Hula is uniquely Hawaiian and very different to the Hollywood style portrayal that is often seen in films and on TV. Hula has a deeply spiritual basis and is underpinned by protocols and ancient traditions. Like other forms of dance, it is a physical way to express feelings, experiences, and desires, “it informs, entertains, heals and inspires using the human body as an instrument for storytelling”. In Hula Kahiko (Ancient Hula) the dancers are telling the story described in the chant or “mele” – a narrative that might evoke the spirit of the gods or express the landscape or tales of the people.
Watching Hula Kahiko performed by a skilled Halau (school) you can’t help but be moved, both by the physical energy and the power of expression each dancer displays within the group – it is quite literally breathtaking. But how does all of this relate to Kahuna Bodywork?
Coming together as one
Kahuna Bodywork training not only draws on the protocols and principles of Hula Kahiko but also the way movement is used to express firstly ourselves and also the body of our clients. When we perform Ka’aleleau, the somatic movement practice that underpins Kahuna Bodywork, we are performing all that we are; every emotion, every thought, our whole space of existence, as every cell of our body starts to come together and move as one.
Just as each dancer within the Halau comes together to move as a whole within the Hula dance. When we perform Kahuna Bodywork, we are expressing the landscape of our client's body, telling their story and that of their ancestral lineage, just as the Hula dancer performs the story being told in the chant.
Ancient wisdom for modern times
Kahuna Bodywork training also draws on the traditions and protocols of Hula Kahiko; in the respect each student is expected to show to when entering the Halau space, and towards their teacher, as well as in the decorating of the space, the discipline of the practices we perform and the principle of Ohana (family) that everything comes back to.
Hula Kahiko training is very strict, with students enduring hours of practice to perfect the movements, and whilst many students claim to want to be trained in the ancient way, in reality, our modern mentality reacts very differently when faced with the level of dedication and discipline required!
This training was never just about Kahuna Bodywork, but about exploring and becoming more of your self through the movement techniques Kahu Abraham Kawai'i developed and the ancient principles he shared. This knowledge or “rite of passage” was something that had never been taught to non-Hawaiian students before and the bodywork was the side-effect, not the purpose. Mostly now students come to learn the bodywork but they also leave knowing a great deal more about themselves. Kahuna Bodywork is ultimately the art of the Self, of being yourself in every moment.
© Joy Barber Hua, 2017