Chapter 118: Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws
The backyard in Madmen's Valley, a.k.a. the Valley of Immortals, fell into complete silence. Hearing Sanon's statement, many inexplicable emotions surged within Sila, threatening to burst out. His mind wanted to scream something, but his body was stiff and unmoving.
A gust of wind sent a tree leaf drifting through the space between them, level with their faces.
"What did you just say, sir?" Sila asked to ensure that he didn't hear it wrong.
"I'm Montra's teacher." Sanon repeated himself and waited for Sila's reaction.
"What do you mean?" There was a slight change in Sila's expression, which Sanon could notice.
"It means I'm the one who taught Montra martial arts. Can you tell me which part you didn't understand?"
"That's not what I meant. What is going on? How come you are Montra's teacher?"
"Sila's question can be interpreted in many ways. I won't be able to answer it if you don't ask clearly."
"Then, since you are Montra's teacher, why do you want to teach me?"
"I can't tell you that." Sanon's reply caused Sila to frown.
"Do you know what Montra has done to me?" Sila tried to probe Sanon.
"Do you know Teacher Mora?"
"Do you know where he is?"
"In that case, where is he?"
"I can't tell you that."
"Why can't you tell me?"
"I can't tell you that."
"...What is this about?"
"Sila will come to know that when the time has come."
It was this phrase again. The phrase that everyone always used to tell him when they knew something while Sila knew nothing.
Enough with these answers. Sila knew nothing more from the conversation with Sanon as almost all of his answers were 'I can't tell you'.
Sila could tell that this man didn't have any malice. Sanon might even be a friend of his teacher, Mora. However, this man was like Sangdao, knowing something but choosing not to tell him.
He didn't understand why everyone had to keep him in the dark.
Sila wanted to confirm whether all these things were connected to what he had suspected it to be. Thus, his next question was:
"What is the Wulin Masters Association?"
It worked. Sanon didn't respond immediately like per usual but instead fell into silence as if he was pondering how Sila came to know of it.
With this, Sila knew that his guess was right on the mark and planned to leave this place. Despite him wanting to learn Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws as the nameless elder had recommended, Sanon kept something a secret from him and that meant both of them had yet to trust each other. Because of this, Sila wouldn't be able to completely focus on learning a martial art from Sanon.
Anyway, Sila still had Tiger Dragon Qi left for practice. If he mastered it, he believed that he wouldn't be inferior to anyone.
"Where did you learn about the Wulin Masters Association?" Sanon asked after keeping quiet for some time.
"I can't tell you that," Sila replied with the same answer he had gotten from Sanon.
Sanon sighed as he didn't know how much Sila knew. He called out to Sila once he noticed that Sila was about to leave.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to practice my own skill. I have a quest to do in two days." Sila stopped his feet but refused to turn his head back to Sanon.
"Is it because I'm Montra's teacher?"
"That's not it. Personally, I think that you're not a bad person. A disciple is a disciple, a teacher is a teacher. The enmity between me and Montra isn't related to you. It's just that, not knowing the reason you want to impart your martial art to me causes me to feel doubtful. I think I'm being used so I decided not to learn from you."
Sanon thought about it for a while. "Umm. That's logical. How about this? I will not teach you anything, but I will give you a book about this martial art so you can learn it by yourself for two days. How much you can learn will depend on you. If we do it this way, it will not count as you learning under me since you will be learning the art on your own."
Hearing Sanon's proposal, Sila frowned. "Why do you want me to learn the art this badly?"
"You will come to know that... soon."
"Why do I have to accept your offer?"
"If you accept to learn it, I will let you meet Mora. Deal?"
"Where is my teacher?"
"He is in the game at the moment. How about it? Please choose wisely."
From Bluebird's prediction and all those clues Sila had gotten, he could guess by himself that his teacher should be in the game as well. However, listening to it clearly like this made Sila feel that his goal had come closer.
For Sila, nothing was more important than his teacher.
"I accept your offer." That was Sila's reply.
Sanon nodded and took a book out of his pocket. It wasn't an in-game secret scroll but a normal notebook that is usually used to write information down, like the Tiger Dragon Qi book that Sila owned. He tossed it to Sila, which Sila caught without looking back.
Written on the cover of the book was 'Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws'.
"Then, please excuse me." Sanon teleported away from the backyard and left Sila alone.
Holding the book in his hand, Sila's brain started to process many things that were likely to link to the Wulin Masters Association.
Something unbeknownst to him was surely happening in the background.
Now, Sila was beginning to question if his fateful encounter with the nameless elder was actually a coincidence.
Also, considering the possibility that Sangdao was a part of this matter brought sadness to Sila's heart.
Recalling the time he spent with Sangdao, Sila couldn't tell anymore whether what he had experienced was true or false. Was it possible that the Sangdao who soothed his mind didn't really exist? The truth might be that she was just a complete stranger telling him lies coated in sweet words.
He wasn't sure whether Sangdao had approached him because she wanted to get to know him or if she just wanted to observe him closely.
Sometimes, Sila wished that the world was less complicated. It would be better if he could just keep living in that moment near Misty Valley.
"Evening Near Misty Valley? Fufu. In that case, The me right now is 'Alone in the Valley of Immortals', huh?" Sila ridiculed himself with sarcasm.
Well, recalling this art enabled Sila's mind to calm down. He decided to leave unnecessary thoughts for later. The important thing for him right now was moving forward, step by step. With time he would eventually be able to discern Sangdao's true personality.
Sila opened the Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws book and slowly read through it, page by page, without practicing it yet.
The art consisted of many moves, starting with six but extending to thousands. Most of the book was about explaining how to choose the most suitable martial move for each situation.
Sila could divide the contents into three parts. The first part explained the six main techniques of the martial art. The middle part explained the thousands of martial moves. Lastly, the final part explained how to polish the art after you have built up your inner force.
All in all, this book was very thick, comparable to a telephone directory. Sila closed it and took a look at the spine of the book only to see that the thickness of the book was strangely thin. Still confused about this, Sila finally dismissed it as a setting in the game.
Sila ultimately grasped the main differences between martial arts and qi arts. For martial arts, they tend to be complex and detailed, but easy to follow. On the other hand, for qi arts, they are simple, yet complex when initializing. They are hard to practice but the practitioners wouldn't need to think about how to properly move their body since the flow of qi itself will naturally guide them.
He suspected that the contents of Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps would be very detailed like this book as well.
This kind of art wasn't something people could practice within two days.
The nameless elder had once speculated that Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws would be the least compatible art for Sila, and Sila had to admit that. Because, after he was done reading for five hours, Sila thought his understanding toward this art was even less than a tenth of what it was about, especially in the middle part which explained complex martial moves depending on situations.
Sila held his head with his hands. The words 'How much you can learn will depend on you' of Sanon sounded like contempt to Sila now.
"For this kind of art, you will need many years in order to master it. Two days are obviously not enough." Sila muttered to himself.
The parts that Sila could make some sense of were the first part that was about six main techniques and the last part that was about practically using the art.
The reason why the first part was easy was because it covered the basics of the art. The reason why the last part was easy was because it was about real actions.
"'The arts are unchanging while humans are living.' Teacher Mora always told me this."
Since Mora had never taught Sila any martial moves, this phrase was like Sila's catchphrase.
After another hour had passed, Sila could finally decide how he would practice this martial art. It was a method that would make Sanon vomit blood if he heard it.
The method was for him to completely skip over the precious middle part of the art and put his mind into the first part while remembering the last part for future reference to use with Tiger Dragon Qi.
If he could at least understand the first and last parts of the art, later, he would be able to connect the dots and create his own version of the middle part of the art.
Once he had decided to do it like this, Sila reentered the bedroom and began to put his focus into reading. Despite how Sila wasn't a reading expert, he could somewhat summarize the basics of the art. This first part was more about understanding rather than memorising, so he was somehow able to do it well.
Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws is the perfect art for defense. Just two of our hands are enough to grasp even the things which people consider impossible to grab. The concept of this art is: soft subdues hard and slow beats fast.
Being fast means acting speedily while being slow means an act of unending changes. The slower your act is, the more changes you can make to your action. The important thing is that we are slow, yet always a step ahead of our opponents. Once the opponent's action changes, we change ours accordingly. Read the opponent's moves and predict them.
The important features of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws are two feet, two hands, and cleverness.
Choosing the martial move that is the most suitable for the situation takes priority. /Read all of the hand movements on pages 18 - 1,236./
Your two feet need to stand firmly on the ground. /Read Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws' placements of feet on pages 1,237 - 1,238./
As for cleverness, it means the ability to predict and read the situation ahead of what is currently happening. /Read how to use each martial move in different situations on pages 1,239 - 2,536./
Just looking at the number of pages made Sila feel tired. It was fortunate that he had decided to abandon it. Well, the placement of feet was covered over only two pages, so he decided to read there.
After he had read those two pages, Sila was confused over the peculiar choice of words, like waxing and waning moon, that appeared there. The only thing that Sila could understand was that the practitioner needs to stand firmly on the ground to prepare themselves for any upcoming changes.
As for those waxing and waning moons, Sila closed his eyes and recalled Kawin's movements when they fought against each other, then summarized that they were about dragging and rotating the feet.
"Why don't they write in a way that is easier to understand?" Sila scratched his head as he was skeptical. He would have a headache if it wasn't for the fact that he had the match with Kawin as a reference.
Sila stood up and tried to imitate Kawin's movements. Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws' footwork wasn't hard compared to Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps'. The important thing was to move at the right time.
Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps' footwork was used to move from place to place while Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws' was only used when an attack arrived.
Sila followed the instructions in the illustration for two hours until he gave himself a passing grade, though he was still unfamiliar with dragging his feet.
The main techniques of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws consisted of: stop, weaken, parry, spin, migrate, and combine, totaling six techniques. Each technique branches off and becomes hundreds of martial moves. Luckily, there were explanations for each technique before the book mentioned the martial moves.
Sila read their summarized explanations before flipping through the pages where all martial moves were explained. Well, he just skimmed through the illustrations without reading any of their detailed descriptions. Hundreds of pages of descriptions were shortened to just a few by Sila.
Many hours passed and the morning of the next day arrived. At long last, Sila could lay down his own version of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws based on his understanding of the book. It could be said that it was the work of Sila's talent; since his teacher didn't impart any martial arts to Sila, self-learning through actual combat and comprehending his opponents' movements were things that Sila always did.
For Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, all he did was relating the knowledge in the book to Kawin's movements and coming up with his own idea of the art. Unexpectedly, fighting against Kawin ended up benefiting him.
The Stop technique means directly stopping the opponent's movements. It is often used when the opponent's attack is easily predicted or not too powerful. This technique can put a complete stop to the opponent's actions. For instance, how Kawin grabbed his hidden weapons.
The Weaken technique means debilitating the opponent's attacks by aiming at the source of the opponent's action. For example, instead of blocking a fist head-on, we can counterattack at the opponent's shoulder to weaken the fist. This technique can be followed by the stop technique.
The Parry technique means causing the opponent's attack to miss its target by using a little amount of force. This technique heavily relates to Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws' footwork. The principle is redirecting the opponent's attacks.
The Spin technique means imagining yourself as the center of a sphere and forcing the opponents to circle around you. Philosophically speaking, the circle is the perfect shape. It is also the shape that is the most balanced and suitable for defense.
The Migrate technique means moving with opponent's flow. If the attack is too strong, do not forcefully block it but rather rely on spinning, parrying, and weakening to let yourself flow with the opponent's attack. Act like you are a willow tree fluttering in the wind. This technique was another one that Sila needed to recall Kawin's movements in order to understand. When they traded blows, Kawin migrated Sila's power to work against him. Kawin himself only acted as a medium. That was why Kawin didn't seem as tired as he should be.
The last technique of the art is the Combine technique. It is the only technique that is about using the user's own power to attack the opponent. The concept is reinforcing your strike with the opponent's to attack him. Sila could picture this technique clearly as it was what Kawin used to gain victory over him.
As he had already summarized all six techniques in his own way, Sila stood still and closed his eyes. His brain imagined Kawin's movements and his hands moved slowly in a circle. He was flicking his wrists clockwise together, anti-clockwise together, then flicking them in different directions. Sila did this to familiarize his body with spinning in a circle as he could tell that the core principle of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws was circular movement.
Sila practiced the basic techniques of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws all day and all night. He spent all his time practicing. When he had to take a break, he would read the last part of the book while circulating Tiger Dragon Qi to release his fatigue. For the record, he was currently focusing on the tiger attribute as he believed it was compatible with Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws.
A big, full moon was hanging in the sky, out of the window.
Sila gently flicked his wrist, drawing a circle. Although the moon seemed to be in a faraway place, it now appeared to him that it was very close and he might be able to grab it with his claw.