Imua! had always meant forward! to me, in the sense of onward and upward, chin up, catching the tailwind and actually gaining ground to take the race — that was in outrigger canoe paddling. Chanting the word ‘imua’ gave us a collective power to push forward, despite some disheartening and overwhelming circumstances.
From a fascinating website: http://everything2.com/title/Imua+Shantung+Kuntao
These are some definitions of the word IMUA, some nuances I had heard and other permutations I did not know:
“Imua – Hawaiian word meaning ‘to go forward with spirit’ in Shantung, means ‘silk’ for fluid movements of self-titled martial arts forms; Imua Shantung KunTao (From now just called Imua) is alledgedly one of the oldest martial arts in the world; …because of its history, Imua developed to have a very tight, fighting range;…a defense system – all training is focused on eliminating your opponents as fast as possible;…neither long-range [karate, kung fu, tae kwon do] nor short-range [akido, judo, jitsu], ‘imua is one of those rare styles that are specially developed for something in between.
“Because of this, fighting somebody who is good at the Imua style can be difficult – the practitioners are always too close to get in a good kick to the head, and always too far away to get in a good throw or wristlock;
…rumored to be used in CIA special agent training.”
To me, it means forward, as in moving ahead without looking back, into a forward creative momentum with fellow collaborators, much like the feeling of racing an outrigger canoe on Hawaiian waters.