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The Agitation of the Art; Open
Topic Started: Apr 10 2018, 04:34 AM (225 Views)
bonniecanuck
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Bonnie Bushi
The dojo was quiet after kendo practice, but for Edie, it was just another opportunity to hone her craft. It was more important now that she was preparing to assess for her naginata 2-dan grade. She had largely grown up with a dangai rank, but after making it to the esteemed rank of yudansha once she achieved shodan after becoming a teenager, there was a long road ahead for her career now that she had made it this far.

She wore her standard uniform, but in addition had put her bogu on, save for the men, which was on the side. The tare had her Japanese surname - 増田 - stitched onto it, as well as - fairly abnormally - the names of two cities - Kamakura (鎌倉) and Kaneshima (金島). She had added the latter out of her deep fondness for the island since she had arrived.

In her hand she held her standard shiai naginata. Opposite her was a practice dummy. She had a set routine for what she would set out to do in this practice. She bowed in and drew, and then began.

She turned her naginata from the chudan-no-kamae ready position into waki-no-kamae, and then swung for a body level strike. "DO!" She was slow and deliberate with the movement, but still forceful that there was a flowing elegance to it. Then she raised and swung the naginata over her head, switching her hands, and brought it straight down, stopping just short of striking the dummy on the head to complete the furikaeshi strike. "MEN!"

In her mind, she now imagined the dummy was a real person. That person had parried her strike, and in accordance, she let her muscle memory dictate that force to let it go sideways, giving said opposite person the opening to counterattack with a men strike that she couldn't block.

It looked picture perfect. She had kept a steady pace and her strikes had landed in the right spots at the right times. But she seemed unsatisfied with herself, frowning as she cross-stepped back to where she had begun the exercise. In her mind, she was critiquing herself. Harshly. She had much to say to herself about things that she was doing wrong, whether justified or not. Unfortunately, a surprising lack of naginata practitioners around the island, combined with the much more lax environment that the space here entailed, meant that she didn't feel she was getting the feedback and answers she would otherwise have safely relied on back at home, even if she had been practicing and assessing her improvements personally as she had gone along.

The least she could do for now, though, was to just keep going. Now that she had completed one of the engi she would be assessed on, it was only right that she finish the rest of the exam requirements.
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GrimRPer
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This man has come into the dojo, wearing quite exquisite clothes, carrying a photo in a hand and scratching his head. Seems he was looking for something, or someone. At first he didn't seem too tall, but when approached, well... People DO look up to him for a reason. When he brought his hand down to the sword, it disappeared as if it were a holographic projection.

Perhaps that's what he was looking for, his sword? Perhaps it was a projection all along? Plus, for a normal person, that sword would have been too large to wield, so why would anyone want it anyways?!

The truth would be if one where to look at the photo in his hand: it was of a certain fox girl, and at the lower right corner a pair of Kanji for a very familiar name... 天玉, Tengyoku.
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It didn't really surprise him that there weren't any fencing clubs on the island. It didn't seem like fencing would be especially popular in Japan given that it was somewhat rare even in the West where it was born. To find something like that on a small island in Japan was... well, he hadn't held his breath.

Regardless, that was no excuse for letting his training lapse. His father had enrolled him in a local club in Germany some time ago, but here he had rarely found the opportunity to train. His own weapon, Joyeuse, wasn't even the right kind of sword for that...

Not surprisingly, there were even fewer places in Germany that taught Kunst des Fechtens. For that he had to rely on what he picked up as he went, plus the guidance of that thing in his neck. That said, after hearing the school had its own practice studio, and after finally finding himself some free time, Abelhard Priester had finally come down to practice. There wasn't much use for his lamé here without any additional equipment to use, but he would never think of practicing without at least his plastron and jacket, with his mask placed under his arm.

And his saber, of course.

Much to his surprise, it seemed he wasn't the only one here. Though if he thought about it, why shouldn't a school full of armed students have one or two practicing in the school's only dojo at any given time? What surprised him most, however, wasn't the presence of another person, but what she held. A spear with an unusual blade, different from what he was used to seeing in history books back home, though he was sure he'd seen it in movies before. What was it called again? Moreover, should someone really be swinging such a large weapon around so casually?

He walked around from behind the wielder, mostly watching the blade. Both because that was the source of his curiosity, and also to avoid getting struck if she failed to notice him...

When he finally found himself in her field of vision, Abel moved his gaze to the girl, starting a bit when he noticed her somber expression. It was probably none of his business, but he couldn't very well walk away normally now that he's standing right in front of her. So he did what awkward guy's do best and pretended everything was totally normal. "That's an unusual weapon, I can't say I've ever seen one like it in person. Forgive my ignorance, but could you tell me what it's called?" He said, watching her as calmly and casually as he could while pointing at the tip of the spear with his free hand.
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bonniecanuck
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Bonnie Bushi
Edie began her next routine. She changed her stance into an offensive one with the habu pointing forward and the shaft oriented diagonally. Then she launched a shin strike, visibly making her reach a little short to let the monouchi - the striking area - fall just a little short of the dummy's foot, letting it sweep a little more widely. "SUNE!" Then she withdrew, raising her naginata as if to block an overhead strike, then parrying it diagonally and stopping.

In her mind she was still assessing her form. She knew she'd have to work on various things, even little ones that the eye of anybody but a senior sensei would acknowledge and that her subconsciousness would bury and not be able to realise. So it was that she did not think to respond to the realisation of not one, but two people entering the dojo. She didn't look them in the eye, her gaze fully ahead of her as she drew the naginata in vertically and back down to change back to her left shoulder facing forward.

It was only once she drew in back to shizentai and bowed to at least temporarily suspend the exercise that she fully acknowledged them. She bowed.

"Can I help you tonight?" she asked politely. She hadn't seen these two characters before, but with the fact that they were coming into the dojo wearing clothing atypical to a standard gi, she couldn't help but wonder if perhaps they were martial artists of a different sort.

Still, they seemed curious about her. It would be up to her to address those curiosities, she supposed. She responded to the bespectacled man' question. "It's a naginata," she said. "A polearm native to the country. Traditionally it would have a proper blade and everything, but this one is, as you might expect, a sporting tool that evolved from the same tradition as other martial arts like kendo. This sort of specimen is called a shiai naginata, and it belong in the atarashii, or new, school of naginata. There's a number of other varieties, but this one is the most common."

She hoped that her explanation was satisfying. Sometimes when she talked she got lost in detail, but she really did do her best to be concise and precise at once. With the discerning eye of wielders of weapons around this school though, she felt confident in giving this long and succinct an answer.
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GrimRPer
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When approached, he looked directly at Edie, being straight to the point: "Ah, excuse me, I'm Tokage Haru and I'm looking for this girl. She was my subordinate, her name here is Tengyoku, she lives with a family of very unique foxes. I promised to visit her, and now that I'm relieved from my military duties, it is a most ideal time."

And as he spoke, he showed Edie the photo. Should Edie remember, about five months ago the fox girl has mentioned wanting to see her ex-commander again, and judging from this man's clothes, that was the one who looked after her, cared for her the most...
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"Really? That's terribly interesting." Abel said, placing his thumb and pointer finger thoughtfully on his chin. "I know a few drills for the standard European spear, but I'm sure you're much better than I am..." It seemed like an interesting opportunity on his part. After all, it was best to try and be prepared for fighting under any circumstances. Or that's how he tried to approach things. James certainly seemed to live by a similar philosophy, though Abel probably wouldn't take it quite that far.

"If you don't think it would be uncomfortable, maybe you could show me a few basic moves? If you'd like, maybe I could show you a thing or two about European fencing?" He smiled, holding up his bobbing practice blade.

Suddenly he noticed a third person had joined them. He seemed to be looking for someone and had a picture to boot and Abel leaned in to take a look himself. A little girl with Fuchsohren? Anywhere else something like that might be unusual, but here in Kaneshima, well...

"Isn't that girl in the freshman class? A, I think." Yes, he was almost sure that was correct. "You might check with her homeroom teacher to find out where she is, assuming you're a relative or something like that."
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bonniecanuck
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Bonnie Bushi
Edie couldn't see completely clearly from where she was, but she didn't need to. Hearing the kitsune's name was enough for her to startle recollection into her. How long had it been since then? She wasn't sure - the dojo was a place for her to forget and refocus. But she distinctly recalled what she had taught herself through meditation and focus to leave behind in this moment, and she stepped forward, slowly but surely.

"You're...her commander?" she asked in a stunned but somewhat relieved voice. "Oh, she's going to be so pleased to see you again!" It was as if her heart was lifted, knowing that they were so close to one another again. She couldn't imagine what the distance between them had been like beforehand, but knowing the heartache that Tengyoku must have felt, she couldn't wait to show him to her again.

"I'll be happy to take you to her!" she said. "But could you please wait? I must continue to carry out my practice." Much as she would have liked to take his hand and run back to the dorms, the time she dedicated to perfecting her art, especially in preparation for a grading as important as this one, meant that she couldn't run away.

Instead, she just turned to the one who was curious about her. "Oh, absolutely," she said, "it still helps me practice for my grading since I'll be thinking about myself and my form anyhow." Returning to her position, she drew the naginata back to chudan-no-kamae, the standard ready position. She stopped looking at the pair, and was focused right ahead, the dummy in front of her.

She drew a breath, and as she did, swung the naginata in an arc up vertically, turning her body forward. She stopped as it was above her head, then let out a loud kiai. "MEN!" Her body turned back to the right side, though her face was still fully looking ahead. Simultaneously, the naginata swung back down, and propelled by her forward movement, the bamboo blade struck the head of the dummy. She did a hop-step back, completing the first move.

She did another one, but this time, letting the naginata arc slightly and swing lower, while shifting her body weight a little more forward. "SUNE!" The naginata struck where the shin of a normal person would be.

Edie wondered how impressed her guests were by all this as she returned to her starting position and stance.
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"Well, when she was my subordinate I always looked after her, so I was kinda like a father to her in a sense.", he replied Abel with a nod in his direction. For Tokage, the fox girl was always someone special, a ray of sunshine in his life, one he had to part ways in the past but would now be able to see again.

Mildly surprised, he glared at Edie, smiling. Someone knew where to find Tengyoku. "Oh, thank you so much! I will await then, please have a fine training.", he bowed to Edie first, then Abel, before giving them space and leaning against the wall, pulling out a book on Mythical Beings of the World.

If he had glasses, Tokage would look like one of those intellectuals, and he would only blink after finishing a page, utterly focused on his reading. His breathing, calm, slow, patient, reflecting the state of his mind, despite early excitement in knowing he found the right person to lead him to her...
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Abel watched intently, absorbing the motions with his eyes and giving the presentation the respect he felt it deserved. Though he didn't know anything about what it was really supposed to look like, from he was sitting it was impressive. More impressive than anything he could do, even as a fencer. Of course, he got the feeling the two of them shared a certain problem.

"Your movements looked very tight and disciplined, it's a bit different than what I'm used to, but it looked seriously good." Abel said, scratching his face. "It must be hard to practice by yourself though. Those sorts of moves are best done with a partner, aren't they?" He said, knowing the answer. It was the same way with him, it was hard to practice all by yourself and there weren't many fencers in this area.

"I don't know if fencing would be at all compatible with a naginata, the length of the weapons are just so different, but maybe we could find some way to help each other out. Maybe I'm just hoping for too much, though." He held his practice sabre up in one hand, the guard in front of his face. A common fencing salute done before a match.

"Most of the solo drills for fencing are limited to a few movements." He dropped down into his stance, one arm behind his back, the other with his sword ready in front of him and his feet perpendicular to each other, knees bent and bouncy. In a three part motion he swung the blade lightly in a downward, angled motion, a beat. Then he brought the blade in close, guarding himself against an invisible attack, to deflect the opponent's blade, a parry. Followed up by a long thrust, he stretched forward on his front foot, extending his arm, his body, and the blade to its full length, a lunge.

Satisfied, he gave another salute and placed the blade under his arm. "Aside from that, some footwork and normal conditioning, that's all I can really do..."

Maybe he could just learn the naginata instead...
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bonniecanuck
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Bonnie Bushi
Having heard out the first comer, Edie sheepishly bowed to him as he stepped aside, then concentrated her attention on her other guest. She withdrew herself back, and let him demonstrate his craft.

It wasn't as though Edie didn't know anything about fencing and Western swordsmanship. Rather, while she was not a practitioner of it herself, she found it highly appreciable, and did spend time studying it. But having spent time specialising in the Japanese counterparts to those martial arts, it wasn't her place to act as though she knew anything. Being a martial arts practitioner meant being part of a continual learning process, and if she couldn't learn from her peers if they had something to teach or tell her, she was doing something wrong.

Still, it wasn't much different than she had seen or heard. That was just fine for her though. Bruce Lee once said, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." Practicing strikes, blocks, and forms repeatedly in order to drill the correct muscle memory into her was an integral part of her training. It was all a natural process of stepping stones, so she was fine with following that through for as long as she needed.

She still found it prudent to look him in the eye, though, and say, "Naginata drills are very ritual and based on perfecting strikes. It can be time-consuming and intensive given the amount of attention that has to go into form. But it all leads up to this."

With that, she set her naginata down, walked over to the spot where her headgear and head towel were set, and picked up the phone next to it. As she did, she mused, "Sometimes I wish I had some sort of holographic projection or artificial intelligence that I can practice my sparring with. It's definitely not the same thing as fighting a real person, but at least it's something I could work with." She shrugged her shoulders as she opened a video file, and handed the device to the young man.

The video featured Edie in the regional finals, with a red ribbon tied to her bogu straps, competing against a visibly middle-aged woman, wearing a similar white ribbon, who was just as sprightly as the youthful teen in her movements. It lasted but near five minutes, with the video showing a match contrasting between mirroring strikes and parries and face-offs with both competitors taking a defensive stance in anticipation. At three minutes it stopped momentarily as a whistle was blown, before starting again.

But then, at the four minute mark, something happened. Edie landed a clean strike on her opponent's sune. At first it didn't appear much different, but something clearly distinguished it. She immediately did a hop-step back, clear from her opponent's reach. Her rival failed to respond to the strike in time. From the judges in the corners of the video, three red flags shot up. A whistle blew, and the match was declared over. The pair returned to their starting position, withdrawing back to shizentai, and gave their thanks for the match.

And that was the end of the video. Edie sighed. "I think I got a bit lucky with that one," she said. "I didn't expect to win so cleanly." Her tone hardly sounded like humble bragging - rather, it was purely humble, with a sense of acknowledgement on her part of her opponent's prowess. "But I guess the judges' rulings are what they are."

She then looked back up to him. "That reminds me though, don't some fencing calls get really controversial? I remember the drama that happened at the Olympics a few years back. That must have stung really badly. Can't really complain about questionable calls from my end after seeing how things can turn out on that end."
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"Holographic projections are neat and all, but nothing tops fighting a real person.", though he spoke his focus didn't break, continuing to read his book without looking at them, "Specially when they all have unique skills, the type you never expected them to pull off in a pinch."

With a flip of a page he focused his eyes on Edie and Abel for a brief moment, to observe them watching a video. What was the video however he didn't know... Perhaps didn't matter much to him? Curiosity poked his back for a moment, but he shunned it, focusing on his reading.

"Back on the info 'bout Kitsune...", Tokage mumbled to himself, sinking his eyes back into the pages. The really tall man was looking to learn more about what her little girl has turned into, and speculate what has happened to her.

The reports he received on Tengyoku were...

Odd.
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