Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Sword martial arts
Zhang Xiaohua was in high spirits when he walked into the canteen, the results of his practice of that morning was not insignificant, and it was also the most important and fruitful practice he had since he began his journey in learning martial arts.
All the signs were pointing towards a beautiful future, and it was only lacking that little east wind at the back.
Suddenly, a human figure appeared in front of Zhang Xiaohua; the latter jumped in fright and quickly tried to regain his composure. Upon a closer inspection, he calmed down and said, “Elder Yu, even though your qinggong is so good, you do not have to show it off in front of me. As the saying goes, people can be frightened to death, my heart went into such a panic when you appeared so suddenly.”
Elder Yu pouted and said, “How has your training of the rubbish assortment of martial arts been going?”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised and he said loudly, “Elder Yu, that is my secret training, how can you peep at me? You could simply ask if you were interested I would have shown it to you once I am done. If you peep secretly without my knowledge, I will be very disappointed and have to charge you in front of our villa master.”
Elder Yu pursed his lips and said, “Even if you show me your martial art stances that are full of mistakes, I will be too lazy to see it, not to mention peep secretly at you. I am not that bored, you know.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “If you did not peep at me, how would you know that I was training in fist martial arts? And how would you know that I was doing it in a random manner?”
Elder Yu replied, “Who cannot see you sneaking to the spot under the tree to practice martial arts every day? Furthermore, I already knew that you cannot remember any fist martial art in full, but I just didn’t want to say it out to embarrass you.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s face flushed slightly, he originally wanted to share his progress with elder Yu but he could not be certain if he would still remember all the stances the next day, and whether or not what he did was right. Thus, he thought to himself, “Just bear with it alright?”
Zhang Xiaohua raised his head towards elder Yu and asked, “You can treat it as if I am warming up my bones, and should encourage me for doing so instead of beating me down. Anyway, what is the matter because little second Nie and the rest would finish all the food in the canteen if you don’t say it quickly?”
Elder Yu looked into Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes and said, “It is nothing much, I just wanted to tell you to wait for me at the same spot under the tree for me tonight, I have something to share with you.”
Zhang Xiaohua tilted his head and said, “Elder Yu, you have completely lost me. Won’t I still go to the same spot tonight even if you did not ask me to? Why is there a need for you to tell me especially?”
Elder Yu said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, “I am telling you so that you will be better prepared. As for the other reason why I am doing this, that is because there will be five spiced meats for breakfast today and little second Nie said that you would always snatch his portion, so when he met me earlier, he asked me to delay you until he finished his breakfast. I guess now should be the right time so you can head off now.”
Zhang Xiaohua gave elder Yu an impolite stare and said severely, “Elder Yu, you are good.”
After finishing his sentence, he rushed off to the canteen as though there was a mad dog chasing him from behind.
When evening came, Zhang Xiaohua waited at the same spot under the tree for elder Yu. The latter had not said when he would arrive, so Zhang Xiaohua leisurely practiced the fist martial art which he created, and just as he was about to complete one cycle, he heard someone praising him from the side. As Zhang Xiaohua raised his head to look around, he saw that the person was elder Yu.
Elder Yu praised, “Zhang Xiaohua, you have really changed my expectation of you. I guess you still have some smarts around you to be able to shape those rubbish assortments of martial arts into something decent looking.”
Zhang Xiaohua said somewhat embarrassingly, “Elder Yu, I had no other choice. As you mentioned in the morning, I really cannot remember a complete martial art so I had to mould something up for myself, at least it is better than not having any fist martial arts to practice.”
Elder Yu nodded his head and said, “Your dedication towards martial arts is commendable. There are millions of path to success on this world, as long as you found your own path and persist on it, even if you fail to succeed in the end, at least there won’t be any lingering regrets, and as you look back in the future, you can at least commend yourself for trying.”
Zhang Xiaohua thanked the other party, “Many thanks for elder Yu’s pointers, I will continue to work hard.”
Elder Yu asked again, “Zhang Xiaohua, your fist martial art still seems to be quite choppy, and it cannot be practiced smoothly at one go like a sentence that is unfinished or stopped in the middle. Even though you do not have to follow a fist martial art sequence during a real exchange, practicing like this will not bring you the best results from your training.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled bitterly and said, “Elder Yu, I have heard that the highest form of martial arts attainment is to fight without using fixed stance, this choppy martial art practice of mine may allow me to reach such a level”
Elder Yu laughed and said, “This level of not having any fixed form or stance is something out of what I know, it is a legendary stage that probably only a few in Jianghu have succeeded in reaching. Perhaps it is only a myth.”
Zhang Xiaohua took the opportunity to ask the other party, “Elder Yu, do you have any fist martial art manuals? I want to read some, can you lend them to me?”
Elder Yu was surprised and he said, “Fist martial art manuals? I have, do you want to read them? I don’t think that is possible though, I thought you can’t read?”
Zhang Xiaohua answered, “Elder Yu, you are looking down too much on me. I may not be able to read in the past, but that does not mean I cannot read now.”
Elder Yu pondered before saying, “Oh right, you were reading a book when I went over to you room that night, have you taken the opportunity of nursing your injuries to learn to read?
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and replied, “Elder Yu is smart.”
Elder Yu smiled back and said, “However, the vocabulary in fist martial art manuals are unlike normal books, knowing how to read other books does not necessarily mean that you will have no problems reading them.”
Zhang Xiaohua replied, “Elder Yu can be at ease, I have read many of the fist martial art manuals in Lotus escort’s library so I should be able to understand.”
Elder Yu said, “Alright then, you can come to my room when you have the time, and I will find some fist martial art manuals for you to read.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “Then I will thank elder Yu in advance.”
He then asked, “Oh right, elder Yu, why did you want to look for me tonight?”
Elder Yu looked at the round moon in the night sky and said in a nostalgic tone, “A person who has never entered the Jianghu would think that it is colourful over there, but a person who is rooted deeply in Jianghu would feel as though time passes too slowly. Zhang Xiaohua, did you know that there is a saying ‘a person’s body does not belong to himself if he is part of Jianghu’? Once you step foot into the Jianghu world, you will have to go where the Jianghu wind blows and can no longer go wherever you like.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not understand so he said, “Elder Yu, why are you telling me these, I have not even thought of entering the Jianghu yet.”
Elder Yu turned his gaze towards Zhang Xiaohua and said to the latter in a serious tone, “Zhang Xiaohua, if you want to learn martial arts, and if you want to master those fist martial arts, then it is unavoidable to be tainted by bloodshed of Jianghu. Even though you are still young, you seemed to be determined on going on this path, unless you give up this thought now and pour your heart into working on the fields here in this mountain villa.”
Zhang Xiaohua shook his head and said, “I am learning martial arts because I want to protect my family, all these are too early for me to think about right now even though I am envious of the excitement and passion in Jianghu. Oh right, I don’t think your purpose for asking me out today would be just to tell me all these about Jianghu?”
Elder Yu said, “You don’t have to be impatient, Zhang Xiaohua, I am warning you of the cruelty of Jianghu because I want to remind you that if you continue to practice martial arts, you must have the mind-set of already being part of Jianghu, and if you are part of Jianghu, you will need to be prepared to safeguard your life at all times.”
Zhang Xiaohua was still feeling confused.
Elder Yu sighed and said, “Actually, the purpose of telling you so much is just to let you know that Jianghu is dangerous and cruel, so I hope you can give up on practicing martial arts. You still don’t seem to realize the seriousness of your right hand’s injury.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked anxiously, “How serious is it, elder Yu, didn’t the physician say that I could still continue to practice martial arts?”
Elder Yu said, “The physician did not lie to you, you can still practice martial art, but this right hand of yours is already crippled so it will be of no use in a real exchange with an opponent.”
Zhang Xiaohua was startled and he asked, “How can this be? Elder Yu, you have to explain it to me clearly.”
Thus, elder Yu laid out the seriousness of Zhang Xiaohua’s injury to the latter patiently.
Zhang Xiaohua’s face was ashen, he did not think that far ahead and assumed that his bones would heal until it was like before. Now that elder Yu had explained it to him, he realized that the matter was not as simple as he thought, if he could not use any force in his right fist, then naturally it can be considered as crippled, so what was the use of continuing to practice fist martial arts?
Elder Yu stood quietly without a sound as he saw the look of understanding spreading across Zhang Xiaohua’s face.
After Zhang Xiaohua seemed to have regained his composure again, he asked, “So, are you still planning to learn martial arts?”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded his head with a determined look in his eyes, “Learning martial arts, why not? Haven’t you just said that after one has found his way, he should persist on it to the end so at least there won’t be regrets even if one does not success? Even if my right hand is crippled, I still have my left hand and with it, I will still be able to practice martial arts well and protect my family in the future.”
Elder Yu did not reveal any hint of being surprised, he said, “You little child, still choosing to continue on a path with no good end. I have come here today for two reasons, the first is to explain the earlier to you, and since you do not want to give up on martial arts, I have another suggestion for you. Would you like to hear it?”
Zhang Xiaohua breathed in deeply and said, “Of course I will be willing to. I know that Elder Yu is doing all these for my own good.”
Elder Yu said in a gratified tone, “Good that you know this, I myself do not know what is it about you that led me to be so concerned about your welfare.”
He continued, “Actually, fists are not the only thing that can protect your life in Jianghu. There are more people using weapons, such as blades or spears, and since your fist is now crippled, you can consider practicing martial arts that use such weapons.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes brightened and he said, “Oh right, elder Yu, you are awesome to have thought of this.”
Elder Yu smiled bitterly, “This is only common knowledge in Jianghu, only an ignorant brat like you would not think of it. Don’t worship me so easily, I will feel guilty of receiving your adoration like this.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “There is no choice, I can only look up to you. However, what weapon do you think I should train in?”
Elder Yu said, “Any weapon is fine actually, as long as you train hard in it. Even though there is the saying in Jianghu, “Spear is the king of a hundred weapons” and “hundred learn staffs, thousand learn blades, and ten thousand learn swords”, each person’s aptitude and opportunities are different, and they may not practice in only one type of weapon. In consideration of your right hand, I would feel that a staff is most suitable for you.”
Zhang Xiaohua wrinkled his brow, “Staff martial art? I have not seen anyone who practiced in that yet. Elder Yu, where can I find a master to teach it to me?”
Elder Yu laughed and said, “With your aptitude and that right hand of yours, who would be willing to teach you staff martial arts? Why bother even thinking about it?”
Zhang Xiaohua flared up and said, “If no one would teach something as simple as staff martial arts, why do you even bother telling me so much in the first place?”
Elder Yu waited a moment for the boy to calm down before saying, “I do not know staff martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua pursed his lips and said, “How can you teach me if you don’t know staff martial arts?”
Elder Yu continued, “Our sect does not spread our martial arts to people who are not members.”
Zhang Xiaohua was overjoyed and he said, “This master, please accept a bow from your disciple.”
After finishing his sentence, Zhang Xiaohua knelt down and prepared to bow.
However, he was stopped by the elder Yu’s only arm who said, “Dream on, with an aptitude like yours, I will only be pissed to death while teaching you. Just forget it and let me live a few more years.”
After Zhang Xiaohua stood up again, elder Yu continued, “Even though I won’t accept you as a disciple, I know a sword martial art by coincidence and can consider imparting it to you.”
Zhang Xiaohua was elated and he said, “Really, elder Yu, you can teach me sword martial arts?”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “This sword martial art is not a secret martial art from our sect so I naturally have the right to pass it down to whomever I want.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “Then I have to thank elder Yu in advance, Ah……why is it only a single sword martial art stance? Can’t you teach me more of them? Please don’t be too stingy on me.”
Elder Yu did not know whether to laugh or cry, he said, “Zhang Xiaohua-ah, you are too ignorant of the Jianghu, I will have to enlighten you when I have the time. Sword martial arts are not like fist martial arts, fist martial arts are like sets of body sequences that contain offensive and defensive stances following each other, it can strengthen the body and some may even help to cultivate inner energy. However, sword martial arts are usually a complete set by itself, and they can be used from beginning to end like a fist martial art even if it only contains one stance.”
Zhang Xiaohua was still confused and he asked, “How does one fight with only one stance? It can’t possibly be like fist martial arts where I continue to hold in the same position?”
Elder Yu explained, “In an exchange using weapons, what determines victory is a single successful strike. If one had to clash multiple times with an opponent, then it will be a low-level fight. When experts spar with each other, they do not move against their opponents unless they are sure of victory within that single strike.”
Zhang Xiaohua was still in disbelief and he asked, “Then can the single stance that elder Yu teach be a high level strike?”
Elder Yu contained a smile as he said, “Whether or not it is a high level strike depends on the person using it. If it is me using it, then it will be a lethal sword martial art, but if the wielder was you, then perhaps it will only be a performance for people to enjoy.”
However, Zhang Xiaohua continued to ask, “I still do not understand, if it is only a single sword stance, how am I supposed to practice it?”
Elder Yu explained, “I am not certain if this sword stance is a complete martial art or if it contains other stances, but I managed to learn nineteen variants of it during that time.”
Zhang Xiaohua was tongue-tied, he said, “One stance? Nineteen variations?”
Elder Yu laughed, “Yes, just this single stance has nineteen variations, all of which are offensive methods. However, I believe that there are also other ways and variations to use it, although I am still unaware of them.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked again, “In that case, elder Yu, I want to ask if sword martial arts are different from fist martial arts in another way, that is, do sword martial art stances all contain different variations?”
Elder Yu nodded his head and said, “You are correct, sword martial arts are usually like that.”
Only then did Zhang Xiaohua realize why he was not able to understand the sword martial art manual despite comprehending all the fist martial art manuals in the escort station, there were so many important differences between the two that he was unaware of.
When he thought of how he was going to learn a profound sword martial art, Zhang Xiaohua became more excited and he said, “Elder Yu, can you teach it to me now?”
Elder Yu said, “I am only telling you about this tonight, as for teaching it to you, it will have to wait for another day. You cannot see the small variations of the sword stances in the night so it is better to learn during the day.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked again, “In that case, elder Yu, can you show me the prowess of this sword martial art?”
Elder Yu pondered for a moment before taking out a long sword from its sheath using his only arm, and thrusted it towards Zhang Xiaohua’s throat from a bizarre angle. Even though Zhang Xiaohua could feel the sword coming towards him from its original position, his body was unable to react in time and even before he could move, the sword tip already reached under his chin. Ignoring the threat, he threw his fist towards the sword and only saw that the sword retracted slightly before flashing again towards a different position and stopping in between his eyes.
When Zhang Xiaohua saw the sword tip right in front of him, he felt a sense of helplessness and realized then how frightening the prowess of a profound sword martial art was.
When Elder Yu saw that Zhang Xiaohua was motionless, he pulled back his sword and returned it into its sheath.
He asked, “So how was it, Zhang Xiaohua? Is this stance good?”
Zhang Xiaohua said snappily, “Of course it is good on a beginner like me, but how would I know its effectiveness on another expert? Like squad leader He.”
Elder Yu said proudly, “In front of the sword martial art, He Tianshu and you are no different from each other.”
Even more stars appeared in front of Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes, he wanted to master this powerful thing as soon as possible, but elder Yu seemed to have anticipated his thoughts said calmly, “Since I have agreed, and even came over to find you, I will naturally teach this sword martial art to you. However, you will have to promise me two things.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “Please say it, I will be willing even if I have to wash your socks for ten years.”
Elder Yu said, “The first requirement is that you must not reveal the fact that I have taught you this sword martial art. Even if other people learnt that you know this sword martial art, you cannot say that you learnt it from me.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not understand but he did not press further, he asked, “Then I will do as you say, and keep this from squad leader He and my second brother.”
Elder Yu nodded his head.
Zhang Xiaohua said, “In that case, can I share this sword martial art with my second brother?”
Elder Yu pondered for a while and said, “This sword martial art is too sharp, it will cause turmoil over Jianghu if it was spread around too easily, so you better not share it with him.”
Zhang Xiaohua agreed.
Elder Yu continued, “The second requirement is, since this sword martial art is so sharp, and it cannot be pulled back after using it, blood will be shed when you use it, so I hope that you do not perform this martial art so easily, and only use it in a life-threatening situation, understand?”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered deeply, and when elder Yu saw this, he said, “I believe you should have understood that this is a very powerful sword martial art. By teaching it to you, I hope that you can use it to protect your life, and have no intention of letting you use it to claim glory for yourself. I hope that you do not disappoint me and shed too much blood using this sword martial art.”
Zhang Xiaohua sincerely dropped to his knees and bowed, “Elder Yu, I understand your wishes and will commit what you told me tonight to my memory.”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Actually, I am already relieved by your disposition. Seeing how you would wake up early in the morning and practice until nightfall, even though your aptitude is not good, I can tell that you are not afraid of hardships so I believe that you will still be able to accomplish something in the future. Hence, by teaching you this sword martial art, I will at least wipe off the dust on this pearl. However, when you enter the Jianghu in the future, I hope that you use your mind to see the situation and not be too rash when acting, because what you see before you may not be reality.”
Zhang Xiaohua was confused upon hearing, what one sees before him may not be reality?