A Time Traveller's Guide To Feudal Japan - BestLightNovel.com
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"Form off! Each Red Feather soldier is to find two new recruits to train with!" Jikouji barked, already attempting to find his own solution to the problem of division. They obeyed immediately. Each man already held a bokken ready to train.
It was not a problem who they partnered with, as no one knew anyone quite yet, and so these pairs were established with an unexpected speed. Gengyo watched on with approval, Matsudaira by his side. The soldiers already knew the basic techniques, as did Jikouji, so his input was not to be needed in this training session.
"Rage of the Demon Monkey is the technique we will hone today. Watch closely." He readied himself, sword extended, a look of utmost seriousness on his face, and then, he slashed downwards with all the force his could muster. He allowed the momentum to take him off his feet, and he kicked out with his legs mid-air as he spun, before landing, milliseconds later, ready to strike once more. It was just as Gengyo had taught mere weeks before. A foundational technique. Because Jikouji's foundations were already strong, having studied the sword his entire life, he had picked it up with ease.
"If you are striking properly - using your entire body to aid to the momentum of this strike - then this technique will be of no problem to you. It is a foundational technique, and will be later built upon. Recruits, you are to take turns practising it on each other. Seniors, help them achieve this. If a single man is not able to pick up this technique within the next three hours, then his entire group will owe me ten thousand standing slashes before they are allowed to leave. Begin!"
Gengyo's closest subordinates - those with the honour of wearing the black armour - did not involve themselves in such trivialities. It would not be beneficial to their training. And so, they paired off with each other, and sparred, honing techniques of their own.
"Ten thousand standing slashes? Is that not a little harsh? Do you always train your men so aggressively?" Matsudaira questioned, wincing at such a thought. One would be guaranteed to ache for days afterwards.
Gengyo shrugged in response. "It would take a while to complete, I suppose, but I doubt anyone will fail. Even if they do, those ten thousand standing slashes will ensure that they do master the technique. As their arms begin to tire, they'll be forced to use the rest of their body to aid them. It's a well thought out punishment from the old man. But yes, this is usually how we train. A little lighter than normal, because the men are tired, but near enough."
"Three hour training sessions as well, after such a long march?"
"Indeed. This will not trouble them. Their endurance is quite the marvel - that's something you and your men have to look forward to."
"Me?" Matsudaira questioned.
"That's right. You wanted to train in the ways of Menryo-ji, did you not? If your lungs and heart are not big enough, and muscles are not strong enough, you will not be able to learn the more demanding techniques. Ah, that reminds me. I had better get you involved in this practise, hadn't I? The others are getting a head start."
"You have forgotten your bokken, though. Or should I practise the strike myself first?" The general had made sure to grab a sword of his own, and held it by his side ready.
"Ah, no. I'm not going to partnering with you, just watching." He turned around, searching through the pairs nearest to him, trying to spot that familiar face. "Rin!" He called out, spotting her tied hair bobbing up over the crowd. She looked towards him like a startled rabbit, with some irritation laced in there. Clearly, she had been quite involved in her duel. He motioned for her to come over, and despite her annoyance, she did as she was bid, with her partner Akiko in tow.
"What is it Nii-san?" She spared Matsudaira but a glance, before focusing her attention entirely on Gengyo.
"Would you duel with Matsudaira here? The only strike either of you are allowed to use is the Rage of the Demon Monkey technique. You don't need to go easy on him, he's quite capable." He explained gesturing towards the man, who afforded him a curious glance as he looked between Gengyo, and what he now knew to be his little sister.
"Is that really okay? He hasn't practised any of the techniques yet, has he? Won't it be too unfair?"
"Oh no, it'll be fine. You're fine with a few bruises aren't you Matsudaira?" He asked, continuing speaking before he could even respond. "See, he's fine. Duel with him, and aim to win, but also correct his technique whilst you're at it, if you would."
"Wait, Tadakata, what about me? I'll have no one to spar with." Akiko complained.
"I'll spar with you." He replied with a smile.
"But that's too unfair… And what about your sword?"
He threaded his arm over his shoulder, leading her away before she could protest anymore, as he turned around to offer some final encouragement towards Matsudaira. "Train hard, Matsudaira Motoyasu!"
The two strangers watched the odd man leave with his arm around his wife, before they looked to each other awkwardly, not knowing quite what to say.
"I'm Miura Rin, Tadakata's little sister. Nice to meet you." She bowed politely on her best behaviour, knowing just how valuable an ally the man in front of was, and after witnessing the effort Gengyo had put into winning him over, she was unwilling to be the one to ruining it.
"Likewise. I'll be within your care." Matsudaira agreed, bowing back.
"Okay. Shall we get started then?" She stood ready, holding her sword.
"Lets." He reciprocated, pointing his sword back towards her, not knowing quite what to expect. From the way she was treated, this little girl - despite her appearance - must be quite the powerful fighter, and so he focused, not letting his guard down.
She leapt forward off her back lag, as light on her feet as a cat, closing the gap at a terrifying speed, and then, she slashed forward.
'Hah!' Matsudaira thought, seizing the opportunity. Her strike had fallen a good few centimetres short of his body, and he used the opening to cast forward a strike of his own. Yet before he could even attempt to complete such a strike, he felt a sharp pain in his jaw, and was on his back a moment later, unable to comprehend what happened.
"Sorry!" Rin apologised immediately, seeing the way he fell. The guilt was obvious on her face, as well as the worry. She feared that he might grow angry because of her aggressive attack, and so cause problems for her brother.
Yet she needn't have worried. He was not a man so petty. He dragged himself his feet with a stagger, rubbing his jaw painfully, before attempting to speak. "Please… don't apologise. It was well done on your part. I only wish to know, what was it that hit me? Your strike missed, did it not?"
She perked up a little, seeing the way in which he humbled himself. "I'll do the technique once again on the air - watch carefully."
As before, she swung downwards, and spun through the air, before cras.h.i.+ng back into the ground, ready to lunge forward once more. "Did you see?"
"…Your legs? It was a kick?" He frowned as he spoke with hesitation, seeming to believe his answer wrong, despite giving voice to it.
"Exactly! I thought it was a silly technique at first, just to check whether your strike was powerful enough, but it's actually really useful. Your opponent focuses his attention on your sword, whilst you strike with your feet, and seize the advantage."
"Hoh… I see!" He exclaimed more enthusiastically than he would have hoped, grasping his sword once more. "Let's go again."
Their duelling continued, and once more he was beat down by Rin with ease, and once more, he rose to his feet, feeling that he had grasped the technique a little more, despite having not had the chance to use it yet.
"Was it not a little cruel putting him against Rin?" Akiko asked, as they watched the sparring match from afar.
"Perhaps. But the man has grand goals, and I would see him achieve them. He is not the type to give up easily, and I think with today, as well as learning the technique, he can learn other valuable duelling skills."
"Exactly. He won't be able to beat her in speed, so that's the only way he'll be able to get an opening."
"Moh… Can you train me too? If we keep up like this, he'll be caught up to me in no time."
"Come on then, let's see if you can get past me this time."
He raised his fists in mock readiness, as she circled him with her practise naginata, searching for even a single opening.