Dancers Taking a Stab at Fire Knife Competition

Justeen Castillo
Justeen Castillo

LAIE (KHNL) -- What once was used for battle, is now entertaining people all across the world.

And beginning Wednesday, fans can witness the art of fire knife dancing at it's finest as the Polynesian Cultural Center welcomes back the annual World Fire Knife Competition.

And just like cheese, or wine. The older it gets, the better it becomes.

Over your head. Through your legs. Or even on your mouth. These are just some of the things competitors have to do if they want to win the World Fire Knife Championships.

"If you're not fast and you're not daring, you're not going to make it to the semifinals," said Pulefano Galea, founder of the World Fire knife Championship.

The competition attracts dancers from all over the globe. From Japan to the mainland, and from Hawaii all the way down to Australia.

"We feel that our competition has really made it to get a world renowned endorsement," said Galea.

Part of that success is due to the format of the championship. With five divisions, there's something for everyone including Keiki and females.

"We started our young women's competition last year, and we had three sign up, but this year we'll have eight to twelve participants," said Galea.

16-year-old Justeen Castillo is one of those females making her debut at the competition thanks to her family.

"My brothers influenced me to, and it seemed like a fun art and I really like it," said Castillo.

But just like any first time competitor, Justeen still has some nerves to conquer, even though she's come a long way.

"I still have a fear slightly on certain moves, but when I first started I was scared and hesitant just to light the other side with my hand," she said.

Justeen and the female competitors kick off the four day championship Wednesday evening.

Saturday is when the main event takes place with the champion taking home $4,000 and a set of trophy knives.