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by Kahuna Hula Kawaikapuokalani Hewett

Many of my students from around the world have asked me about attending Hula workshops from different Kumu coming to their countries, please allow me to explain the tradition as it is in Hawaii.

A haumana (student) in a halau (hula school) has a deep sense of malama (honor and respect) for the kumu (teacher).

A haumana would think very long and seriously before even asking the kumu to attend a workshop held by another teacher.

The relationship between teacher and student is a lifelong relationship that is based on trust, honor and loyalty--to the school of learning and to the teacher.

The teacher also takes the responsibility to the student based on the same tradition--respect, honor and loyalty.

I have been teaching now for 40 years, and I have students who have been with me for 40 years and still going.

I am their parent, teacher, doctor, nurse, advisor, counselor, leader and everything else. I love and take care of them.

So as you can see, this relationship is truly a unique and special one.

Now here is the challenge: whichever side damages the relationship will usually damage it for a lifetime.

It will be very hard to mend the relationship once a bad choice damages that relationship. It is done.

So people who cannot dedicate themselves to one school of learning will always be jumping around with no one source of knowledge, but trying to grab knowledge from everywhere with no connection, or not being connected to anyone, any school, any source.

In Hawaii we know this kind of student, and teachers will try to stay away from them. No teacher needs this kind of student because a school is based on the knowledge of that school and the loyalty to the school. In Hawaii these students are referred to as "halau hoppers"--hopping from school to school with no base, no foundation, no lineage.

So if I wanted to take a workshop from someone else I would really think about it--about how it would benefit my life, my relationship with my teacher, and my future in the hula community. Just food for thought.

Another consideration is that when you choose a teacher remember these criteria: one, the age of the teacher (the older, the wiser); two, the commitment and the dedication of the teacher (the years and years of teaching); three, the contributions of the teacher to the hula tradition, and how the teacher is respected in the hula community, and how his or her work is valued in the hula community.

I will not tell you what to do. You have to decide where you want to stand on this matter and then make your own choices. I can only guide your process, but you have to choose. Nana i ke kumu--Look to the source. This Hawaiian saying is not written Nana i na kumu--Look to many sources, because that will only bring confusion to your spirit. Aloha.

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