LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This past weekend, a new warrior took home the title of the 2018 World Fireknife Champion.
Hale Motuapuaka of Aiea out-performed competitors from around the world.
Motuapuaka started fireknife dancing at 3-years-old and began competing as an exhibitor at the Polynesian Cultural Center's World Fireknife Championships at 4-years-old.
He has since won multiple titles in the Intermediate Division (ages 12-17).
As a graduating senior at Punahou School, Motuapuaka will be attending Utah State University in the fall on a football scholarship.
"As a junior and intermediate competitor, I remember watching the World Fireknife Championship competition and being in awe of the competitors' skills," said Hale Motuapuaka. "Being the 2018 World Fireknife Champion has been a dream and I'm thankful for all of the support from my family, friends and coaches throughout my fireknife dancing career. I am blessed to have come so far."
A panel of six judges, highly esteemed in the fireknife community, scored contestants' performances on overall speed, height of each throw, degree of difficulty, routine choreography, and their unique warrior-like presence.
Fireknife dancing draws its roots from the Samoan ailao, a warrior's knife dance, performed before battle with the nifo oti, or "tooth of death."
Now in its 26th year, the World Fireknife Championship was established by the Polynesian Culture Center to showcase this proud Samoan tradition and perpetuate it for future generations to embrace.