Volume 2, Interlude - Training.   Posted by Kaze no Kage.Group: 0
Kaze no Kage
 GM, 1364 posts
Mon 17 Aug 2015
at 05:06
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
[the training fields | Otomo Hajime, Bayushi Kenshin, Asahina Byako, Kitsune Shoji]

Even with a field of competitors as diverse as the Tournament of the Emperor's Favored, word of a master of iaijutsu giving a lesson drew attention.  And a master of iaijutsu that had been given commendations from the Crane though he was one of their "guests" drew curiosity, if nothing else.  The field, therefore was crowded, though a respectful distance was kept for Bayushi Kenshin, Otomo Hajime, Isawa Ikaji, and Asahina Byako.

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:35, Sun 23 Aug 2015.

Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 338 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Mon 24 Aug 2015
at 01:41
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Kenshin had spent the last few hours discussing training techniques with his wife*, while wandering the ground and generally being up to "courtier stuff". Even so, while his understand of the blade was quite good, his understanding of training techniques left something to be desired.

Such was the lot of a Bushi.

Still, now was the time to focus on the student, and for the student to learn ... well whatever it was that the Fortunes wished for the student to learn. He addressed Shoji with a calm respect -- the kind of respect that was reserved for when a teacher addressed his student. Here there was not "Minor Clan Samurai" and "Greater Clan Samurai" -- there was only "teacher" and "student".

"Show me your Kamae**."

[OOC: * I suspect Hajime has other things to do, but he's welcome to join in the wanderings (and conversation) if he would like.
           ** Typically translated as "stance", it also means "attitude". The two meanings cannot be separated, as the attitude drives the posture and its movement. ]

Kitsune Shoji
 player, 27 posts
Mon 24 Aug 2015
at 14:52
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Kitsune Shoji had intended to arrive early.  The fact that one as skilled as Bayushi Kenshin would agree to provide training was an honor he didn't deserve.

It ended up, though, the Shoji only arrived just on time.  The gathering crowds were something he didn't expect, and it took him longer than he thought to make his way through them.  One simply didn't move that fast with a bear in tow.  He had intended to leave him at camp, but Daichi had his own business to attend to and one simply didn't leave an animal like that to his own devices.

After settling his animal, Shoji carefully removed the well-worn no-dachi from his back.  Normally he'd offer it to Daichi, but without anyone to hold it he set it on the earth next to the large brown animal that accompanied him.

He picked up his katana and moved toward Bayushi Kenshin.  In comparison to the no-dachi Shoji's katana was bright, gleaming and nick free.  Either it was exceptionally well cared for or it was completely unused.

Shoji, for his part, was a skilled instructor,  He tried to use that knowledge to aid Kenshin in his lesson.

"Kamae.  Yes, sensai."  While it was Shoji's best effort, it was ugly, rigid and ill-positioned.  It was more fit for providing leverage on a larger weapon.
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 339 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Mon 24 Aug 2015
at 16:53
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
"Normally I would start with the structure and allow the attitude and strategies to emerge, but in your case we will do the opposite. As a skilled Shugenja, you are already familiar with the attitude; we will start with the attitude and show the structure and strategies from there."

Of course most beginning students of Iaijutsu were young children, where structure was lacking -- as well as the capacity to truly understand essence. But that was not the case here.

"Bring in the trust you feel when communing with Kami and Fortunes, know that you are the vessel of the Fortunes and the Great Bright Light itself. Then, knowing that the only difference is you will be flowing with the Kami of Steel this time, modify the structure of your posture as would feel natural to that attitude."
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 28 posts
Mon 24 Aug 2015
at 18:26
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Shoji's nose twitched.

His saw his relationship with the kami was similar to his relationship with animals - providing clear and distinct communication of what he wanted, backed by the vague promise of positive reinforcement.  He knew how to interpret the answers of the kami and animals, not so much a katana.

Kitsune Shoji took a deep breath and tried his best to heed the master's advice.  He let his stance soften and let his katana drop lower.

"The elemental kami respond, Kenshin-sensai," he sighed.  "The steel remains silent.  Or maybe I just don't know how to listen."
Otomo Hajime
 player, 125 posts
 Seppun Miharu/Magistrate
 Emerald Magistrate
Tue 25 Aug 2015
at 04:35
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Otomo Hajime had also hoped to arrive early for Kenshin's lesson to Shoji but as circumstances would have it, Hajime found himself busy dealing with various samurai and Tournament organizers in his role as official Imperial representative to the Tournament.  Thus Hajime too was running a little behind scheduled and managed to arrive just as Kenshin began his lesson.  Unlike Shoji, Hajime was not entirely surprised by the gathering of onlookers as it was rare enough to encounter a Grand Master, especially of Iaijutsu, much less to have one willing to openly share his expertise with others freely (a most unusually generous "gift", which immediately made Hajime wonder what truly lay behind it as Scorpion samurai were not known for giving gifts freely without the expectation of some kind of "return").

Due to his status as both an Otomo and an Emerald Magistrate, Hajime had an easier time making his way through the gathering crowd as most people went out of their way to show deferential respect by moving out of Hajime's way.  Hajime politely bowed his head to those who did so to show his appreciation for their courtesy.  Hajime made his way to the front of the gathered crowd, but he did not approach the pair too closely as he did not wish to disturb sensei and student or risk disrupting the lesson.  Instead he remained close enough to carefully observe the movements and hear what was said but far enough away not to be "in the way" of the training.
Asahina Byako
 player, 64 posts
 Crane diplomat
Tue 25 Aug 2015
at 15:35
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Byako watches the bear as it learns how its master is going to train his steel.
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 340 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Thu 27 Aug 2015
at 01:14
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
"Exactly" Kenshin replied with a smile. He couldn't do the "harsh master" so well, but the strange, eccentric one -- that he could pull off.

Kenshin took up a stance, perpendicular to Shoji so that the student could see his perfect form. It was indeed textbook perfect -- but that was not the lesson being conveyed here.

"Pay attention to my hand, where it is. Place your hand in a similar place."

[OOC: Once he does so ...]

Kenshin returned to his standard teaching posture before continuing.

"Before we practice the strike, we'll practice the draw. In particular, how to listen to the Katana. Draw it out very slowly from that position, paying attention to how it feels. Then intersperse several wrong positions -- pay close attention to how they feel different. Make sure you don't move so far up the Saya that you will cut yourself, but otherwise anywhere is good."

Probably not something they taught eight year-olds in the Kakita Dojo.
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 30 posts
Thu 27 Aug 2015
at 19:45
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Watching raptly, Kenshin carried Shoji's attention.  Even the fly that had chosen to perch on Shoji's nose seemed to watch the master.

He tried to imitate, mirroring Kenshin to his full ability.

"It feels awkward... the angle of my hand.  Am I doing something wrong?  Or should it feel this way?"  He had a number of questions, but held back waiting for his instructor to instruct further.

Except for one.  "What is more important?  Feeling natural?  Or technique?"
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 341 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Tue 1 Sep 2015
at 02:53
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
"There is no difference" Kenshin replied, "remembering of course, as one such as yourself knows all too well, that 'natural' and 'how I'm used to doing it' are not the same thing."

"Slowly draw and replace the sword a few fingers width, focusing on what doesn't feel 'natural'. Then adjust your hand to where it does. But remember one important thing --"

A pause.

"You are looking for the naturalness of a tiger ready to pounce, not the naturalness of a napping bear."
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 31 posts
Tue 1 Sep 2015
at 18:07
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Shoji smiled through a chuckle.  The analogy was appropriate.  "Thanks, that helps."

He wasn't entirely sure if the Master was making a joke, or if the tiger/bear comparison was intended to be dry and factual.  He didn't know Kenshin, so he could only hope that his laughter was acceptable.  Getting scolded in front of so many onlookers was something he hoped to avoid.

Fueled by analogy, Shoji shifted his weight putting more emphasis on the balls of his feet.  The simple action had positive consequences throughout - his posture and his grip began to feel more natural.  As directed, Shoji pulled his katana a few inches, and then replaced it.

"That feels much better, thank you."
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 342 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Sat 5 Sep 2015
at 03:11
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Now. Now was the time. Kenshin moved a safe distance away, making sure the crowd was also safely distant, before he showed not one but five Kamae. "Napping Bear" he said, standing straight as if to converse with another, with his hands relaxed beside him.  "Coiled Snake." It was a "bladed" position, with minimum exposure to the "enemy" and his weight predominantly on his rear leg. "Pouncing Tiger. The Kamae Shoji had just learned, putting more emphasis on forward motion. "Flapping Crane." From the same "natural" position as "Napping Bear", he spread his hands slightly, as if they were the wings of a bird preparing to fly.

"Sly Fox."

Sly fox was completely neutral, with the weight squarely centered. His right hand rested on the pommel of his blade, as if it belonged there, and his eyes seemed somehow distant, yet watching. It was as if he could stand like that all day.

"Napping Bear" he said moving into the first Kamae, "is typically used in more of a Batto-Jutsu situation, where on is attacked before the weapon is drawn and needs to draw fast. But masters have been known to use this in a dueling situation as well." He moved at a medium speed, with his left hand drawing the Katana in an intercept position before his body moved naturally and somewhat lazily so that his right hand was on the pommel as well. Then the interception / block became a strike, slow enough that the student could observe.

"Coiled Snake" he said moving into a neutral Kamae, "is more of a defensive strike, also typically used in Batto-Jutsu, though there are important uses in a formal duel. In this case, one gives oneself space to draw." As the Kamae shifted from neutral to "Coiled Snake", his hands drew the blade. It seemed more like a counterstrike -- striking the incoming weapon -- than a body blow, but when his weight finally rested over his rear foot it became clear that the tension would allow him to strike -- or keep moving backwards. Then, after pausing for a moment, he returned to a neutral position.

"Pouncing Tiger" he said moving into the previous Kamae, "is also typically used in battle, where quick solid strikes are desired." Then he drew at the same time he leapt forward, mirroring his Kamae to provide a solid strike, before bouncing back to where he was, albeit with his feet opposite from where they started. He held the position for a moment longer before returning to neutral.

"Flying Crane." His left hand went to draw the blade similar to Napping Bear, but only after the draw started was it obvious that he was drawing not the blade but the Saya with the Katana still in it. Still partially in the Obi, the saya was now in a "blocking" position for an incoming attack. The rear hand, meanwhile, drew the Wakizashi completely out. The "wings" were now outstretched, with the front intercepting and the rear ready to strike. A circular strike finished the move. "This is typically used by Yojimbo, where the need to place yourself between enemy and the enemies true target is more important than keeping yourself safe. It too can be used in standard combat, or even in a duel." He held the new position for a moment before moving back to Neutral. He said nothing for a long moment.

"Sly Fox. One that can be learned, but can never be taught. Much like one can never truly 'read' a fox on the prowl, so too this cannot be read. It is not so much hidden as ... conditional. The space between heartbeats. The opening in the Spirit. The Indescribable ..."

There was no movement, because there was no context to move within.

"This is the one nearly always used in formal duels."

Kenshin's face changed as he visualized his opponent before him. A pause. Several heartbeats. Nothing.

Swish.

The draw was almost too fast to see, but a small insect now lay on the ground, separated in two by the strike.

Kenshin cleaned his blade and then reverently returned it to its saya. Then a natural "standing" position once again. Was it Napping Bear? Was he "just speaking"? Or -- was there a difference at all? He moved closer to Shoji.

"I'll give you the real names later. I wanted to give you a taste of the essence; for now, we'll just practice the Kamae. As you move through them, remember: each is 'natural' in its own way."

[OOC: I hope those descriptions were clear ... probably better with pictures.]
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 35 posts
Tue 8 Sep 2015
at 20:17
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Feet rooted to the ground, Shoji watched the various demonstrations posed by Bayushi Kenshin.  The Kitsune followed along, shifting as the Bayushi shifted, attempting to mimic what he saw.  Cubs learned through playful repetition - both by following their parents along and playfully imitating in cute, rolling play with their siblings.

Shoji, however, as a grown adult doubted that he fit into the same category as yearling cubs.  Fear crept into his mind, not of failing or getting injured, but that by Kenshin - a grandmaster - accepting his request for tutoring, he not only made himself a target, but also bore some of Kenshin's vast reputation; as a student's disappointing performance might reflect on his teacher.  Cubs, if they fail to learn, simply die.

Ready to begin his practice, Shoji shut out the other distractions in a manor he felt confident in - he closed his eyes.  It allowed him both to focus on his own body, and to shut out the distraction of the crowd.  Besides, Kenshin's lesson's had nothing to do with an opponent, rather his own positioning.

"Napping Bear."  Shoji repeated.

Followed by...

"Coiled Snake."  He wavered slightly in his stance.  This one he cut short, nervous about tipping over.

"Pouncing Tiger."

"Flying Crane."

"Sly Fox."

He repeated each again.

"How does one know which to use in a duel?  Does it just depend on the opponent?"
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 343 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Fri 11 Sep 2015
at 01:20
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
"Sly Fox leads them all. Once you have mastered that one, you will understand when the others can be used in a duel."

"Do those a few more times and we'll move to live draw target."

But where was the target?
Asahina Byako
 player, 68 posts
 Crane diplomat
Fri 11 Sep 2015
at 15:11
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Byako found herself enjoying this lesson, despite the brutally violent nature of the subject. She tried to discern if the bear minded playing second to the fox, but he was too busy "resting his eyes" for her to be sure.
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 37 posts
Mon 14 Sep 2015
at 19:24
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Shoji obeyed, practicing each position a handful more times each.

"Live target?"  Shoji's head swiveled.  Targets were one thing, he was happy to draw.  What he wasn't sure is if Kenshin intended the target to draw on him.

Not immediately seeing anyone, "I could ask my yojimbo, if you'd like.  He's equally unskilled, though, in iaijutsu."
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 344 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Fri 18 Sep 2015
at 18:43
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
"Not exactly ..." Kenshin replied. He nodded and his wife took one step forward. She was out of the way, but still evidently part of the training. But ... Way too far to draw against. A quick prayer to the Kami and her purpose became evident; there was now a ball of water hovering a short distance from Shoji.

"She'll leave it still for a few strikes, and then start it moving to help get used to motion. As you play with the five Kamae, you'll get a better idea of what's appropriate for various distances, speeds, and heights."

[OOC: kinda "Star Wars-ey", but it fits]
Kitsune Shoji
 player, 42 posts
Fri 18 Sep 2015
at 22:04
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Kitsune eyes drifted toward the no-dachi laying in the grass nearby.  He silently wished for the thing being quite sure that he could over match and pummel the floating blob of water with the greater sword.

That wasn't, though, why he was here.

After a deep breath he mimicked the grandmaster's stance.  Eyes focused on the ball... he struck!

And he missed.  By a good five inches.

A growl emanated from inside of his chest, and he sheathed the katana quickly.  His eyes remained locked on the ball, unwilling to either address the crowd or the sensei.

Another breath, and another moment of focus and he struck again!

After striking, the man growled again, sure that he missed.  After re-sheathing his weapon, though, the dampness on his saya told a different story.

"I'll get there, sensei.  Have faith."

Shoji resumed, practicing each of the Kamae a handful of times with mixed results.
Bayushi Kenshin
 player, 345 posts
 Scorpion Junshin
 Kakita Bushi Academy
Tue 6 Oct 2015
at 02:43
Volume 2, Interlude - Training
Kenshin stood there watching for a bit, seeing the frustration mount.

"Slow down" he finally said, "get the movement correct first. Flow, then strive for speed."