Hawaii's Insane and Ancient Downhill Sport, Papa Holua, Poised for Comeback, by SixWise.com

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Papa holua, a favorite pastime of native Hawaiians for over 1000 years that makes today's "extreme sports" look like croquet, is starting to make a comeback. Hold your breath!

Papa Holua is not the father of the hula hoop. It’s the name of an ancient Hawaiian sport that literally means "to slide into the pit" in Hawaiian.

A favorite pastime and cultural icon of native Hawaiians for over 1,000 years, everyone in Hawaii did papa holua until about 200 years ago when missionaries came to the island and forced them to stop, calling it a "dangerous and barbaric" tradition.

What is so dangerous about papa holua?

Well first a warning: those of you with kids (either the young or grown-up variety) who are into skateboarding, snowboarding and other "extreme sports," do not let them get their hands on this article! Papa holua holds the same appeal as these extreme sports, though the experts here at http://www.sixwise.com stick it in the "insane sports" category.

In papa holua, participants rode a 12-foot long, 50-pound “sled” the width of a ski down a rocky slope. But that’s not all—riders would run a few steps with sled in hand, then dive chest-first onto the papa holua for their face-first ride down the mountain. Some would even ride standing up!

Professor Tom Stone of the University of Hawaii, who also happens to be an established surfer, is the current expert on this long-lost sport and is almost single-handedly trying to revive it. Said Stone, "It's like sledding on your stomach … You're doing 40 miles per hour, just four inches off the ground."

Stone has already taught 250 students the unique art of how to build and ride papa holua, and has built more than 100 sleds himself (to see a picture of a pap holua sled go to http://www.sixwise.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=44) He believes the sleds were first used as tools to move tree logs, and then were adapted to be used in "a ritual by which Hawaiians put their lives in the hands of the gods."

That sounds like a rather accurate description.

Stone’s ultimate goal? To encourage local Hawaiians to hold their own papa holua competitions once again, and then add in a touch of his own flare: a competition between a sled rider and a surfer in which, after a flag is dropped, a rider races down a mountain and a surfer rides a wave, both to a designated spot on the beach. The winner is the first one to make it to the spot first… or at least in one piece.

If you’re thinking of taking up this sport, perhaps you’d like to start with one slide at Kahikinui on Maui. It’s 5,000 feet, or nearly a mile, long. In all honesty, though, http://www.SixWise.com highly recommends you do not try this at home—or at work, or on your next vacation to Hawaii.

If you’re itching for your own version of papa holua, you’re better off grabbing your old trusty snow sled and heading off to that hill down the street. Then, if you’re really daring, you may want to try it stomach-first, but you didn’t hear that from us!

-See a picture of a man riding a papa holua sled at http://www.sixwise.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=44

-Also read The 7 Most Dangerous Youth Sports in America at http://www.sixwise.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=71

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John Dearlove
SIXWISE.COM
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