Ancient Strengthening Technique - Chapter 33
It takes 10 Years to Forge a Good Sword
Qing Shui's imagination wildly soared as he continued reading. He was daydreaming about when would he be able to step into the fabled realm of Man and Sword as One, and Heaven and Man as One. After which, he shook his head: ’’A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step. I should stop dreaming and start with the basics. After all, even accounting for the experiences of my past life, I do not have any experience in the way of the sword. I merely dabbled in exercises like practicing the Tai-Chi Fist and the Tai-Chi swordplay. Those were just empty stances full of air with no real substance behind them.
As he read on, other than the main basic methods of attack positions, which consisted of: Hooking, Hanging, Pointing, Carrying, Piercing, Slicing and Hacking, the book also, in great detail, explained the amount of strength which had to be exerted for each strike, the position of the sword, the posture of the body as well as breathing methods that could be utilized. Other than the descriptions, there were also pictures depicting a human wielding a sword in the various forms of sword attacks.
The more Qing Shui read, the more he was confused. ’’How could the techniques the <<Basic Sword Techniques>>be so complex? If this is the case, what about the profound sword arts? How could I even begin to train in them if I don't even understand the basic techniques?’’ Qing Shui was lost in contemplation.
Everytime Qing Shui saw a picture, he would match it with the details stated in the description and practice them. Using his fingers in place of a sword, he held the book in one hand and practiced the basic forms of attacks: Hooking, Hanging, Pointing, Carrying, Piercing, Slicing and Hacking with the other one. One stroke after another, relentlessly pursuing perfection.
Qing Shui carried on his practice as time inexorably passed on. He did not know the exact amount of time that passed as there was no day and night cycle within the spatial realm. Qing Shui, akin to a madman, practiced almost to the boundary of Qi Deviation, continuing on his journey to comprehend the truth behind the way of the sword.
’’Going all out is the only way for me to improve, even if I have to step close to the boundary of Qi Deviation, I have to succeed!’’ Qing Shui said with determination blazing in his eyes.
Qing Shui did not lack perseverance or determination. He understood well that he was akin to metal. Metal needs to suffer blows from the smith's hammer and be refined in fire before it can be forged into a good sword. In addition to that, the Yin-Yang Symbol in his sea of consciousness, was also enhancing his spirit and mind, granting him a high level of comprehension. That, when coupled with his unyielding personality as well as the aiding effects of his spatial realm meant that nothing would be impossible for him!
When comparing <<Basic Sword Techniques>>to to the 3 other thick medical books, it could be considered rather thin. In addition, the contents of the <<Basic Sword Techniques>>book explained the most basic of all sword stances. Compared to the complex <<Herbal Combination Formula>>and the <<Continental Medical Annal>>, it was infinitely easier to remember.
On the last page of the book it was written that the essence of the sword could be summarized into four insights, in a single sentence of four realms in swordplay. [Application of Knowledge], [Profoundness within Simplicity], [Swiftness equates Invincibility], [Back to Nature]!’’
Qing Shui understood all of them, except for the last part, [Back to Nature]. He only seemed to have a rudimentary grasp on the meaning it contained, but nothing concrete.
For the first realm, [Application of Knowledge], essence of this insight referred to knowing when was the right circumstance, when was the right place, and when was the right time to execute which of the basic attacking sword forms. Simply put, to execute the correct moves at the correct time.
For the second realm, [Profoundness within Simplicity]’’, essence of this insight referred to not pursuing perfection of form. Form is secondary and intent is primary. Swordplay that looks beautiful and dazzling looks good, but is nothing in comparison to true power. In fact, the more profound the sword art is, the more ordinary it would look when executing the techniques within. Upon stepping into this realm, the techniques executed those who understand the dao of the sword might even looked clumsy and sloppy.
For the third realm, [Swiftness equates Invincibility], the essence of this insight referred to, under the vast domain of heavens, the same philosophy holds true for all martial arts. As long as one achieve sufficient speed, he would be able to defeat anything in the world. With sufficient speed, one might indeed achieve the realm of invincibility. What a pity that this was just a theory. After all, who would dare to say that they are the swiftest in the world?
For the last realm, [Back to Nature], he only had a rough understanding of the insights behind it. Qing Shui could not comprehend which level this realm of swordplay belonged to. ’’Could it be the legendary realm..? After one had mastered the sword, one could infuse sword intent into everything in nature. At that realm, everything in nature could be used as a sword!
Sword intent! Qing Shui got lost in contemplation as his thoughts drifted far away.
After he finished the book, Qing Shui closed his eyes and started meditating. He wanted to organize his thoughts and to his heart to comprehend the various details outlined in the book.
After a long time, Qing Shui finally opened his eyes. This was indeed the basics of sword arts! No matter how profound a sword technique was and no matter which realm a sword user had attained, traces of the <<Basic Sword Techniques>>would still exist within them!
’’If that is the case, when <<Basic Sword Techniques>>is cultivated to its pinnacle, could it also possess the might of profound sword techniques?’’ Qing Shui was lost in contemplation.
The carcass of the giant condor and the dried rations, had long since been finished off by Qing Shui, therefore he had no choice but to hunt. As he exited the spatial realm, dawn was already breaking. Although Qing Shui could spent approximately 15 days in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal per real day, every day he chose to split the maximum of 15 days into 3 smaller segments. When he would enter on the 3rd segment, he would stay within the spatial realm until it forcibly extricated him after he passed the time limit.
A period of one month passed, Qing Shui had learnt plenty of things in the last month. He was also out in nature where he could contemplate on the significance of the 5 elements, as well as try to gain insights into the heart of the heavens.
The state of a person's heart was very important. For people with a large frame of heart, they would naturally be able to contain more things. People with a narrow frame of heart, could be compared to a frog living in a well, forever unable to imagine or appreciate the beauty of the vast outside world!
A wild boar was hunted by Qing Shui. After which, he removed the bristles, cut open its stomach, removed the intestines, blood, internal organs, then he scraped the carcass clean, even the head of the boar was not spared.
’’What a waste, how inconsiderate!’’ Qing Shui laughed self-deprecatingly.
Luckily, this wild boar could be considered muscular and fit, there was no excess fat in its body. During this period of time, the thing that Qing Shui ate most were the wild boars. Especially the pig trotters... Yummy, they were to die for. To satisfy his palate, Qing Shui hunted many wild boars and experimented on them to practice his cooking skills.
Currently, Qing Shui felt that his cooking skills could still be considered slightly above average. After all, he felt that the food he cooked had a superior taste when compared to other fine inns or restaurants.
After finishing his dinner, Qing Shui stored the three remaining trotters inside the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal. He then walked to the side of the cooking fire and picked up a wooden staff measuring 3 foot 3 inches long from the ground.
Entering the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal again, Qing Shui had long since mastered the basic sword forms of: Hooking, Hanging, Pointing, Carrying, Piercing, Slicing and Hacking. Now, he wielded the wooden staff, as he would have wielded a sword, the staff almost appeared to be alive in his hand, vigorously performing each of basic sword forms to perfection. After all, both of his arms had already been trained to an extremely agile state, including his palm, his wrist, his fingers, and every other part of his hands due to practicing the Solitary Rapid Fist, as such they had long since reached the peak of agileness.
All thanks to the bout of enlightenment from before, it was as if all the insights gained during practicing the Solitary Rapid Fist had been absorbed by his pair of hands. So when he practiced his sword techniques, Qing Shui could achieve double the results with only half the effort, advancing at a tremendous pace.
As the saying went, ’’It takes 10 years to master the saber, and a 100 years to master the sword!’’
Sword Arts were immeasurably deep and profound, Qing Shui knew deep in his heart that if he wanted to master the path of the sword, he would definitely need to expend tremendous amounts of efforts and time. In any case, Qing Shui was not worried. After all, he was the sovereign of the Realm of the Violet Jade immortal.
The sword follows the body, the body leads the sword, a sword user must be able to attain the state of sword and body as one, body and Qi as one, Qi and Spirit as one. Although Qing Shui was only in the beginning realm of sword users, he could still roughly understand some of the laws of the profoundness of the sword arts!
What Qing Shui understood was, using Qi to control one's sword, the breath and execution of the sword techniques must complement each other in addition to one's form and footwork. However, regarding Qi and Spirit as one, Qing Shui had not the slightest clue about it.
However, he did not need to fully comprehend this now. What Qing Shui needed to currently attain, were the three mantras associated with sword arts! Swift, Accurate, Decisive. Especially for the first mantra, Swift!
Currently, Qing Shui, with the strength of one, could already defeat 10. Now, if he managed to successfully comprehend the meaning of swift, he would be akin to a tiger that had grown wings!
Swift! Qing Shui, in order to comprehend the meaning of swiftness, unceasingly tried out different forms of sword attacks, altering their angles.
Just like this, Qing Shui decided to practice the most elementary form of all sword movements. Drawing his sword from the scabbard, Returning his sword back to the scabbard, Iaido. What Qing Shui currently wanted to master, was the Iaido  technique.
This was because Iaido only placed emphasis on Swiftness. Once the sword is drawn, one must kill. Swift to the point of dazzling your opponents, leaving the opponent with no chance to defend!