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Have you heard of LimaLama?

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

LimaLama (also spelled “Limalama”) is a Samoan-inspired martial art. This self-defense system consists of circular motions and movements that are incorporated inside a set of techniques and forms.

It is notable for its fluid, dance-like movements which are inspired by the founder’s background. In 1965, Tu’umamao "Tino" Tuiolosega developed the art form and invented the word “Limalama” by blending the Somoan words lima (hand) and malamalama (understanding). Tuiolosega directly translates LimaLama to mean “hand of wisdom.”

The hand of wisdom is right considering roughly 60% of its curriculum is based on hand techniques. LimaLama also uses holds, hand strikes, traps and locks, wrestling, pressure points, takedowns, and kicking. Regarding weapons, the curriculum teaches knife and stick fighting techniques.

LimaLama Founder Tino Tuiolosega

According to the LimaLama association website, Tu’umamao Tuiolosega was a member of the Samoan royal family and with his “extensive background of boxing and street fighting and created a contemporary, and comprehensive self-defense system.”

LimaLama is said to be a mix of Samoan and Lua fighting techniques, Kenpo karate, Chinese kung fu, various Japanese martial arts, American boxing, and wrestling. Limalama classifies techniques into thirteen categories:

1. Afikau - dance traditions

2. Amofoe - balance and weight manipulation

3. Fa’aelise - physical movement and co-ordination

4. Fa’ako’elau - wrestling

5. Faufusu - hand strikes

6. Lua’aga - pressure points

7. Milosia - circular movements

8. Pepelu ma Pega - knife work

9. Uma Ma Kaupi’I - holds and takedowns

10. Vaeka ma Kavae - kicks

11. Ti’apega ma Lo’u - stick techniques

12. Tal’amoa – combinations

13. Upaga ma Lo’ulo’uga - traps and locks

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