Possessing Nothing - Chapter 83
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‘I see the way of Shaolin.
I feel the way of Shaolin.’
Lee Sung-min thought as he finished his spar with Jihak.
He had already placed down his trusty spear and put his armour away, unceasingly swinging his cheap spear. Jihak’s martial arts, which was claimed to be one of the best in Shaolin, seemed fathomless. Jihak, who had learned martial arts from all of Shaolin’s beasts and had lived in the spirit of inspiration and sincerity since childhood, could be said to have incorporated with the spirit of Shaolin itself.
It wasn’t difficult for Lee Sung-min to understand why the Grand Master entrusted his guidance to Jihak. Jihak was able to perform the seventy-two arts of Shaolin like no other. That meant that Jihak alone could take on the role of seventy-two No-Class warriors alone using the arts he had mastered.
Jihak was also as good at teaching as he was at martial arts. So far, Lee Sung-min had been taught by two people. Wijihyeon and Baek Sogo. Truthfully, neither Wijihyeon or Baek Sogo were great teachers. Wijihyeon was a brilliant genius who was able to repair and adapt the martial arts for Lee Sung-min’s body, but she was unable to properly teach Lee Sung-min everything. What Wijihyeon could do for Lee Sung-min was to fill in the gaps of basic Jihak that Lee Sung-min lacked, and to make his foundation strong.
The same was true for Baek Sogo. Lee Sung-min received the No Shadow-Spirit Stealing Steps from Baek Sogo: but unlike Baek Sogo, who used to perform the technique perfectly, Lee Sung-min was unable to easily adapt to No Shadow-Spirit Stealing Steps. It was because of the concept and memory of “heaviness” that Lee Sung-min had in the mountains of Mush. No matter how hard he tried to make his Qi flow, if his body wasn’t suitable, it would be hard for Qi to flow at all. In addition, Baek Sogo had a lot of difficulty guiding others in martial arts because of her unusual way of communicating, hence making it a bit hard for her to converse clearly.
But Jihak was different. Could it be due to the education of all the Shaolin warriors he had received since childhood? He was really good at teaching.
Although there was a big difference between Ohsung’s five-star character and Lee Sung-min’s five-pointed star, Jihak knew what he needed to instill in Lee Sung-min.
“It’s just to give you a lot of experience.”
Jihak wasn’t just all about action. He repeated his daily routine with Lee Sung-min until he was exhausted. Every time he moved, Jihak changed the martial arts he was performing.
How weak. How poor. How lacking. Lee Sung-min sat down and thought the same thing everyday. Jihak was really indomitable. When Lee Sung-min was short of breath and sat down, Jihak’s breath was still unhurried. The martial arts that Lee Sung-min had displayed with all his strength could not threaten Jihak. The attack that Jihak had casually thrown out had still penetrated Lee Sung-min’s defense.
“Expand your field of view. See more. Understand your opponents before you strike them. To practise martial arts means to utilise your body the most efficiently. No one can easily escape an armed person. If you’re a master of Qi, you’ll be able to launch invisible attacks through Qi, but even so, there are limits to ideal movements using your body and weapons.”
Swords and spears are straight weapons. Depending on how you use your joints and muscles and how you swing them, you can create disturbances in the other’s defense and offense. Mix Qi with it to increase speed and weight, and draw afterimages to create confusion.
“You have to see more clearly what you see before trying to delve into what you don’t see. Your senses are weirdly tangled. Your sixth sense is impeccable, but your five normal senses are dull. Your cultivation so far has led you to a high level, but at the same time, it has also stagnated your growth. You learned how to ride a horse before you even learned to walk. ”
Jihak was unfair. Cultivation on Mush’s mountain forced Lee Sung-min to face a wall and blocking the senses broke them. As soon those senses were blocked, his sixth sense awoke and he became dependent on it. But he couldn’t rely on it. His eyes were shut, his ears pricked up, and his nose felt stuffed.
“Lee Sung-min. You are not using everything you have.”
It was necessary to sharpen his dull senses. He was aware that it was necessary, but he had never done so properly.
“Your method is comparable to a martial art. It’s only the basics after all. If basic deception could overcome martial arts, why would those martial arts exist? The basics are nothing more than assisting them to better master martial arts.”
Rana technique was the basic skill Lee Sung-min practiced every day. He was more focused on the performance of Rana technique than the Nine Heavenly Spear Techniques. This was also an act of escape. He had felt impatient that the level of the Nine Heavenly Spear Techniques was no longer rising. He had felt that his qualities were too insufficient to stand up for this great martial art.
So he ran away. Rana technique was more familiar and easy to use than the Nine Heavenly Spear Technique.
Namgung Hee-won had told Lee Sung-min. He said that his basic skill was on the level of masters. But there was a significant lack of other creative methods. Namgung Hee-won had said it was because of his lack of experience. Jihak had given him the same evaluation.
“Why did you run away?”
But not now. Jihak fought with Lee Sung-min continuously to learn and understand his weaknesses.
“I’m learning excellent methods too. Why did you insist on learning the basics? ” He tried to push Lee Sung-min’s buttons.
“… Because I was lacking.”
“So did you give up on learning? Many who have only learnt the Samjae method can only dream of this.”
Jihak’s face while saying that was extremely cold. He has always shown a kind expression, but right now, there was no trace of his previous self.
“I am not criticizing those who have learned only the Samjae method. Would they have learnt it because they wanted to learn the Samjae method? No, even if they wanted to break through a different way, they couldn’t. It’s just that type of martial art. The better the martial arts, the harder it is for you to learn it without sufficient talent and skill. Yes, you can’t count out luck. Tell me, those who have not mastered their respective martial arts … would they not have felt the thirst to learn other kinds of martial arts? ”
He knew how awful that thirst was. Lee Sung-min, a former student, learned second-class martial arts. He had always thought about wanting to learn a better martial art but never could. Because he had no luck.
“Lee Sung-min. You have mastered outstanding martial arts through repeated practice. In my experience, most of the practitioners who have been walking around for a lifetime had learnt martial arts from a young age. Nevertheless, many abandoned martial arts and ran away, afraid of facing their weaknesses. Why… have you devoted yourself to it?”
Lee Sung-min could not answer. Jihak sighed as he looked at his face.
“… I’ll be frank. Sungmin Lee. You are not a genius.”
“It’s not that Ohsung is excellent. The process of learning and feeling may not be fast. But that doesn’t mean you should give up easily.”
“I don’t know what your goal is. However… Lee Sung-min. If I got an opportunity that others didn’t want, I think I would do as much as they would have on their behalf. ”
“… I know.”
He nodded with a sigh.
“I know I’ve run away so far.”
‘Even though I had the opportunity I wanted, I ran away.’
“I don’t want to run away anymore.”
Jihak’s face softened. He bowed his head.
“The path of martial arts is endless. If you want to gain success, and dismiss potential competitors, you must devote yourself without rest and move forward. It is not only about knowing what you lack, but also to acknowledge it and overcome. Don’t be swallowed up by despair. If you can’t fly, you have to run. If you can’t run, you must walk. If you can’t walk, you have to crawl. If you can’t, you can contribute in other ways. It’s important that you act as you please.”
“Are you flying?” Lee Sung-min asked, eyebrows raised.
“The world is vast. I thought I was flying, but when I met Wijihyeon, the Minor Heavenly Demon, I realized what kind of person really had wings. I am not flying. But I want to.”
‘What about me?’
What do caterpillars in the ground want? Do they want to crawl out of the cold ground? Lee Sung-min wanted to walk rather than wriggle and creep. He wanted to run rather than walk. He wanted to fly with wings rather than running.
Compared to Mush, practicing Shaolin wasn’t as difficult. There were no taboos here, and there were no rewards for taboos and trials. But there was Jihak. Jihak, a genius with incomparable talent, gave Lee Sung-min more than anything he could ask for.
In his life so far, Lee Sung-min had learnt by himself alone most of the time. It was narrow. The world seen by Sungmin Lee, who was alone, was too narrow. On the mountain of Mush, he felt that the world changed, but its size remained the same. As he descended the mountain of Mush, Lee Sung-min experienced repeated defeat and despair. He realized how wide the world was.
Lee Sung-min stood at the peak at the break of dawn. The brightness of the morning sun rising from the mountain top made Lee Sung-min’s eyes wet, and the air of the cold dawn made his heart freeze. What he should see and feel wasn’t Shaolin. What he really needed to see and feel was the world, not Shaolin.
The world was big and he was small. Just as caterpillars in the ground acknowledged the darkness as their whole world, so had he. He didn’t want to be a caterpillar. He didn’t want to be a cicada. He didn’t want to see the narrowed view of the world he had.
‘I want to fly. I dream of flying even without wings. I am dreaming of flying even though I have never flown,’ he thought while breathing heavily, watching the sky turn a light pink, with sunlight spreading out. ‘The wide world – I want to fly! I want the small, trivial me to see the world.’
The seasons changed.
Everyday life had not. Lee Sung-min was constantly fighting, constantly berating himself. Since some time ago, Jihak’s teaching had become action, not words. Instead of a conversation, their martial arts spoke to each other. Was he changing? He was changing. Did he want to walk? He wanted to fly. What did he want to be?
When he turned 19, the Grand Master came out of the cave. It was a little over half a year since Lee Sung-min had lived at the entrance at the cave. In all that time, Lee Sung-min had never seen the Grand Master come out of the cave.
“Oh? You’ve changed. ”
The Grand Master from the cave had a face similar to what he had seen half a year ago. Still, he looked more like an old ghost than a devastating monk. Lee Sung-min bowed his head as he watched him smile, his wrinkles deepening.
“Is the frog in the well trying to leave it? If you are a martial artist, you can live happily in a well. What more do you want? ”
“I want to see the world.”
He giggled. “Anyone can see the world. Anyone can do it. ”
With that said, Grand Master Bul-yeong stood behind him.
“If you are not satisfied with what you see and want to see the world, you will have to be a giant. Do you want to be a giant? ”
“I want to fly.”
He giggled again. “The wind is harsh. You’re not going to be a giant and look down, but you want to have wings and put the world underneath? You are too small for that.”
Lee Sung-min smiled bitterly and nodded.
“But I want to dream. I don’t want to stop dreaming.”
“What have you done in the past year? “Asked Grand Master Bul-yeong.
Lee Sung-min closed his eyes.
“I learned to crawl. It feels amazing.”
Grand Master Bul-yeong laughed as he saw Lee Sung-min reminiscise.
“Now I want to learn to walk.”
The Grand Master heard that and chuckled as he went back into the cave. Lee Sung-min turned around towards the sky.
The sky was bright, lit up by the powerful rays of the Sun.
This translation belongs to Centinni.