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            Arlo had found Master Hama and now before him stands three challenges, each harder than the one before it.  He must pass each one for the Master to train him.  Now his journey truly begins.


Tests of the Master

By Matt Prower


            Arlo found himself in a room that seemed too large for the size of the cottage.  Master Hama stopped rather abruptly and turned to face Arlo.

            “Now then.  First, we will test your speed.” He walked out of the room and returned momentarily with a basket full of stones ranging in size from golf balls to softballs. “It’s not exactly wise to do this in here, so we’ll go outside.”  He walked out of his cottage, Arlo in tow.  “Stand here,” Master Hama told Arlo while pointing to the middle of the white circle in the clearing. “Now I’ll stand over here,” as he walked about six meters from where he was standing.  “Now then,” he continued, “Lets begin.”  He picked up a stone out of his basket and threw it at Arlo, who dodged it rather easily.  It continued like this, with Master Hama throwing the rocks faster and faster until they were almost invisible, and Arlo dodging each with relative ease.  He had also increased the rate he threw them, at the beginning he may have only thrown one stone in thirty seconds, by the end he was throwing 4 stones in a second.

            “Very good,” Master Hama said at the end, sounding rather pleased, “You’ve passed your first test with flying colors.  Now we will move on to the next test.  Follow me.”  He walked into the woods, Arlo following close behind.  They walked for what seemed like several hours until they came to a lake fed by a large waterfall.  “Your second test is to catch as many fish as you can with your bare hands.  This will test you stamina and speed.  You have fifteen minutes.”  Arlo took off his gi and dove into the water.  In less than a minute several fish came flying out of the water, occasionally followed by Arlo, coming up for air.  Once his time was up, he climbed out of the lake, his fur soaked and clinging to his body.

            “I suggest you stand back a few steps Master.” He said.

            “Perhaps.” Master Hama replied, taking several steps backwards as Arlo dropped on all fours and shook his fur dry.

            “Ah,” He said, “that’s much better.” as he replaced his gi, which was now slightly damp, “One question though Master.” he inquired, ”What should I do with all these fish?”

            Master Hama smiled and produced a large white cloth bag, “Put them in here.  Now we’ve got food for a while.”  He grinned.  “Now for your third and final test.  This will test your agility.  I want you to put the fish in the bag, than run through the woods back home.  I’ll meet you there.”

            “Sounds easy enough.”

            “Oh and one more thing,“ Master Hama added, “You can’t run on any paths or trails.”

            Stunned for a moment, Arlo began to stuff the fish in the bag.  “Okay, but—“ but before he finished his sentence, Master Hama was nowhere to be found.  Once the bag was full, he closed it and took off at breakneck speed with the bag slung over his shoulder.  Dodging the trees just moments before running into them, Arlo neared Master Hama’s clearing.  Emerging from the woods Arlo slowed to a stop right in front of Master Hama.

            “Very good, I must say I’m impressed.  You’ve passed my tests and have proven yourself worthy of my training.”  He pointed to a patch of woods on the far side of the clearing, “there’s a small pond over there, go put the fish in it and we’ll begin.”  Arlo walked through the woods and found the pond, he unfastened the bag and poured the still flopping fish into it.  He returned to Master Hama with an empty bag.

            “Good.  Now we’ll begin your training.”


To be continued