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History & Lineage pt.1 – the Kaaawa Chronicles

January 23, 2010

My life has been filled with wonderful friendships, adventures and mishaps – all thanks to my love for the martial arts.

These are the stories and experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. Here they are: the Kaaawa Chronicles.

From the windward side of Oahu, the scenic little town of Kaaawa sits on route to the island’s very popular North Shore. Kaaawa pops up immediately after passing Kualoa Ranch of the TV series LOST fame – filming takes place there – and the obvious “Welcome to Kaaawa” sign.

Kaaawa has one 7-11 which serves as the only gas station in town, a handful of restaurants, a tiny fire station with an even tinier post office. The rest of the town are homes stretching up from the beautiful shoreline all the way to the base of the Koolau mountain range. It is not surprising to find a large truck being dwarfed by a larger boat in every open garage.

My training took root in an incredible place, one I can hardly believe myself. Kaaawa is a wonder to behold. Even on a rainy day, it holds a sense of majesty. There at the foot of the emerald Koolau mountain range, at the edge of a tropical forest, where the crystal blue Pacific Ocean stretches out far beyond where the eye can see is my foundation in the martial arts. Breathtaking only scratches the surface.

The community there, the residents of Kaaawa, are very warm and welcoming people. Strangers are future close friends or unofficial members of the family that have yet to be introduced to everyone. More often than not I’d be the stranger in gatherings, weddings, birthdays or graduation parties and they would thank me for coming to their celebration.

Friendly, kind, everyone I know – from children, young men and women to hanai uncles and aunties – have open hearts and homes.

Then again they also love to fight.

Maybe it’s in our nature, maybe it’s because we’re all on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and it’s hard to take a timeout to “get away from it all” when water surrounds us on all sides, thus one of our many outlets to vent frustration is upon each other. Or maybe not. Whatever the reason may very well be, it’s comforting to know Hawaii has always been a rough place.

The Hawaii that gives us the delightful hip-swaying hula and shaka-brah culture of surfing, is also the same Hawaii that has a strong history of violence. For example: the Hawaiians have a large assortment of weapons. Though the only materials available are the island’s own natural resources, the Hawaiian warrior made up for anything lacking by means of ingenuity. One of their war clubs – the Lei o Mano – is a fine example. Usually made up of a heavy hard wood, this war club is lined and embedded with the jagged teeth of a shark.

There are other weapons similar throughout Polynesia, however, none of them measure up to the aggressive nature and image of a lei o mano – capable of smashing bone with its dense wood and shredding flesh with its shark teeth.

My friend Sam has one.

When King Kamahameha the Great set out to unite the Hawaiian islands, he would face resistance; previous to him each major island in the Hawaiian archipelago had its own separate ruling class. This would lead to many battles between the armies of the ruling chiefs and Kamehameha for surpreme authority.

Of all the battles Kamehameha would encounter none would be more bloody and violent than the Battle of Nu’uanu on the island of Oahu. See? I’m not violent, I’m just representing where I’m from y’all.

There Kalanikūpule, the then King of Oahu, told Kamehameha pretty much “You like my island? Try come and take ’em” to which Kamehameha answered by pushing – with sharp pointy spears – hundreds of Oahu warriors off the Nu’uanu cliffs to their deaths. If you’re ever on Oahu, it’s now the tourist spot Pali Lookout – enjoy!

As graphic as that seems, the ancient Hawaiians are not without their graces.

Any violation of law typically means severe punishment, the worst sentence being death. There are exceptions. Anyone receiving the death sentence, and clearly did not want to die, their life would be spared – no matter what – upon reaching a place of sanctuary. The City of Refuge – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau – on the island of Hawai’i is probably the most famous of the sanctuaries.

Usually the journey to these places of refuge would be full of tension, literally a fight for life. Probably at the very doorsteps of the refuge would be there be a final confrontation, the last stand if you will. But as soon as they step foot inside, past transgressions would be forgiven and there would be a celebration of life.

There is one on the island of Oahu, though it’s safe to say it no longer exists as its former self. By the way, the gateway to that place of refuge – probably were a bunch of fighting happened, like fighting-for-your-life fighting – that’s Kaaawa.

My friend Sam likes to point out the connections from time to time. I think I got that from him. I like to do it too.

Our lives are full of rich history. The bridges to the past are there. Our connections. Kaaawa may just be another small town in the history of small towns, but not for me. Kaaawa is so much more than that.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 11, 2010 8:12 pm

    Cool Kaaawa Chronicles, Patrick. I love good writing, I love Japan, and I know exactly where that sign is! I always wondered what happened to Pineapple Man. All best wishes to you. I look forward to Part 2 of the Chronicles. Aloha.

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