Part 36: Kung Fu - Update # 7 - The Master Teaches Atop the Shaq and Experiences Mortality Once MoreKung Fu Chapter, Part 7: The Master Teaches Atop the Shaq and Experiences Mortality Once More
Dawn breaks, the sun peeking above the horizon. The Master leads his disciples high atop the Shaq, where he may start the first exercises.
: This will be a lesson in endurance. The air up here is very thin. You may have some difficulty, but you will improve faster. Now come at me!
All three of the Master's students attack him at once, but they are not able to lay a single blow. The Master demonstrates the ferocity of the Lion's Claw to Sammo, the agility of the Squirrel's Kick to Li, and the guile of the Fox's Dance to Yuan. As the sun begins to cast long shadows over the Shaq Fu students, they all tire out, unable to gasp enough air at the top of the Shaq. Each student is sweating, struggling for breath.
: Okay, that's enough for today... How was it? Tough, yes?
Li shrugs and turns her head in defiance.
: I-it wasn't... that... hard...
Li's voice betrays her state, and she collapses to the ground.
: You jerk! I don't... need any... help...
Sammo dashes to Li's side and the two boys attempt to help her up.
: No, no, no! L-Li's a girl. I-I have to be k-kind to girls...
At these words Li throws off her help and struggles to her feet on her own.
Li is suddenly full of energy again and laughs to the horizon. Sammo and Yuan step back, amazed by the surge in her spirit. The Master grins.
: That's all for today. We'll assemble elsewhere tomorrow morning. For now, get some rest.
The next day, the Master leads his students to the bamboo forest west of his home.
: Agility... I-I don't like this one...
: It sure is hard to move around out here.
: Hah! This place is like home to me! ...or at least, it used to be.
: Shall we begin?
The Master signals once more. He does not allow his students a chance to react and darts into the bamboo. Li is swift and follows him in. Though she is able to dance about the bamboo shoots more quickly, the Master misdirects her. Li wastes movements and energy, unable to track his true location. Though Yuan is slower to move through the dense forest, he sees through the Master's ruse and wastes no effort closing in. When the two are close, the Master strikes, but his fist only meets bamboo. Yuan has chosen a spot where the plants guard him from many angles, and the student only needs to make a slight movement to avoid an attack. Time passes as the Master plays cat and mouse with Li and Yuan, neither student able to catch and engage him directly. The training is interrupted when all three hear a bellow from the edge of the forest.
: H-help! I-I'm stuck!
: You can't be serious! Did that fatty really...?
All three follow the direction of Sammo's voice. They find him wedged between two narrow bamboo shoots, trapping his large body. The Master ignores Li's huff of impatience and Yuan's stifled giggles and orders the two to help out their fellow student. It takes a great effort to free Sammo. He rolls to the ground, dazed and out of breath.
: I suppose that will conclude today's training.
: What the hell? I was this close to getting you!
: M-Master, I'm not done just yet either...
: If I cannot train one of you, then I cannot train three of you. The day is concluded, and we will train again tomorrow. Am I understood?
The pupils all nod, and busy themselves for the day with household chores. That night, the Master is awake late, meditating on his students' progress so far.
: Hmm? Where's Yuan?
The Master sneaks outside, where he spots Yuan. The young boy is fighting shadows, practicing joint locks on invisible enemies. The Master hides himself, not allowing Yuan to spot him.
The Master smiles.
: From this moment forward, you will obtain power by fighting directly with me.
: Yer askin' for it, gramps!
: Can we have more food after we train?
: Ths time, I will not hold back against any of you!
: … Oh no!
The Master signals to begin. All three students attack without hesitation. Their styles begin to complement each other. When the Master must evade a powerful attack from Sammo, Yuan is at his flank. Li is always using her speed to cut off the Master's escape paths. Though the Master plans on defending until his pupils tire out, he can feel his body turn sore. His joints ache is age. With one misstep, Yuan slips through the Master's guard and lands a palm strike.
: Hahah! Look, I did... Master?
: Worry not... You were just... stronger than I'd thought. Heheh, looks like I over-exerted myself...
Next Time: The Master Must Make A Decision