Flashback Move With The Spirit

Unarmed training chapter 1

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A village cut off from the rest of Mizahar by the Valterrian, slowly reestablishing contact with the outside world.

Move With The Spirit

Postby Eosi on December 9th, 2012, 8:27 pm

The Academy

“Move with the Spirit,” 499 AV

The young girl stood amongst a small group of her peers. Many spoke quietly with one another, the chatter a quiet background to the otherwise serene environment. The instructor sat cross-legged, seemingly meditating before rising gracefully to his naked feet. The movement was awe-inspiringly fluid. Eosi was the only one of her age in complete silence, uninterested in the idle talk that surrounded her. She watched with interest as the man approached in silence, scrutinizing the lot of them before his eyes fell upon her.

“For your first lesson in unarmed, we’ll be performing some strength and flexibility exercises. You’re expected to memorize and diagram these forms, so I’d advise paying close attention.” The din faded into nothing, each individual student focusing in on his words. He cracked his knuckles, the popping noise resounding through the empty courtyard.

“For your first exercise, start by standing with your a comfortable distance apart. I suggest shoulder width at maximum.”

The all followed suit, and he gave a reflective pause before continuing. “Hold your arms straight out to the side at shoulder level, keeping your elbows and fingers straight, together and pointing upward.” He demonstrated, his arms sticking out at a straight angle. It reminded her of preparing to fly, which would be a good reference to make in the future. Internally she memorized the form.

“Rotate your shoulders forward, so that the fingers point forward. Keep the shoulders down, elbows straight, hands tight, and chest open.” His agile hands bowed in slightly as he moved, almost creating a box. It was uncomfortable but she obliged, holding stick straight. Her muscles already began to quiver with the effort.

The capable looking man then disengaged from the coiled posture, moving through their ranks and adjusting each student accordingly. When next to her, he frowned and pushed down on her tense shoulders a bit. “You’re holding on too tightly. You’ll strain yourself this way. Relax a bit.” Though difficult, she managed. It was almost harder to hold it in a relaxed manner, her body being forced to sustain it with the correct muscle group. When he looked satisfied, the instructor moved back to the front.

“Good. Now, return to the start position. Be sure not to torque the movement; your fingers should not point backward. We’ll do 50 of these repetitions.” Abruptly, his gaze became steely. “Anyone who washes out will be excused from class for the day.” An irritable murmur rippled through the various clusters of kids. Eosi began immediately, desperate to please the stern-faced observer. Her arms moved rigidly in and then out again, each position becoming increasingly more unendurable. Perspiration welled out on her brow in a fine sheen, pushing to her limits. After twenty, her arms felt near to falling off. It was unbearable, the agony. After thirty, at least half the class had given up. Disappointed, the man would dismiss them one at a time. Some simply quit – others he forced to leave as they only half-endeavored toward the brutal end. Eosi felt numb all over, her soft body completely unfamiliar with such rigorous activity. Still, her mind screamed that she wouldn’t fail.

“That’s good, Eosi.” She hadn’t realized, but he’d been standing at her side. The young girl had been so focused on completing the set task that she’d developed tunnel vision. He startled her so badly she nearly dropped her form. “Move with the spirit,” he murmured. That was the key he’d been looking for. This was not just a test of physical strength – it was a test of willpower. Obeying, she moved and moved, detaching from the pain. After awhile it seemed nearly involuntary, until his hands gently rested on her forearms, pushing them back to her sides. Had she reached fifty repetitions? Heartbroken, she waited for him to dismiss her.

The gaunt gentleman circled to her front and stepped away. He seemed almost proud, wearing a mask of faint amusement. Her whole body felt like it was made of lead. Mopping her forehead, she looked at him with a hopeless expression. “Did I do fifty?”

“You did seventy before I stopped you.” Her mind reeled. “The last thirty five were a bit off, but the important thing was that you listened, obeyed. Look around you.” He gestured to the space in which they stood. With amazement, she realized that she was the only one left. “Did they fail?” She asked lightly, incredulous. Grinning, he shook his head. “Oh no. Every year at the start of martial training, I do this to see who does not give up. It almost always ends the same, though not very often am I left with a female.” This seemed to impress him. “Captain Astrid would be pleased.”

Though beaming, she did not have the energy to respond any longer. Her chest still heaved, blood vigorously dancing in her cheeks. The adrenaline was slowly wearing off, leaving her whole body completely devoid of the will to move. Perhaps he’d carry her home, she thought wearily. It would be impossible to lift anything the next day.

“With time, these things will get easier. Do you have the energy to continue?” Her eyes nearly bulged from their sockets. Near to passing out, she shook her head. “No sir, not today.” He nodded. “Yes, you’ve not had personal training. Come back for another session in a few days when your muscles have knitted themselves.” His invitation sent her spirit soaring. As enthusiastically as she could manage, she nodded. Eagerly she gathered her things, moving at a ponderous speed.


In the interim, she did thirty repetitions of that very same exercise, having copied it in her little leather-bound notebook. There was no telling if she was spot-on, having no mirror to use and being conspicuously trainer-less. Still, the dedication was unprecedented. With her Mother’s increasing absence, Eosi had little to do except sit by the bellows in her relative’s smithy. It seemed silly to spend so much time just observing, and she did feel a degree stronger.

Thirty was enough to send her back in the house, ravenous for protein. When she sought out the instructor next, he sat in that very same meditative position behind the Academy. A special fondness sprang up in her heart. He seemed to know she was there despite his eyes remaining closed. With a long stretch, he rose from the seated position and looked her over.

“You look ready,” he said after a time. Wordless, he indicated for her to stand where the students normally did. “This will allow you to progress past your peers, if you are willing.” He commented, raising an eyebrow. “Do you desire to do that? Become the best?” Eosi nodded. With a light laugh, he shook his head. “Know now there is no such thing as perfection. It is the unachievable end that we pursue. Do you understand that?” It was such a disarming thing to say. It was as if he had been building her confidence up only to crush it down again. The childish voice in her mind groused that it was unfair. Still, she wanted this. Badly. Silencing it, she nodded mutely.

“Good. Now, I want to see how you’ve practiced the first exercise.” How did he know she’d been training on the side? Shaken a bit, she began the fifty repetitions he most certainly spoke of. It was easier, even as he tutted and adjusted her arms here and there. When she reached fifty in her mind, her whole body uncoiled and relaxed.

“Not bad, not bad.” He cocked his head to the side. “You’re ready for the next exercise. This involves flexibility, which is going to serve you just as well as strength. Prioritize neither one over the other. Instead endeavor to balance the two. Follow me to the wall.” He walked over and gestured to the flat side of the Academy. As they walked together she found her gait was more forceful, more confident. Eosi had never felt that way before. Proud, almost.

When they stopped, he took a few steps to the side. “I’ll be doing it with you. We’ll start with our palms against the wall at shoulder height and less than shoulder width apart. Lean forward, keeping your arms and legs straight, until your arms are behind your ears.” As he bowed in, she did the same. “You should feel the stretch in your shoulders.” He pushed further into it. “See if you can touch your head to the wall.” Eosi strained to do so, her deltoids burning. “Avoid arching your back,” he cautioned, seeing her mistake. Correcting herself, she breathed into the pain.

“Once you feel numb, come out of it.” Eosi managed a solid minute before her body adjusted. When she pulled back upright, the limber feeling was almost euphoric. He stayed in the position for a bit longer before straightening. “Not as bad as the strength training. Not for the ladies, anyway,” he ribbed lightly. “Now, here comes the harder stretch.” So it was a full on lesson? The Inarta struggled to commit it all to memory, not having realized she was to learn it all.

“Turn away from the wall, and set your palms against it, as close together as possible with the fingers pointing upward, thumbs on the outside.” It came out seemingly in a rush. She turned and did so, her fingers fumbling awkwardly with the end of his direction. It was incredibly odd to stand in such a way. Bewildered, she watched his example.

“Bend your knees and lower your body. Keep the elbows straight, and hands as high and as close together as possible.”

When she dropped into it, it against worked at the deltoids but also varying parts of her back, as well as her calves. The young girl squatted alongside the man for as long as she could stand it until her legs were near to giving out from under her.

“There you are,” he said gently, helping her back up. She’d accidentally locked into the position. “Now, you don’t necessarily want to do that.” He chided, smiling. “That’ll be all for today.” He murmured with a serene gaze. How long had they been working at it? The lesson seemed pitifully short. Still, she’d committed most of it to memory and went home smiling, eager to further her studies.
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Move With The Spirit

Postby Whimsy on December 13th, 2012, 11:36 pm

Experience Award



+3 Unarmed Combat
+3 Endurance
+2 Observation

Unarmed Combat: Memorising Stances
The Importance of Willpower
Unarmed Combat: Techniques to Strengthen Muscles
Unarmed Combat: Techniques to Improve Flexibility

I really enjoyed this thread. It was lovely to see Eosi so dedicated to bettering herself and her abilities. Her relative innocence due to her age and experience is written very well: there is naivety, hope, but no needless stupidity. Eosi is a lovely character. PM me if you have any questions or concerns.

"Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away."
Louis de Bernières

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