflects a principle e.e banda y banda or crossada, or the like.  If you talk to Brotha Ray Floro of Kali Illustrisimo who lives in Australia, he has trained in both Maori Martial arts and FMA and like myself has a great respect for the Polynesian methods.  Also, Hakoko, has good insight into the Hawaiian aspects.  
A hui hou!
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secuerdasfighter
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2003, 10:58:43 AM »

the history channel had a show titled the conquest of hawaii. it showed the fighting arts,weapons, and use.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2003, 11:43:09 AM »

Woof Haumana2000:

Perhaps a bit of a tangent to the main subject of the thread, but would you be so kind as to flesh out the following comment of yours?

"Now in the Filipino mindset a method does can either mean an entire stand alone or a "style" which reflects a principle e.e banda y banda or crossada, or the like."

TIA,
Crafty
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Anonymous
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2003, 12:30:31 PM »

absolutely,Most "Mainstream MArtial Artists would conclude that a style means an entire "system of martial arts" i.e subsets of hands weaponry kata, whatever, however in the PI, a style can refer to just a technique principal that you would use.  So though I type faster than my brain works sometimes resulting in  the aforementioned blurb and bad spelling, If mr. O Tui'olosega developed limalama after thirteen styles of stickfighting he learned as a kid, would these be 13 completely different types of stickfighting or thriteen individual concepts?  
Woof!
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haumana2000
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2003, 12:31:32 PM »

the last post was made by me, sorry!
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carlo
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2003, 12:56:05 PM »

I find it strange that no one has mentioned Maori culture which has a rich tradition of warrior arts whaich they have preserved to the present day.  I plan to go to New Zealand to study the Taiaha.

-C
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A nation of one ancestry and race is weak. We must hold strong our custom of welcoming all foreigners who seek to join our cause, treating them with dignity and respect and teaching them our language and customs.

-Attila the Hun
linda
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2003, 02:00:55 PM »

Just a tiny addition to the excellent info haumana2000 has provided.

Olohe Kaihewalu's website has some interesting bits on the history of lus and also provides some nice pics & descriptions of a number of traditional weapons.  www.olohe.com  I believe there's even some info on lima lama tucked away somewhere in the history section.  Oh, and I'll second Haumana2000 on the convincing nature of Olohe's locks!  

One last thing.  I was under the impression that Tino Tui'olosega's lima lama encompassed punching, kicking, & open handed material, as well as weapons like stick & knife.  Lima lama translated = hands of wisdom.  And from what I've heard, he also practiced other arts while in the military.  So, possibly, those 13 forms weren't all stick-based or "entirely" on arts from his family (Samoan royalty I think).  I'll try to get more accurate info on this.

Linda
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haumana2000
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2003, 02:37:40 PM »

carlo, in my first post, i talked about the new zealand forms of martial arts, mau rakau, rongomamau, and mamaia, I have studied it in my research, but have concentrated on the performance aspect of it for the  pacific cultural group I run.  Although Mau Rakau is taught in NZ to the mainstream it will usually be a very watered down derivation of the original this is taught at the polytechnic schools.  The original Mau Rakau is taught primarily on the Marae, and the main exponents are Dr. Pita Sarples, Mita mohi on Mokoia Island, and Tania Mahuru's group.  The wero or warrior challenge is very often seen there for tourists, but this in fact is not a true wero challenge, as it can only be done on the marae, it is more of a demo of warrior skills (whaka atu ranga) There are many other school but the mentioned are the most prominent, there is a group in Laie Hawaii as well that I have trained with under the same directions as the pahi's. I think it is under the Direction of Make Clawson.  Short weapons are PAtu Onewa,  short club, mere, short club, rakau (stick), and shark toothe blades, while longer weapons are the Taiaha, and several others.  ritual and incantations (karakia) free-fighting (riri watea) performance and cultural dance  (Haka) play an integral role in Maori martial arts.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2003, 05:29:37 PM »

also hohepa delamere is one of the leading peoples perpetuating rongomamau in Aotearoa (new zealand)  I believe his organization is called te whare ahuru rongomamau.  very powerful, very spiritual stuff.  Anyone who has ever experienced the haka knows the intensity that a warrrior brings to the table.
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carlo
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2003, 07:23:07 PM »

Thank you for the info haumana2000.  Im saving money for the trip as we speak.

-C
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A nation of one ancestry and race is weak. We must hold strong our custom of welcoming all foreigners who seek to join our cause, treating them with dignity and respect and teaching them our language and customs.

-Attila the Hun
Hakoko
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« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2003, 09:30:20 PM »

Bruddah Haumana,

Howz the film project coming? Please let me know when the books and stuff come out, I'll be the first on the list to buy one.
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haumana2000
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« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2003, 10:20:10 AM »

hey Hakoko, the project is going good, I will be heading to the philippines in March to research train and video a tape on the native tribal wrestling arts of Bultong, and dumog to contrast them to the "HAHA" Hakoko, and other pacific wrestling methods.
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