Description: Daisuke comes to the Todoh-Ryuu dojo to take Kasumi up on her offer of a lesson. They discuss the finer details of martial arts, his reasons for wanting to pursue training, and whether Todoh-Ryuu will truly be for him. Kasumi is not a natural saleswoman, but perhaps she has at least helped him think about his path!
Truth be told, the concept of 'martial arts' seemed to always be something beyond the adopted, amnesiac boy.
It's not that the boy didn't try to fight. Even before his foster father passed away, the boy was insistent on trying to defend people from bullies at school and on the streets. He even toured some of the martial arts at his old school.
But none of it could ever take.
In the school halls, his skill was never good enough to not get beaten up by the other cruel boys who outnumbered him. In the gym halls and dojos set aside for the martial arts clubs, even if his body could keep up, his mind could not maintain the knowledge parted to him. It might have been as if though something was holding him back, but there truly was only one thing people could say of him and his foray there...
That the boy was an abject failure.
The boy would always be weak.
And the boy believed it all too.
And yet, something still blazed inside of him one day--
The hiragana proclaiming the home of the (supposedly?) prestigious style paint the old-fashioned building in the heart of Southtown Village -- the northern district of Southtown where the metropolitan crush of the city proper gives way for something much less claustrophobic, less noisy.
And in front of the dojo stands Daisuke Kubo, in a dark-blue tracksuit that contrasts painfully with his unusually-red hair, holding neurotically onto the shoulder strap of a gym bag and staring at the sign with visible hesitation.
"...What am I doing...?"
He still struggled with some issue of self-consciousness, perhaps. Like he was almost definitely somewhere he did not belong in. Someplace he had absolutely no right to be in. And yet, it was someplace he was specifically invited to.
It wouldn't be right to say no to that, no matter how strange it feels.
Eventually, the red-haired boy manages to steel himself with a few light slaps to the side of his face, and takes the plunge, the few decisive steps to carry him to the front door, slide it open and step inside the Todoh-Ryuu Dojo.
Todoh-Ryuu Kobojutsu. It had, indeed, been a prestigious school once. Ryuhaku Todoh has been the mentor to many students. Some good, some bad. But after his catastrophic defeat at the hands of Ryo, not merely a beating but a savagely one-sided beating, there are precious few who have stayed with the school. Those who have, have not done so out of loyalty to Ryuhaku. The school's ostensiable Master is off training, traveling the world, anything he can do to run away from the site of his failure - at least, that's how Kasumi thinks of it in her darker moments. The dojo has been left to the students who have stood by him, and chief amongst those is Kasumi.
The young woman labours daily to keep the flame of the Todoh family style alive, and that isn't just about her family legacy - though that is, of course, part of it. No, Kasumi is so utterly dedicated to the school because she truly believes that it is a style that deserves to be lauded as the truest expression of Japanese martial arts. The lessons she has learned, the lessons she seeks to impart in those who study under her, are about more than just pride and vanity. They are about the strength and determination, the will to succeed in spite of adversity, and the discipline to live one's life in accordance with the strictures of honour and tradition.
It is for that reason she knows that one day her father will return, and when he does, they will reclaim their honour from the Kyokugen warriors.
When the door opens and reveals Daisuke, he finds her mopping the floors. The building is old and has definitely seen better days; the funds to maintain it simply are not there. But what remains has been carefully tended to with the utmost dedication and love.
"I told you, you will have your money at the end of the week, not bef-" She starts, only to do a double take when she sees who it is who has actually come to visit. It's... that strange young man from the school? The one who had been bullied? She had almost forgotten about that. The possibility that he would actually come and hear what she had to say had not occurred to her.
"Ah. Daisuke-san. Apologies. I thought you were... somebody else." She says, setting the mop back into the bucket and moving to greet the younger man properly. She bows smoothly, indicating proper respect.
"I apologise for my conduct at your school." She says, "Truly. I was... impulsive. I hope that I have not made any further trouble for you? It was not my intent to make your life more difficult, and I am glad that you have decided to come and see me here. As you can see... lessons are, not in high demand at present. But perhaps that is a good thing? After all, I can afford to give you my undivided attention."
She forces a smile, and tries, hard, not to feel utterly ridiculous doing it. There was a time when the halls of the dojo would ring with the sounds of students practicing, and it felt like the world respected the Todoh-Ryuu. Now, she's reduced to hoping that this young man who thought it appropriate to wear a tracksuit to training wouldn't have second thoughts about the arrangement...
In Daisuke's defense, he has somehow managed to go completely unaware to the history of Todoh-Ryuu or the story behind it's current state-- so the sight of an empty hall is, indeed, a surprising one, to him.
Though the greeting the sole instructor inside blindly gives him works to cause just as much pause in the young man.
The redhead is left to standing at the doorway for a moment to simply process those few words that she let slip, before the sight of Kasumi's bow brings him back to reality with the instinct demanding he mirror the gesture in kind.
"Pardon my intrustion," is quickly muttered before he crosses the rest of the threshold, the door slid closed behind him before he works to kicking his shoes off.
"It is fine, Todoh-sa-... er, sensei. It didn't trouble me much. Er..." After stepping on the hardwood-boarded floor, he stops short, hesitation briefly playing over his face. THe pause is partly affected by the first touch of emotion licking at his senses, and in part by his own momentary concern over what brain came up with on the potential reasons behind the words she first tossed towards the door.
"I know it's not really my place, but... who did you think was coming in first, exactly?"
Kasumi's expression hardens a little at the question. "You're right, that isn't your place." She says, perhaps a little more sharply than she had intended to. She seems to realise that almost immediately, and sighs, running her hand through her hair, "Ara, ara. It's nothing for you to worry about. There are just always more bills to pay than there are students to pay them these days. That's for me and the Master to worry about, though. Not you. Something will come along. It always does."
She somewhat doubts that the something in question is the young man who was being pushed around just a few days before, though. Not that she thinks particularly poorly of Daisuke, but it is hard to envisage that the redheaded young man walking through her dojo's door might somehow herald a reversal in fortunes that all the effort she has put into it has refused to bring about.
"You're here to discuss the finer points of self-defence, not how to run a dojo as a business." She says, and at least the momentary distraction has wiped the fake smile from her face. Kasumi has never been any good at hiding her emotions, and it is much less unnerving to talk to her when her serious and solemn expression reflects the emotion in her heart.
"We didn't have time to get into things much at your school." She says, "So allow me to explain the basics of Todoh-Ryuu Kobojutsu. In brief, we study all the greatest elements of traditional Japanese styles, and bring them together into a more modern whole. If you study with us, you will learn the basics of aikido, jujutsu, aikido, kobuto and kendo. We prefer not to dwell on the elements of these styles which require weapons, as the entire ethos of the school is that the best means of defense is by neutralising an attack before it has a chance to strike, and relying on more than your own body to achieve that can leave you vulnerable. Do you follow so far?"
"...Ah. Of course, I'm, uh... My apologies."
Daisuke is quick to dip his head down in a gesture of deference, cheeks flushing slightly from the embarrassment over the social faux-pas that was very clearly not appreciated.
Well, either way, it's really much too late to be turning around and walking away in shame. He did promise he would at least attend one lesson with her.
And thus, the boy braves himself further on inside, but keeps himself standing for now. And facing Kasumi, for that matter. Something about her presence keeps him inclined to stay standing as upright and firm as he can, too, at that, while she speaks to him. No interruptions made, just a few nods here and there to signal that he is, in fact, listening.
"I think so..." He offers in answer when she prompts him, though his head does tilt slightly to one side, curiously. "Judging from what you're saying and... well, what you did back at school... Your style is more focused on throws than strikes, then? Is... that an incorrect assumption to make?"
"Throws are an integral part of the style, yes." Kasumi says, happy to concentrate on this - something where she feels she has a solid grounding and can in fact talk as an expert. "But it would be a mistake to think that we prioritise throws to the exclusion of all else. There are circumstances where it is necessary to strike, and even where it is necessary to harness the chi that flows through all living things. Allow me to demonstrate."
She walks over to the training dummies set up on the far side of the room. They are clearly... well-loved, that would be the charitable way to put it. Obviously repaired time and again for all the use that the students of the school have demanded of them over the years. "You already saw one of the more complicated throws." She says, "Using the momentum of an attacker to bring them over your shoulder and put them on the ground."
She moves through the motion again, but slower of course. Catching the dummy's imaginary arm, she mimes the twist and the throw, but doesn't complete it. "However, this requires some space. Consider this, instead."
Her hands come up to 'catch' the arm of the dummy, "If I have achieved this, but I can't throw them, I am also vulnerable unless I act quickly, like so." And her leg SNAPS out with a resounding crack against the wood, slamming her leg hard into what would be the gut of her imagined attacker. "This is where we bring in more than just traditional aikido, to make something greater than the whole."
And then she steps backwards, and takes a deep breath, hands coming together in front of her stomach. "And then there's the energy that flows through the world. There are times when you need to harness that, too. I imagine you've seen fighters do such things at a distance?"
"I see..." Daisuke has hardly t
"I see..." Daisuke has hardly even the basic understanding of martial arts as a whole. Just enough to at least differentiate, say, 'aikido' from 'karate' or 'boxing'. At least he is making the effort to keep track of the information his would-be teacher is providing him in her lecture.
But there is one universal language that everyone can understand. ANd that universal language is what Kasumi brings out when she moves on to the dummies with... uh, a lot of experience behind them, to provide more of a visual element for her explanation.
Mind you, the mimicing of a throw is a bit more difficult for Daisuke to visualize. But that's not the apex of her display here, thankfully.
The quick, powerful kick into the wooden dummy makes the redhead jump subtly in place, wincing from the echo of the crack alone while he gazes upon the display with slightly-widened eyes. When the initial surprise fades away, the expression speaks vvery much of the same awe that he held when she first displayed her skill back at Taiyo.
"I understand," he offers with a bit more enthusiasm too, nodding his head a few times over. The subject of... 'energy' has him growing a touch more hesitant, however.
"I, uh..." He mumbles, and purposefully turns his gaze... well, *away* from Kasumi. "I've seen it, yeah..." It's... a reaction that's a bit more on the strange side, perhaps. The boy is leaving something unsaid.
The reaction doesn't go unnoticed. In fact, Kasumi is paying a lot of attention to Daisuke's reactions overall. She knows that throws are a difficult thing to work with in this environment - really, you can't get better than actually throwing someone else to understand the motion, but if she's reading the boy anywhere close to right, she doesn't think he's at the stage where he's going to be comfortable with a sparring partner. Though, at least he doesn't seem to have been put off at all by the fact that she is a woman. His classmates and fellows had made it clear that not all of them were quite as enlightened as him.
The more disturbed reaction to energy, though, is clearly a little concerning. She frowns faintly, and turns back to face him completely. There were a few reasons why that could be, but ultimately, she wasn't going to get anywhere with assumptions - she is already making quite a few about this boy and what it is he is hoping to achieve.
"What's the matter?" She asks, blunt and direct. "Did you have a bad experience, or are you doubting your ability to harness such forces?"
Ah, damnit. This is perhaps when Daisuke realizes he really needs to work on improving his poker face for when he's not wearing a mask.
"T-that's..." He starts, only to purposefully take a hard, mental left and force his voice to drifting off, as he subconsciously ends up bringing one foot to skidding slightly backwards along the hard floor.
"...It's nothing, really," he outright lies, with a shake of his head, trying to force an akward smile to his lips after the fact. "I just, uh... I guess I don't think I'm very good at that sort of thing?" Is there *anything* he thinks he is good at, though?
"...Ah, actually..." He frowns faintly then, when he manages to bring his bright-green eyes to landing on Kasumi again, considering something. "How... knowledgeable are you about... er... Forces like that, anyway? Do you think there's danger in channeling it?"
"There is danger in all martial arts."
If there's one good thing about Kasumi's no-nonsense attitude it is surely that the girl can be trusted to speak plainly. Deception is beneath a true martial artist, she believes that with all the conviction she can muster, and she has no interest in sugar-coating anything for the young man. If he had complained that he was incapable of it, then they would be having far different words. But a mere acknowledgement of the fact that he's not good at it, and concern that it might be dangerous? Those are worthwhile qualities that she can foster. He SHOULD be worried about using them.
"Almost everyone who begins to study fighting begins as a novice." She says, "There are perhaps a handful of prodigies who take to it naturally, but you should expect that you will not be good at this when you begin. If you enter the world of competitive fighting, you should expect that you will lose a hundred times. A thousand, even. It is from our losses that we marshal the will to strive for more. In defeat, we find the means to achieve greater glory."
Kasumi is lapsing into a more archaic and poetic way of speaking, perhaps, but that doesn't make it any less heartfelt. The fate of the Todoh-Ryu school is very much bound up with that belief. If being proven lacking was enough to deter her, what would that augur for her fate? For the future of her family? No. Being bad at something is no excuse for ceasing in the pursuit of excellence!
"As to the manipulation of chi." She says, bringing her hands before her once again. "Yes. These forces can be extremely dangerous. But a wave of energy is no more inherently deadly than a throw that can snap a person's neck, or a strike that can break bones. All of these elements are to be respected, and harnessed with the proper discipline. If you learn to control them, you can apply them with the same precision as any other weapon in your arsenal. By learning mastery over all three means by which we can strike and be struck, we ensure that we are not defenceless no matter what tool our enemy chooses to use against us."
"Mmmh..." Well. That might not be exactly what Daisuke meant with his question to her, but he truly does not have the guts to make any further elaboration on it. Some things he still prefers to keep a secret from but a choice few.
Better to play the role of someone completely incapable of manipulating energies for now then, no matter how distasteful it might be.
Still, the appreciation for the feelings behind Kasumi's words are there, even if the... particular way she speaks might be a tad bit overwhelming otherwise.
"I'm going to be honest..." And there is, indeed, something he *can* be honest about, even if it is a bit embarrassing still. "I'm not entirely concerned about competetive fighting... contests, tournaments, things like that. But, I..."
One hand draws up, slowly, tracing fingertips over his own chest before pressing his palm against it, subtly favoring more towards the left side.
"I want to be able to defend people around me, too, Todoh-sensei. But this body... no, I suppose me as a whole... I'm weak." It might not be entirely true, but it is something he does truly believe of himself. But even if he did think otherwise, he would have to acknowledge that what strength he does have always comes at the cost of his own health. Something to be used sparingly. What, then, when such a sacrifice is not an option?
". . . And I don't want someone else to be hurt just because I am weak."
The red-haired boy's eyes close for a moment, and he takes a deep breath before opening them again, and looking straight at Kasumi, to meeting her own gaze directly.
"Is that... a good enough reason? For me to attempt to attempt to study the lessons of Todoh-Ryuu?"
Kasumi listens carefully to the boy's concerns. She does get the sense that there's more he isn't sharing with her, but she's damned if she can figure out what it is. No doubt it is something that will come with time, if he chooses to continue his studying with her. The rest of his words, though, do spark some interest from her. It is rare that there's someone who wants to study the art of fighting for reasons beyond the glamorous tournament scene. Certainly, whilst she is more than happy to stand up to bullies and do what she can, she didn't consider herself to be some dashing heroine out to beat down the villainous and stand in defence of the helpless. That simply isn't where her passions lay.
But that doesn't necessarily make it a bad motivation, not at all.
"It is interesting that you think you are weak." She says, "Because your words tell me the exact opposite. Weak people do not seek to better themselves. They do not visit dojos and try to find a path to strength. Weak people accept the hand that life has dealt them, and do not strive to change it. You may be *unrefined*, Daisuke-san, but I do not think that you are weak."
It may seem like splitting hairs, but to Kasumi it is a vital distinction to make. The boy clearly lacks self-confidence, but his motivation is good. That, more than anything else, was at the heart of any true fighter. Without the drive to take the next step, even the most promising soul would falter at the first hurdle and go no further. If Daisuke could only overcome his doubts, she could see no reason why he couldn't take that step.
"As to your question, Todoh-Ryuu Kobojutsu is a tool." She says, "If you obtain mastery of it, then you may certainly use it to protect those around you. There are many styles of combat that you could choose to learn to achieve that end. Our school is focused upon the concept that the best defence is an active defence; that an enemy incapacitated is an enemy who can no longer inflict harm. And that you must be able to defend from attack from any angle. A true master of Todoh-Ryuu is never taken by surprise. If that sounds like a style you would like to try and learn, I will do my best to teach you."
Daisuke isn't really convinced when Kasumi claims that he isn't weak, just based on his own wishes alone. It might be reasonable to expect that he would at least *consider* the possibility when this isn't even the first time he has been told as much, but... he is unfortunately, very much thick-headed when it comes to certain things. And apparnetly one of those things is his own self-image.
But wether or not Todoh-Ryuu itself is the right path for him to take in self-betterment? That is the much more immediate question at hand. And one that isn't really easy for him to figure out right on the spot, either. The question is only complicated further with the considerations of compatability with the abilities he's deliberately keeping a secret for now.
"I..." He lets out in a breath first, trying to force a decision of some sort -- but in the end, he finds his voice unable to bring out anything. Not yet, anyway. No, in the end this really isn't the kind of decision he can just jump into.
But he can't just fully back away either, not after coming here.
"Can you show me?" He asks of her then, with a point made in straightening his posture again after it'd slouched a little from his earlier pangs of self-doubt.
"I think I can decide if I experience it for myself. ...Even if that means being used as a training dummy."
Kasumi considers Daisuke for a long moment. There's a genuinely concerned look on her face as she does. A deep frown that implies she very much does not approve of the request. As far as she is aware, Daisuke hasn't fought properly in his life. He's probably been beaten up by bullies, but that's a very different thing - and just beating the ever-loving hell out of a kid to prove that she has what it takes to train him is not her style. Maybe it is the sort of thing that her father would do (in fact, she's certain that it is), but not her. She doesn't believe for a moment that she needs to give him cuts and bruises for him to see the worth in her style.
"If I were to beat you black and blue, what do you think that would prove?" She asks, not unkindly, but... truthfully. "The strength of Todoh-ryuu is not in my ability to use it to throw you around the room or bludgeon you into unconsciousness. When you have learned the basics, then we can spar, and that will be useful for you. But until then, training dummies exist for a reason!"
She draws in breath sharply, and then, with no warning at all, she is spinning on the spot. She had, after all, demonstrated only two out of three elements of the Todoh-ryuu style.
The shout is coupled with the woman throwing her arms back and then over her head. As she completes the motion, there's a flare of power that sweeps across the ground between herself and the training dummy. The striking kick had been delivered with impressive speed-- but the power behind the Kasane Ate is something else entirely!
It picks the dummy up and slams it back against the wall with a deafening CRACK, a long gouge carved into the front of the training equipment by the focused energy wave. Kasumi then claps her hands together, and looks back to Daisuke.
"Do you really need to see more to understand the value of Todoh-ryuu?!"
"That's--" Daisuke's protests are quickly cut short by the sudden spin from Kasumi and the loud calling out of the technique--
And naturally, the complete and utter obliteration of the target dummy with that one choice, powerful attack into the poor, innocent mass of wood.
The shock of the motion alone is enough that Daisuke finds himself instinctively lifting one arm up to shield himself, be it from some kind of strange backlash or splinters of wood from the dummy or whatever else.
The answer to her question doesn't come immediately, no. Several long seconds are spent in staring right past her at the dummy, and the gash formed along it as a result of her strike.
"N-no, I suppose not..." He does say, eventually, before his attention turns back fully to Kasumi herself. But not without a faint frown edging it's way to his expression.
"...But that still doesn't make me sure if... well. If *I* am the right fit for Todoh-Ryuu."
Kasumi's hand fastens tight to Daisuke's shoulder, and she looks the young man right in the eye. He's got half a foot on her, but it is easy to forget that with how much more confidence she simply exudes. Kasumi is many things, but beyond all the others she is sure and certain in herself. She couldn't hold together the dojo as well as she has managed at such a young age if she allowed herself any doubt - and that, more than perhaps anything else, is what separates the two teenagers.
"That is a question you have to answer yourself." She says, firmly. "If you truly mean what you say about wanting to stand up for others, I have no doubt that you will find a Sensei here in Southtown who will teach you the skills you need to do so. But you will have to judge for yourself which one of us is the best for you. There are charlatans and frauds aplenty who will attempt to bamboozle you into believing they have the one true way to progress your art. I will not do that. But I won't bear you any ill will if you choose to go a different route."
She pauses, then, briefly... and an extremely dark look crosses over her features. Her hand begins to squeeze. Tighter. Much tighter. "Unless you go to the Kyokugen Dojo. If you study under them, I will never forgive you!!"
If anything, Kasumi's force of personality seems enough to actually make Daisuke momentarily think she is, in fact, the taller of the two! Which is objectively nowhere near true, but it's funny how the mind can play tricks on a teenaged boy when someone like Kasumi looks so intensely to him with a hand placed on his shoulder so quickly he hadn't even realized she'd gotten close enough to do so.
What she tells him, though, gives him plenty to think about. And in a way, her words are... reassuring, too. Daisuke's gaze might dip away momentarily through it, but in the end he finds himself nodding at her words. "I... I understand. ...Thank you for this much, at least."
A short beat, and then a much more quietly uttered, "...Wait, did you really just use the words 'charlatans' and 'bamboozle'...?"
But much more urgently, he can feel her grip tightening on his shoulder. To the point it starts hurting. "U-uh... T-todoh-san...?" He stammers out nervously, right before she gives that warning. And wouldn't you know it, color quickly drains away from his face. "A-ah...!" Gulp. "I w-w-won't...?!" He doesn't really even know anything about the Kyoukugen lot. Just this is enough to instill into him that associating with them would be a horrible mistake!
Log created on 10:04:38 06/01/2021 by Kasumi Todoh, and last modified on 14:21:00 06/01/2021.