Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - Weapons and traditonal fight of the Maori as an element of the physical culture

Maori belong to a group of South Pacific islands tribes, they are tribal people who inhabit territory of New Zealand. For general number of 4 million people inhabiting New Zealand, the Maori constitute about 10% of the whole population (370 000). Until present day, most of the Maori have considered themselves inheritors of ancient warriors, cultivating ancient martial arts and traditional weapon crafting. All of those are key elements of their culture and part of Maori tradition.
During the turbulent period of conquests and colonization, the Maori community was mainly defending their tribal and territorial independence. The combat was an interpretation of their tribal history of conflicts, that shaped their social identity within the specified area – either they were under attack or attacking. Weapons were common and important elements of life. The technique of handling weapons was adopted and learned accurately so the weapon owner could succeed in fight. Geographic location of New Zealand – isolated from continents effected undoubtedly the creation of new extraordinary fight techniques that were encouraging use of handcrafted weaponry made out of natural materials (wood, stone, and bones). Despite of the acculturation process, the fight culture of the Maori survived in an almost unchanged form until present day and reflects even the modern sport rituals and habits.