Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua returned to the same spot under the tree. Elder Yu had not arrived so Zhang Xiaohua took the initiative and began to practice the incomplete fist martial art of his. After knowing that elder Yu would teach him a sword martial art, Zhang Xiaohua was no longer as concerned towards whether he would remember this fist martial art, like a child who has lost interest in his toy when someone gave him a better one. Even if the old toy disappeared, the child would not feel as upset as before.
Even though Zhang Xiaohua has this mentality, his heart still felt excited after he finished practicing one cycle of the fist martial art that he compiled together the previous day. It was, after all, through much hard work and accumulated experiences that he completed this incomplete fist martial art, and he doubted that he will ever forget it after going through what he had to create it. Zhang Xiaohua almost felt like shouting towards the heavens, that he, Zhang Xiaohua, had finally learnt a martial art that was almost complete!
Furthermore, there was a martial art expert who had offered to teach him a sword art which was so profound that he had not even dreamed of before, such an opportunity was too good to be even put into words, could his good karma accumulated over the past ten plus years of his life exploded in that moment?
He raised his head and looked at the sun that was beginning to rise, then took a deep breath of the fresh morning air; this, this is the fortunate life of the village youth Zhang Xiaohua.
Just as he was drunk in the moment, a human shadow flitted past. Zhang Xiaohua was frightened out of his wits, and although he did not see the other party clearly, he could tell from his entrance that it was elder Yu.
Indeed, before the person appeared before him, elder Yu’s voice called out, “Zhang Xiaohua, you are so early today?”
Zhang Xiaohua said respectfully, “Yes, elder Yu, I have already practiced one round of my fist martial art.”
Elder Yu said, “Hehe, you woke up pretty early today. It seems that I am not mistaken about you being able to take hardships.”
Zhang Xiaohua thought secretly, “It is not that I don’t wish to sleep more, but I cannot go back to sleep the moment the sun rises. Do you think I do not want to sleep?”
Elder Yu naturally could not hear Zhang Xiaohua’s thoughts, he said, “Actually, even though you came much earlier than me, the polite reply you should have given was ‘elder Yu, I just came as well’. In that way, I would be able to tell that you are a sensible kid that is considerate of others. This will be useful when you meet a lady later, so you must remember my words well.”
Zhang Xiaohua scratched his chin in confusion, but he carved the words into his memory.
Elder Yu was satisfied with Zhang Xiaohua’s response and he said, “Alright, let’s talk less and begin. Come, let’s go over there. This sword martial art of mine in unordinary and we cannot let He Tianshu and the rest learn it sneakily.”
After finishing his words, he brought Zhang Xiaohua through several bends and to behind a tree, so even for He Tianshu and the rest to see them, their eyesight would have to be able to curve many times.
Once both of them got their feet on the ground, elder Yu said in a strict voice, “Zhang Xiaohua, I have already told you the danger of this sword martial art, do you still remember my words?”
Zhang Xiaohua kept away his other ideas and followed, “Yes, elder Yu, I already remembered them and will do as you say in the future.”
Elder Yu continued, “This sword martial art was obtained by me through a tattered sheepskin, and I do not know its name so let’s just call it nameless sword stance. Actually, a simple sword martial art is no different form a simple fist martial art in that they are helpless against vast inner energy. However, sword martial arts have an advantage, if they are used well, a good sword martial art may be able to break through the defence put up using inner energy. This sword martial art that I am about to teach you is not like any others, it has its own set of formulas that can stimulate your inner energy and assist your sword and stature, thereby seizing the best opportunity to attack.”
After listening up to here, Zhang Xiaohua interrupted to ask, “However, elder Yu, I do not have any inner energy.”
Elder Yu wrinkled his brow and said, “Do not interrupt me when I am talking, it will break my line of thought and once I forget one or two lines of advice, it will be easy for you to be led astray so do not blame me when that happens in the future.”
Zhang Xiaohua tightened his lips and nodded his head energetically to show his understanding.
Elder Yu recited in satisfaction the popular principle of the way of sword, “To practice profound martial art, point the blade to castrate oneself.”
Upon hearing his words, Zhang Xiaohua felt that it sounded profound but could not understand a single word of its meaning. However, if he could not understand the first principle of the sword, how would he be able to practice the other following sword principles? He could not help but feel worry welling up his heart and used his left hand to cover his mouth while he waved his right hand about. When elder Yu saw his reaction, he wrinkled his brow and asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, what is the matter again?”
Zhang Xiaohua put down his left hand, took a deep breath, and said, “Elder Yu, what does it mean to castrate oneself?”
Elder Yu was surprised and asked, “What do you want to castrate yourself?”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised as well and he said, “The first sword principle you mentioned was ‘to practice profound martial art, point the blade to castrate oneself, isn’t it?”
Upon hearing this elder Yu flushed and slapped his forehead, he said sheepishly, “My bad, my bad, I have read too much wuxia novels and mixed it up with reality. I will repeat what I say from the beginning again.”
Hence, elder Yu repeated the hard to pronounce sword formulas again. There were not many, only about ten plus words, but Zhang Xiaohua did not understand any of them.
Elder Yu did not explain any further, but he instructed Zhang Xiaohua to memorize them deeply.
After the previous accident, how would Zhang Xiaohua dare to believe the other party’s words completely? Elder Yu was forced to repeat the sword principle three more times before Zhang Xiaohua was able to recite the principle, causing the former to nod his head in relief.
In this world, there were many things that seem easy when other people were doing it, but when it came to one’s turn, they would find it hard to replicate the action. Elder Yu explained the sword stance twice, and even though Zhang Xiaohua could understand his instructions, when it was his turn to pick up the tree branch and demonstrate the stance, he was unable to satisfy elder Yu’s requirement no matter how hard he tried.
After several few attempts, elder Yu got frustrated and looked up at the sky before saying, “Zhang Xiaohua, we’ll stop here for today. Think about it carefully when you go back, try to figure out about how the sword stance changes, and remember to recite the sword principle which you just memorized.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt that he was put in a difficult position and he asked, “I know how the sword stance should move so I will naturally practice on that, but I do not understand this sword principle at all.”
Elder Yu disagreed and said, “A sword’s principle is the essence of the sword stance movement. Once you grasped some understanding of the sword stance, I will explain the sword principle in detail to you. This essence is related to inner energy, since you do not have any inner energy, saying anymore will not only be useless but counterproductive. Hence, you should just memorize it well.”
Zhang Xiaohua then understood and he nodded in agreement.
However, Zhang Xiaohua asked again, “Elder Yu, you promised to lend me some fist martial art manuals yesterday, when will be a good time to find you for them?”
Elder Yu pondered for a moment and said, “Once you understand the movement of the sword stance. If you read other fist martial art manuals during this period, it might distract you from your practice of sword martial arts instead. Let’s wait until I see some improvement in your sword martial arts first.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt that the other party was reasonable, and furthermore, this matter of completing his fist martial arts was not something he could finish in a day, he had waited several months and was not anxious to complete it anytime soon.
Thus, Zhang Xiaohua continuously revised and pondered over the sword principle throughout the rest of the day. He would think of the sword stance movement once he had the time, and when he was idling in his room, he would pick up a tree branch and practice relentlessly. Unfortunately, he was still unable to completely replicate the movement.
Actually, since this was Zhang Xiaohua’s first contact with a sword, it was normal for him to not be able to understand it well. Furthermore, his right hand was injured and his finger’s functions were not smooth like normal, so he was unable to control the direction and produce the power required, which was why his first step into sword martial arts was so challenging for him.
After dinner, taking the opportunity of some light before the sun fully set, elder Yu slowly demonstrated the sword stance movement again while explaining in detail the places to take note of. Zhang Xiaohua listened carefully and when put together with his own efforts during the day, there was some resemblance during his own demonstration although elder Yu still shook his head in dissatisfaction.
Zhang Xiaohua practiced for another set of time but there was still no improvement, and it was unavoidable for him to feel slightly discouraged. Looking at his right hand, he thought, “Could this hand really be crippled? From the way elder Yu explained, this sword stance movement is not too difficult so why am I not able to do it well?”
Following which, his eyes brightened and he asked, “Elder Yu, look, my right hand is not very flexible so can I use my left hand instead?”
Elder Yu did not nod like how Zhang Xiaohua anticipated the former to, he said softly, “Zhang Xiaohua, are you trying to circumvent this little obstacle because you cannot overcome it? If so, there is no need to learn this sword martial art anymore, why bother going through all this trouble?”
Zhang Xiaohua objected, “It’s not like this, elder Yu, I only felt that my right hand is not flexible enough to move the tree branch according to my wishes so I wanted to try with my left hand instead.”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Actually, I have already considered that problem before, but among the sword martial arts in Jianghu, most are intended for right-hand use and there are very few left handed sword martial arts. This sword martial art is also intended for right-hand use, and the sword manual that I obtained is also meant for such. Furthermore, the meridians in the right and left hand are quite different, the inner energy movement described in the sword manual is meant to be used in the right hand only. Look at me, where do I have a left hand to demonstrate to you? Without my left arm, I naturally cannot use my right arm to teach you to use your left arm instead.”
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s silent response, elder Yu continued, “That is why I cannot teach you any left handed sword martial art. Actually, I have another reason for teaching you sword martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua was confused and he asked, “What is it?”
Elder Yu bent his head solemnly and said, “This sword martial art requires the palm and wrist, and since your right hand is injured, it may not recover if you do not practice using it regularly. By teaching you this sword martial art, you will be forced to practice moving your right hand in the wide range of possible motions, and as long as you keep up in you practice diligently, perhaps the heavens will be kind enough to let you regain back your old condition? If you back off now because of the difficulties you are currently facing, then not only will you not go anywhere with your sword martial art, even your fist martial arts will not amount to much in the future.”
Zhang Xiaohua then understood and his bent his body and bowed, “Elder Yu, many thanks for your kind intentions. I will practice well and not disappoint you.”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Alright, there is no need to become so polite. Use your own abilities to practice well.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded his head and picked up the tree branch again to practice the movement repeatedly, he slowly immersed himself into his training and did not notice when elder Yu left.
While Zhang Xiaohua was in the midst of his training, a tree branch suddenly fell and Zhang Xiaohua was shocked out of his preoccupation. He felt pain in his right hand, and it was not just in his wrist but throughout his fingers as well. Zhang Xiaohua could not help but worry, did his injuries reopen again?
Hence, he stood there not daring to practice any further.
After waiting for a long while, the pain slowly subsided.
Zhang Xiaohua knew that while the injury did not reopen, he had to limit his practice to ensure that he did not overstrain himself. He had overworked his right hand that day, and had to be more careful in the future, if he were to continue this bad habit, not only would there not be any results from his training, his fingers and bones would be at greater risk of fracturing again.
Since he could not practice the sword stance movement, Zhang Xiaohua thought back to the fist martial art which he created. Hence, he stood back in the position and performed each and every of the hundred and one fist martial art stances, and even though it did not flow as smoothly, it still had close resemblance to a real fist martial art.
After finishing his fist martial art practice, he saw that the time was getting late so he used his left arm to carry the tree branch and walked back to his own room.
Zhang Xiaohua continued to swing the branch non-stop as he walked, and suddenly, his heart stirred. Even though elder Yu did not allow him to use his left hand to replace his sword martial art practice, the former did not obstruct him from using his left hand totally. Even though the meridians in his left hands were different, since he had no inner energy anyway, there was no use for the sword principle so he could practice performing the sword stance movement using his left hand as well. Elder Yu did not teach him the left hand sword movement because the former did not have a left hand and was unable to experience the hand movements personally, but why must he restrict himself just because of this?
The more Zhang Xiaohua thought about it, the more excited he became. He looked around his surroundings and after feeling that there was no one around, he placed the oil lamp at a side and thought back carefully about elder Yu’s pointers before using his left hand to perform the movement slowly.
After relying on his left hand for his daily functions over this several months, even though Zhang Xiaohua was not born left-handed, his flexibility was as close to a left handed person. Under elder Yu’s instructions and guidance in the day, Zhang Xiaohua’s left hand slowly accustomed itself to performing the sword stance movement. Even though the first try was quite clumsy and choppy, the following few tries flowed as smoothly as a river.
This result was out of Zhang Xiaohua’s expectations, and he felt elated beyond words as though he had found a new path to practice sword martial arts by himself. After he practiced a few more times to ascertain that he could perform the movement, he picked up his oil lamp and returned back to his room to rest.
When Zhang Xiaohua woke up the next morning, his first thought was to share his happy findings with elder Yu. However, when he started to practice again, he realized that the same problem with his fist martial arts had reoccurred.
That is, his left hand’s performance of the sword stance movement was no longer the same as what elder Yu had taught, there were several different points although the fortunate thing this time was that Zhang Xiaohua did not forget anything.
Upon seeing his sword martial art that had gone astray, Zhang Xiaohua was in silent contemplation, and his thought of sharing the good news with elder Yu had vanished. Forget it, rather than to let other people laugh at him, it was better if he could cope with it himself.
When he thought of elder Yu who would be arriving soon, Zhang Xiaohua stopped his practice with his left hand and warmed his muscles up by practicing the hundred and one fist stances instead. Just as he was in the middle doing so, elder Yu arrived.
Elder Yu inquired on Zhang Xiaohua’s training during the previous night, and the latter honestly reported on the pain which he felt in his right hand, and although he opened his mouth, the matter about of left hand was not said eventually.
Upon hearing Zhang Xiaohua’s words, elder Yu’s expression became solemn and he held on to Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand to inspect it before saying, “Mm, you have overworked yourself last night just as you expected. Your right hand is slightly stiff so we shall let it rest, continue to ponder about the movement in the day and we will practice again in the evening.”
After finishing his sentence, he reminded Zhang Xiaohua not to practice any sword martial art in the day again and floated off probably in the direction of the canteen.
Seeing that he did not have to practice sword martial arts that morning, Zhang Xiaohua could only continue on training his fist martial art, and as he practiced the hundred and one stances a few more times, his movements began to flow better and it reaffirmed his idea to complete the fist martial art and rebuilt his anticipation to practice the whole martial art in its complete form.
After finishing his practice, Zhang Xiaohua looked up at the sky and upon seeing that there was still some time before breakfast, he returned his thoughts onto his left arm and the sword martial art. Moving on an impulse, Zhang Xiaohua hid himself behind some trees as he used his left hand to perform the modified sword martial art in his memory.
As he practiced over and over again, his movements became more fluid until as though it was of the same standard as elder Yu’s. Just as Zhang Xiaohua as submerged in his own world of practicing, he suddenly felt as though there was some warm energy flowing from his left hand into the sword stance movement. Zhang Xiaohua was surprised and he immediately stopped to observe the feeling, but it disappeared as fast as it came.
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua slowly performed the movement again but the feeling did not resurface as though it was his own imagination. Zhang Xiaohua shook his head as he thought that he probably mistook the feeling.
However, as Zhang Xiaohua continued to practice the sword stance movement again, he accidently encountered the same feeling again, and then realized that it was not just his imagination. Thus, he thought back carefully as he tried to link this warm energy flow with the speed of sword stance movement while he performed it.
Just as he was trying out the sword stance movement with varying speeds to further investigate the warm energy, a loud voice suddenly disrupted his thought process, “Zhang Xiaohua, where are you?”
Upon hearing the voice, Zhang Xiaohua immediately recognized it as little second Nie and felt surprised, why had the other person came all of a sudden?
When he walked out of the forest, he realized that the sun had already passed three poles so it was time for them to prepare to head towards the herb fields, but he had not had his breakfast yet.
Upon seeing He Tianshu’s concerned expression, Zhang Xiaohua said sheepishly, “Squad leader He, about this, I was practicing……fist martial arts in the forest and lost track of the time.”
He Tianshu said, “Zhang Xiaohua, do you know that rushing things will not be beneficial to you? Rome is not built in one day, you have to learn to be realistic and take little steps towards your goal. While I respect your diligence, but overworking your body is something I do not approve of. Were you still practicing your fist martial arts during the days when you were in the forest alone?”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered slightly before replying, “I guess so.”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “I know that you are afraid of being teased at while practising those incomplete martial arts of yours. Just practice if you want to, but be mindful of your own health. Your right hand is still not completely recovered so you must take appropriate breaks to not overwork it, or else you might cripple yourself personally and never be able to practice martial arts again.”
Zhang Xiaohu replied respectfully, “I understand, squad leader He, I will be more careful in the future.”
He Tianshu patted his shoulders and said, “Alright, as long as you know it yourself. Don’t be embarrassed in the future and come train with us, we promise not to tease you again.”
When Zhang Xiaohua looked at the other three people who were standing at a side, he could not help but break out into a smile and said, “It is alright, squad leader He, I will still practice on my own in the future.”
He Tianshu said, “Fine, everything is up to you. I have already told little second Nie to bring some breakfast over to your room, so hurry and eat some before heading to the herb fields to work.”