The Most Intimidating Pre-Game Ritual in Sports: the Haka Dance

Haka Dance image

What the Yankees are to baseball, the New Zealand All Blacks are to rugby. In addition to an impressive history of victories, the All Blacks bring the most intimidating pre-game ritual in all of sports with their Haka Dance.

Imagine you’re a rugby player from another country, and you’re playing the All Blacks in an international competition. Prior to the game, you’ll be treated to this performance.

The All Blacks Haka Dance

History of the All Blacks Haka Dance

Sports is taken seriously in many places around the world. But, the All Blacks rugby team of New Zealand has taken competitiveness to another level. They take the sport a step further, and start it in a way that reminds you of the ancient tradition of war dance followed by the Maoris. The Haka dance is part of every All Blacks’ game. It is the opening note to their games, intended to both motivate the team and to strike fear into the hearts of the opposing players.

Importance of the All Blacks Haka Dance

Rugby is the national game of New Zealand. Today the Haka dance is recognized as central to the All Blacks rugby team’s legacy, apart from its successful track record in the sport. The dance tradition has been associated with the team since the days of Joseph Warbrick when it was a team made up of the natives of New Zealand. Its importance has continued to grow with the skills and performance of the team over the years.

Today, this Maori dance has become an easily recognizable even in international sport. Even though it has originated in the Maori culture, it connects well with all Kiwis. The Maori tradition plays a crucial role in daily life in the country, and the Haka has become a part of the official academic curriculum for over a decade now.

The Excitement Around Haka Dance

The All Blacks Haka dance is believed to build a strong connection with the audience most of whom claim that watching it gives them goose bumps and enhances the thrill of the game. In the local language, the audience watching the dance can feel its ‘ihi’ (the unique feeling of thrill).

The tradition of the All Blacks Haka dance goes back to the 1880s when the Native Team of New Zealand performed the ‘Ka Mate’ before an international game. According to the players, the dance helps them in mentally and physically preparing for the ‘battle’.

Roots from a War Dance

All Blacks Haka Dance imageThe history of the Haka dance goes back centuries ago when it was performed as a posture dance when preparing for war. It was performed during the war party before leaving for the battle or right on the battlefield. The tradition helped the warriors prepare mentally and physically for the impending situation. It is used today in the same spirit to prepare and encourage the players to win the game.

There are different sets of dance sequences in Haka. The All Blacks will determine the lead and the type of Haka to be performed before a game depending on two factors – their opponents and how the entire team is feeling. It is a widely held misconception that this dance can be performed only by men. There are several versions of Haka which are intended for men, but others can also be played by women. In fact, some types are meant to be performed only by women.

The All Blacks are the only international team to hold a winning record against all the nations they have played. Besides, they have a winning record of over 76% and have given the heaviest defeats to their opposing teams. They have long maintained their No.1 status in international rugby points rankings. Considering this massive success rate of New Zealand’s national rugby team, it would be difficult to argue with the success of the Haka Dance. The inspiration that this unique dance tradition provides works at many levels.

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