Chapter 18 Skills Competition in the Quarter
Due to the silence that night, Yan Liqiang managed to have a good night’s sleep. The next day, at around five in the morning, Yan Liqiang got up as usual and began his customary morning training.
After attaining mastery in the Horse stance, he found that sure enough, everything became easier. Now it was a lot smoother when he practiced various stances and techniques that were contained in the ‘Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Manual’. During the course of his training through the entire set of techniques, he realized that the rate of the energy he absorbed and devoured, as well as the Spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, had increased significantly. When he compared the results to those of the previous days, the effect seemed to have doubled. Yan Liqiang could even feel the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth was being engulfed and merged into his body while also slowly but surely being guided into his limbs, bones as well as his flesh and blood, constantly cleansing them as he practiced each individual stance of the technique.
After having finished practicing the Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing techniques, he tried to practice the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist again. It resulted in another sight to behold. The Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist that Yan Liqiang had been training in for almost nine years had undergone a complete transformation. Its formidable power had now increased by more than seven or eight fold.
Yan Liqiang’s figure was extremely quick and ferocious without compare. Every time he punched with his fist, the fierce thundering roar of a tiger could be heard from the blast of wind created. This made it not only look very awe-inspiring, but it was also extraordinarily terrifying. To top it off, he had only practiced the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist halfway, but a green glow had started appearing from behind Yan Liqiang’s back. Within that light was the illusory image of a bold, powerful and eye-catching tiger.
When the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist had been trained to the degree of displaying a martial Dharmic projection, it was a sign of having attained the fourth layer of the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist.
Yan Liqiang was taken aback when he sensed the Dharmic projection of the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist technique appearing behind him. Prior to yesterday, he felt that the force of his Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist should still be somewhere within the second layer. Upon attaining the Horse Stance stage, he initially thought that as long as he cultivated for a couple of days, it shouldn’t pose much of a problem to advance the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist to the third layer. The sign that indicated having advanced into the third layer was a tiger roar which was emitted when the punch was thrown. But what was out of his expectations was the fact that it didn’t even require much training. All he had done was just wake up after sleeping, then when he began to train his fist again, the roar of a tiger erupted the instant he punched with his fist technique. Without any clamor, his technique had already entered the third layer. While he continued training midway, the Dharmic projection of the technique had already revealed itself to have entered the fourth layer. Just a single round of fist technique practice allowed the realm of his fist technique to consecutively leap two layers, advancing into the fourth layer without any slight hindrance in between.
This matter had allowed Yan Liqiang to personally experience what it meant by ‘to desire training the fist, one would have to train in the fundamentals first’. It had also made Yan Liqiang feel incredibly amazed from deep down because this was simply unheard of.
Could it be that the foundation for the Horse Stance was really that important to martial cultivation? Or was it because of the fact that he was cultivating the Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing technique?
Doubt uncontrollably surfaced from Yan Liqiang’s heart, however, the current him was incapable of distinguishing as to why it would be like this. But in any case, this was a good thing so he felt that he did not need to worry. All he needed to do was to let nature take its course.
After he had finished with practicing the Tiger Roaring Consecutive Fist, Yan Liqiang’s entire body felt at ease. After suppressing and calming his Qi for a few minutes, he felt that it was almost time for breakfast, so he left.
When he was eating breakfast, Yan Liqiang caught a glimpse of various Weaponsmiths Quarter’s soldiers and noticed that the expressions the soldiers were eyeing him with, were different from before. A few days back, the soldiers had met Yan Liqiang with friendly expressions. But today, apart from their friendly expressions, their gaze held a trace of reverence as well.
Yan Liqiang knew that was the result of his performance last night. In a world dominated by martial arts, a man who displayed the potential of a mighty expert would be respected regardless of where he went.
Such a feeling was indeed amazing.
Everyone talked and laughed as they finished their breakfast, before leaving the dining hall together. As Yan Liqiang was about to walk out of the dining hall, he noticed that the head of the soldiers, squad commander Zhou Yong, had been staring straight at him, seemingly hesitant about speaking. The majority of the soldiers surrounding them were also quietly shifting their gaze attentively towards him.
"Big Brother Zhou, is something the matter?" Yan Liqiang took the initiative to approach and greet Zhou Yong.
Zhou Yong first gave a quick scan of his surroundings. After discovering that no other smiths were in the vicinity, he furrowed his brows at Yan Liqiang before closing in and whispering, "Master Yan, are you available this morning?"
Master Yan? Yesterday, Zhou Yong had still addressed him as Young Master Yan. But even though the address that he had used today was only shorter by a single word, the appeal it brought was completely different.
"Of course I’m available!" nodded Yan Liqiang.
"It’s like this…" He rubbed his hands together as he spoke, making Zhou Yong seem like he was slightly embarrassed. "My brothers under me had their curiosity slightly piqued after witnessing Master Yan pass the Horse Stance stage last night. Today, they would like Master Yan to drop by our barracks to give them pointers on their techniques and maybe even have some friendly matches together. Would you..."
Yan Liqiang understood it all at once from the moment Zhou Yong had brought it up. He could empathize with how the high school graduates who wanted to get into Project 985 and Project 211 must have felt when they saw the top scorers in the college entrance examinations were accepted into Qinghua University and Peking University. Similarly so, he could also guess how the soldiers of the Weaponsmiths Quarter must have felt when they saw him last night. Initially, Yan Liqiang had planned on heading up the mountains to examine the extent of his strength increase after having passed the Horse Stance stage. Upon hearing Zhou Yong’s invitation, he changed his mind at once. If he wanted to examine his own strength, then perhaps the best method for doing so was for him to go Weaponsmiths Quarter’s barracks.
"I’m free anyway, and since my big brothers want to have friendly matches with me, then let’s head there together. At the same time, I can also learn from Big Brother Zhou and company..."
Seeing that Yan Liqiang was showing such respect towards them and even went as far as to flatter them with such pleasing words, Zhou Yong and each and every one of his soldiers found themselves breaking into a smile. Everyone merrily laughed as they escorted Yan Liqiang to their barracks.
Although the soldiers’ camp was referred to as the ‘barracks’, in reality, it was just a bigger and more spacious courtyard within the Weaponsmiths Quarter.
The courtyard wasn’t that far away from the one that Yan Liqiang was currently residing in. It was less than a hundred meters. Within the barracks were three lines of buildings that formed a concave shape when seen as a whole. In the middle of the three lines of buildings was a field roughly the size of about three to four basketball courts. The ground of the empty field was covered with sandy soil. Just outside of that field was their holding place for a variety of items such as weapons, wooden targets and stone locks used for training in the surrounding area. This was the place that the soldiers would normally train in.
Apart from the men that were stationed to guard the entrance to the Weaponsmiths Quarter at this time, every other soldier within the Quarter were gathered currently together. It was difficult for all of them to mask the exhilaration they felt.
Yan Liqiang glanced at the site and nodded. Cutting to the chase, he asked, "Big Brother Zhou, how do you want to compete?"
Zhou Yong pointed towards a white ring that had been drawn using white chalk located in the middle of the field. "How about we compete in the push-wrestling ring first?"
Yan Liqiang also smiled and nodded. "Sure!"
In this world, push-wrestling ring was a popular type of skills competition game. From the rich and powerful clans, aristocrats and royalty living in the big city all the way down to the peasants and farmers residing in the remote countryside, this was a game that was well-loved by everyone. This game could be played by the elderly from the age of ninety down to six or seven-year-old kids. Furthermore, it was particularly easy to play. Back when Yan Liqiang was staying at Liuhe Town, he frequently played the game along with the other young lads that were of the same age. In the military, this game was also a favorite of countless soldiers.
A skills competition game of push-wrestling ring would first require a site. Should they have a spot, regardless of whether it was a meadow, sandy beach, land, or even the hall of a house, they would draw a ring with a radius anywhere from one to five meter on the ground. The size of the ring could be big or small as it would vary depending on the number of people participating.
After having secured a proper location, everyone could now participate in the skills competition game of push-wrestling ring.
The rules to play the game was simple; participants stood inside of the ring and push their opponent out to be victorious. They only needed to watch out for one thing; while they were still in the ring, they were not allowed to either hit with their hands or kick with their feet to push their opponent out. Apart from this, there were no other restrictions. They could push, drag, pull with their hands, bump with their shoulders, collide with their bodies, hook them with their feet or trip the opponent all they wanted. Even throwing the opponent down was not an issue.
The game could be played pitting one player against another, one against many or many against many. Even a bunch of people were allowed to join in the fight for a battle royale.
Although the rules and methods for the game of push-wrestling ring appeared simple, it was not. This was because participating in the push-wrestling ring would put a person’s might, flexibility, judgment, agility, and reflexes to the test, all the while trying to outlast their opponent. It was not a fight, but a pseudo-fight. Throughout the entire game, there would be an extremely high level of competitiveness. It had the sense of a real combat, while still maintaining a slight harmony between the players so the players would not be severely injured and would unlikely end the game in hostility. Hence, this explained why this game would be so highly received by all social classes and why even the military would use this game of push-wrestling ring to train the soldiers’ stamina and reflexes.
In regards to this, it was somewhat similar to the sumo wrestling sport prevalent during the ancient times in China. But when compared to the sumo wrestling sport, it was more flexible and shared a closer resemblance to a genuine martial battle.
In his previous life, soccer was the number one sport on Earth. When compared to soccer, this push-wrestling ring game in this world was not inferior to soccer in any aspect. The majority of the big cities would even have a specialized push-wrestling establishment, arranging people to participate in push-wrestling ring competitions as well as lotteries.
Before he got beaten down by Hong Tao in the arena in Liuhe Town, Yan Liqiang was the number one in the push-wrestling ring skills competition amongst all of the youngsters in town. Basically, he won more matches than he lost. For the youngsters in town, none of them could even be said to be Yan Liqiang’s match.
Under the strict discipline of Yan Liqiang’s tiger dad, Yan Dechang, this was the only game he was allowed to play since he was young.
Being the first one to enter the ring of this push-wrestling ring game caused Yan Liqiang to smile, "Which amongst these big brothers would like to compete with me?"
One by one, the surrounding soldiers were eager to volunteer. Yet, Zhou Yong cast his gaze at the man with the most sturdy build among the soldiers.
"I’ll do it..." said the mighty youth in a gruff voice, he had a height of more than 190cm, weighing almost two times more than Yan Liqiang. He walked out of the crowd and entered the ring while rolling up his sleeves.
Yan Liqiang parted his legs and casually took his place. He extended his hands and said, "Please."
"Please!" The soldier stepped forth with a Bow Stance, his pair of hands instantly reaching out to press against Yan Liqiang’s hands before he began to apply pressure.
In the starting round, none of them used any fancy tricks and competed directly with each other using only their physical strength.
The young soldier took on the posture of a Bow-and-Arrow Stance to resist against Yan Liqiang’s forceful push. They had only just locked hands and the young soldier was already exerting his full strength, his entire body akin to a farm cattle plowing through. He had his head hung low while pushing his feet back with all his might. His body propelled forward, intent on shoving Yan Liqiang out of the ring. Yet, Yan Liqiang, on the other hand, was bracing himself with his hands before his chest.
"Come on!""Come on!""Come on!" The surrounding spectators began to shout loudly, stirring everyone up. Abruptly, the atmosphere turned tumultuous.
Slowly, the bulky youth’s breathing became heavy, his face gradually flushed red and his forehead covered in a sheen of sweat.
Yan Liqiang was taking in the force coming from his opponent’s hands. His heart was starting to slowly calm down. If this was him in the past, he absolutely would not have been able to endure such force. But today, Yan Liqiang felt his legs were akin to wooden stakes being nailed to the ground when he stood there, rooted to the spot, his lower body as firm and steady as Mt Tai...
This was the power of cultivating the fundamentals of martial cultivation...