Episode 379

Operation (1)
3 weeks ago
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“Eup. Eup.”

“Shh.”

The two young men preparing for the spar warmed up. Their arms were just touching, yet their faces already glistened with sweat.

Both focused on Myung Cheol’s voice.

The Body Pushing game was one where the body speaks. It’s about accepting the body and energy of another and expressing your own through free-flowing movement.

Tak

Jin Kang, the one who attempted this first, pushed when his opponent gently took the force. When the opponent absorbed it, he pushed harder.

“Ugh!”

Usually, a surprise push through such contact was successful.

“Hmm!”

But Jin Song quickly grabbed the elbow of his opponent, released the strength, and pushed back.

“Hmm.”

Jin Kang also grabbed his opponent’s elbow and used it to support his push. If they continued like this, they would both struggle to maintain balance.

Tak. Tak.

Movements that employed the same four straight hand techniques or changed the force’s direction. Any slight disruption in form would give the opponent a chance to knock them down.

Tauk. Shhh!

After some initial probing, the momentum shifted.

The competition intensified. It moved beyond demonstration methods and became a pure power struggle.

Shh!

Tang! Tang!

Internal energy began to swell within the two men. Beyond the contact point between their arms, strength grew in their lower backs and outstretched legs.

“It starts from now.”

“Elder Myung Cheol must have seen this. He would wait to end this.”

“Why worry about that? If they make a mistake, they could get hurt.”

Seol-Hwi nodded in agreement. The force emanating from the two tense Taoists was now anxious, a marked change from before.

As it turned out, no one could claim a clear victory.

The floor was a good place to take advantage. Stepping from his place was unstable, so if the balance was off even for a moment, the person who used the most strength would be the one who fell right then.

“Cheeky bastard. You think you can take me down?”

Jin Gang provoked, and Jin Song’s eyes changed.

He gave off a force which made it seem like he was about to throw a punch.

“Ah, what will you do just opening those eyes? Don’t you have the courage to hit me? Then I will do it.”

Shh

Jin Gang took his stance after shaping his hands in the form of Taiji. He began to approach little by little, extending the front hands and pulling the legs back.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise on the ground. This made the other person reflexively look down.

“Ah!”

As if waiting for it, he grabbed the ground with one hand and extended his leg to hit the shoulder.

Thud!

Jin Song was pushed back with a puzzled look. It was not simply because he was hit.

The last step was a movement that did not exist in Taiji martial arts.

So he looked at the officer.

It was a sign of protest that this move was a foul.

If it had been any ordinary instructor, they would have nodded.

“It is a hit. If you move the right leg diagonally, such a movement will happen.”

But the man here was Myung Cheol, and he was one who allowed this.

In this way, it changed into a technique that focused on practical usage, one that helped improve the physical strength of ordinary people such as farmers, and more. They had continued to develop existing close body attacks.

And in that direction, Jin Gang was now applying it in his own way. But it seemed like a separate check-in was needed to determine if this followed the teachings of Taiji or not.

“Ahhh.”

Jin Gang approached Jin Song with clenched teeth.

“Hmm!”

Jin Song, worried that another attack would come, immediately opened with the Six-Way Block technique to block the front, back, left, and right.

Tak

Then Jin Gang immediately used the Eight Dragons technique and put pressure on his opponent. His intention was not to attack the body but to shake their balance.

Crack

Jin Song changed the foot he was targeting, and seeing this, Jin Gang placed his foot back on the ground and attempted a kick.

Puank!

Jin Song was hit twice with the same move. His face turned red, and his opponent, Jin Gang, grinned.

“Ahhh!”

In the end, Jin Song could not hold back his anger and rushed at him.

Hold the head and shake.

It was a movement in which one covered the head with both hands and then struck the opponent with the elbow.

To put it simply, he pushed with both arms. However, this action was not successful.

Puak!

He was hit by the left fist of his opponent, which was aimed at the chest, and pushed back with a single right side kick as Jin Gang continued to strike.

Puak!

Just one punch and kick. And, hit by a surprise attack, the opponent came to the ground.

Tung!

“What is this…”

“Huh.”

Cheers erupted in the quiet hall. Although it was a mix of Taiji and other moves, it was a clear hit.

It was not Taiji, which was a movement that used softness, but it was a straightforward method.

“It isn’t Taiji now! It was a trick!”

Jin Song fell to the ground and shouted, his face contorted with pride from taking the hit.

But Myung Cheol shook his head.

“Is Taiji only found in the Taiji fist? Even if it is just a simple thrust, if it is performed with the origin and flow of Taiji, it is also Taiji’s way. Jin Gang has captured the softness of Taiji and was worthy of using it.”

“…Eh…!”

Jin Song’s expression went stiff. Although he was breathing heavily, he was unable to refute the words of his superior.

Perhaps because of the hit to the ribs, he pressed his chest and walked away slowly.

“Ha! Is there anyone else who can challenge me?”

This time it was Jin Gang who shouted, not Myung Cheol. It was as if he was trying to assert his presence by putting others down.

“Why? What? Hahaha! No one can stop my skills? Hahaha! Are you all that intimidated by my strength? Hahaha.”

Jin Gang laughed loudly. Jin Suk’s expression contorted at the sound.

Tak

He stood up, but someone grabbed his arm; it was Seol-Hwi.

“Wait.”

“You’re telling me to endure that?”

“No… something is odd.”

“…?”

Seol-Hwi stared into Jin Gang’s eyes.

It was hard to be certain, but something did not feel right. He felt an inexplicable anxiety.

“Nothing! There is no one else!”

“There are people.”

With his taunt, Jin Gu stepped forward, and Seol-Hwi’s expression turned stiff.

So this is what happens.

Jin Gu’s fall in this accident would turn him into a cripple later. And it seemed as though too many ominous signs were converging.

Tak. Tak. Tak.

As Jin Gu advanced, his comrades cheered him on.

“Set an example.”

“That guy has been so arrogant lately.”

“Let’s see your skills now!”

His comrades were cheering for him, and those of Jin Gang joined in.

“If I win this time, I get first place in sparring.”

“Let’s make history now.”

“Step on that face!”

Woong!

The atmosphere became heated. Seol-Hwi felt extremely awkward in this situation.

What is this?

Considering the group of calm and gentle Wudang, this aggression felt odd.

Instead of a class following their teachings, they were being encouraged to become better warriors.

This is a bit…

Obviously, studying the technique and learning how to use Taiji was sparking interest in everyone.

As long as one included the essence of Taiji, they could freely create new techniques.

This was because Taiji represented the flow of all things, and one could not halt progress there.

“Now, let’s see who is the most talented person here. Start!”

And the contest resumed.

At first, it was just a matter of pushing and pulling. But Jin Gu was not an easy opponent.

Huk!

He continued to push and pull the opponent with a quick swing, and Jin Gang could not let go of that power.

Taik

The speed already exceeded the level of push. And he made the opponent more confused with spinning in circular motions, and then Jin Gu’s fist flew in.

Wak!

“You… how?”

But the face of Jin Gang changed, and anyone could see what was happening now was foul.

While making contact with hands and using the opponent’s strength, such a technique did not exist.

But Myung Cheol, who turned his head, did not say much. Like he wanted to try this out.

“Again.”

At Myung Cheol’s shout, the two put their hands prepared together and began.

Tuk

As the fight continued, the struggle for power began.

Tak! Tak! Tak!

Without anyone saying anything, it began to get faster, and it turned impossible to see the spar.

And around them, covering someone with the hand, blocking the hand of the opponent, and the arms extended… many things were happening.

“Wait. That movement…”

When Seol-Hwi realized something was odd, Jin Suk said,

“Right. Fist palm technique. These are the things that give too much force.”

“Then why?”

“It is difficult, did the person in charge see the movement which breaks away from the origin though?”

That was when the attacks grew stronger with each other’s faces turning red.

Puak!

Jin Gang was hit in the face and pushed harder.

Puak! Puak!

He blocked the attack of the opponent by defending and trying to create an opening.

Grrr

Jin Hang’s eyes turned watery and his nose which was hit was bleeding. It seemed like he had no intention to fight anymore.

It seemed like the outcome of the fight was out, to the extent that the people turned to look at Myung Cheol.

But.

Even in that situation, the voice of the person in charge of this did not come out, so Jin Gu was anxious.

Let’s finish this once and for all.

Plack!

He did not need to drag this out any further, so he approached. This time, he advanced with a stabbing motion, his leg inching closer to his opponent.

Shhh

It was a technique that usually involved tripping the opponent’s outside foot, a method rarely used in Taoism.

Shhh

But the opponent was not affected by it. Instead, while dodging and using the attack, he adopted an attacking stance.

When Jin Gu bent his stance, he stumbled over Jin Gang’s leg and fell. It was then—

Puak!

Jin Gu’s lower back was struck by a flurry of kicks, delivered with incredible speed. All one could discern was the lethal intent behind the kick.

Woong.

As a result, his body was sent flying, and it appeared he would hit the ground hard.

Tak!

Fortunately, someone caught him.

“Leader Jin Mu?”

“It’s Leader Jin Mu!”

Surprisingly, the one present was Jin Mu.

“We greet Leader Jin Mu!”

“We greet you…”

“Enough, take this boy to the physician now.”

Jin Mu waved his hand and handed Jin Gu over to Myung Cheol, then turned to the others, who, seeing Jin Gu’s condition, wanted to embrace him.

Tak!

Leader Jin Mu surveyed the scene and glared at the person descending from the floor.

“Can I talk to that kid privately?”

At those words, Elder Myung Cheol bowed his head and said,

“I suppose he was a bit too ambitious. I apologize, sahyung.”

“I will take responsibility for this. Hurry and bring the boy.”

“Yes…”

Jin Gang began to follow with a stern look, and before leaving, Jin Mu glanced at Seol-Hwi and nodded.

Seeing that, Seol-Hwi’s expression grew more serious than usual.

“Is there something wrong?”

“Well, it’s nothing serious. It was just a bit strange. The last move wasn’t from any martial arts known in the Taoist sect.”

Jin Suk and the others entered.

The skills of Jin Gang were astonishing. The kick that knocked down Jin Gu, the strength to send him flying backward—none of it was normal.

“…Right.”

“What is it?”

Then one of them turned to Seol-Hwi. Was it strange that he stood there, staring blankly?

“It wasn’t Taoism.”

“What?”

Jin Suk looked at those odd words, and Seol-Hwi turned his gaze elsewhere. In his eyes, the elder figure began to approach.

Elder Myung Cheol.

He mumbled confidently, recalling the look in those eyes.

“Instructor. Someone who couldn’t even reach the highest level…”

Had a third ability.

He had not reached the Supreme Demon, so maybe that was why he was different from the others, but he had witnessed the third power.

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