1964-06-10 - Fundamentals of Kung Fu
Summary: Shenhua and Cassandra have their first spar.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
shen-kuei cassandra-wu-san 

The Kuei residence is distinct among all of those in the area. This makes it not so hard to find once someone has been there, such as a short erstwhile vagrant with a speech impediment. She stands outside the door for some time staring at it, as if debating whether to bother. Cassandra understands the concept of a mercenary, it isn't so different from what she was raised around.

Cassie's big browns eventually persuade her hand to press the doorbell. She could likely just enter, but one of the things she's learned from life elsewhere is giving the benefit of the doubt. Such as that Shen's there. She'll stoically regard the door for the time being as she waits from there, mentally visualizing the room beyond it.

Cassie remembers a wide open studio with hardwood flooring. A fake fireplace provides illumination after hours amidst assorted art pieces. Granite counter tops provide for an open bar not far away, stocked with bottles from around the world while glasses made from actual quartz dangle for easy retrieval. That's just what she remembers, having spent her time there in the open portion. The furniture is coastered to be put away in a pinch, evidently only retrieved when company comes around. It wasn't the best for sleeping, being leather. Fortunately she'd been given sheets and a blanket to go over it. It beat a cardboard box and magazines.


Shenhua opens the door in short order. It might be unexpected, the alacrity with which she greets her young, diminutive guest. Grey eyes peer intensely at Cassandra for a long moment while the woman watches from her place in the doorway. "Cassandra," is all she says before stepping back to allow the girl to enter.

The home is just as Cassie remembers it, really. The funrniture has been stowed to leave a large, unobstructed wooden floor at the center of a room with white walls that are largely unadorned. Shen does keep a Buddha on the mantel over the fire, and a scroll bearing words of wisdom written in Chinese which it is unlikely the young woman could actually decipher.

It seems that the mercenary has been studying. There's a book on the dining room table, which does remain out, and the bookcase is not its usual immaculate array of volumes against the wall behind the dining table. "Welcome home." It's easiest to use simple words, like 'home', with Cass. There's sentiment there as well.

"Are you hungry?"


Cassandra Wu-San peers up at her for a long moment, as if verifying everything is in order as her look isn't just at her but everything past her as well. Her brows are raised slightly, as if surprised she actually answered the door. She likely is.

Cassie steps in with her jaw quirked slightly to one side. Her gait is more like a trundle, deliberately loping as she peers widely to one side and then the other. She then smiles slightly up at Shen as she replies, carefully enunciating but clearly albeit reversed from common…

"Thank you, no."


"Tat draws a smile from Shen as well, something that Cassandra would know as a slight departure from her usual solemnity. She nods then and turns, letting Cassandra verify the apartment as she walks away. "Close the door," the woman notes in a firm tone, without looking back. Cassandra knows enough now that Shen expects to be obeyed. ANd if she isn't…

"Have you been well?" Shenhua asks after a moment. She is as much testing Cassandra's newfound command of language as anything else, really. While she speaks Shen is pulling out a mat. It could be for sitting but it is likely padded for use in training. Cassie no doubt knows the type, even if she hardly used them growing up.


Cassandra Wu-San really didn't, as far as training mats and growing up goes. It was all hardwood floors and stone or otherwise dirt for her. She eyes it curiously after perfunctorily shutting the door. The smile hadn't gone unnoticed, not much ever does.

Cassie replies in the same methodical manner as before,"Well. Have been."

Canting her head, she'll lope around the space Shen is setting up. Her expression is curious, even as she inquires,"What for?"


"You did not use these but they prevent unnecessary injury during training," Shen replies. She tuns toward Cassandra and mimics a training posture then and glances toward the now lightly padded floor.

"You are a martial artist," Shen continues in a voice that doesn't really brook disagreement. What is there to say to the obvious, after all? "I would like to see what you have learned."

It's a request in tone even if Shen is telling rather than asking. She's naturally the sort to be somewhat commanding when she speaks, especially with someone who needs guidance, but her tone carries the gentleness to cloak a core of iron into something more palatable. At least somewhat so.

Really, it's body language more than words which do the speaking for Shen at the moment. The stance of a taskmaster or critical teacher.


Cassandra Wu-San 's expression metamorphoses to something akin to avian as she cocks her head the otherway at Shen's posture. She'll approach the matt somewhat demurely before removing her coat to avoid needless hassle for what's next.

Cassie's eyes brighten as she slips into the common beginning stance of most Wushu, the Horse Stance. Feet spread in precise fashion slightly more than shoulder-width apart with her hands at her hips balled into fists before the left flashes out at shoulder level accompanied with a venomous hiss, the standard kiai of the Hand. The fingers of her hand are crooked like claws as her arm rapidly lowers to straight forward with her wrist snapped to present her palm with the index slightly raised. She proceeds with a trio of tiger tensions, her abdomen clenching to iron hardness as she thrusts her palm forth with a hissing exhalation before completing with a snap of her hand to the center of her chest as if catching a blow, or more likely centering. Then does her other fist rise to meet the palm in formal kungfu salute fashion before they both lower back to her hips. The opening sequence of the Hung Gar Tiger-Crane.


Shen's opening is far more subdued. She watches as Cassandra goes through the motions of her opening, head tilted slightly to the left while she studies the girl from her forehead all the way down to her feet. While this happens Shenhua reaches up and neatly grasps her long dark hair into her right hand, ringing thumb and forefinger around those tresses to keep them contained. The left produces a single loop of black ribbon, which she uses to tie her hair back and away from her face. While Cassie prepares Shen is fixing her hair. Typical.

Next, however, the woman takes a stance of her own. Feet shoulder's width apart, hands at her sides. She turns toward Cassandra with her weight on her left foot, subtly oriented toward the girl in front of her, leg lightly flexed. There's not much to her preparation. Muscles flex through her abdomen but she doesn't make grandiose gestures. There are no kiais or special gestures to prepare her. Shen does, however, return the formal salute she's been offered and then beckons Cassandra forward with her fingers. There's no reason to speak.

Perhaps paradoxically given the formality of the setting there is no formality to how the Cat positions herself. Not now, at least. Just the underlying basics of how to hold oneself in a fight.


Cassandra Wu-San has the complete competency of her favored system, free from hesitation and delivered with the confidence of one who has full understanding of its inherent concepts. From her stance to her breath control, this teenager presents herself with the ability of an accomplished master. At the same time, there is a certain something missing that a master's eye might detect when coupled with the experience that one as young as Cassie can't help but lack.

Cassandra regards Shen with a studious eye, noting how casual she is about her own readiness. The ease of a practiced hand that has only to stomp her foot to go forth with whatever the task is free from ritual. Cass nods almost imperceptibly in reply to the two fingers to advance, hands raising into a common readiness position guarding face and torso.

Cassie's advance carries her across the distance in no time at all. She leaves her stance and would seem to be a gray blur to anyone else as she closes the distance to greet Shen with a simple uppercut at the abdomen from her offhand side, her lead hand remains in place with her elbow guarding her side and fist protecting her jawline. The attack is delivered with the power of a swing of her hips as she tests Shen's midlevel defense, the action happening with the speed of a twitch.


Grey eyes remained trained on Cassandra the entire time she advanced, noting evry movement, every muscle twitch. Every inflection of body language that most people wouldn't understand and yet gives away any movement a person can make. Ridding oneself of such tells takes a lifetime to even begin. You can't keep your muscles from flexing before you lunge. So when the girl steps forward Shen hardly shifts her weight in the span of the first breath. It isn't that she is faster, precisely; Cassandra is in the prime of her youth. But no motion is wasted, not even that of a breath.

A simple attack begets a simple reply. When the uppercut is thrown Shen rotates her hips to the left and leans into the motion, deflecting the blow with her right elbow as it just misses grazing her and she works her way around to the outside of Cassie's guard. The hand attached to the blocking arm immediately goes for Cassie's wrist.

As that happens Shen lifts her left foot then, bringing up her knee to deliver a punishing blow to the girl's ribs and abdomen. One place where height is an advantage; she doesn't need to fully extend. And if she has Cassandra's arm that combination will have her on the floor an instant afterward.


Cassandra Wu-San 's mastery is born of a brutal and focused upbringing. While there is a slight expression of surprise that flashes across her features, the response that comes to Shenhua's counter is clockwork. Even still, Shen could have an edge from her altitude in this situation and Cassie is forced to admit it.

No sooner is Cassie grabbed than the previously punching hand continues on its trail but redirected to the grabbed wrist where it will finally come to rest on the back of Shen's own hand to arrest it there. A quick sequence of events would potentially foil Shen's plan for an early victory in this matchup with a qin na routine known in kung fu circles as Golden Silk Entwines.

As Cassandra goes to seize Shen's hand, the hand attached to the seized wrist will twist to grab hold of Shen's arm, completing the counter-grapple even as Cassandra dips back to shift her weight to her rear leg and drop. This would pull Shen along and yank her arm straight to hyper extend her shoulder if she can't do something about it, all the while foiling her attempt at a knee.


The Golden Silk Entwines the wrist, forcing Shen's fingers back over her hand and capturing her arm in the process. For many people that would be the beginning and end of the ensuing grapple. But Shen uses that grip instead. Cassandra grabs her arm and shen rotates her arm in a quick circle, fingers aligning to point at Cassandra's face in a quick motion, bending Cassandra's fingers back the other way, and forcing the girl to twist along with her until continuing to try to restrain her opponent lets Shen force the girl's arm to flex at the elbow, a staggeringly painful move which could easily be leveraged force her opponent to her knees.

Of course, there's a reversal for that counter as well. The problem lies primarily in leverage at this point. If Cass could force Shen to bend her arm… But that would require upper body strength. Shen has that in spades. But the older fighter doesn't try to follow through with the dismissal. Instead she shoves to create space, using all the momentum she can get out of twisting her hips and stepping forward. Then it's just an open palm with Shen's free hand to Cassandra's chest bone, since that is what is available. At least it'll give them some space to recover.


Cassandra Wu-San is knocked away after her counterstrategy is foiled. She's well aware at Shen just extended a mercy, she saw the hesitation and the consideration flashing across her features when she opted to knock her away and furrows her brows at it. Cassandra would endeavor not to go that route again in light of this.

Appraising Shenhua for a moment longer before continuing the contest, Cassandra takes stock of the present situation. They are slightly outside of arm's reach, so Cassandra continues in logical fashion. She shuffles back to just inside arm's reach where she leads with a jab at eye level. An instant later she delivers a probing straightleg kick at hip level at Shen testing her perception. The kick is virtually untelegraphed, her jab delivered entirely from the shoulder as her weight is on the rear leg to free up the front for the kick. A lightning quick one-two to keep things going as she feels out the as yet seemingly unreadable Shenhua Kuei.


There are hints. The more the fight continues there are glimmers as to the real Shen Kuei underneath the austere trappings. Cassandra briefly comes to realize two things. The first is that that the reason Shen is so hard to read and takes no specific stance is that she has no explicit style. Every motion comes from something new. In fact, she specifically shifts her stances- how she hodls her hands and her weight- between combinations, perhaps to throw off the eye. She's already gone from traditional boxing to Muay Thai into Qin na in the space of a few breaths.

The second is that the dress Shen wears serves to obscure the muscle movements of her legs. When Cassandra shuffles forward Shen takes a single, deep breath. This movement? This one Cassandra might read. The jab is thrown and Shen proves she has nerves, at least. She barely moves out of the way of that punch. It's more of a twitch than a real dodge, leaving Cassandra swinging just past her chin.

The kick, however, is more promising. The blow looks like I will connect solidly with Shen's hip but instead she blocks it with an arm as she leans away to drain some of the momentum. It's enough to rattle bones and Shen- feels it. Her brow furrows. Did she take the kick on purpose? Regardless, the woman takes advantage of the opening by following up with a simple series of open punches. Hook, jab, jab. Jaw, chest, upper abdomen. Work in a sneaky low kick that is liable to knock a knee out from under an unwary opponent. This is a test of speed, designed to wear down endurance and check reflexes.


Cassandra Wu-San almost smiles when the kick connects, but then Shen surges forward even as her foot touches back to the ground. She's forced back under the flurry of blows, adopting a fully defensive stance so that she can slap away the thrown blows with open palm strikes to the inside and bottom of Shen's arms. The kick is stopped with a raised foot to intercept, leaving Cass in a posture akin to a Tomoi ceremonial stance.

Cassandra will reciprocate in kind, her open hands shifting to tiger's claws as she flashes out at Shen's right collar bone then left solar plexus as she advances to attempt a step on Shen's foot to prevent retreat. The counter assault is almost like a translation of Shen's into a different style. High, mid, low.

Cassandra's style is drawn heavily from a broad but singular school of kung fu, but there are obvious traces of other styles woven in. Her focus is rigid and thus far unblinking as she continues to observe Shen. This latest counter attack proves that she doesn't miss much. Every attack is accompanied by a soft but sharp exhalation giving it power, but her regular breathing is almost imperceptibe in its softness. Her stancework is precise and logical, though loose enough that she shifts rapidly with but an instant's notice.


Shen obviously doesn't mind being struck. Now that she has gotten a sense of her opponents style of fighting she has found a way to garner and advantage. Where she could readily evade a punch- and it might even be expected- Shen instead deflects it slightly or hard blocks, lunging into another serious violent offensives. She's getting the measure of Cassandra's style. Only the strikes likely to cause injury are enough to break Shen Kuei's stance. Now she's maneuvered things into one of her specialties.

The next punch is thrown with a punishing level of force, unlike any of Shenhua's previous blows. A sharp exhalation followed by a brutal punch directly at Cassandra's abdomen. A warning shot, telegraphed only by the standards of those who make their livelihood reading the movements of others. With that the game changes. Shenhua can pulverize organs and break bones with punches. The strikes are slightly slower- but collarbone, to body blows left and right, a sudden knee, a stomped foot. It's designed to force Cassandra to move her entire body because even a clipped strike could cause a hand to go numb.

A mistake will be painful. Failing to make mistakes, exhausting. The stakes just went up.


Cassandra Wu-San narrows her gaze when she sees the subtle signals of an impending powerstrike flow across Shenhua's body after her series of basic strikes are deflected away. Cassandra takes a half step back from her in that moment, a tiger's claw raising to meet her blow and stop it from landing some place unfortunate. Her fingers would dig into the back of her hand but for the numbness of the caught impact that drives her back another half step. Then comes the follow up, and she knocks it away with a low sweeping forearm strike at her wrist.

Cassandra cross steps to the right with that last deflection, tiger claws flashing out to knock aside the heavier blows as her stance lowers noteably in the face of the more severe assault. She's making herself a smaller target as she proceeds to circle Shenhua, adopting a more mobile style of fighting as she acknowledges that Shen will eventually wear her down if things continue as is. Shen might recognize the footwork from Baguazhang, circular movements to build centripetal force when she takes another low cross step before spinning swiftly in place to snake out with a straight leg threatening to take the feet out from under the more aggressive Shenhua


Shen does recognize the stance and she watches for a second, seeing how Cassandra handles the patterns. That momentum makes the strike far more threatening. The instinct would be to try to step away from the blow but instead Shenhua steps into Cassandra in turn. She leads with her left arm, shoving to throw Cassandra's balance off and blunt the impact of the leg sweep in turn. She is only balanced on one foot, after all. There's a degree of risk to it; Shenhua could easily stumble. At this point they would likely go down in a jumble of limbs if she fell. Which is a possibility if Cassandra wants them to, given the pace of the fight and the fact the taller woman's legs are moving when they meet. The only thing that Shen willat happens is throw a blow at Cassandra's throat. Fighting on the ground is just as nuanced as it is when one is standing.


Cassandra Wu-San is bowled over by Shen and responds precisely like she expected. She grabs hold of her to pull her down with her, but then her eyes go wide when she realizes where Shen is going next. In this position, there's no way to properly respond or defend. She does the only thing she can.

Cassandra lowers her chin to guard her windpipe, taking the blow to chin. The force makes her world go dizzy, even if it wasn't at actual disabling level. The chin is a pressure point, and the force going through the skull in that position would put pressure on the neck compounding things. She is effectively staggered, and it shows when her eyes go glassy and in funny directions. Shen Kuei one, Cassandra zero.


Shen is on her feet an instant later, rolling off of the girl and then reaching down to gently draw her to her feet. The way the woman is standing makes it clear the fight is over. At this exact moment Cassandra could probably defeat her thoroughly. It is, in other words, a measure of trust being offered. She's more concerned for the girl than she is of possible risk to herself.

As this happens Shen is speaking. Simple words. Words Cassandra would follow. "Good. Now sit." There's even a chair nearby. How thoughtful Shen is. "You need more training," she decides in a serious tone. Somehow there is a measure of pride in how she speaks.


Cassandra Wu-San takes the offered hand with an appreciative expression. She's unsteady on her feet, rubbing at her chin as the chair she looks to comes into focus. Looking to it for a moment longer, she'll glance back to Shen with upraised brows. Her senses are back in focus.

Cassandra is a famously sore loser. Quirking her lips into a wry smirk, Cassie belts out with a blindingly quick jab at Shen's jaw. The second that's delivered, then and only then does she proceed to the chair. That was the longest fight she's been in any time recently.


Shen's response shows a measure of her true strength. The jab is thrown at Shenhua's jaw and she… Isn't there. Not entirely. It does graze her, enough for the woman's head to whip around… And she responds in a style she hasn't shown yet. Specifically, Jujutsu. Up under the arm above the elbow and near the shoulder, a smooth motion to flip Cassandra over her back to slam, into a part of the floor not covered by the simple mats she'd laid out across the hard wood. Shen can be a vindictive. Especially when teaching a lesson.

"You will also wash your face." Because blood isn't pretty to look at, is it?


Cassandra Wu-San has left.


Cassandra Wu-San has arrived.


Cassandra Wu-San does indeed have a bit of blood from the shot to her jaw. Evidently she'd bit the inside of her cheek at some point, and her chin was cut. She frowns as she goes to find the sink and do as told.

Cassie is a full blown drama fest as she drags her feet about it. Not only lost, but couldn't get even. Drat and double drat. The sound of a faucet indicates one face being wiped off, and she'd be there a minute while the chin stops making a mess.


Shenhua sighs, shaking her head as she does so.She clicks he r tongue against the roof of her mouth and murmurs in Cantonese, "I've got my work set out ahead of me." Then she is moving toward the chair to place a water bottle beside it before going about the work of rolling up the mat. There's no point. They are both past the point of needing it. Cassie might be a drama fest but it seems Shen is well-equipped to watch this with simple, wry amusement.

It won't stop the woman being harsh in training. But in comparison to some she's probably rather pleasant.


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