Reading body language of the All Blacks and the Haka

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Reading body Language: The Haka from the All Blacks is definitely something that needs to be broken down and given an explanation of reading their body language. The All Blacks is a Rugby Union Team from New Zealand that just won the Rugby World Cup after a 24 year wait.


Reading body language of the haka and the all blacks
Reading body langugae of the all blacks and their Haka


The Haka originates from Maori’s from New Zealand and is similar to a dance that can be used for more than just intimidation it can be also used for celebratory reasons. The Haka is not just limited to men, children and women can also perform the Haka.  


Reading and understanding the body language of the Haka

The nonverbal breakdown consists of a few points:

  • ·         The stance
  • ·         Leg movements
  • ·         Arm movements
  • ·         Facial features
  • ·         The chant is more of a verbal communication rather than nonverbal


Understanding and reading the body language of this ceremony starts with the stance of the team. The Haka being used by the All Blacks would be considered a war chant meant to intimidate the other team. Generally the performer in the team starts with something similar to a squat with the feet planted on the ground. Typically there is a leader who starts the chant and then the body movements change with the chant. The Haka is performed by the members of the group at the same time simultaneously doing the same thing.


Next the legs of the performer can start to move while in the squatting position and a stomping motion starts and stops. This stomping does make the war dance appear more fierce especially in a squatting position.


The arm motions are added and consist of some sharp movements up and down or side to side. Now if you were to have to face a group of men 100 years ago on the field of battle and they appeared doing a Haka it would probably be enough to scare the opposition who had never seen it or against those who may have had a weaker Haka.


If you have a rugby team performing a Haka on the field it may just strike the same fear into any opposition.


Now you add in some of the facial movement that would add to the fear that could be created just through the body language or the nonverbal communication.


But wait there is more to this intimidating Haka: Add in the chants to this war Haka and you have a group the All Blacks vigorously synchronized stomping, shifting their body different directions, moving their arms, and then layer in intimidating facial features and you have a very intimidating formula for an opposing team.


Reading body language of the rugby team All Blacks Haka
Reading body language signs of the Haka from The All Blacks


The type of intimidation for the other team may start with shock and then move to an uncomfortable feeling. Watching the body language of the opposing teams they just stand there on the sidelines or on the fields looking confused.  It does seem that some of the teams lose their confidence while the Haka is being performed meaning that their stance goes from confident or standing straight up and erect with their chests out to almost a depressed stance where their shoulders slump and move inwards.


What causes even more damage to the morale is the crowd chanting and screaming with the team. It would be loud to begin with at a sporting event like The Rugby World Cup and add in some fanatical fans to the Haka and you have the ability and power to change the body language of an entire team.


For sure the All Blacks have an intimidating Haka and their body language proves it.


War Haka

Going back 100 years from today body armor was for the most part not used, guns had been around for a while but most battle were still close in distance. There were not airplanes or mechanical vehicles built to deliver troops or even artillery.  If you were to have to battle a group of men on the field of battle there was not much distance between you and them.


For the Haka war chant going on out in the open where someone could be hit with a bullet, a spear or even some sort of arrow the body language shows no fear. This action is designed to intimidate the opposition. Now if this Haka was only performed for a few seconds by one man out on the field of battle that would be one thing, add some time and extra or all men into the mix and the confidence that the group would have to hold would be amazing. When used as a war chant this would be a fierce thing to see firsthand and should impart fear into others.



Understand that this article was specifically written for the War Haka used by The All Blacks, if it was all about all Haka’s there would be more explanations of other types of Haka’s that are and were used for ceremonies for events.

 Learn how to read body language like an expert

I would like to thank you in advance for your comments and or questions about the body language of The all Blacks and the Haka that they use.


Now go implement!


Scott Sylvan Bell


Photo Credits: Rugby Post by federico stevanin, Goal by Tina Phillips