Read an extract from Samurai Kids Book 1: White Crane
I scissor kick high as I can and land on my left foot. I haven’t got another one. My name is Niya Moto and I’m the only one-legged samurai kid in Japan. Usually I miss my foot and land on my backside. Or flat on my face in the dirt.
I’m not good at exercises, but I’m great at standing on one leg. Raising my arms over my head, I pretend I am the White Crane. 'Look at me,' the crane screeches across the training ground. 'Look at him,' the valley echoes.
But Sensei Ki-Yaga is not looking. My master sits in the sun with his back against the old stooped cherry tree. He is as ancient as the mountains around our ryu school and as dilapidated as the equipment we use. Most people think he died years ago.
Eyes shut, he’s not watching me practise. That lazy old man slept through the only upright landing I’ve ever made! I lower my right arm and the White Crane makes a rude gesture with its wing.
Sensei’s wrinkled mouth creaks into a smile but his eyes stay hidden behind closed lids.
‘A boy who cannot perfectly execute even half a scissor kick should not waste time finding fault with his teacher. More practice, Little Cockroach.” His voice rumbles like thunder.
‘Yes Master.’ I bow low to show my respect. Even though he is strict, I like Sensei and I never forget he was the only teacher not bothered by my missing leg.
'I am not a counter of feet,' he told me. 'I am a collector of more important parts. And when I buy you socks, they will last twice as long.'