Did you know that a number of little kids are taking up fireknife dancing as an after-school activity? Yes. You've gotta wonder -- at what age is a child too young to play with fire!? Ok, these kids do it with adult supervision. Our Sports Director, Johann Bouit, covered the 16th Annual World Championships held recently at Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. This year's winner is Mikaele Olua, a former three-time world champion, who just turned 19. His 17 year old cousin VJ (last year's winner), took second place. These young dancers already hold jobs at resorts. Miakele works at the Fiafia Luau at the Marriot Hotel in Koolina and VJ is in Orlando, Florida. They've become role models for a group of very young competitors, about 30 dancers, all 17 and under, who competed this year in the Jr. Divisions. The youngest champion is 9. Another is 10 yet he's practiced fireknife dancing since the age of 2. Their parents believe the sport promotes good traits-- dedication, focus, perseverance, and athleticism -- all valuable qualities. And of course this is all practiced under strict supervision.
For westerners this might be one of the most far afield after school activities one could imagine but Life is Good in the Pacific. Give a kid a fireknife half his size, toss in a book of matches, he'll surely learn how to respect fire. And the blade he twirls and hurls above his little forehead? Don't sweat it. He's trained to balance perfection with artistry even though he's only a small fry. If you ask me this beats seeing local 9 year olds coming up thinking they're not good enough because they never learned that discipline helps us grow self esteem and that sense of achievement makes for strong confident young males. And those young men become good husbands and fathers. I hope that across the Pacific we'll continue to see the preservation of these kinds of arts and cultural practices. We see too many American kids wasting their precious youth playing Grand Theft Auto, or smoking pakalolo in the halls, or bullying other kids and hanging out at malls doing nothing. They could do with some fireknife dancing.
So what's it cost to tool up? Lots of chutzpah, coordination, some really understanding parents, and $155 for the flaming sword. Satisfaction level: priceless.
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