Hula Girls, Lima Lama and Kenpo?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
10 Jun 2008

  

Aloha! One of my first karate exposures was from Hal Edwards Lima Lama and the NAS Miramar base in San Diego. When I was a teenager we (fellow military brats) would go to the base karate program and learn Lima Lama. Hal was a black belt from Saul Esquivel. I met Saul Esquivel at the base karate club once and later met the founder of Lima Lama, Tino Tuiolosega at a seminar in Escondido, CA as I recall.

  

One of the things I heard about Lima Lama was it was composed of old island martial arts that the head hunters used to practice (Lua) and many of the moves were part of the traditional island dances called hula. Hal was big on pointing out the benefits of using short circular wrist moves to block and fingers or back knuckles as a quick counter. I looked for some hula on youtube.com but found modern dances for the tourists but here is one hula that seemed to be telling a story (I am not an expert in hula).

 

  

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/puelcyhsXQ0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

 

  

Did you notice how the women were moving their arms? One could imagine how these movements could be used as wrist blocks, hooks and eye strikes. Before I learned about initial movement and still believed in blocks (I am older and wiser now) I thought it was possible to deflect a punch with a simple wrist movement and counter-strike with an eye shot. I still believe that would work if one knew it was coming, but therein lies the rub... with modern karate that employ Bruce Lee type of initial movement - one simply cannot anticipate a move before he or she gets hit, if he is inside the critical distance!



  

I remember the slapping of the hand movements that I would do as I struck or blocked with the other hand. I found lots of spanish language Lima Lama videos that seemed be more traditional karate fighting but I did find some videos of the self-defense techniques that used the circular flowing hand movements that I remember so well as a youth. Here is a quick example.

 

  

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/w8zWB1boN_w" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

  

Lima Lama or Hand of Wisdom was founded by Tino Tuiolosega in the mid-fifties according to Wikipedia.com. A brief history of Lima Lama shows how Lima Lama and Kenpo have many of the same roots and common practitioners. Ed Parker is mentioned and as many Kenpo stylist know, Ed is thought to be the father of American Karate. His studio was one of the first karate schools in the United States. More information about the Island fighting arts can be found here.

  

I think it is really interesting a Island dance such as the hula can have roots in lua martial arts without most people realizing what some of the movements mean. I have been wanting to write this post for the longest time because of my roots in karate have taken me full circle... learning Lima Lama as a teenager to becoming proficient at Chinese Kenpo Karate as an adult. Mahalo!

  

 

  


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54 Responses to “Hula Girls, Lima Lama and Kenpo?”

  1. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your insight about GM Nunez.

    Hi Martin,

    Lima Lama has always been close to my heart. I’d probably love kemposlamma.

    Thanks for sharing your insight gentlemen.

  2. floyd hicks Says:

    aloha
    I was a student of Dan Mitchell while stationed MP company camp Pendleton 1973 great instructions spoke to Rudy few years ago been praticing chen ,yang, taichi and Hsing-1 chuan past twenty plus years .

  3. The Daughter of Salomon Esquivel Says:

    MY NAME IS CELINA ESQUIVEL DAUGHTER OF DANIEL ESQUIVEL AND GRAND DAUGHTER OF “SAL ESQUIVEL”. I WILL BE HOSTING A BENIFIT ON BEHALF OF MY FATHER AND GRAND FATHER SOON. MORE INFO TO COME. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ATTENED PLEASE MAIL ME AT CELINE.ESQUIVEL@HOTMAIL.COM THANK YOU

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Celina! I met Master Sal Esquivel a few times but always liked his pragmatic approach to fighting. Sorry I won’t be able to attend but would gladly forward any information if you like.