Published by Blue Snake Books/Frog, Ltd. (An Imprint of North Atlantic
Books, Berkeley, California) this vividly illustrated work chronicles
the absorbing history of the cultural weapon-lore of the ancient lua
and warriors of Hawai‘i documents the complex customs and military
traditions of the oftentimes obscured koa warriors. His exquisite
artwork (over 50 pieces) colorfully and boldly captures and depicts the
deadly tools that these fierce Stone Age warriors used in battles among
the rival chieftains and kings of that long bygone era.
Campbell states, “From ancient times until the arrival of Captain Cook
in 1778, the warriors employed a wide array of deceptively simple but
brutally effective weaponry, much of it unique to the islands and
utilizing local materials such as shark’s teeth.” Featured here are the
main types used in combat, including spears and daggers, slings,
tripping weapons, stone weapons, strangling cords, and others. Campbell
also provides detailed explanations of how these sculpturally beautiful
but quite lethal weapons were employed in spear throwing, spear
thrusting, pole-vaulting, singlestick, rough-and-tumble wrestling,
boxing, and on the battlefield.
This beautifully illustrated full-color hardback edition features an
assortment photos and lithographs that were provided courtesy of the
Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Also, Campbell’s beautifully
rendered art illustrations add another dimension of authenticity from
his recollections from his visit to the museum’s archival vaults on
O’ahu. Upon viewing the actual archived weapons in the archives,
Campbell had a renewed sense of appreciation for the skills and
craftsmanship that went into making such lethal weapons that were
undoubted used in actual battles in the Hawai’ian Islands. He also
included chapters and much historic information regarding the wide
array of various weapons from that era prior to the arrival of
foreigners (haole) in the late 1700’s. Chapters also include usage
techniques, strategies, construction-lore, battle formations, extensive
tactics as well as an in depth timeline and glossary.
Highlighted features include:
- Stunning original oil paintings by the author depict the
warriors and the era up to the arrival of Captain Cook.
- Original, rare historical information about Hawai‘i’s
- Detailed explanation of complex customs of the Hawai‘ian
culture and military training.
This book, drawing on the oral tradition and teachings of Sid
Campbell’s Hawai‘ian ‘ohana, his years of painstaking research, and his
passionate artistic vision, tells the story of this important part of
our American heritage, the lost warrior arts of Hawai‘i.
What the reader find fascinating about this topic is the contrasting
way in which many envision the Hawai’ian Islands as a paradise where
mele (music), hula (dance), and luau (feast and party) are the
traditional customs of these enchanting lands. Granted, these mystical
islands represent those traditions quite splendidly, but this historic
book is compelling evidence that the traditional warriors of Hawai’i
were truly creative, courageous, and incorrigible fighters whose legend
defies the myth held by most Westerners that the Polynesians were
carefree and pacifist by nature. They were adeptly skilled in fighting,
loyal to their kings, and brutally efficient at annihilating the
enemies who would attempt to invade their island kingdoms. Above all,
they were ruthless and feared no one!
Excerpt: Chapter 1
THE KOA WARRIOR'S LIFE AND TIMES
Hawaii's natives have always called themselves "Ka poe Hawaii""the
Hawaiian people" and many of the terms expressed in this work will use
the language that are in accordance with the way the islanders
described or conveyed their meaning in ancient times. The glossary in
the back of this text will be especially helpful should to encounter
difficulty in understanding these interpretations or wish to gain more
clarity of their meaning.
Suffice it to say that since this book's primary purpose of this
reference is to feature and depict the cultural weapons and warrior
arts (strategy and tactics) of ancient Hawai'i, there will be very
little mention of the daily life, culture and traditional customs of
life and times of Ka poe Hawaii in general. That will be my endeavor in
another book of similar size and content at another time.
But at the outset of this monumental work I will begin by stating that
the koa warrior's development in the fighting traditions began in
childhood, with sports that helped strengthen his body and promoted
dexterity, quickness and flexibility. This strenuous training also
included bare-fisted boxing, hand and body wrestling.
In the process, he became adept at striking an opponent's chest with
open palms to unbalance him, interlocking index fingers or clasping
thumbs with an opponent to pull or push him into submission, and, from
a seated position, pushing his opponent over with his feet. To enhance
his ancillary skills, there were long-distance foot races to teach him
endurance, and races in cartwheels and somersaults to teach him balance
Since ancient times, long before the arrival of the British in 1778,
the Hawaiian warrior's life was one of devoted service to the ali'i nui
(high chief), and demanded rigorous physical training to maintain his
specialized offensive and defensive skills. Though he was a commoner
with no royal or noble distinction, the young adolescents were groomed,
first, for battle to protect his island against attack and invasion
from rival kingdoms. However, he also had occasion to demonstrate his
fighting skills in more peaceful settings like in mock warfare
competitions on the athletic playing fields of the annual Makahiki
celebrations. These ceremonial displays of fierceness and ruthlessness
were performed to impress chiefs and commoners alike.
As with any culture, the preservation of its society was contingent on
the ability to defend or ward off threat or invasion with the force and
might of its warriors. Regional island entities and ali'i that failed
or ignored this basic precept were destined to lose their domain.
Austerity or lower-class status was not necessarily a way of life for
the koa (warrior). He was highly respected and treated with the utmost
of courtesy. He was never one to be taken for granted or slighted and
his dignity was to never be questioned or doubted.
Seasoned condition and fighting prowess of the warriors of the Hawaiian
Islands were of paramount importance to the kingdom in general. In
order to condition and make the warrior fit for battle, the Hawaiian
koa warrior trained from childhood in sports that developed strength,
agility, quickness and endurance.
In ancient times, a warrior chief was called 'a'ama kua lenalena-"rock
crab with yellow back"-because of his agility, swiftness and the
brightly colored feathered cape that covered his shoulders. He was
likened to the fierce 'ahi fish, the powerful shark and the eel, in
that he fought bravely to survive. Likewise, warriors in combat were
compared to gaming cocks with razor-sharp spurs; in phalanx formation,
they were powerful ocean currents, sweeping over the battlefield and
leveling the opposing army.
He learned the use of implements that improved coordination and
judgment. Wooden spears were for fencing, parrying and hurling at
targets such as cut banana stumps. To develop strength and accuracy, he
excelled at the sport called 'ulu maika, in which stone bowling discs
(originally unripe breadfruit, or 'ulu) were rolled on playing fields
200-250 feet long. He also practiced at throwing or sliding javelins,
darts and sugar cane stalks on grassy courses, and sharpened his aim
and distance perception by casting sling-stones and shooting arrows of
cane flower stalks.
At the completion of each phase of training, he underwent difficult
tests of skill. In one test, the student stood with arms outstretched,
palms down, not lowering either arm as a second person walked on top of
the right arm, over his head to the left arm, then back again to the
It should be mentioned from the outset of this text that a warrior
attained the status of 'olohe, or expert, by mastering the disciplines
of hula and ku'i a lua (fighting arts, of the same name as the deity
Ku'ialua). So highly regarded were these two sacred traditions, that
each was said to stand in the shadow of the other. Hula acknowledged
the dual nature of Laka-as the deity of forest greenery, healing and
creative energy, and as Kapo, Laka's opposing, or negative, side. The
fighting arts, honoring Ku'ialua, included instruction in the human
anatomy and healing techniques, along with the numerous fighting holds
or strokes, called 'ai.
'Olohe dedicated to ku'i a lua formed an elite class of warriors who
served as bodyguards to the chiefs. They had formidable
"weapons"-well-placed strokes and holds that broke bones, dislocated
joints and applied pressure to nerve centers and vital organs. Each
'ai, or hold, was known by a specific name that usually contained
references to gods, chiefs, places, birds, sea creatures and other
things found in nature or in material culture. These names were quite
descriptive, and even poetic: "The loincloth of Chief Liloa," for
example, or "The snout of the hog," or "The beauty of the evening rain
of Manoa returns."
The weapons, fighting arts and strategies contained within this
thoroughly researched work should attest to the prowess and abilities
of Hawai'i's koa and should shed some light on just how ruthless,
courageous and loyal these warriors really were. They were a breed
apart from what we imagine and know what warriors are today. With
nothing more than their hands and simple weapons-by today's
standards-they put their life on the line with unhesitating fervor.
Undaunted by threats or intimidation of a superiorly armed force from a
rival kingdom of another island in the Hawaiian archipelago, these
magnificent, well-trained militiamen knew not the meaning of fear or
peril. They were groomed for fighting to the death in the name of their
king. After all, they were the elite Hawaiian koa.
My congratulations to haumana Sid Campbell on the completion of the
Warrior Arts and Weapons of Ancient Hawai’i. As a fellow lifelong
martial artist it has been an honor to know him as a friend, warrior,
writer, artist, and above all as a bearer of the aloha spirit. As an
Olohe Lua it is rare to see a man so sincere in his efforts to portray
our culture and our warrior ancestors with the honor and valor only a
true warrior can understand. He went about his research with humility
and true respect for the Hawaiian people and the cultural realm he was
entering. This is a rare and wonderful quality. I hope this work helps
many future generations of Hawaiians rediscover their roots and leads
others on the warrior path to appreciate our history.
On this auspicious occasion I give to Sid Campbell the Hawaiian name
KA'IMI, which means "The Seeker". This name is a portion of my own name
and this because I recognize Ka'imi as family. My friend and brother
Ka'imi Campbell is a true seeker of knowledge in the warrior traditions
of all the cultures in our great human family. He learns and shares
with an open heart. With this name may he always call Hawai'i his home.
SIR KAINOA KEKOAOKALANI LI
Kahuna Lomi Lomi
Pa Ku'i A Lua A Ku Waha Ilo
Mililani a me Makaha, Hawaii.
Awareness of the martial arts, weaponry, dances, music, tools, diet,
and language are so important amongst the Hawaiian's cultural heritage.
The spirituality goes hand in hand with all of the aforementioned. This
book will be a steppingstone to many readers who have not yet grasped
this aspect of the Hawaiian culture. Many of the various styles and
shapes of weapons used in battle during the era of King Kamehameha were
not shown to the general public, therefore, it is with great respect
and honor to the younger generation that your illustrations are
revealed in such a way where it will be educational and profitable in
knowledge to everyone concerned.
The hula kahiko (ancient Hawaiian dance) reveals a kauna (hidden
meaning) as well as the Hawaiian Lua (Hawaiian Martial Art) in warfare
as well as romances or tales of long ago. You have unveiled a lot of
unanswered questions and visions pertaining to the Hawaiian myths;
legends; and untold stories and my deepest respect go to you and your
awesome endeavor of this Hawaiian treasured book.
With fondest aloha & respect,
Lua Practitioner, Kajukenbo Grandmaster,
Founder Won Hop Kune Do Kung-fu
“Uncle” Sid Campbell’s art and writing is truly reflective of the
Hawai’i that I remember the makua (parents and relatives) describing as
I was growing up in Maui. The kahiko (ancient dances) that I love so
much reflects the true spirit of the warriors of yore. I think “Uncle”
Sid has captured that splendidly with his book Warrior arts and Weapons
of Ancient Hawai’i.
His love of Hawai’ian history, culture, tradition and sense of
documenting the islands is simply the best. What makes it even more
unique is the fact that he has studied the martial arts for over
forty-five years and really knows how to convey the pure essence of
what his is writing and painting about and that if Hawai’i. His art is
Aloha and mahalo,
Miss Maui, 2004
Sid Campbell is as much óhana as my own family. We have shared
much of the ancient ways that existed in Hawai’i long before the
Europeans arrived. My ancestors were warriors and passed many stories
to me and I am honored that he decided to convey some of these ancient
teachings in his latest book.
As fellow martial artists, I am blessed to know Sid Campbell and have
always enjoyed the way he writes so passionately about the history,
traditions and the people he loves.
Black Belt, Kajukenbo
288pp, 8 x 10
Color photos and illustrations throughout
Martial Arts & Self-Defense
HISTORY / United States/State & Local/West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT,
NV, UT, WY)
Author and artist Sid Campbell’s
passion for Hawai‘iana culture and traditional ancient weapons lore is
reflected in his original artwork found in this book. Campbell has made
the primary theme of his art the warriors and the cultural lore
surrounding the mystique of these ancient fighters, in a gallery-sized
collection of highly detailed Hawai‘ian
warrior art. In the past 40
years Hanshi (Grandmaster) Sid Campbell, 10th dan (Tenth-degree black
belt), has taught over 15,000 students and has been either directly or
indirectly responsible for black belt rank awards being bestowed on
over 850 martial artists who have earned these prestigious honors in
the art of Shorin-Ryu (Kobayashi-ryu) karate-do.