Aspiring samurai learn the importance of honour

When malevolent ghosts and spirits are stirring up trouble in your kingdom, whom can you turn to for assistance? What about a band of young…

When malevolent ghosts and spirits are stirring up trouble in your kingdom, whom can you turn to for assistance?

What about a band of young samurai?

Last week, 14 local youth took up the challenge at Yukon Aikido’s samurai camp.

Arriving at the dojo everyday at 8 a.m., the participants, all eight to 12 years old, began their training by putting on ‘gi’s and learning some Aikido.

Next, to produce well-rounded warriors, was craft time where the kids learned a few of Japan’s less physical arts.

Tomo Uemura, who now calls the Yukon home, was on hand to share his Japanese culture.

Whitehorse youth learned some calligraphy, mastering Japanese characters as intricate as tree, fire, water and the numbers one through five.

They also studied origami, the art of paper folding, and fashioned some proper samurai headgear.

Local potter Richard Claxton helped the children make plates and bowls as well.

During these crafts, Japanese was taught and practiced.

By the end of the week, although not quite fluent, the students were able to say ‘hello’ ‘thank you’ ‘sorry’ and introduce themselves in the foreign tongue.

Eager to get back to the action, the budding samurai next picked up their blades to practice some swordplay.

The week-long camp was organized and run by Aikido Yukon as a fundraiser for the club.

Ten very busy volunteers spent hours preparing costumes and ‘fledgling samurai safe’ foam swords, and running around a forest in which the kids dressed as monsters and spirits lurked.

At the end of the day, it was these monsters that looked the most worn out.

“It was a lot of work,” said Gael Marchand, one of the event organizers.

The camp was a first for many of the volunteers but promises not to be the last.

After lunch, the samurai were swept off into the spirit world, which was conveniently located in the stretch of bush between Takhini North and Yukon College.

There they were entreated by the haunted inhabitants to figure out what was disturbing the local spirits into mischief.

It was also a chance to hone and display newly acquired samurai skills.

The adventure was set up much like a video game.

Every participant carried an adventure passport on which they kept track of their hit points, honour points, and spells.

Honour is of the utmost importance for a young samurai and points were awarded for doing positive things and helping the creatures of the forest.

Honour points were taken away, however, if the rules of the game were not followed or for general misbehaviour.

Many points were lost the first day in the excitement of receiving foam swords.

The more honour points the young warriors had, the bigger the weapons they received.

Extra hit points — the number of hits a samurai can receive before falling to their knees to briefly ‘die’ — were also awarded.

The adventurers earned spells, such as the ability to become invisible and throw fire, from the wizards and sorcerers they met during the adventure.

Ultimately, it was revealed that two ghosts that were rousing the spirits into trouble.

One of the ghosts, a princess who had died of heartache when her prince was kidnapped by vengeful birds, would only rest in peace when he was rescued from the demon holding him captive.

Using teamwork, quick swordplay, and all the magic they could muster, the band of samurai set upon the fiend for the final showdown.

Spinning his staff and deftly whirling about the forest, the demon proved a formidable foe for the warriors.

But when the dust had settled, it was the samurai who emerged victorious.

The prince was rescued and the forest folk were able to live in peace once again.