Apr 212014
hawaii makahiki competition

Young boys on Molokai participating in the Makahiki Games.

I remembering listening to a talk given by Olohe Thomas Kaulukukui at a Strength and Conditioning Clinic at UH Manoa.  He was talking about the Hawaiian Values and asking the UH Athletic Department about the values they want for their athletes.

When he asked us to name some Hawaiian values, there were many that were thrown out there; Pono, Aloha, Ohana, Malama, Kuleana, etc.

He continued to tell us that when we think of the Hawaiian values, the same ones always pop up, like the ones I mentioned above.  But then the shared there are many many more values out there that the Hawaiian people have forgotten about.  Values that the ancient Hawaiian people embraced just as much as any of the ones we only think of today.

One of them being Hoʻokūkū

Ho‘okūkū expresses a willingness to be competitive and to challenge others as in a sports context to be the best.
-Peter Apo

Olohe Kaulukukui shouted out, “COMPETE! There is nothing wrong wanting to be competitive, and most importantly WIN.”

I’ve heard it different from other people who talk about success and leadership, on how being competitive with other people is wasted energy and it’s more important to compete against yourself.  I believe in that too, it is important to make sure you are better than your previous self.

But competition is human nature and it’s part of the Ku Lifestyle.

While I researched about the history of sports during ancient Hawaii, I came across the Makahiki games which was similar to the Greek Olympics.  It was an event full of competition.  Then I learned, that many of the traditional Hawaiian games were not team sports.  There were mostly individual sports, where there would be only one victor because when in battle there will only one.

Today, there is the thought that ‘Competition brings out the worst in people,’  and that competition is about being superior over another person. I believe that to a certain extent. But I also believe that it’s a bunch of crap when  people go in the direction of saying they don’t compete and that they have no desire of being better than another person and only want to be better than they were before.

The Ku Lifestyle, has an essence of a warrior spirit.  

And for a warrior, if you do not care about being better than another person then you will lose in battle.  Hoʻokūkū, is only meant for the strong who can handle being competitive while still being Ha’aha’a and Ha’aheo.   Hoʻokūkū still shows respect and honor for those you are victorious over and those who defeat you, but it still doesn’t mean you give up the desire to compete.

“In sports, there are Winners and Losers,” Olohe Kaulukukui said to the audience.  The same goes in life.  In today’s society, everything is all about being humble,showing sportsmanship, and being happy for other people’s accomplishments, which is all fine.

But try to show me a team who is happy after losing a championship game or show me someone who’s okay with getting knocked out during a boxing match.

Everyone loves the Japanese Proverb, “Fall down seven times, get back up eight,” or even one by the inspiring leader Zig Ziglar, “Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up and moving forward is a choice.”

But in my mind, what gets you back up is Hoʻokūkū, the willingness and desire to COMPETE and WIN.


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