Rui yawned as he faced the azure sky.
“Tired?” Julian asked.
“Yeah… That took fucking hours.” Rui replied.
“Indeed, still, it was interesting.”
Rui couldn’t argue with that, no, it was a severe understatement. After they’d applied for a scholarship, they’d gone onto clarify their doubts regarding the curriculum of the Academy.
The Academy first began with a more thorough and in-depth evaluation of the student’s martial proficiency in various fields, much more so than even the Martial Entrance Exam, apparently
(‘Makes sense, given that the Entrance Exam did not specifically test for martial proficiency. It tested resolve in the first round and general physical capability in the next two rounds.’)
The Evaluation Exam was different. It performed detailed measurements of a student’s capabilities in various fields, and the results of the Evaluation Exam would decide the curriculum for each student. The student would then undergo that curriculum until they reach a satisfactory level of general combat proficiency. This was the first step needed to reach the Martial Apprentice Realm. This stage was also known as the Foundation stage, it was allegedly the most important stage without which the Martial Path could not be tread upon.
After the Foundation Stage, followed the Exploration Stage. According to the guidebook provided by the Academy as well as the support staff, the Exploration Stage was a less-controlled, self-paced stage of the curriculum. The Exploration Stage was the final stage necessary to reach the Apprentice Realm. From what Rui had learnt, this stage was a freely independent period where students could freely access the Academy’s Martial Library, a library of Martial Art techniques, and learn and train any of those techniques that they wished to. However, there would be mandatory sparring days every nine days where students would spend the entire day engaging in spars with others.
This was to allow both; the Senior instructors and students to measure their progress at occasional intervals. It also gave a lot of students sparring experience that a large proportion lacked. It was not easy to get controlled and monitored sparring experience unless you were rich.
Unlike in the previous Stage, the Senior instructors would take less of a teacher role, and more of an aid/mentor role in the Exploration Stage. They were mandated to not be overbearing on students of this Stage, but rather encourage them to be open-minded and inquisitive. To help them explore the length and breadth of Martial Art, and help them take the very final step needed to become a Martial Apprentice; Discovering their Martial Path.
(‘Seems freedom is necessary for the Exploration Stage.’) Rui mused.
The Exploration Stage required to students to freely explore a variety of techniques above the bare basics mastered in the Foundation Stage. The idea was that with enough exploration and introspection, the students would discover the direction they wanted to develop their Martial Path in: The Martial Path.
Once the Martial Path was discovered, the Exploration Stage would end. The Foundation and Exploration Stages were the two stages aimed at getting students to enter the Apprentice Realm.
Rui was equally for excited both stages. The Entrance Exam had exposed his glaring flaws and shortcomings. His Martial proficiency was subpar, he had a lot to learn; far too much. He barely managed to pass the Exam relying on tactics, but that was not a sustainable strategy. He needed to get strong if he wanted to become a legit Martial Artist. He wanted to become strong.
The Foundation and Exploration Stage sounded like absolutely perfect to Rui who looked forward to simply immersing himself in his love for Martial Art without any other considerations of any kind. He had been starving for exactly this for the past twelve years!
(‘It’s a shame I wasn’t able to learn what comes after.’)
That was the extent to which support staff were willing to disclose. And any and all information regarding the Martial Union as a whole, higher realms of Martial Artist etc, merely earned him a courteous refusal. ‘It isn’t within the purview of our role in this ceremony.’ they said.
(‘It’s a bit strange they’re being this secretive when I’m already guaranteed to be a student.’)
The only answer was that they did not want to give out unnecessary information prematurely. Perhaps the answers to his questions were partially confidential, sensitive or dangerous to their interests. It wasn’t implausible. Higher-realm Martial Artists were practically considered National treasures. It would make sense that the Union and Academy would take a hard stance on all information regarding these assets. Anything that could diminish their safety or contribute to their harm was strongly regulated by the Union by the looks of it.
(‘That’s one hell of a VIP treatment they got going on there.’)
This one of the secondary aspects of being a Martial Artist, particularly a high-realm one, that Rui was looking forward to one day. Who didn’t like to be held in high esteem? In his previous life, he was just a researcher. And although his work did have an impact on an entire industry, ultimately, he himself was not that prominent outside of certain academic circles. In comparison, a high realm Martial Artist could impact an entire nation.
“The path to reaching a high realm as a Martial Artist is extremely difficult.” Julian reminded. It took him only a glance at Rui’s dreamy expression to more or less gauge his thoughts.
“Let a man dream.” Rui shook his head.
“What ‘man’?” Julian shrugged mirthfully. “I only see a child who needed an adult to accompany him on his first day to school.”
It was a provocation.
And it worked.
The two bantered as they rode a rickshaw back home.