“Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!”
These words – Maori for “It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life!” – begin the most traditional version of the haka, the daunting pre-match challenge laid down by New Zealand’s All Blacks. They have the power to reduce your average 18-stone mountain of muscle to jelly.
Next up come the British and Irish Lions, who’d better grasp the true meaning of ‘strong and stable’ from the very start of the second Test. To face 15 large men puffing out their chests, slapping their thighs, stamping their feet, sticking out their tongues and shouting at you is hardly ideal preparation to get in the Zone – unless, that is, you’re one of them.
“It’s a pretty powerful way to start work,” says long-serving All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick in an interview for In The Zone. “But it’s not for the impact it has on opponents. Sure, it’s about throwing down a challenge to you, but it’s more about us coming together. It’s the power and unity it generates, for our country, friends, family and the players who have been before us. The haka is about us feeling good.”
No wonder the All Blacks are the greatest team in rugby union history. Yes, it is their national sport, but the impact of this public declaration of collective force is immense. It’s similar to Muhammad Ali’s “I am the Greatest” mantra – which he recited before he beat Sonny Liston and knew it to be true – or Michael Johnson’s gold shoes, worn before he’d won any individual Olympic medal. Say anything loud and proud enough and the result is an uncanny increase in its likelihood of becoming reality.
Read In The Zone for a full investigation into the power of the haka with contributions from current All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen and record-breaking captain Richie McCaw.
Find out more in my article from the London Evening Standard earlier this month...
Clyde Brolin spent over a decade working in F1 before moving on to the wider world of sport - all in a bid to discover the untapped power of the human mind.