By Diane Ako
Videography by Mr. Tracy Arakaki
You could never judge this book by its cover. Sitting demurely at her desk in conservative office dress code, Denise Caporoz looks the part of a desk jockey for a Hawaii health organization.
Her job is to process payments for an HMO. Caporoz is busy answering the phone and returning e mails, while the stacks of paper keep piling up this morning in her inbox. This is her life, Monday through Friday.
On weekends, however, she is literally a warrior. Lacing her archery boots and wrapping her leather belt tight, she prepares for pretend-battle. Caporoz is a member of The Khanate of the Golden Horde, a fight club themed around Mongolian warrior traditions.
“It’s fun. It’s like being a big kid. I get to play, mingle, relax,” she explains, as she tightens her bow before target practice.
Caporoz’s idea of playing involves weapons- but it’s all harmless, and all part of this man, Christopher Greywolf’s, vision. “Everyone has a warrior spirit inside, and a lot of times that warrior spirit is not able to be tapped,” he says.
Wolf, as he likes to be called, is an imposing figure – six foot two inches tall, and well over two hundred pounds of muscle. Standing in his chain mail armor, he looks every bit like a warrior in Genghis Khan’s army– nobody you’d want to tangle with on the battlefield.
He is the club’s founder. His day job is as a bladesmith, specializing in weapons from 12th century Central Asia; Mongolia, to be exact. He developed an interest in the country and went to live in Mongolia for a total of five years, to learn more.
“My focus is blades, weaponry, swords, knives, any of that, and the armor,” he details. Wolf makes them- and he wanted to do something with them. So Wolf formed the Mongolian fight club 20 years ago, calling it The Khanate of the Golden Horde.
“It’s a way for me to share what I’m doing with others. It’s a way to bring history back to life,” he smiles, in between taking down his opponents in the sparring ring.
Wolf teaches his students not only how to fight, but also how to make their own period pieces. Chris Paulsen is one of several dozen club members, and sports black body armor that once had a life as a plastic rain barrel. “That’s part of maintaining your war gear, to know how to fix it,” he nods.
Paulsen’s turn in the ring is up, and the wood swords ring out a hard sound each time one fighter tags his opponent. It is sweaty work, a constant dance, and something they do every Sunday. “We’re trying to kill each other with a head shot or chest shot to the death,” he says, giving this reporter a running color commentary on his own fight, as he deflects and dodges blows.
As aggressive as it looks, it’s an art, like any other. Wolf sums, “It’s poetry in motion. The movements are elegant and beautiful.” He’s right. It’s mesmerizing to watch the men and women take their turns at practice.
And though it’s themed around a different time and a different place, the feelings are timeless and universal. Chris defines his experience as “community, unity, sisterhood, brotherhood.”
Wolf agrees. “We have such camaraderie. People are more like brothers and sisters in this club.”
To join The Khanate of the Golden Horde or to hire Wolf and/or the club for events, fairs, demonstrations, appearances, or lectures, call (808) 277-2738.
To preview the sparring sessions drop by Dole Playground in Punchbowl on Sundays from 4 - 6 p.m. Call (808) 277-2738 for club membership and dues information.
Also reach me via DianeAko.com