Friday, 13 February 2009
War dance and confrontational body language.
A very quick post tonight as I'm pooped. Need to get my feet up and a glass of whisky in my hand...
As the Six Nations is upon us I was intrigued to see the New Zealand team perform the haka the other day. This is a Maori war dance made at the opening of combat to strike fear into the enemy's heart through the words of the song they sing and the violent gestures used. I have since read that the word 'haka' can refer to any sort of ceremonial dance and the haka that the New Zealand team has used is called the peruperu. In any case check out the body language used and see those wonderful scary faces they pull.
All these gestures seem quite frightening to me and probably have added meaning to Maoris. I especially like the tongue sticking out which although can be comical in isolation, when used here with eyes ablaze and arms slapped it feels far from comical. Some people have said it gives the kiwis an unfair advantage (to scare the opponents?) and maybe they took it too far during the 2005 tri-nations series when they used a new haka (Kapa O Pango) finishing with a thumb drawing across the neck gesture. Very aggressive, and highly laced with symbolism. It was eventually withdrawn, despite one of the South African opponents who saw it for the first time saying it was a great privilege to see it.
Many opponent teams brave it out and maintain it has no effect. That may be so but in any case what an amazing way to pump yourself up pre-fight erm, I mean pre-match. Shouting (or singing) helps get oxygen into your body and performing like that in front of the opponent would no doubt allow you to disspiate a bit of your nervous energy.
Try it next time you spar.....
"Ka mate, Ka mate...."
(see also: A BBC clip explaining the background to the haka)