Education and the Way of the Samurai: Upward Bound Students to Meet Life’s Changes

Posted by: admin on July 3, 2013, No Comments

What do American high school students have in common with medieval Japanese samurai? “Discipline, sacrifice, perseverance, honor, and integrity,” according to Uriel Trujillo, director of Upward Bound at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU).

On July 8 and 9 at ESU, the Samurai Games will transport Upward Bound high school students into a medieval Japanese mindset by placing students in a metaphorical war between two competing bands of samurai warriors. In this highly structured simulation game, students are placed in challenging and unpredictable situations that call upon their ability to lead, work in teams, make difficult decisions and communicate effectively to survive in the game and win the battle.  The event is designed to train students in leadership and team building skills by placing them in circumstances that require them to face conflicts and difficult life decisions.

The Samurai Games and Art of Practice simulation will be held at Stony Acres, a 119-acre wildlife sanctuary located in Marshalls Creek that is owned by the Student Activity Association at ESU. The objective is to add a component of body/mind development and experiential learning to the six-week academic camp in which the Upward Bound students participate.

Upward Bound is a pre-college, academic support program that prepares high school students in grades 9 through 12 to become successful college students. This is achieved by developing their skills, reinforcing a belief in their own abilities, introducing them to varied social and cultural activities, and providing them with personalized academic support services. ESU became a host university to Project Upward Bound in the 1974, and is one of over 750 universities and colleges in the United States to host such a program. The program currently recruits from schools within the tri-county area of Monroe, Northampton and Lehigh.

Trujillo notes that Samurai Games have been used to train companies such as Verizon, AT&T and the U. S. Army.

“We are very fortunate to provide the level of leadership and team building training for Upward Bound students that oftentimes are only afforded to corporate and military organizations. How do we know how we will react to real life challenges unless we are tested?  These are skills that you just don’t learn from a book.”

The Samurai Games are based upon the works of George Leonard, journalist, World War II veteran, and martial artist, who learned about aikido in his 40s.  He is the author of many books including “Mastery,” “Education and Ecstasy,” and the “Ultimate Athlete.”  He wanted to create a game that highlighted the positive effects of conflict that bring to the surface values like honor, loyalty, and camaraderie while enhancing communication and decision making skills.  The Samurai Games promote these skills and values while simultaneously creating excitement and intensity of focus.

In 2000, Leonard designated Lance Giroux, Managing Director of Allied Ronin™ Leadership Training & Consulting ( as the sole facilitator training and certification representative for the simulation worldwide.  Lance Giroux, a West Point graduate and 2nd degree black belt in aikido, is the facilitator and leader of the Samurai Games, carrying on the legacy of the George Leonard Family Trust.

ESU Project Upward Bound operates in two sessions—one during the academic year and the other during the summer.

For more information about the Samurai Games or Upward Bound, please contact Trujillo at 570-422-3509 or by email at