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Home Close Combat The Principles and Techniques of LimaLama

samoan/polynesian dance

There are martial arts out there that have a real heart beat and dance-like spirit. Limalama is one of those special arts and it has a great reserved yet powerful force that you just cannot deny. The founder of the art, Tu’umamao “Tino” Tuiolosega, actually had a great background in aikido, Shaolin kung fu, judo, boxing, and Hung Ga. What really helped him form limalama is traditional Polynesian fighting and warrior dance from his father and uncle, which he passed down to his son, Rudy Tuiolosega. Limalama basically stands for hands of wisdom.

He introduced the art in Hawaii during the 50s and spread it out all over California. Rudy Tuiolosega and one of Tino Tuiolosega’s best pupils, Ted Tabura, still continue to teach and spread knowledge through schools, seminars, and interviews. We’ll go through some of the locks, palm strikes, forms, and other techniques below.

1. Tiger Form

This is great form that actually has a rather solid Kung Fu influence. You can tell spirituality and martial arts diversity were important to Tuiolosega. Tuiolosega definitely used kung fu principles with his own limalama. The video below shows a very clean, soft yet powerful tiger form. You can see the Polynesian dance influence, which is a big part of this style in the stomps and claps. Great video here!

2. Splashing Hands

This is another kung fu based movement that requires quickness and dexterity. The original splashing hands actually derives from Shaolin. The name itself refers to how we splash water off our hands. It was a close combat technique the guards would use both offensively and defensively. This is an extremely effective force that helps you as far as street combat and mixed martial arts. It’s all about finding a good distance between you and a person. When you are out there on the streets, you have to read body language. Sometimes, this will mean closing the gap and making the first few moves before your adversary. This is a good video below showing great limalama tactics and combinations practical for street fighting. Enjoy!

3. Flow

Of course, limalama has hard strikes but the essence is more soft spoken and subtle. Master Lugo who was taught directly from Grandmaster Tuiolosega gives excellent instruction on fluidity. He places great emphasis on hand coordination, foot movement and great flow. Here he shows you how your flow can turn into great power. He shows you it very slow so you can figure out the movement then speeds up to see how effective hitting in multiple angles and targets helps your engagement. Watch the video below for greater detail.

4. Grabs

Another foundation of limalama is grabbing and locking. You can use someone clothes to leverage a good grab and find a way to put them in a locking position. Or you can directly grab places such as the wrist, fingers, and different joints that are close but rather soft. It’s a good way to help you take down your opponent more efficiently. Also, it’s great for showing how to reverse locks or grabs when you are in close combat. Good follow up techniques are recommended because you want to stay a few steps ahead of your opponent. This is a quality tutorial that you should watch multiple times to get the technique down.

Limalama is a great island based martial art with foundation from Japan, China, and a Polynesian spirit. What tactics do you find useful within limalama. Do you have your own warrior spirit when you practice your art? Do you practice another Polynesian based style? Drop a comment below!

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