Chapter 24 – Close Combat Gu Master
Three days later.
“Lowering your body to dodge, that is the usual technique of restraining against a flying fist. When your enemy comes and attacks you, quickly squat down and at the same time do a counterattack, striking his crotch and abdomen. Do not be afraid of a swinging fist. Usually those who come up and start swinging their fists at the first moment are people who have no brains and are impulsive and rash.”
On the martial arts field, the academy’s martial arts(1) instructor spoke while he performed actions to demonstrate. A wooden puppet’s right first swept over, and the martial arts instructor quickly squatted down, dodging the incoming attack. Then he threw a punch at the puppet’s abdomen, knocking it down with a few punches.
The students were looking at the demonstration in a circle, but most of them were lacking in spirit, showing very little interest.
The academy taught a variety of courses and this lesson was the one that taught foundation of martial arts. Using fists and legs to exert oneself was too inferior to the handsome and cool attack style of the moonblade, making almost all the students absent-minded.
“The next class will be the Moonlight Gu’s usage assessment. How have you been practicing so far lately?”
“I’m still doing good. I can do three moonblades, but only a few of them actually hit. Usually I get two blades on the grass puppet.”
“Mmm, that’s the same like me. I specially bought a grass puppet just to practice for this in these few days.”
The young teens whispered to one another, their minds long gone from the lesson. They were all worried about the assessment in the next class. Just for this assessment, they had practiced hard for a long time after class, and now they were flexing their hands and feet, looking forward to the assessment.
The sounds of the students’ discussion had reached the instructor’s ear, and the martial arts coach jerked his gaze back at them, shouting, “No talking allowed in class, all of you keep your mouths shut and watch closely!”
He was a Rank two Gu master, his body rather muscular. His upper body was naked and robust, the bronzed skin littered with countless scars on it. With a loud shout he showed a threatening manner, pressing down on all the students in the field.
Silence fell in the martial arts field.
“The foundation of martial arts is the most important among important things. Especially in the early stages of a Gu Master’s cultivation, it is more important than anything else. All of you better focus your attention on me!”
After he finished scolding, the martial arts instructor called out another wooden puppet. This light yellow wooden puppet was two meters tall, its huge wooden feet making sharp sounds as it stepped on the bluestone floor tiles. The wooden puppet stretched open its arms and rushed clumsily towards the coach.
The instructor dodge its attack, then fiercely hugged its waist and used his strength to push it forward down, causing the huge and tall wooden puppet to fall to the ground. Then the instructor rode on the puppet’s waist and swung his fist quickly at the puppet’s head.
The wooden puppet resisted for a moment, then its head was smashed broken by the instructor’s raining blows. It was paralyzed on the ground, lying motionless.
The martial arts instructor stood up, his breathing calm and long as always. He explained to the students, “When facing a huge and tall enemy in close combat, do not be afraid. Ruining the opponent’s center of gravity is a type of sensible tactic to pin down your enemy. Just like how I did it earlier, you must hug the opponent’s waist, control his hips and then push forward with your strength. After that you take the opportunity and get on his body and fiercely punch at your enemy. Those with no defensive capabilities will instantly collapse.”
The students nodded repeatedly, but most of their eyes showed disapproval. The coach saw all of this and laughed bitterly in his heart.
Every batch was like this. The attitudes of these youngsters were naturally easily attracted by gorgeous things. Without personal understanding and experience, it was hard for them to understand the importance of having a martial arts foundation. In truth especially for a Gu Master in his early stage, while the basic martial arts did not look promising, it was actually more important than the blade attack.
“….Remember, in close combat, your sight must not always stare at the enemy’s eye. It should focus on the enemy’s shoulder. No matter punching or kicking, the enemy’s shoulder will always move first….”
“…In close combat your speed is very important, the speed I am talking about in this context is not the speed of your fists, but the speed of the movement of your legs….”
“….Distance is the best defense…”
“…Keep your legs elastic, then you will be able to easily burst out your strength…”
“When striking with your fists, maintain a triangle support. Otherwise you will lose your footing. The enemy has not fallen, yet instead you fell first…”
The instructor patiently explained while he demonstrated. These were all his valuable experiences that he got from sacrificing blood and tears, experience accumulated from long battles.
Unfortunately the students were unaware of this. They gradually started to whisper again, the focus of the discussion still on the next lesson’s moonblade assessment.
“This martial arts instructor is very pragmatic, but his teaching style is wrong.” Fang Yuan watched quietly among the crowd, nodding and shaking his head at times. The instructor had no discipline in his teaching; he taught completely by interest, and just taught whatever he thought of. Therefore the things he taught came out in a mess and there was a lot of complicated info. In the beginning many students listened seriously, but gradually they lost interest and diverted their attention to other aspects.
Only Fang Yuan listened meticulously all the way; while others were learning, he was revising. His combat experience was richer than the instructor, but listening to others narrating was also a way of verification in cultivation.
A Gu Master’s method of fighting is usually divided between melee and ranged. The moonblade attack is a type of ranged attack, but when strictly speaking, it is considered medium range due to its effective distance only being ten meters.
When it came to close combat Gu Masters, the martial arts instructor was the best example. Melee battle Gu Masters would usually choose Gu that amplified their own body strengths and cultivate. These Gu would give them superhuman strength, agility, responsiveness, endurance etc.
Just like this martial arts instructor, his whole body was covered in bronze skin. This was of course not his own skin colour, but it was a type of copper skin Gu’s effect. The copper skin Gu would increase the Gu Master’s skin toughness and defence by a lot, letting the Gu Master be able to endure more damage.
“A single moonblade would consume 10% of primeval essence. How many times can a Gu Master throw a moonblade during battle? The number is few, especially for beginners who have difficulty forming effective blows. It can only be used as a type of trump card, the terrorizing factor is greater than its lethality. To a Rank one Gu Master, the truly useful skill would be martial arts kung fu. This is because the martial art offence is more durable and reliable. It’s a pity that this fact is something that they will not understand unless they face it with their own experience.”
Fang Yuan lightly glanced around at his peers, a faint sneer somehow forming on his lips.
The basic martial arts class was finally over. After a short rest, the student’s eyes were filled with anticipation; the academy elder was late. He waved his big hand, pointing at the row of grass puppets in front of the bamboo wall. He went straight to the subject and said, “Alright, today is the day to check the results. I want five people in a group coming up in proper sequence, using the moonblade to attack three times.”
The first group of students went up, and the moonblade danced in the air. After three rounds, only nine moonblades hit on the grass puppets.
The academy elder shook his head a little, feeling slightly displeased. This hit rate was too low, the key being that among these five only two managed to successfully throw out two moonblades.
“You all better practice properly after this, especially you, and you.” The elder reprimanded in a short sentence, then he waved his big hand and said, “Next group.”
The two that were reprimanded dropped their heads and left the field in dismay. One of them was a girl, her eyes a little red and her heart grieving. She was only a C grade talent, yet she could not bear to use primeval stones to quickly recover her primeval essence. Thus in these three days she practiced very little, resulting in her unskilled throwing of the moonblade.
A Gu Master needed money to refine Gu, raise Gu; even practicing to use Gu needed cash. But where was she able to get so much money? Even though her two parents were supporting her from behind, but every family had their own problems. To be short of funds was often the dilemma that a Gu Master faced.
“Anyway I don’t have the slightest chance of getting number one. I might as well give up and save on primeval stones, that is better for me.” As she thought of this, her heart became calm once more.
There were actually quite a number of people who thought the same way as this young girl. Because of the lack of practice, many of the students performed poorly. The academy elder’s brow deepened more and more.
Fang Yuan watched, secretly shaking his head. “These people are really pitiful and sad. Just for a small amount of primeval stones, they gave up their own chance to make progress. Primeval stones are meant to be used; if you want to become a miser and accumulate primeval stones, then what did you become a Gu Master for?”
In other words, those who are shortsighted would often haggle over every penny and chase after less important things. As for those with lofty aspirations, they usually showed a tolerant and generous attitude, and had the strength to give up and let go of things.
“It’s finally my turn.” At this moment, Gu Yue Mo Bei’s horse face lit up in a confident smile all over, and he walked up to the field. His stature was stout and gave out a fierce and strong aura. After standing still he raised his hand and threw three moonblades – all three of them hit. Among the blades, two of them hit on the puppet’s chest, while the other blade hit the puppet’s left arm, shaving away a few green grass.
This result naturally caused the young teens to burst with admiration.
“Well done.” The elder’s brow slightly smoothed out.
The next group came up, Gu Yue Chi Cheng standing among them. He had a small and short body, his face full of pockmarks, his expression bringing a slight nervousness.
He sent out three moonblades continuously and all three hit on the puppet’s chest, cutting out three intertwined scars. The scars went from deep to shallow and restored back to its original appearance after a few breaths, due to the puppet’s self-healing ability.
However this outcome was already tied to Gu Yue Mo Bei’s result, and also received the elder’s praise. Chi Cheng held his head high as he walked out of the field, looking at Mo Bei defiantly in the eye on the way.
“Hmph!” Below the field, Gu Yue Mo Bei gave a cold snort, but he did not return Chi Cheng’s glare. Instead, he continued looking at Gu Yue Fang Zheng who had not gone up yet.
His heart clearly knew that the real threats were only Gu Yue Chi Cheng and Gu Yue Fang Zheng. The previous was the same like him – a B grade talent while also having the constant supply of primeval stones. The latter was an A grade talent; while Fang Zheng did not have as many primeval stones as them, but just by relying on his own natural recovery speed thanks to his grade talent, he would also be able to practice a lot in a short amount of time.
Right now Gu Yue Chi Cheng’s results have appeared, showing a tie to Mo Bei, and only Gu Yue Fang Zheng was left.
In the last few groups, Gu Yue Fang Zheng finally came up to the stage.
(1) 拳脚 – Chinese boxing but I translate it as martial arts, because firstly I’m not sure Chinese is the proper word here. This land isn’t really China and their language isn’t really Chinese, also writing Chinese boxing feels out of place here.