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Part II: Balancing Offence and Defence
Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:18 (XFF:

Styr sighed, and then scowled. Sighing… He seemed to be doing far too much of that today. He was not a fair-haired maiden, to go sighing about the woes of his life. True, a majority of the class seemed incompetent to the point of a joke. He would have thought some of them might have gathered that they were meant to be practising the moves he had taught them, but apparently his instructions had been too vague. Already he had been forced to summon one of the other Dedicated to give an Initiate healing, twice! And there had been at least three inter-Tower scuffles which he’d had to break up. This was as bad as he had predicted, and worse… If the M’Hael heard of these petty squabbles between the Accepted and Dedicated, he would have his head on the Traitors Tree!

Growling with all the menace of a small Trolloc, Styr wove Air and Fire.

Initiates. Into ranks now.’ The best thing about Power-enhanced speech, was that one did not have to shout. Styr’s rough voice echoed menacingly across the Grounds, and was preceded by a relatively quick return to ranks. Lessening the weave, but retaining enough volume to be heard without shouting, he picked up his Knife once more and turned to his students.

‘All right. It seems that some of you cannot follow instructions to the letter. When I say the objective is to knock down, not beat into bloody pulp, I expect even you Accepted to get the picture.’ Some of the Accepted shifted resentfully, but none dared speak out whilst in the minority. Not so much of a minority it seemed. The Soldiers and Dedicated were eying him irritably as well. Styr barely suppressed another sigh.

‘Regardless, we shall continue.’ Taking up the centre-stance once more, Styr engaged his students. ‘Hopefully you will have gathered that the central part of knifework is in the balance- the maintaining of and exploitation of. To this extent, attacks must primarily let you keep that centre of balance and stop your enemy from exploiting it in return. So, small thrusts and slashes- for the sickle blade- to the face preferably; to blind and shock.’ Styr demonstrated with a sickle blade- short and defensive attacks to an imagined enemy’s face. ‘Or smooth combos such as this ‘Tri-attack technique’ with the Sleeve.’

Pivoting on his front foot, Styr delivered an uppercut the imaginary foe’s midriff, followed the move through into a horizontal slash across the face, and then pirouetted to a finishing stab with his back turned- knife thrust out behind him. It was a fast move, relying on the continuation of the one move to maintain balance; so Styr moved through it once again, accentuating the moves.

‘There are no particular forms in this weapon as there are in Swordsmanship, but attacks should follow several simple rules. One, they generally come combos of three- the most solid and fast. Two, they can be extended and the effect heightened when combined with defensive measures such as I showed you before; depending, of course, on the skill of the fighter.’ Styr added a sardonic smile at this to the recruits eyeing him with particular dislike.

‘And three, they can generally only be executed when not broken by an opponents block. Kandrik, if you please.’ The Shienaran Dedicated was a good fighter, and Styr needed to make an example to wake those with short attention spans up. When the man had taken up position before him, Styr nodded. ‘Now, put yourself in defensive position.’ He almost smiled as the man followed his instructions to perfection. The class was not a complete loss then. ‘And block my attacks.’

Slow enough to show the students what he was doing, Styr delivered a series of blockable attacks to the face and upper body. Then, sly as a fox, he delivered a small kick to the other man’s shin; putting him off balance. In an instant, he took advantage of the shift of weight, and forcing Kandrik’s defences aside he delivered the three light raps to the upper, lower and midriff. Yet he was not surprised when his ambitious fourth blow was blocked, his balance rattled, and a single blow landed on his forearm.

Smiling genuinely for the first time that day, Styr relaxed his position, and turned back to the audience with a placating gesture to the older Shienaran.

‘If the combo is broken by the opponent, as Kandrik just showed, then it leaves you open to retaliation while your balance is shaky. This is why balance is the centre of knifework. Often neither opponent will draw blood before he, or she, can get their foe off-balance and open to any combos.’ Styr dropped his lathe, and moved to the forefront once again.

‘Now, I want you to practice combining offences and defences into combos while keeping your balance. Trust me, it’s harder than it looks.’ Styr made a quick tally of the students, and then channelled quickly. A dozen or so red circles, one or two feet in diameter, appeared on the ground. Styr gestured to them. ‘These are Wards. When you feel ready, challenge yourself to step into the circles and execute the combos without losing your balance or crossing the line while executing. If you step outside the circle, this will happen.’ Styr crossed one of the lines, and a sound like a cannon firing boomed across the Grounds, making everyone jump. He smiled with dark humour.

‘Call it a little incentive to work harder. Now, begin. Practice, then try the Circles.’

OOC: OK, sorry if it went on a bit. Basic aim to practice the attacks Styr showed, then link them into combos, with blocks etc if you want some variety. Then try the circle-ward challenge. If that doesn’t keep you busy for 500-600 words, I don’t know what will! Part Three’ll be up on Thursday. ~Tom

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