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Wooden Weapons of Hawaiian Lua

In our last article, we learned about lua, the Hawaiian art of bone breaking. Lua included both the armed and unarmed combat techniques of the ancient Hawaiian warriors. Isolated from outside influences, lua artists developed methods for fighting with wooden weapons and bare hands. The wooden weapons of lua are fascinating by themselves; speculating how they were used is downright scary.

Wooden Weapons

Lua's techniques reflect the weapons available to the ancient Hawaiians in pre-contact times. Without steel or even bronze from which to forge edged weapons, most warriors fashioned impact weapons from wood. Tropical hardwoods indigeonous to the islands, like koa and milo, were used to make staffs, war clubs, and the ever-present paddle. Implements used in fishing, such as wooden spears, gaffs, and hooks, were also pressed into service--much in the same way that Okinawan kobudo uses agricultural tools like the nunchaku (rice flail), kama (sickle), and tonfa (mill handle). Flexible weapons in the form of cordage made from local grasses and reeds, or fishing nets and lines, were used to entrap and choke opponents.

Some edged weapons were used, but because of the lack of suitable materials, the resourceful Hawaiians had to make do with what was available on the islands. Two examples are the weapons seen below, using shark's teeth to provide a cutting/ripping edge:

Two wooden lua weapons with sharks teeth

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