THE TAI CHI HUMAN TEMPLATE
I. Tanjo 誕生
The being we are about to introduce to you is one who has been through a lot of loss. Not more than some, not to extremes that people would imagine, but of time, essence, stability... you shall see.
The being was born in the darkness of night, the frosted ground of winter surrounding his hut. A Super Moon, Blue Moon shining down upon them, something that happens very rarely in the world, and for the birth of a child on such a winters night under the bright moonlight, this is a rather grandiose event for the two parents, finding themselves blessed by the gods above for such an amazing gift.
The child was silent but breathing, it wasn't crying, it didn't need to be attacked, nearly instinctively breathing. Time seemed to stand still, the snow around the hut seemed to be still in the air as the boy was born. Whether the boy was human or not was a curious question on its own, this was no normal child... but then again this was a special lunar day. Staring up at its mother as if wondering what would happen next. The inexperienced mortals accepting the blessing from the gods, shamanism not uncommon within the tribes of ancient Japan.
You would find the settlement of these tribal and, soon to be, Japanese people among the island continent surrounded by volcanoes, coming into civilization slowly from their hunter and gatherer way of life. Far before the dawn of the Shogunate, the family of the newborn had the bright idea of improving their society's productivity, this was the invention of Rice Farming. The production of rice skyrocketed thanks to the family's idea, using the wetlands for irrigation and giving them enough money to purchase land, for both expanding their rice farms as well as being landowners and employers to the clans they had found passing through. The family had started the foundation of the survival and expansion of the Japanese culture.
A few years pass and the boy had grown up to the point of walking and talking, four years into his life his parents had a set of twins, two infants that looked far more normal than their firstborn child. The boy looked unto the two girls as they cried, his gaze upon them slowly set them to relax as he gave them a loving kiss on each of their heads, one that unbeknownst to them would spark the beginnings of a bond between the three that would go unbroken and last through the ages. The twins slowly began to calm, their eyes slowly shut as they slowed to a steady, relaxed pace. Once again, another sign to the parents that their son is a gift from the gods.
The children grew up rice farming, learning the payoffs of hard work while ending up living a life of luxury for owning the food and rice farms. Their parents were convinced their lives were blessed since the birth of their firstborn, praising him and treating him as one would a demi-god. Despite his surroundings, he had no interest in the praises and treatment he was given, he didn't believe he was one worthy of such praise... not yet. The other villagers were working in toil, he worked the farms when he could find the blind spot of his parents' eyes to do so. His determination to earn his life was what earned him the respect of the villagers rather than their disdain. The beautiful land surrounding was a sight to see at any angle, the boy finding that his favorite spot was the shore just before the entrance to the forest with the fantastic view of the mountain. It's where he felt the most comfortable and decided that the spot he would live would be there until the end.
This looks to be a great start, however, this was but the uplifting light that would soon become the heavy hand that shoves this boy down into the darkness of sorrow and depravity that we shall explain soon.
II. Sonshitsu 損失
On a dark night, the still blue lake rippled like a shudder as the ground shook. The boy, eight at the time, had been training his mind and body in attempts to earn the praises from his parents rather than take the praises blindly. He awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a loud roar, one that almost shook him to his core. The violet snakelike slits that were his eyes sharpened in fear as the pupils dilated from the sudden burst of light attacking his receptors. No one seemed to wake from such a loud beast in the night, as the boy found out from frantically running through his family's manor to make sure everyone was safe. Another loud roar filled the forest, but once again no one awoke, the boy turned to the forest and quickly gripped his father's ceremonial bronze sword and approached the source of the sounds carefully and fearfully.
Upon entering his favorite woodland area, he became confused as there was still no sign of the loud monstrosity. The deeper he went, the more fearful he became that he was being played with already and that he would have made his family wake up the next morning without their son. He gripped the sword rather tightly upon the cloth of the blade, looking for any sign of life... this forest never seemed to be so scary.
While he hunted, a loud crash was heard nearby as a tree fell against another, looking like it had been torn from the middle by some unfathomable beast. The boy stared at the splintered insides of the tree with both awe and terror. He didn't see anything do that, it just happened, and there was no way that was a bear or any sort of animal... that had to be an angry spirit. Shamanism or Nature Worship was not something scoffed at by the people of this time, and it was actually highly regarded, hence his parent's finding him as a blessing of the gods... so this thought process wasn't beyond comprehension... even though the truth was different than his people believed.
The boy had never felt this heart-wrenching fear he now felt surging through his body, he couldn't help but quiver in fear as his eight-year-old body stood in the middle of the forest he loved so dearly... in what may be the angry spirit's hunting grounds. There was nothing like this feeling before, not even when the other children were beating him up, because at least then he knew he would survive. In moments as that tree crashed into another, two further away fell against their neighbors, the dark green sea of trees lost more and more of its population as the monster seemed to be moving away. Upon this, despite his best-laid thought processes, the boy did not cower away in fear but pursued to make sure that his family was not going to be harmed... even if he had no idea how to defend them from this beast, much less himself. Thump, thump, thump, thump
His heartbeat was loud and heavy against his chest as he rushed toward his home. He stopped outside of the edge of the village to witness a great beast before him. The pitch black body with a white face was large, almost titan-like to this child. His body was frozen, his mind screamed in fear of loss, not fear for himself, but the others in his village. He watched as the beast walked onward down the road of the village, it seemed to be hunting.
He slowly moved the blade in front of him, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. He was facing the rear of the beast but the fear had encumbered him to a near standstill. He wasn't even noticed by the massive being before him, ignored and afraid, he ran for his home. He rushed to his parents, got onto his knees and plead them to be safe, he was a sobbing mess. His parents woke up to see their blessing of an eldest child begging them for their own sanctuary. They did not and could not understand why.
He told them about the large beast, told them about how he rushed off to find the source, he even told them what he saw in the village. They had heard nothing, they could see nothing in the village. They assumed he had a nightmare and planned to get him to a Shinshoku in the morning. He knew it was real, he knew this was no nightmare, he was in a cold sweat with tears streaking down his face. They didn't believe him, how could they, but he was a child filled with fear at the moment, so their disbelief hurt quite a bit.
His father headed out of the house to satisfy his child's fear. After dressing in his robes, he clacked his way outdoors... Not a scream, nor shout, not a cry. A strong wind like force tore through the man who could not see the beast nor its attack. Next, his mother headed out to join him, feeling her son's fear was quite concerning. She stepped out to see a pool of blood and organs spilled onto the ground before her. Her husband being crushed while hovering in the sky. Her shrieks lasted mere seconds before her body was carved into pieces by the beasts claws.
The boy ran out to follow after his mother, terrified of losing them. Upon reaching outside, he saw his mother in four pieces scattered across the dirt, his father being chewed by the monster... and he cried. His parents had been killed and there wasn't anything he could do to prevent it. His fear and worry had driven him to wake them up only for them to walk to their deaths. He was angry, at himself and the monster.
The boy ran up to the beast and beat on it with all his might, barely doing enough damage to be considered a mosquito bite. He bawled as he beat on the beast's foot, the monster content with simply chewing his victims. Dravocn was coated in tears, snot, and blood. His beating on the beast causing his fists and feet to bleed from abuse, he didn't care. Hate, anger, and unquenchable rage coated his being in that moment.
The villagers had woken to the sound of the mother's scream, only to find the boy they had thought was a blessing, beating an invisible beast and his father's lifeless body hovering and being crushed with loud bone snapping sounds following each motion. The villagers see the separated pieces of of his mother and the mass of blood that almost created a river in the road from the home.
There were thuds of movement as the corpse hovering in the air dissapeared and the corpse of the mother was lifted and swallowed by the invisible beast. Villagers watched in horror as what they could only imagine was an oni having eaten the parents. Further thuds of movement, as the beast was wandering away, leaving the child and the villagers in shock. The boy was crying, angry, and losing his voice from the harsh outcries of misery.
One woman had come up to the boy to hold him and comfort him, kneeling in the blood pool to hold the boy and ease his pain. The pain had not been sated, in fact the woman's embrace had only aggravated the already immense trauma, knowing that neither of his parents would ever be able to hold him again. The other villagers stared at him, some wondering what sort of invisible monstrosity they had witnessed, some thought it had been summoned, some thought the boy was now cursed.... It was a new moon that night.
He rose up, thanked the woman for trying to comfort him, then ran off toward the beast. He could see it, he was the only one who could follow it. Blood soaked clothes, running in the darkness of night under a new moon, he gave chase to the thing he knew very well that he could not kill, beat, nor even hurt. Upon finally finding the beast he screamed at it, only for it to turn around and its mask smiling at him with the largest shit-eating-grin. Before it was slain, sliced in two down the middle. The boy stared in shock and awe as while the beast dissipated, a man stood behind it.
The boy stared at him, unable to process the sheer power that the man must have possessed to kill the beast. Then, just as quickly, the boy became angry again, he knew he wasn't able to kill the beast but then then the beast was slain in front of him. The man had killed his only chance, non-existent as it was, at revenge. The man should have shown up earlier, before the destruction of his life, before his parents were killed in front of him. The man should have been a protector, not an afterthought.
The man had walked away, the beast was slain, and as far as the man was concerned, the boy couldn't see him. But the boy did see him, he saw the monster, he watched as the man had walked through a gateway that appeared out of nowhere and vanished. The boy stared at the darkness that was left behind. He looked to the blade still clutched in his hands, his hands and feet bleeding from the earlier abuse. The blood had dried, his hand hurt from how hard he had clenched onto the blade, it hurt even more trying to open his hands and let go of the blade. He stared into the metal, his reflection... it was ugly...
He had only his sisters now, they lived, and he was to be alone with them. Adoption wasn't exactly a thing that existed back then, it was more or less the village being a disciplinary committee and the parents being the enforcers. Regardless, he had to work harder simply to support himself and the two sisters. The farms could barely feed the farmers themselves, due to the fact that they had to trade off or share the majority of their crops. Stores weren't exactly a thing, so there wasn't much one could do besides own land, farm, or educate... and even then children weren't exactly built or equipped for that. The only choice he had was to visit the shrine.
III. Henka suru 変化する
A few months have passed since the young boy had witnessed the otherwise traumatizing and harrowing scene of his parents' demise. Life with the Miko was to be expected, cleaning the floors and caring for plants and animals were basic chores and privileges, the providing of assistance to villagers, assisting the Miko with ceremony and ritual preparations, and very rarely providing exorcisms. For all intents and purposes, Dravocn and his sisters were priests and priestesses in training. Considering Dravocn wasn't a fan of undeserved treatment good or bad, he was relatively happy to help the shrine in any way he could.
One night, while the boy was in his bed, holding his sisters close in his sleep, he had a nightmare. A strong vivid remembrance of that visceral night. He was trapped in his own dream, unable to wake, sweating and fearful, crying. A woman had appeared beside him, she was calm, dressed in ragged clothes, and watched the two die in front of him in his dream. She looked to him and smiled softly, she told him that they are with her now, that he need not worry. Izanami stood before the boy and remained in the darkness so as to hide her face, the child still crying but calmer after hearing the woman's voice.
The dream had come to a halt, time had stopped. The woman smiled to him and nodded calmly, a gentle chill filled the boy, a relaxing coldness, and warmth of kindness. He looked to the mangled corpses of his parents again, and Izanami smiled, she knew he was trying to obey Izanagi's promise to her for himself. The child was not wise, intelligent, but lacked experience. The trauma of the heart and mind does not make a mature man be, due to his age it may as well have made him stagnant and unable to grow further.
Due to the strength of belief in ancient times and how often people turned to religion rather than logic, it was quite impactful simply to believe Izanami was visiting him to comfort him. Rather than the monstrous image assumed by death itself, she seemed beautiful, she felt beautiful, she sounded... well... beautiful. Death was something to be accepted just as she eventually accepts everyone, the inevitability of sitting down with her for dinner is nothing to fear nor despise. One should not look for her, she will come to you in time. She is a release of pain, of sadness, of anger... but also a release of happiness. The boy smiled softly through his tears.
There was nothing for a moment, and time continued inside the dream. Izanami followed him to the death of the monster that ate the boy's parents. She tilted her head at the man revealed in the dream and time halted again. She pointed to him and told the boy to follow him, that he was going west, to a land untouched by her and her brother. She could feel the coming void of death, of lasting life for thousands, her brother would take physical form there... she knew it.
The boy did not understand, but took the words to heart. He would not disobey a goddess, especially one he came to quite like. She smiled at him and gently, ever so lightly, touched both of his shoulders and kissed the boy's forehead in a motherly sweetness. In that moment, the boy woke suddenly and abruptly, clutching his young four-year-old sisters in his arms, waking them.
They looked up to him confused and hugged him, thinking he had jolted from a nightmare, trying to comfort him. In his truth, he had a divine mission... The very next morning, after doing his chores for the day he had profusely and repeatedly thanked the Miko for their kindnesses before telling them that he must take his leave. The Miko nodded and gave them some rice and water for their trip as he took his sisters with him to his unknown destination.
Of course, there wasn't exactly a traveling system set up nor even domesticated horses or boats, so the three of them walked westward toward the sun. The goddess Amaterasu being their guiding light. Aimi and Kimiko were unsure why their brother was so insistent in going so far away from the village, but they didn't want to leave him alone... especially after last night. They were a caring duo, knowing that he was all they had even though they were still so young. They didn't know where their parents were, but they wanted to all be together when their parents came back.
It was a long walk to the edge of the island country, taking several rests from the strain on their little legs. The rice ran out and they had to go out to forage for edible plants, making pit stops at any nearby villages so they may gather water for their trip. About a month or so of walking and they finally reached the edge of the island. Aimi and Kimiko looked up to their brother who was staring out at the sea... He didn't understand, how was he supposed to obey the goddess if there was no path?
Aimi smiled up at her brother and held his hand with a light squeeze, hugging his arm close with Kimiko following suit with his other arm. He looked to the two girls and smiled in thanks for their support and affection, though he still didn't know how he was to cross, and he certainly wasn't going to leave his sisters. He stared at the sea and sat down, if the goddess wanted him to cross something so vast, then she must have a plan.
Faith can do a great many things. Sometimes it makes you stronger, sometimes it can get you hurt, sometimes it creates miracles. The boy and his sisters had walked for over a month, children on their own on foot. These children at minimum had faith in each other. This was a boy who saw 'demons' in a time where seeing spirits was more than simply a rarity. The boy looked to the two girls as they slept, he was glad they followed him for as long as they did, but perhaps the dream was simply all it was, a dream.
Upon midnight, the light of the full moon fell upon the trio, and the ocean itself seemed to shrink. Tomohiro tilted his head curiously and surprised, inexperienced in low tide or high tide or anything ocean wise other than what the tales of Shinto say of the gods. Although what came next was nothing short of divine intervention because as the moonlight passed over them and then over the ocean, a pathway of ice was created slowly. Tomohiro was flabbergasted and rushed to awaken the girls so as to get moving before the ice melts. The girls stared in wonder at the ice as they crossed the pathway, watching as the ice melted behind them.
Izanami must have made a request to Tsukiyomi… or perhaps Tsukiyomi is rewarding their faith, Tomohiro didn't know, but he was grateful. He looked to the girls and told them to hold hands so as not to lose anyone off of the pathway. They walked all throughout the night and what seemed impossible was that they had somehow managed to make it to the other side in that night... Tsukiyomi was a god and was creating a pathway, but he could only help them overnight, so perhaps he had shortened the space between the lands because he didn't want his gift to go to waste? Again, Tomohiro did not claim to understand the wills of the kami.
They rested for a majority of that day, having walked so far for the past while, it was a bit much to ask of small children, especially four-year-olds. After their well-deserved rest, they awoke to the beach behind them. Aimi was hugging her brother rather tightly from the amazing thing they had just done and witnessed last night. All three of them, at worst had a new level of faith within them and uncommon gratefulness for their gods looking over them. A few steps over the hill of grass just beyond the beach and they stop to see a bustling existence.
One hundred years into the Zhou dynasty. China has been around for so long, they have had countless of monarchs in their hundreds of thousands of years of existence even in the time that these children had arrived. While the country isn't twenty-first century advanced, they are vastly more developed than the still infant country of Japan. So you can imagine the huge culture shock to see so many people and such well-developed people.
After a few moments of walking through the new place, well... several moments as it was almost awe-inspiring, the trio began walking through, unsure as to what they had found themselves in. Hustle and bustle, busywork, and the occasionally appreciative smiles to imperial guards, the fish out of water almost felt at home here. It was then that they had met with whom Tomohiro believed was their saviors, as a couple stood together buying groceries with the woman in nearly exact likeness to the woman he saw in his dream. Tomohiro's childish glee at meeting the goddess and god in physical form was mixed with confusion again and hope, but he rushed in to hug the woman's legs. Despite his not having announced himself, the child was somehow expected, or at least seemed to be, because neither being was shocked by the affection he has for these perfect strangers.
Of course, seeing their brother rush in to hug a strange woman in a new place confused the girls, but being their age and loving their brother enough to walk as long as they have, clearly they trusted him with whatever he did. Kimiko approached happily with Aimi following shyly behind. Tomohiro smiled at his sisters as his head was ruffled by the woman he had been hugging, eventually introducing themselves as Izanagi and Izanami to the children.
The children had no reason to believe them, though why mere humans would introduce themselves as gods of Shinto deities was also a prospect of doubt. Tomohiro recognized Izanami from a dream, that and without warning or reason, the two had introduced themselves to children they don't know that they are gods. The situation itself requires trust and faith, due to the oddity of it all, any more experienced people would be skeptical, but these children were tired, unsure as to why they were walking in the first place, and participated in what they could only believe was godly intervention.... faith was not in short supply.
Taking the orphans in, Izanami and Izanagi showed the boy the reason for their travels to this futuristic land. They are not quick to dissuade their deity from the boy, as simply telling a small child that what he saw was perfectly normal isn't exactly true either, so they explain to him that they are willing to train him in their ways. Gleefully accepting the tutelage of his gods, the boy had begun his first steps into the martial realm.
The first steps of training was not combat, but philosophy, method, the enhancement of the mind and spirit. He was given an education, as were his sisters, chores, and fitting labors for children their ages. He was taught meditation, contemplation, instinct, and to think on his feet.
This is not a story of how an eight-year-old became a stereotypical protagonist in a day or year, the changes and teachings were difficult to get accustomed to at first, as they were pretty big changes for a child. Though he isn't slow on the uptake either, he was a smart child, just one who clung to hope like a baby who got a cheat day from weening on his mother's breast milk. Besides, if you had the experiences he had as a child, you wouldn't exactly be defiant nor ungrateful for gods teaching you anything... especially back then when sitting on your butt doing nothing wasn't watching TV.
Tomohiro was quick to get accustomed to his new way of life, by comparison to modern-day average people at least. His body typically went into autopilot a lot of the time when doing chores and labors. His mind usually in a state of meditation and contemplation, not ignorant of his surroundings, nor ignoring those he was surrounded by. This mentality growing into a level of contentedness whether in isolation or in social circumstances. Not that it's easy, maintaining a balance between focus on one's surroundings and inner thoughts can easily tip into a hyper fixation or escapist isolationism... A child is more likely to run into hyper fixation due to the amount of energy exertion usually required to develop a healthy childhood. Tomohiro just so happened to create his balance so as to better learn from the gods teachings, a lesson he taught himself by that of determination.
IV. Keihatsu 啓発
Tomohiro and his sisters had lived with the twins for a good few months, the twin sisters had had their birthday and were soon approaching the next step to their education. Tomohiro was a budding flower of knowledge at this point, learning maths, sciences, and developing logical processes quite quickly. His progress showed particularly in his eyes and behavior, the curiosity and awareness of himself and his surroundings were far more potent than mere months ago. His mind advancing so much and his meditation having gone so well, he had shown rather soon that he was ready to train his body.
Labors were typically the main way to develop one's body back then, increasing difficulty and workload being the equivalent of increasing reps and weights. So his body going into autopilot wasn't as easy for him as the strain it had to take on his body in order to improve it was necessary. However, at this point, he had been doing quite a bit around town for his guardians and the surrounding populace that he's been decided rather charitable. This earned him quite a bit of kindness and respect, as well as the labors and chores generally improving the surrounding situations. Farmwork, janitorial services, being a courier for mail and product alike, with respect and without fuss nor request for payment, all this earned the child a positive reputation over the past months. Now his workload increased and his work radius spread further around, to develop his body gradually and increase stamina reserves so as to do even more labor. These are the basics of human adaptation, as well as the basics of karma, kindness, and how fast repetition, reputation, and honest work spreads and builds character and respect... even for children.
Further months pass and the boy's body is quite alive and fit, no bulk to speak of, but his skin, hair, eyes, and mind are much more awake and alive. His charity had spread to villages more inland and larger areas. Farms and shops booming with improvement due to regular maintenance and free labor. Word had spread so far that his guardians decided it was time to allow the boy to meet their teacher.
Not a lot can be said about Shakka without making him seem like a benevolent stereotype of a man who lives and breathes Eastern philosophy. Patience, humility, wisdom, and temperance reflected on this man who has spent ages cultivating his own inner power and teaching others for just as long. The sheer presence of the man gave off a serene warmth to all those who witnessed him, and Tomohiro was hoping to absorb that presence like a sponge. However, training with Shakka, not going to happen, not for a mere seedling, not for a long time. No, it was merely a gift by the twins to allow him to meet the man for his hard work and dedication. He still had to train with them for a while yet.
As years passed the boy grew more and more into the lifestyle of cultivation and the lifestyle within ancient China. His awareness of himself, others, the nature of things, and how things work on both the metaphysical scale and minute scale became more precise. His body growing to develop muscle, much endurance and stamina, and a mature yet youthful beauty to his skin, hair, and eyes. His chores and labors spanning entire regions, each task is done before night's fall.
All was not peaceful in his early life, raiders, bandits, and the like were still around back then. There were times when he would arrive home bruised and cut, but with a pearly white smile still on his face. True, he hadn't been taught combat since his arrival to China, but with his mind, body, and spirit in the shape it is in, he could easily topple full grown average mortal men by the tens. Eventually, the boy did have to learn combat however, and seeing that teenage years are where ancient times considered boys became men, it was time to teach him how to fight. So once again he was back to basics.
Tomohiro was first taught the breath of life, the first kata. Just as when one is born they are taught to breathe before they can cry, they must relearn how to breathe in order to gain a deeper understanding of the energies flowing inside them. All sorts of practices in modern-day explain how important breathing is, from martial arts, meditations, psychiatry, medicine, and even the military. The art of the breath can change one's perception, the atmosphere, and even the tone of action. From Tibetan monks drying clothes by heating up their backs, to surviving frigid temperatures naked, to striking, everything is breathing. It keeps you alive and it makes plants happy. Breathing is key, the way you breathe defines you.
This all made sense to Tomohiro, and he quickly advanced to the second kata, the exhale. The act of how you push the air out of you to exert more energy into what you do, like shouting kia during a punch or humph during a kick. It feels more effective because it is. It even helps to suppress pain and allow further effort being put in than normal as well.
Of course, these were the ways things were explained to the boy without talking about mystic energies. Though in time the less mundane explanations would be described to him. He did feel a noticeable difference in himself after learning to breathe properly, the different breathing techniques, and how they work.
His progress was significant after this point. Being the scholarly type he was, he had traded his autopilot mode for significant training in his breathing techniques, which unknowingly kickstarted his Cultivation skills. Already he was taking his labors as time to become more efficient via breathing and creating Jing out of his Reiki. His body growing more powerful without knowing that that's what he's doing. It wasn't long before after several months of cultivation without expending any Jing that the overflow created a compressed area, condensing his Jing into Qi. As this was prior to being taught the benefits of the energies inside, he simply took things to mean that his breathing techniques were getting better. Soon everything seemed far easier, the volumes of Reiki to Jing and Jing to Qi were building up that it was probably pretty impressive to see. Tomohiro using the first kata only to build his efficiency and control himself, be aware of his energy levels, and properly manage his overall performance, using the second kata to hold back or add more effort when needed. Through this and meditation he grew and grew rather quickly into the next stage of cultivation.
Due to his lack of training in combat, he quickly reached a stagnation period. One he was not very happy with as he was so proud of making such leaps and bounds for his teachers. After explaining such problems to the deities they replied with teaching him about cultivation and all that he could handle each day. His ability to get so far in months was an impressive feat for someone so new to the lifestyle, and therefore his efforts were doubled when hearing of his actual progress.
Though as the stagnation period persisted, he found that in order to properly move forward with his training, he needed to exert the energy that he was no longer building up.... not through lack of trying mind you. So he trained in martial arts so as to gain the ability to exert his built-up energy. Beginning his training in the oldest martial arts in the world, Baguazhang, Hsing-I Chuan, and Tai Chi Fist.
Baguazhang, the art of fighting eight opponents at once. Hsing-i Chuan, Chuan translates as “fist.” Hsing means “to form something.” I, specifically in the word “hsing-i,” refers to the ability of the mind to create an idea and project it into the body, creating a functional physical form. The term hsing-i, then can be looked at from two perspectives. First, it is whatever form the mind directs. Second, the form can manifest a wide variety of ideas, so you learn how to develop all the ideas within a form. In other words, Hsing-I Chuan is the precursor to modernized Kung Fu. All three of these martial arts are internal, energy-efficient systems that predate modern martial arts and in themselves cultivate the body and Qi.
Another few years pass and the boy finally manages to push passed his stagnation period through constant cultivation and martial training. One does not master martial arts in a singular year nor three, but those who dedicated themselves to their art like IP Man and Bruce Lee can become masters of at least one within the course of a decade. After all, Ip Man practiced Wing Chun in both forms and mastered both, continuing to train even in his greatly later years, and Bruce Lee mastered a few martial arts before he died in his early thirties.... after surpassing most people in power and skill, creating a fixation on the one-inch punch that sent a man flying across a room without strings. No, martial arts isn't easy to master, but it is possible through intense dedication... and it is never truly mastered. Within the decade the boy compressed his Qi to Shen and began his journey into cultivating further, now marking himself among the upper class of his age and in turn slowing down his aging. He is now twenty-one, with the image of a teenager, and he has quite a few more decades before his aging cases entirely.
As one is typically fairly old when they finally gain access to Shen, the mere idea of a child as new as he was to get so far was unheard of. His progression was a combination of sheer determination, focus, and talent most likely from how excited he was to be breaking new levels. The Shen kept him young, kept him energized, and gave him youth even as time passed over years.
Eons passed before he felt it was necessary to leave the roost he had made for himself and explore to gather greater understanding. After having said his goodbyes and hugging his sisters, giving each a kiss on the top of their heads, he took his leave to continue his training. The world was far more advanced than the last time he had joined them. Wuxia was full of new things to explore within China alone, plenty of cultivators spanned the country to learn from and test mettle with. Tomohiro was an excited man and eager to grow, his mind and body molded into something modern men and women would find impossible for someone so young. He walked through the country, continuing his laboring even when away from home so as to maintain his training and the expanse of his reach.
Helping those he found along the road had given him a great number of karmic boons. At the time ancient medicine had expanded beyond that of herbal remedies, although herbs, teas, and tisanes were still being used, medicine was simply expanded upon with acupuncture. Modern medicine has been determined as the only viable form of medicine, reducing the ancient practice of acupuncture and other herbal remedies and Neidan to the title of pseudoscience or worse a sham, however, with the skill and effects of cultivators that were so prevalent in the Age of Might and the Golden Age it was far more effective than the Age of Sorrows gives them credit for. Tomohiro took his learning to paper and wrote notes, knowing he won't be able to learn everything in the world of Wulin before his time in the world is over, at least that's what he thought at the time. After taking everything to paper, he would later study the practices, not in any rush to know everything but too excited to stay put for too long, after all, he could feel his progress beginning to stagnate again.
There in the Golden Age, Tomohiro had found the Wandering Bazzar, filled to the brim with merchants and cultivators alike. The men and women that filled the place were exceptional, not only to see but to observe and admire, thanks to the light that cultivators exude the lights given off were magnificent and gained Tomohiro's full attention simply from the newness of it all. It was, however, when the lights began coming from items that he had an abrupt wake-up call as he had no idea equipment could produce something so glorious. His curiosity and insistence on progress gave him so much excitement that he felt like a small child again, almost rushing toward the forgers and crafters, asking all sorts of questions. When offered one of the items, he tilted his head, he was well aware that items came with a price but when it came to cultivation items this brilliant he was unsure how to take such information, it would surely be too expensive for him, even if he had a job since childhood, which he didn't, he, in fact, had no money.
The shopkeeper simply smiled at him and told him that he could earn some coin if he worked at the bazaar, perhaps learn a thing or two about cultivation, people, procuring the items, and maybe even crafting. At this, his eyes went wide like a child being offered a giant cookie and he grinned from ear to ear and began working under the tutelage of this merchant. At first, he was simply a laborer, which he was used to, gathering supplies, fresh or being sold by another merchant, even getting to see the Yu-Shan cultivators sweat SoulSteel for the sale of the merchants, earning quite a bit of money for themselves as well. Being so used to labor like delivery, courier, and gathering, he was soon allowed to watch the crafting being done. He was excited as liquids they called Qi Alchemy were produced of various degrees of glow, to which he determined showed the level of brightness the items would be sold to. People who glowed the same or just a little less than the item were safe, people who had eyes too big for their health would not be sold the item simply because it was unsafe... unsafe is bad for business. He was all sorts of excited as he saved up enough money to buy something, but as he was, he didn't want any items just yet, he did say he wished to pay for training in these lovely things. Particularly in the forging they had shown him, they corrected him and told him that was Soulforging and was typically used for metals, accessories, weapons, and armors. He nodded in understanding and still wanted to learn Soulforging and Qi Alchemy, it was such an interesting thing. These cultivators seemed to get on by without fighting, so he thought that he could train his martial arts after learning the basics of these things and learn further later.
So he took a few years of training in the art of Soulforging. He was not skilled right off the bat, in fact, he had made quite a few mistakes that cost him and his teacher time and money, for which he had to earn back through labor and quite a lot of trial and error. Thanks to his mistakes and punishments, his body remained quite fit despite his training being spent on forging when he wasn't in stoic meditation. The majority of his beginner training was done by normal metals, that was all he was allowed to touch at first until he could get the hang of things, not even starting with inscribing or the special metals, only iron was given to him to practice on. He was only able to move forward to a new metal when he mastered forging iron equipment. After which he moved on to inscription, which to him seemed like painting, drawing, and writing on the equipment. He was very curious to see what would compel someone to put ink down on the metal when it would wash off, but after his teacher had put the metal in water, he saw that lovely glow and it did not fade from within the water. After seeing the ink remain on the equipment, he got all excited again and understood.
He was an excited child for years, forging iron first, then inscribing, then a new metal to which he was not allowed to know until much later, the fear of not knowing how expensive the item was caused him to be more cautious and careful with what he was doing, eventually, the precision had become normal and he was allowed to learn to engrave on iron. The advancement was much appreciated as he examined and learned from the master, every day, every moment was a learning experience to him, more so than modern society says so but never practices outright. The boy was eventually, though not soon, able to craft a sword he took decent pride in due to it being his own making in a gestalt fashion. From there he was able to move on to new metals but he had not gained the skills of a true master, his crafts were not on the level of a professional in the art like his master, so he was content with the prices they were selling his personal works being allowed to keep all of the earnings made for the items he crafted and sold himself. A few years after that he bowed to his master and took his book of notes with him as he thanked his master and headed onward toward further adventure.
Tomohiro's adventures through Wulin had given him quite the name for himself for all of his support to the towns and villages he had passed through. His speed and efficiency had brought prosperity to them all, from the farms to the deliveries of supplies to stores, much like any village blessed with even one of the decent cultivators in Wulin living within their neighborhoods. Such prosperity is why cultivators such as him were uncommon, as a good cultivator was able to do far more work than the average human workforce. Towns and villages would do everything they could to keep these men and women working with them, so naturally with so many benefits being gifted to even silver or gold rank cultivators, creating a home in these areas was commonplace. Cultivators would find work as bodyguards, farmhands, delivery people, and law enforcement simply from their capacity and energy alone. Tomohiro wasn't rare in his traveling, but he was uncommon. Healing the sick through acupuncture and a little jing, tonics, herbal remedies, and the like, helping villages gather food and water before winter, such kindnesses brought him more renown through the lands. Renown was about the only form of payment he acquired as he usually left a place before they would repay him, after all, he was using his labors as training to keep his body in form, not for any monetary gain.
Eventually, he had found his way into the capital, where he would find a public archive rather than personal archives found in homes as he had back home with his sisters and foster parents. The library itself had a vast assortment of scrolls, to which he smiled and asked for directions to those pertaining to cultivation. He, of course, knew the basics of these things, though it never hurt to get back to basics. The stronger the foundation, the sturdier the building after all. He hadn't the time to learn everything there was in this building, there was so much to read, and as far as he knew he had a very limited time on this earth, so he had to find himself some very specific items. He found himself some scrolls on acupuncture, some on meditation methods, and as a result of his discoveries in meditation methods, he looked into cultivation techniques. He smirked at himself, of course, that explained his slowed progress, he needed a method of enhancing his cultivation. From that point, he thanked the space around him and bowed before putting the scrolls back where they belonged and exited the building to create his own method of cultivation.
At first, it started with a simple observational test, examining how his cultivation progressed in each thing he had done. He started with walking, the way he walked, the way he moved, the way he took a breath, made small changes every few minutes to examine how much faster and how much slower each change had made his cultivation. This was at a minimum a week of trial and error. He then began breathing far slower, each breath minutes in between each other, but each breath deep and slow, silent and lasting. The more he did this, the easier it became and the more natural it came to him before he had to slow his breathing further. His purpose was to drag out each exhale and each inhale until his organs would adapt, his lungs expanded to take in more air and nutrients and to last longer without an exhale. At first, this caused him to sweat and get light headed, but the more he did this, his body had changed on a biological level. His body was regularly cleansed, cleaning his pores and sinuses, his body gathered more and more nutrients from each breath and each exhale had released greater amounts of impurities from the air. His body grew far healthier than it had ever been, his stress levels lowered, and as this became a passive habit, he had grown into the next stage of his cultivation progress.
As his body had grown to cultivate on a near-constant level, absorbing natural energy and nutrients in its purest state, he found that eating, drinking, and even waste disposal were growing more and more unnecessary. His kidneys and lungs alone were eradicating impurities as they entered on a far more efficient level. His mind was more focused, as his body was supplemented with more nutrients from his breathing, allowing his brain to gather and process information more clearly and efficiently. As it turns out, the healthier the body, the healthier and stronger the mind.