16 May

Lua – the Hawaiian art of Bone Breaking


Michelle Manumaleuna has done a lot of things – professional hula, professional football, martial arts consultant for Femme D’Action show, you know, the usual. In 2010, she taught at PAWMA camp and the large Seven Star contingent there realized that she was awesome and should come visit us. We were super stoked when she agreed to do a workshop with us in early 2011. Her martial art, lua, is a native Hawaiian martial art, a hard side precursor of hula. In 2011, she explained that lua is the Hawaiian word for pit, and they call it that because that’s where you put the bodies.

In a kajukenbo school, everyone’s eyes light up when you say something like that. Shark bite and stinging squid strikes? “Poi pounding” to tenderize an opponent’s flesh? Choking each other out with our belts? Yes, please!

When we were lucky enough to have Michelle come back this year for a single day workshop, I signed up right away.

We spent the morning on empty hand techniques. How to use your block as a counter, and take control of your opponent’s head, or other limbs.


In lua, the body is a family. The lower half is the man, providing stability and carrying the woman above him. The arms are the children, and the fingers are the grandchildren. Everyone’s got to work together, or they get kicked out of the house. Alternatively, if the kids wander off too far from the parents, they can end up in trouble.

(During lunch there was a puppy that everyone squeed over.)


And the afternoon was weapons. Stick disarms to start with, using various swords, staffs, arnis canes, and broom handles we had around the school. If you do it right, you can stick the strands of the broom in your opponent’s ear – not pleasant, but that’s kind of the point.

Then Michelle asked those of us with shoes to remove our laces, and we practiced some knife disarms into chokes, then finished up with gun disarms. In the lua parlance, Michelle talks about skin like the skin of a fruit – something that you peel off when necessary. Like when you are scraping the trigger guard of a gun along the index finger of someone who was threatening to shoot you.


Fun times!


Hopefully Michelle Manumaleuna will be teaching at PAWMA camp again this year. So, if you are you a female martial artist in the Western US, Canada, or any of the countries bordering the Pacific, you should come play with us! Camp is October 11-14, 2013, in Turner, Oregon. There are work-study scholarships available and it is open to women who have been training for 3 weeks or 30 years.