Chapter 143: The Capital! A Hundred Years ago, Yang the Invincible! A Hundred Years Later, Wang the Undefeated! (Third)
“What weapon will you be using? I’ve heard you are an expert of Xinyiquan, so you must be good with the long staff. But with me using a sword and you using a long staff, how would that fare? While a sword and sabre is without eyes, and the arms and legs without mercy, nothing can be done in that aspect. Even in a brawl on the streets, everyone knows that a life may be taken in it. But we are men of martial arts. If we were afraid of this or that, then we may as well pretend to be ostriches and hide our heads in the sand.”
Hearing Wang Chao’s question, Jiang Hai revealed a graceful smile.
“Haha, that’s good. Straight to the point!” Looking at the sword-wielding Jiang Hai, Wang Chao began to observe that with the way he gently walked about, his body moved similar to how a dragon would turn over in the clouds–he was an expert in the ways of the sword.
“I knew that after killing Duan Guochao, challengers would come swimming across the river to face me in numerous numbers. But I didn’t think that they would come so quickly.” Wang Chao thought to himself.
Duan Guochao’s name was famous in Beijing; far more illustrious than Chen Aiyang’s name in the Southeast Asia world of martial arts. He was the number one in the younger generation, and was also from the Shaolin Temple. With Wang Chao killing him, Wang Chao had to prepare himself for the many amount of people that would without fail come by to challenge him.
In such a large city as Beijing–the capital of China, there would most definitely be many experts. To defeat everyone in Beijing was nearly the same as to defeat everyone in the nation.
Wang Chao had never heard of the name “Jiang Hai’ before. With just a glance however, he could tell that this expert was truly the inheritor of Nine Palace sword style of Wudang.
The sword styles in Wudang had many breathing based movements. Swallowing air to practice day in night out, their internal organs were strengthened to the maximum. Their bodies moved like a swimming dragon, and their sword tips twinkled in between a swish and a stab. Killing someone was about as easy as drinking water or eating rice to them.
But to have a sword in hand meant that honing the muscles and bones weren’t too highly emphasized.
The average practitioner would need to first practice getting used to the weight of a fist and the hardness of the muscles before they could clash fist to fist with another and break the bones of the enemy. But if there was a sword, then this practice was omitted. After all, a steel sword tempered to the point of sharpness was far more deadly than any fist.
In the hands of an expert, a weapon like a sword would leave behind a wound and blood without fail in a single stab or slash. It didn’t matter if the enemy mastered the Iron Body, wore armor, or had the sounds of thunder permeate the muscles and bones.
A man with the Iron Body could only protect themselves from a club, brick, or any other blunt weapon. A sharp blade like a sword would not be blockable and would dice apart the body.
Using the muscles to defend against a bullet was only a myth.
Basically, for a practitioner of the fist to clash against a practitioner of the sword, only one word would suffice. Defeat.
Jiang Hai hadn’t yet unsheathe his sword from whatever animal skinned material the sheath was made from. It was an ashen green color with scales everywhere. Abundant with an ancient feel to it, it only required one glance to know that the sword was a sharp one, and not some sort of galvanized strip of iron the elders used in the parks for recreational purposes.
But Wang Chao had no plans on using any weapon to spar with Jiang Hai. As soon as the final word was said, Wang Chao’s leg struck the ground and instantly propelled him forward like a spear. In an instant he had arrived at Jiang Hai’s front. His hand struck out in a dark green Eagle Claw formation towards Jiang Hai’s wrist. The other hand was positioned beneath Jiang Hai’s genitals, and with a hooking motion, he struck upwards.
In the moment Wang Chao bursted with Jin, all of his muscles began to bulge upwards with the veins being visible underneath his skin. Visibly, it looked similar to Duan Guochao’s Iron Body, frightful in appearance, but its power was immense.
But this wasn’t the Jin of the Iron Body. After Wang Chao had fought Duan Guochao, his entire body had been honed to the point where it could use a technique of the Transforming Jin.
Wang Chao’s muscles and bones were already incomparably robust. It was underneath the sea that he had trained to a very sensitive level to the point where even the veins underneath the pores could be controlled.
Controlling the flesh and muscles was only a superficial level of martial arts.
Being able to control the pores and internal organs was considered to be attaining the next level for those who practiced the internal style of martial arts.
To be able to control even the veins underneath the skin and pores along with the tendons was considered to be a level of true mastery. The most meticulous of details was studied, and the mystery that was the Transforming Jin was understood. This was just another step closer to the boundary of the grandmasters.
When the ordinary person exerted energy, they would be able to bring some of their veins to protrude on the skin. After an expert could make each and every pore on their body sensitive enough, then with a burst of Jin, then the veins of the tendons and muscles could similarly bulge upwards. With this burst of Jin, there would naturally be a dark green color to it.
Learning to breathe to learn about the internal organs.
Practice the muscles and pores to know about the veins and tendons.
The more one learned about their own body, the higher their martial arts would grow.
In an instant, Wang Chao’s left hand formed the Eagle Claw and the right hand formed the “Under Elbow Punch”. Quick beyond belief, Jiang Hai could only hear a whistling sound in his ears as his opponent appeared as a blur in front of him.
“Like water splattering out from a vase, or the sounds of horsemen riding through a forest of spears!”
TL Note: See the Pipa Song by Bai Juyi
In that instant, Jiang Hai’s mind had instantaneously thought of these two verses to convey the meaning of Wang Chao’s Eagle Claw and Under Elbow Punch.
“Is he really going to fight barehanded against my sword?” Jiang Hai practiced the sword, which emphasized swift and precise movements. Although he had been startled by Wang Chao’s sudden assault, he was not discouraged. Instead, a strong urge to fight had been instilled in him. Turning around, his entire body seemed to spin around like a top for several rotations before moving to Wang Chao’s side. At the same time, his hand grabbed onto his sword and slashed upwards.
Jiang Hai’s revolution and movements had been proper and quite similar to the movements in Baguazhang. But there were some slight differences. But it went without question to say that his movements were swift–almost comparable to Cheng Shanming when Wang Chao fought him.
The movements of the Nine Palace Swords had originally given birth to Baguazhang’s movements. Dong Haichuan’s master had been a Daoist monk who had been living in seclusion.
But Wang Chao was even faster. After swiping at nothing but air, he suddenly withdrew and took two steps to the left. With another claw, he grabbed at Jiang Hai’s wrist holding his sword.
The other hand had came crashing in from the side with the wind blowing in from all four directions with the sound of a whip being cracked. The ground beneath his feet had been shaken by a tremor as well. Even the little rocks five meter away had begun to jump up from the shock.
The movement from the monkey stance, the footwork from Baguazhang, the Eagle Claw methodology, and the Pound from the side. The transitioning between each step had been seamless like flowing water without any interference.
The agile monkey stance, the grass blowing gale of Baguazhang, the terrifying Eagle Claw, and the explosive Pounding Jin. Four different concepts all blended into one sequence. Like the cloud, the wind, the dragon, and the thunder.
The time between movement and conceptual thinking could be said to be perfect and without flaws.
“No!” Just as Jiang Hai was about to pull out his sword, Wang Chao’s hand had already arrived one centimeter from his sword hand with an amazing gale of wind that stabbed into his pores. At the same time, an explosive sound could be heard in his eardrums from the other fist.
Against such a fierce barrage, Jiang Hai had to give up his attempt to pull out his sword and retreat.
Advancing forward with sickening speed, Wang Chao cupped a hand in front of his forehead before chopping down onto the forefront of Jiang Hai’s figure. The other hand formed a claw once more and didn’t stray from Jiang Hai’s wrist.
Wang Chao had been like a shadow to Jiang Hai as he retreated. At the same time his veins were beginning to expand outwards, Jiang Hai could feel his opponent reaching out to grab at his wrist.
“He’s not letting me pull out my sword. If I can’t do that, then if I’m hit, staying alive is a foregone conclusion.” Jiang Hai had instantly realized what Wang Chao was up to after seeing him stick so close to him.
Correct, that had been Wang Chao’s plan of attack.
When he had first set his eyes on Jiang Hai, Wang Chao knew that his knowledge of the sword was immense. If it was a match between weapons, then he would be no opponent for him. Wang Chao had only an introductory level of knowledge with the long staff, he had not immersed himself in it or reached a level of mastery with it.
To fight empty-handed against a sword had no need to guess the conclusion. Defeat would be the popular vote.
With a sword, the chances to maim or kill would increased tenfold.
Even if Jiang Hai was worse than Duan Guochao, with a sword in hand, then even three Duan Guochao’s wouldn’t be a match for him. It was similar to how Chen Aiyang wouldn’t be an opponent for Cheng Shanming if he had a gun.
Wang Chao had decided upon a blitzkrieg course of action so that his opponent would not be able to pull out his sword and would be defeated in a single action.
Against the chop coming at his face and the claw coming at his wrist, Jiang Hai suddenly arched his back and turned around. His hand twisted in a flowery motion causing the scabbard to his sword to fly around to his back and block Wang Chao’s chop.
This was one of the moves of the Nine Palace, “Su Qin Carries A Sword on His Back”. With the sword in a vertical parallel to the back, the hand would grab onto both sides. With a swish of the sword and rotation of the body, it would become the “White Ape Offers Fruit” to stab at the throat, chest, chin, nose or eyes. If an expert of martial arts were to drop their guard for just a small moment, then their lives would be forfeit.
It remained to be seen just how many times a high ranking official or leader was killed by this method in the past by assassins.
“What a refine change.”
Wang Chao’s chop had been blocked by the sword sheath, but he had continued with the Eagle Claw, for it could take advantage of this change to grab hold of the sword and the sheath.
Zhang Tong had been taught the art of the sword by a direct disciple of Li Jinglin from the Central Guoshu Institute. Despite herself not being so strong in martial arts, her explanation of the moves and theory had been concrete.
Li Jinglin was a genuine disciple of the Wudang sword style, so Wang Chao had naturally understood the killing potential within this move of Jiang Hai.
A clacking sound could be heard as the fist made contact with the sheath. Wang Chao’s arm softened as it navigated around it like a snake and accurately moved towards Jiang Hai’s sword arm wrist.
If it had been any other master of Xingyiquan, then this change from the Chopping Fist of the tiger stance to the Drilling fist of the snake stance would have a very minute delay. Because there was a perfect cohesion between the two, if it had been any other stance used in conjunction instead, it would be very difficult to get rid of the openings.
Wang Chao had underwent many battles and had matured to the point where he could be said to have approached the apex of Chinese boxing and have the air of a grandmaster for this era. After battling with Duan Guochao, Wang Chao had learned many different things from the Shaolin fist’s “Eight Arts of the Snake and Crane”. After being closed up in this courtyard in Beijing for three days, he had studied everything and gained another step to a natural state.
The “Snake Bite” had accurately bit onto Jiang Hai’s wrist, causing him to be startled. The other hand of his formed a sword finger and jabbed at Wang Chao’s hand.
Wang Chao lifted his left hand so that the sword finger would pass by him effortlessly. Simultaneously, his right hand turned around towards Jiang Hai’s sword hand and pried apart his five fingers to grab at the sword handle. With a pull, the entire sword was seized by him.
Seeing his own sword taken away, Jiang Hai felt disaster come crashing down on him. Abruptly taking in a deep breath, he separated both arms and formed a sword with both hands before jabbing outwards over and over again in a hailstorm like barrage.
Up against this assault, Wang Chao did not move to evade. One arm lifted his sword while the other hand formed a fist to pound onto Jiang Hai’s chest horizontally. This was a form of the Blocking Blow.
This blow had been so fierce, it had completely apart Jiang Hai’s arms away from each other.
Bang! When his two arms made contact with Wang Chao, Jiang Hai immediately felt his entire seize up as if struck by lightning and was paralyzed as a result.
Seizing the chance, Wang Chao advanced forward to cut off Jiang Hai. In an instant, his hand had plunged towards Jiang Hai’s throat.
Feeling the hand already grab hold of his throat, Jiang Hai’s throat clenched tightly.
Wang Chao hadn’t pressed down any harder and instead brought his arm back, “Your skill with the sword is superb, and your footwork is decent, but your muscles and bones aren’t strong enough for actual combat. Your intent and Qi is too weak to be my opponent. You’ll need another five year until then–three if you hone yourself under many life or death situations.”
With that, Wang Chao touched the sword he had taken from Jiang Hai’s hand. Giving it a swish, Wang Chao could see the sparkling trail left behind the azure blade of carbon. The sharp blade flickered in the chilling light, and had nearly cut into Wang Chao’s skin when he ran a finger over it.
The entire blade was durable, long and narrow, and had two inscriptions carved on it, but they could not be deciphered.
“A good sword!” Wang Chao praised it with admiration.
“Three years later, I will come find you again to take that sword back.” Jiang Hai’s face was ashen as he turned around. Leaping upwards, he hadn’t bothered to use hand or foot to scale the three meter wall and disappear beyond it.
Seeing Jiang Hai disappear, Wang Chao narrowed his eyes.
Without his sword, Jiang Hai’s martial art could be ranked just slightly below Duan Guochao. But in a fight, he lacked the calm and brave air that Duan Guochao had, indicating that he had not yet been baptized by the blood and fire of combat. So, Wang Chao had been able to easily disarm and take his sword.
“The day has just started and some mysterious young man showed up.” Wang Chao looked at the sword in his hand for a moment before sheathing it and shaking his head.
Just then, the sounds of a car driving up could be heard from outside the courtyard.
A military vehicle came to a stop outside before several men came alighting out from the car.
Wang Chao had only needed a single glance to tell that one of these men belonged to the central investigation team. The rest were all middle-aged men with some sort of official post. By their side was a guard soldier.
“Wang Chao, our investigation has been concluded, you are free to go.” The man from the central investigation team had came walking on over as if he was flying, “This man here is minister Wang who came here for the express purpose of meeting you.”
“Minister Wang?” Wang Chao repeated before thinking, ”Could this be the leader of the Ministry of State Security, Wang Ziwen?” Then, turning to look at the man, Wang Chao suddenly felt that this minister was quite familiar looking.
Wang Chao immediately thought back to how he had seen this minister Wang in the Beijing military district where the elder Li had lived. Minister Wang had brought his family along with some things to pay their respects to an old man before being thrown out. Afterwards, the old man had cried bitterly to elder Li.
This matter had given Wang Chao a tremendous shock. Something that had happened three or four years ago could still be remembered as clearly as if it had happened yesterday.