'I just lost it:' @breidenfehoko4 explains the haka and what it means to him #StraightFromTh
The moment wasn't planned. Vili Fehoko started doing the haka, and Breiden Fehoko couldn't control himself.
The LSU defensive lineman made his way down Victory Hill for LSU's "Tiger Walk," like the team does before every game, while his father waited behind the gate near the Tiger Stadium locker room.
Fehoko hugged his mother and father before walking in, but then Vili -- who was "Vili the Warrior" at University of Hawaii football games for 11 years -- started doing a haka -- a traditional Maori posture dance -- right in front of him.
"I just lost it," Fehoko said. "I had to do it too."
Breiden, Vili and Fehoko's brother performed "Ka Mate" -- the most widely known Maori haka -- right in front of the massive sea of LSU fans, yelling and stomping their feet doing the war cry while Vili got so excited he picked up the gate and started slamming it against the ground.
Teammates like Grant Delpit and Devin White were jumping up and down watching with joy, and when Fehoko walked into the locker room teammates were mimicking the dance and yelling.
"I gotta do it with you next time, man!" they said. "I'm doing it with your daddy next time."
He joked that he would show them, but it takes time to learn the Maori war cry made more famous by the New Zealand "All Blacks" rugby team doing it before games.
"The reason why I get so fired up is the meaning behind it," Fehoko said. "Man, when you do that, my mind just flips. I knew I was going to be ready to go."
Fehoko proceeded to explain the story of "Ka Mate" to the LSU media Monday (Oct. 15) and why it means so much to him.
Te Rauparaha was a Maori chief and leader of the Ngati Toa tribe. The story goes that around 1820, members of warring tribes were pursuing Te Rauparaha. He made his way to another island and sought help from a local chief.
The chief had Te Rauparaha hide in his sweet potato pit, and the chief's wife sat above the pit. Te Rauparaha, thinking he was doomed, started chanting "Ka Mate, Ka Mate," meaning "I die, I die."
When he wasn't noticed, he chanted, "Ka Ora, Ka Ora" for "I live, I live." He eventually made his way out of the pit and performed the haka to celebrate his escape.
"So when you start that chant, you're either gonna live or you're gonna die," he said. "You gotta make your mind up."
Fehoko said Ed Orgeron made Fehoko do it for the defensive line last season before a 6 a.m. meeting before heading to Florida for the Citrus Bowl. The whole team was exhausted and quiet, and Orgeron asked him if he has a little something for the team.
"Get your butt up here and do that haka," Orgeron demanded.
So Fehoko stood up and started doing the haka to ignite the team, and soon the linebackers in the other room were opening the door and checking in to see.
"I just know there's a (switch I flip)," Fehoko said. "My spine tingles thinking about it."