Chapter 5: A change in the temples
Wang Chao had spent the entire day thinking about the “three integrals” to the human body taught to him by sis Chen. From day and night, he had spent the majority of his time focusing on his vertebrae and tailbone, pressing against each and every joint slowly with his fingers.
At the beginning, Tang Zichen had slowly worked her way down his vertebrae joints with her finger. No matter what small action she had done, his body had responded, and Wang Chao had taken her words to heart. But when it came to practicing every day on his joints, Wang Chao had found this to be quite difficult.
Wang Chao had tried for three or four days to move his center of gravity to his tailbone, but naturally, his hair did not spike up.
The vertebrae was not like the arm or leg which could easily be controlled.
A few days later, Wang Chao had made no progress. But instead of being discouraged, he threw himself into the teachings sis Chen had taught him vigorously.
Wang Chao had been too engrossed in his thoughts. Even in class, he had unconsciously tried to straighten his back and use the chair to press against his vertebrae.
“Wang Chao! You’re always doing something strange everyday, did you want to die?” Suddenly, an angry swear could be heard one day behind Wang Chao.
Turning his head, Wang Chao saw a bright eyed female student whose delicate face was twisted in complaint.
“Ah, what was her name again?” Wang Chao desperately tried to remember the name of the girl, but the only thing he could remember was that her last name was Cao and that she was a class officer. Her full name he had completely forgotten.
“Oh, sorry about that.” Wang Chao apologized in an effort not to cause any trouble.
Upon seeing the apologetic face of Wang Chao, her anger immediately dissipated, “Finals are almost here but you never study at all! This next exam will be our city wide examination where every school will be ranked. As the class monitor and committee member of the student council, I wanted to tell you to not bring the entire class down.”
“Okay okay….” Hearing the girl, Wang Chao couldn’t help but feel as if the girl was trying to prove her dominance over him. Normally, he would feel uneasy, but as per usual, he only nodded his head without moving a muscle. But in his mind, he quietly repeated the words sis Chen had told him, “Intent and Qi” and “Strength and Qi”.
“Studying won’t help change my destiny, but the Guoshu that sis Chen is teaching me, that might.”
Wang Chao was an ordinary person with a family social class that was lacking a bit. So naturally, he was reserved and introverted by nature. Because of this, he did not say what was on his mind.
In actuality, Wang Chao had a burning desire that far exceeded anyone else. It was only because of reality that his desire had been suppressed.
Ever since that coincidental meeting with sis Chen, Wang Chao knew. He knew that he had grabbed onto the rope to life. Tang Zichen had opened up the grand doors to the Guoshu world in such wondrous manner that was far better than what school was teaching him by a hundred times over.
The other reason was that studying in school had gave Wang Chao no interest, but the Guoshu that sis Chen was teaching him had resonated deeply in him.
“Tailbone….….center of gravity….the three integrals….”
Soon, the end of the school term came by, and in half a month, winter break would officially begin. From when Wang Chao had begun to learn Guoshu from Tang Zichen, it had already been a full month.
In this half month, Wang Chao threw himself passionately into practicing the horse stance. As time went on, he gradually began to feel that he was starting to feel like a horse as his body began to simulate how a horse would be.
He had even practiced the two moves, “Lifting Yin Palm” and “Monkey Stealing the Peach” so passionately that he could do it instinctively.
But the basics of the three integrals, Wang Chao just couldn’t begin to fathom it. Up to even now, he wasn’t able to replicate his hair spiking up consistently.
Then on Saturday 10 days before the start of winter break when the sun was just beginning to rise. Wang Chao was at the stove to boil some water when a wandering cat came walking by his family gate to get to the sunny spot. With a energetic arching of its back, the cat coiled up and began to doze off.
Wang Chao’s heart began to race before slowly creeping up on the cat. With a sudden movement, he stamped on the cat’s tail violently.
“Mwrowr! Mrowrrrrr!” The cat began to hiss in pain as its body curled up temporarily as its tail grew erect. With an arching of its back, the vertebrae took on the shape of a drawn bow while also looking like a coiled snake poised to strike.
The cat’s fur began to bristle up like a hedgehog before leaping up to bounce towards Wang Chao’s face.s face.
Wang Chao threw up his hands in desperation to defend his face only to end up with his arms being scratched.
Throwing the cat away, Wang Chao was not at all angry at it. Instead, he was extremely happy because he had clearly seen the cat’s tail, vertebrae, and its fur spike up in that instant. After giving himself many days to try and learn by experience, Wang Chao had finally realized something important.
As for the cat that had been thrown, it landed back on the ground silently while staring vehemently at Wang Chao.
A stare down between cat and human could be seen.
Wang Chao was feeling extremely apologetic towards this cat, “Kitty, I’m so sorry. But since you scratched my arms already, let’s call it a draw. Here, since I struck out first, have a piece of fish.”
Heading inside his kitchen for a moment, he cut a piece of the leftover fish from the new year to give to the cat.
Sensing no hostility from Wang Chao, the cat stared suspiciously at the piece of fish. With a blink of its eyes, it couldn’t resist any longer and snatched up the fish into its mouth.
As Wang Chao began to sigh in relief, a sharp crying sound could be heard from indoors.
It was the kettle he had put on the stove. The water that had been boiling inside was releasing steam through its opening, resulting in a sharp whistling sound.
“I get it now!” Wang Chao cried out before immediately getting into the three integral stance. From his head to his neck, his vertebrae was like a snake. Slowly easing himself downwards, his entire body began to emit heat and sweat.
Pa! His body’s center of gravity suddenly focused at his tailbone before Wang Chao suddenly felt like the cat. Instead of having an actual tail, he could visualize himself with one.
A small stimulation could be felt around his tailbone, and before he knew it, the cold sensation traveled up his vertebrae and towards his head. Suddenly, his scalp went numb as he felt goosebumps appear all over his body as the pores began to close.
With this newfound realization, Wang Chao immediately set himself to practicing the three integrals only to feel the heat and sweat threatening to escape from his pores with each second he sustained the posture.
As he continued, Wang Chao could almost feel that his head was like a balloon that was being inflated.
At the last moment, Wang Chao felt as if he was on the verge of exploding before he had stopped. Following sis Chen’s example, he brought both of his hands up to his eyebrows before pressing downwards towards his abdomen.
Even as his hands pushed downwards, all Wang Chao could feel was him trying to push down on a tire. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t push it down completely.
Wang Chao’s abdomen grumbled with a gurgling sound before turning over and shooting outwards.
Unable to keep his mouth shut, Wang Chao let out a hiss of pain.
This hiss was similar in sound to when the kettle from earlier was boiling.
Suddenly, Wang Chao came to the sensation that a part of the heat had traveled up towards his face before stopping right at his temples.
At this sensation, Wang Chao could swear that his temples were growing larger.
“It couldn’t be…?” A joyous smile swept across his face as Wang Chao focused on this sensation.
Unable to deal with the kettle still whistling, he hurriedly went to find a mirror.
“Eh? I don’t see anything different, but I can clearly feel something there.”
After looking at himself, Wang Chao could have sworn there was a stimulation in his temples and grew dejected.
“Forget it, eating one bite doesn’t mean I’m fat. I clearly felt that sensation, that means I’m doing something right.”
And so he forced himself to stay calm once more.
At long last he had made it through the bottleneck. For the next 10 days, Wang Chao had been in a joyous mood. Naturally, he continued to practice everyday, with each day he practiced, the closer he felt to improving.
However with this fascination came some retributions. When it came to the finals on the last three days, Wang Chao didn’t know a single thing. After the finals, he still knew nothing. With this end result, Wang Chao figured that he wouldn’t be able to have an even worse of a test grade even if he tried.
On the very first day of winter break, Wang Chao had felt that his temples were slightly different than before after a quick observation in the mirror.
His entire body felt as if he was filled with energy was was revitalized.
This type of change had been quite miraculous to him and caused his self confidence to skyrocket. Looking at his attitude in the past, he felt weird for being so introverted, depressed and wretched.
“Since my temples have changed, I’ll go meet up with sis Chen and learn something new!” Wang Chao had already made his plans for the winter break. “What should I do for the next two days? I’ve made great progress with my martial arts and even made my temples enlargen. With this, I am a martial artist.”
Wang Chao had even read some novels during the era of the Republic of China where experts were everywhere. Each one of them had “temples that were an inch tall and mighty”.
Although his own temple wasn’t yet an inch tall, there was still a minute change. For a moment….Wang Chao had felt that… even if just by a little bit, he was slowly becoming an expert of martial arts….
With his temples swollen with energy and confidence, he was eager to go and find someone to fight to see the fruits of his two months of training.