Offbeat

Real-Life Jedi Academy Opens in Chile

Way back in 2001 there was a Jedi census phenomenon, geeks across the planet had a chuckle, or perhaps were jealous, at the census results of several nations. If you can’t recall what occurred, here’s a little recap. Whether it was for fun, to mock the whole idea of the census, or because there are people that like Star Wars way too much, thousands of people listed their religion as Jedi on their census. 70,000 Australians claimed to be Jedi, while countries such as Canada, New Zealand and the UK had citizens that were all in on it. It became such an issue that Australia has mandated a law stating that if a person listed Jedi on the 2006 census form they could be imprisoned for 15 years for providing ‘false or misleading information’. Heck, the UK even excluded Jedi Knights from the draft of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, alongside Satanists, Scientologists, sexists, racists, and believers in animal or human sacrifice.

However, that hasn’t completely quieted so-called Jedi Knights who practice Jediism. In 2005, Jamie Reed was elected to the British Parliament, making him the first Jedi member of Parliament. On January 12, 2009, Canada granted Order of Jedi Inc., making it the first federally incorporated non-profit entity in the world. Even the question of allowing Jedi Knight schools came up during a Parliamentary debate on the Education and Inspections Bill in the UK in 2006. Well, such a school now exists somewhere in the world.

The school, which is a martial arts school in QuilpuĂ©, Chile, is calling itself the Jedi Temple, and seems more legit and less dorky than other so-called Jedi schools, such as the New York Jedi School. The school focuses on teaching 6 to 12 year old children the battle tactics of Jedi Warriors, and of course the ways of The Force. Before we all assume that this school will be attempting to teach kids how to control people and move objects with their minds, let’s share what it’s really attempting to achieve. Students will learn meditation, yoga, self-defense and of course light saber fights, you know, skills that they can actually put to use. The light saber training includes “exact replicas” of light sabers, which are imported from the U.S. and cost a cool $250 a piece, that come equipped with sounds and lights, so no need to worry about a nine year old running around with a functional light saber, because that would just be irresponsible.

William Berrueta, the man who started the school and is a yoga and taekwondo instructor, said that he “got the idea to integrate these disciplines with meditation and do something more holistic and funny”. Berrueta, who is 46 years old, has apparently been a Star Wars fan for a very long time and was inspired to start the school when he went to the Star Wars Exhibition Tour during it’s stop in Chile in 2005. Thus far there are twenty youngling at the recently opened school. These future Padawan will train with Berrueta for three months before going into the world and protecting the galaxy from the Dark Side. Whether a gimmick or not, it’s still kinda bad-ass to get kids hooked on Star Wars, all while making them Jedi-like people, not to mention, that it would top all of the other “how I spent my summer vacation” stories.

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  1. Is there a list of upcoming shows for Britney somewhere?