Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Unfortunately, Zhang Xiaohua did not realize that with each repetition, his stances were slowly changing and becoming more different from its original form, and the little figure in his mind was turning vaguer as though he was forgetting the fist martial art the more he trained.
Zhang Xiaohua’s body was feeling loose after practicing all the martial arts; he read a little on his bed under the oil lamp and soon fell asleep with a smile still stuck onto his face.
When he woke up the next morning, Zhang Xiaohua excitedly ran to the empty space. His heart was full of joy as though a bundle of treasure was waiting for him in the field just on the thought of giving He Tianshu and little second Nie a surprise.
He Tianshu and the rest saw Zhang Xiaohua waiting for them, they did not feel strange; this servant would always wake up so early, who knew where the sleep which youths need to have went? Everyone greeted him as normal and went back to their practice; only He Tianshu smiled and asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, why did you go so far last night? Were you practicing some extremely powerful martial art that we are not allowed to see? No matter what martial art it is, your body has to be fully recovered to practice in it, you must be aware of your own body’s condition before doing any training. After all, the saying goes that our body is the currency in Jianghu.”
After He Tianshu finished his teasing and was about to leave, Zhang Xiaohua said mysteriously, “Squad leader He, I really did practice an extremely powerful martial art yesterday, do you want to see it?”
He Tianshu stopped in his tracks, he raised his eyebrows and thought secretly, “Not bad, he would “counter-tease” me now, this boy has finally picked up something. However, if you want to compete with me, there is still a long way to go.”
Thus, he “rowed his boat where the water flowed”, folded his arms and shouted aloud, “All of you come over, Zhang Xiaohua is going to show us an extremely powerful martial art.”
When little second Nie and the rest heard their squad leader’s order, they immediately shouted back their response and activated their qinggong to head to where they were.
Everyone looked at Zhang Xiaohua with anticipation and the full intention to laugh in their eyes.
The four men were fully aware of Zhang Xiaohua’s aptitude towards martial art, who would really expect the boy to perform some truly powerful martial art to them. Just because they did not see him train last night, what kind of thing could have happened during that period of time? Hence, the reason they crowded around was to add some joy in their life as they treated Zhang Xiaohua as their own lovable younger brother.
Zhang Xiaohua saw that the four of them were not looking at him seriously, and his original confidence lowered slightly. He said, “It is actually not some extremely powerful martial art, but I have managed to perform two fist martial arts completely from head to toe last night.”
Everyone became surprised and they asked, “Really? Is that so? Then it has to be an extremely powerful martial art since our Xiaohua will not be able to remember normal ones.”
Zhang Xiaohua ignored their jokes and quietened his heart, adopted the horse stance to enter the opening stance of the fist martial art he practiced down into his bones the night before.
However, as he raised his fist, he did not know where to begin, he, actually, has forgotten, everything!
His head was completely blank, this, this, what could have happened?
Zhang Xiaohua’s face turned into a shade of red, how could he have forgotten everything again? He obviously practiced very thoroughly the night before.
Seeing that Zhang Xiaohua’s fist had stopped just as he begun, everyone’s vision was as clear as glass as they smiled, “Hurry up, Zhang Xiaohua, we can’t wait to see your performance.”
Zhang Xiaohua got over his shock but his heart was deeply disappointed, he said, “Hehe, I actually forgotten this fist martial art, let me try the second one.”
He thought secretly to himself, “Sigh, since it is not my first time being teased by you all, just tease me all you want, I am already used to it. However, I have to regain my composure, the other fist martial art must not let me down. I will be satisfied enough if I could remember one of the two.”
Indeed, perhaps the heavens had heard to Zhang Xiaohua’s prayers, or an immortal just happened to fly past Zhang Xiaohua’s head, Zhang Xiaohua managed to display two stances of the second fist martial art which he practiced. The only problem was that his performance was not accurate.
He Tianshu pondered for a long time after watching before asking, “Zhang Xiaohua, these two stances seem to belong to the south branch fist, but the two stances you displayed are not the same as the ones I know.”
Zhang Xiaohua was helplessly standing in the same spot at a loss of what to say or do. He desperately wanted to prove that he was not some useless trash and thought that with the little figure in his head, he would be able to perform a complete martial art sequence in front of He Tianshu. However, his fear of forgetting his martial art the next day had “come to say hi” again, so it was as good as not being able to demonstrate the many fist martial arts he had memorized over the past several months.
He Tianshu was slightly heartbroken when he saw Zhang Xiaohua’s appearance, he walked to the latter’s front and patted his head, saying, “Zhang Xiaohua, I know you must have diligently learnt martial arts while nursing your injuries in the escort station and cannot wait to show the results of your effort to us. Even though I did not get to see the stances you have learnt, I believe that you have worked very hard and had managed to learn the complete stance. However, you are different from others, while ordinary people can remember the martial art after learning it completely, you will need to try ten times, or hundred times. Nevertheless, you must not be discouraged because I believe that you will be able to learn them eventually.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes were slightly watery, and when he heard He Tianshu’s words, he wiped off his tears with his left hand and asked in disbelief, “Squad leader He, can I really learn them?”
He Tianshu nodded his head and said confidently, “Really!”
However, he thought secretly, “Dear heavens, please forgive me for lying to this boy, I am doing it for his good. Only you know that it is impossible for him right?”
Zhang Xiaohua was encouraged again and his earlier disappointment was washed completely away, he said smilingly, “Alright, I will work hard and not let squad leader He down.”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “That is how I feel too, I know that you won’t let me down.” While he thought, “I do not have any expectations for you to let down.”
The other three people who were standing at a side all said, “Xiaohua, you have to work hard, we will be watching after you……”
After breakfast, He Tianshu was about to bring the four into the herb fields to work, but Zhang Xiaohua asked He Tianshu to be excused for a day. He Tianshu naturally did not reject the boy’s request, his injuries had only recovered recently and his hand should still be resting. Even though Zhang Xiaohua insisted on working the previous few days, He Tianshu could see for himself that the boy had difficulties using his right hand so he felt even worse secretly. Now that Zhang Xiaohua had asked to be excused on his own accord, He Tianshu was more than willing and he excused the boy for a few days.
Zhang Xiaohua was in his room alone deep in his thoughts. The two complete set of martial arts had already vanished from his head, while the incomplete set of martial arts stances had two new additions to its collection. Zhang Xiaohua seemed to have understood something, there were no difference in the martial arts he learnt from the manuals and from He Tianshu, it was not that he had suddenly changed and no longer forget any new martial art. Those martial arts that remained in his head were only a memory, once he began practicing them, he would forget them just like how he forgot the fist martial arts He Tianshu taught, stance by stance. Sigh, perhaps he was really not material for practicing martial arts.
However, Zhang Xiaohua had another enlightenment. He already knew that everyone’s path to learn martial arts is different, but had pushed back the thought when his head was flooded with the complete fist martial arts because he assumed that he had succeeded in finding a method for himself. However, it could not be considered a failure since he had returned to the starting point. From then on, he would have to practice honestly and patiently to create his own fist martial art although it might take him some time to do so.
Nevertheless, it was already very convenient to be able to learn martial arts straight from fist martial art manuals. It was like having a teacher who was always willing to guide him so he did not have to turn to other people for guidance. He also wondered, after practicing all the hundred plus fist martial arts in his memory, would they be able to form a complete fist martial arts when put together?
Sighing again, Zhang Xiaohua put aside his thoughts and left the room. He returned to the spot where he practiced martial arts the previous night, placed aside his distractions and began the “came to say hi again” process again.
Actually, for no matter what, knowing where the end goal lies was more important than the process itself. This principle is clearly demonstrated when Zhang Xiaohua was practicing all the martial arts diligently by himself. Zhang Xiaohua did not lack self-confidence in his own abilities and was thus not afraid of dreaming high goals. This was so despite the fact that he had nobody to direct his path, not to mention a person to teach him martial arts patiently stance by stance. Even He Tianshu who liked the boy especially would not put in blood and sweat into teaching him; after all, Zhang Xiaohua was not his own disciple or relative.
He Tianshu could teach Zhang Xiaohua only so much, and give the latter some pointers in his fist martial arts, and that was already considered very good. If not, this village youth would still be wielding his little shovel while building his dreams of entering Jianghu.
Little second Nie was the same.
Now that Zhang Xiaohua had found a suitable path for himself, it was like putting wings on a tiger so he became unstoppable.
He practiced another fist martial art in his memory stance by stance over and over again to wait for his own memory to change. However, to his surprise, his memory remained the same did not fade no matter what fist martial arts he practiced, and he felt that the whole matter was really strange.
Hence, he picked another fist martial art, but he only practiced the sequence twice this time just to familiarize himself with it, before beginning with the third martial art. For the third martial art, he practiced roughly ten times until he was sure that he was very familiar with it.
During this rest day, Zhang Xiaohua spent his entire free time practicing fist martial arts. From morning till night, he managed to practice ten over different fist martial arts while paying attention to any changes in the figure in his head.
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua was jittery as he looked forward to going to the same spot under the tree to practice the previous fist martial arts. As expected, the fist martial arts that he practiced until he was familiar with had disappeared leaving behind only a few incomplete martial art stances that were carved into his memory and would not go away even if he tried. As for whether these few stances were the same as the original ones, it was not difficult to guess at all.
Zhang Xiaohua was not disappointed because of this result, rather, he became excited at the prospect of finding a new path. Whether this path to training martial arts is correct or not cannot be ascertained for now, but as the saying goes, whoever crosses the river need to step on rocks, so weren’t his mistakes compensation for his learning fees? Zhang Xiaohua was still young and could afford to make such errors.
Since a martial art would become broken whether he trained once, thrice, ten times, or even dozens of times, Zhang Xiaohua would naturally change up his strategy and not train each fist martial art sequence redundantly up to ten times, and thus, he managed to finish three different fist martial arts in the morning.
While working on the herb fields in the day, Zhang Xiaohua did not officially began any strenuous activities and instead continued to follow behind little second Nie. Whenever he was feeling bored, he would do as he used to in the escort station and think of individual fist martial art stances to link together. However, perhaps because of his limited vocabulary, only the two stances which joined perfectly together could be linked, and this made Zhang Xiaohua feel secretly anxious if his choice in this martial arts path was correct.
During the evening, Zhang Xiaohua would repeat what he did in the morning and buried his head into his fist martial arts under the same tree and faraway from He Tianshu and the others.
However, Zhang Xiaohua realized that the fist martial arts he practiced in the morning were still complete in the evening, so it seemed that the change only occurred over the night.
Could there be something happening in the night?
Or was his brain just that stupid, and must not be given any time to rest?
Zhang Xiaohua felt suspicious for the first time.
Thus, Zhang Xiaohua would enjoy this life of training martial arts in the morning and night and teaming up to work with the others in the herb fields for the rest of the day.
Just as Zhang Xiaohua was enjoying this lifestyle of his, a pair of eyes was constantly supervising him secretly on the side. It was indeed the single-armed elder Yu whose qinggong was so superb that He Tianshu could not feel his presence, not to mention Zhang Xiaohua.
However, elder Yu was feeling very puzzled when he saw Zhang Xiaohua practice the many different martial arts that were spread around in Jianghu, he wondered where the boy managed to learn so many trash martial arts, could he not know that eating a bunch of rotten plums cannot be compared to a bite of fresh peach? What was the use of practicing so many trash martial arts?
Elder Yu shook his head because he really could not figure the boy out.
However, when he saw Zhang Xiaohua performed the same trash martial arts in incomplete stances that were full of mistakes in the next morning, elder Yu nearly fell off the wall he was standing on, this… this kind of aptitude can be considered one-of-a kind indeed.
Elder Yu shook his head again and again.
The only thing that made him feel relieved was that Zhang Xiaohua would practice his fist martial arts under the tree as long as he had the free time to; it was a good display of his diligence and was truly praiseworthy.
However, what pittance could all this diligent efforts amount to?
Zhang Xiaohua’s hard work was finally rewarded during one particular autumn day, while he was walking back to his own room and thinking of the different multiple incomplete martial arts stances, two of the stances suddenly linked perfectly together again. Zhang Xiaohua was so happy that he almost jumped on the spot, what did this mean?
This meant that his path was correct, and was a suitable path for him to train in martial arts.
Zhang Xiaohua was even more hardworking during his evening practice, he performed several different fist martial arts at one go. He only stopped not because of his fatigue as he was not tired, but because his right fingers were feeling sore and painful. If he could not clench his fist, his fist martial arts would become palm martial arts, and he did not dare to risk learning anything wrongly.
Hence, the days in autumn would pass like this, and the memories of complete fist martial art sequences would slowly disappear, while the number of incomplete and incorrect stances would increase, and the stances that could link together also increased. Under Zhang Xiaohua’s persistent diligence, the progress he made also increased continuously.
As for He Tianshu and the rest, they had thoughts of asking Zhang Xiaohua when they saw the latter practiced on his own under the tree, but immediately extinguished the thought when they thought of his terrifying memory. After all, Zhang Xiaohua was only practicing fist martial arts so he would not be led astray in his practice and suffer any internal injuries, so they could well let him be.
Actually, He Tianshu might have other reasons as well, he was fully aware of the severity of Zhang Xiaohua’s injury, and even though he was not a physician, any person who is well-versed in martial arts would know the implications of such an injury, that was, his right hand was crippled.
A fist was used to attack the opponent, and if there was a fracture in one of the bones, a guard could be worn to protect the injured area hen the fist was used as a weapon to impact onto the opponent’s body. With Zhang Xiaohua’s injury where the fractures were spread all over his palm, what type of force could be summoned impact the opponent’s body?
As the saying goes, one would lose eight hundred men to kill a thousand enemies.
If his fist had no power, how would he be able to pressure his opponent?
Furthermore, with Zhang Xiaohua’s natural strength that could carry five hundred jin of force one hand, even before his fist could make the opponent surrender, perhaps the entire hand would shatter again from being unable to contain the might of his punches.
In fact, He Tianshu was in a dilemma of thinking if he should stop Zhang Xiaohua from practicing fist martial arts anymore.
What type of fist martial art could Zhang Xiaohua be practicing when he was by himself? There were only the same few broken fist martial art stances so it was unlikely that a sudden accident would occur. Thus, He Tianshu was too lazy to go over and he allowed Zhang Xiaohua to continue and play by himself.
Everything has an end, and on this particular night, Zhang Xiaohua finally exhausted all the fist martial arts in his memory. He secretly sighed in relief, but at the same time, there was huge gains as he had managed to link together many of the incomplete and incorrect fist martial arts stances together. There were four to five, even ten stances that linked perfectly together. Nevertheless, it was not easy to practice all these fist martial arts, and the effort that came with trying to link the broken martial art stances together also caused Zhang Xiaohua’s head to hurt. Fortunately, that night was the last night so it was the moment of truth whether all the broken martial art stances could be linked together or not.
On that night, Zhang Xiaohua fell to sleep while thinking over these worrying thoughts.
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua went to the same spot under the tree early in the morning to practice his fist martial arts. He was already familiar with the would-be results of his previous day’s training; only five stances were filtered from all the fist martial arts he practiced the day before. Seeing that the sky was still brightening, Zhang Xiaohua took the opportunity of his remaining time alone to try and integrate the five stances into his fist martial arts which was already beginning to form a semblance of one.
The results led Zhang Xiaohua to feel joy and alarm; joyful because the first stances could perfectly join up with the rest of the stances, but alarmed because his fist martial arts still incomplete.
Zhang Xiaohua carefully studied the thoughts in his mind, his fist martial arts had a hundred and one stances but there were seven areas that were not joined together, although he was unsure if he only needed seven stances or more to complete it.
Zhang Xiaohua ran over these hundred and one martial art stances twice over his head and ascertain that they were firmly remembered, although he was unsure if it would still be the case the next day.
More importantly, Zhang Xiaohua had to consider where to find more fist martial art manuals to learn more fist martial art, thereby supplementing the gaps in his own self-invented fist martial art.