Wasu bukejutsu: Kusa no Suusenken (Lost Warrior art: 1000 blades of grass) Style Description: The lost art of the warriors of grass, Suusenken is an archaic form of combat using a short sword commonly known as a Jian. The style of fighting known as Suusenken rose to prominence over 300 years ago, but for quite awhile fell out of major use do to many of its masters dying in the battle of the blades over 200 years ago. Suusenken is akin to Tai-chi in being a balanced display of martial arts skill. Suusenken is all about form, using minimal force to create maximum results and having a balanced body capable of using the previous skills to their fullest. Suusenken uses both the hand, foot, and Jian to its fullest. A true user of Suusenken is just as capable as fighting a battle without ever bringing their sword hand forward as they are while fighting blade to blade. Acrobatic kicks, punches, stance and form, as well as bladework, all mix together to make the legendary lost style that is Suusenken. The forms of Suusenken seem rigid at first glance, yet are almost dance like in nature. While they are not so useful as to be called stances, the different forms are momentary poses and placements of the limbs and weapon that either draw an opponent in or keep them on guard. This combines with the styles soft blow nature that intends to use an opponent's power and strength against them by throwing them off balance should they over commit. The forms are taught as basic rules of stance and self: Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows, relax the chest and round the back, point the head, relax the waist and hip, coordinate the upper and lower body, use of mind over body, find stillness within movement. The body is usually kept very relaxed, the back foot turned at 45 degrees when ready to engage and the knees always kept bent. This makes users usually appear as if they are ready to dance with a partner instead of launch into an attack. Some take the style to a different level, while usually use of Suusenken does not require ki it had slipped into the style before its disappearing act. By basic ki manipulation, blades of grass are controlled and directed for use in the style for everything from basic annoyance to dangerous attacks.
Stage 1: Tancho (Start) The beginning, the start, the first step into Suusenken is relaxation and form. While they are capable of just charging in and attacking, it is usually practiced at this stage to hold back and defend rather then get your self into a bad situation. All the form and poses of Suusenken is already taught to someone that is at this point of technique as anyone who doesn't know the forms and stance cannot call themselves a Suusenken practicioner. At this stage of skill, those taught Suusenken are usually told to recite the name of their techniques when using them, a practice that always applies to duels between Suusenken users regardless of skill level. Normal Techniques Yurayura Saru-Arai (Monkey swings wildly) Description: This isn’t so much a technique as a basic of attack. When coming forward towards a target the user swings their blade back and forth wildly while leaning into the blow. This is usually used to approach a target that will obviously put themselves on guard, as the attacks would do little damage even if they landed. Hayai Eda Kigen (Twig rises swiftly) Description: An early surprise for those that may not realize that their opponent is quite capable of hand to hand combat on top of sword combat. Twig rises swiftly is usually used to throw an opponent off guard, and amounts to nothing more then a simple sword feint. This feint then goes into a high kick that rises all the way over the user’s head, catching most in the chin off not forcing them to move backwards. Special Techniques Teikaiken (Blade that lingers in life) Description: The basics of the ki aspects of the Suusenken. This technique is ceremoniously began by swinging low with the Jian and cutting the grass in a circle around the user where the match begins. The grass is thrown up by the slice, but using haphazard yet miniscule amounts of ki the grass is made to linger in the air. The blades seem to drift around the user as if they are caught in a breeze, circling around the person aimlessly. No Iyagarase-Taezu (Field that Pesters constantly) Description: Most who are at a low level of skill in Suusenken need some sign that they actually have control over the Teikaiken technique. This defensive technique is usually the first technique they learn. By actively pushing all the grass to one side of them, they create a barrier of grass between them an someone approaching. Because the grass blades are so sparse, this will do nothing more then get into the eyes and face of the assailant. Each time this is done counts as a usage. Stage 2: Jouhanshin (Bust out) Jouhanshin, the neophyte user of Suusenken has trouble going from the breathing and meditation of practice to the conflict that is combat. Jouhanshin is busting out, losing the defensive shell that beginners put themselves in by focusing on forward attacks. To make constant attacks that are constant and uncommitted, that is Suusenken. Even if an attack is blocked or misses, there will be another to follow it. Still at an early stage, attacks are still announced whether it is a duel or not. Normal Techniques Hina Ittenmen (Chick pecks face) Description: To facilitate the offensive focus of this stage, the Hina Ittenmen is completed. This attack is done by charging into an opponent and constantly poking the Jian directly at the opponent in a rapid fashion. An opponent who is constantly on the offensive can be thrown into a defensive mindset from this simple attack style. Special Techniques Itten-Senkou Kutsuu (Poke that precedes pain) Description: Finally learning how to move the lingering blades of grass, the user learns that their exaggerated movements is an easy time to manipulate the grass to follow. This technique, accompanied by a forward lunge or stabbing motion, causes the grass to fly forward and prick the target before the actual blow. The blades of grass grow stiff, but lack the sharpness to truly cut, and when the flurry of grass hits it can’t be likened to anything but the sting of a senbon needle hitting. This prick even strikes areas covered in clothing, the few grass blades used in the strike becoming lodged into the fabric to become a constant annoyance. Stage 3: Jiten (Whirl) An enemy without rest is an enemy with no counter-attack. The Jiten stage of training focuses to keeping a constant offensive on the opponent by using a mix of sword combat and martial arts. If your opponent is attacking, defend with the hand while you assault with the weapon. If your opponent is defending, then a mix of closed fist and weapon attacks will keep them defending. The ‘Whirl’ is about the ‘spin’ assault that is practiced at this stage, where the user alternates between attacking with the weapon and with their hands/feet to keep an opponent off guard. Sometimes this can take the appearance of an actual ‘spin’ where they turn their back on the opponent for a brief moment only to bring power to their next strike. Trainers no longer consider technique name announcement to be appropriate anywhere but in duels between two users of Suusenken. Normal Techniques Kaze Shibai Kekkou (Wind plays nicely) Description: The epitome of the Jiten stage, Wind plays nicely requires a specific movement to keep a whirl assault moving at a fast enough pace to even keep up with a back paddling opponent. By pivoting on one foot and using the other to facilitate forward movement, the three successive spins are made with each one ending with a backhand slash of the Jian. All this happens in a fairly short amount of time, but can be easily disrupted if there are multiple opponents. Neko Chouyaku Taku (Cat leaps high) Description: A simple attack whose only mention as a technique is because of the speed at which it is applied. Cat leaps high is began with a simple turning sweep, then if the opponent chooses to leap over it, it is followed up immediately by a rising slash as the user comes out of his low spin. If the opponent fell into the trap, they have little way to escape the slice that follows the trip. Though an interesting note is that doing just about anything BUT jumping over the sweep diffuses this attack, as will getting tripped by the sweep itself. Special Techniques Inu Shibai Haaku (Doggy plays catch) Description: This technique is lacking in power, but is considered useful for the pure fact that it acts as a range attack in an otherwise melee range style of combat. The user goes from a long range stance, usually with their sword arm arched over their head and pointing at their target, then slashes the sword down forcefully towards the ground. The primary effect is possible to be completely missed by the target, a minority (10 blades) of the user’s Teikaiken field of grass is sent flying towards the target. The grass has been sharpened to a degree, and will strike like weak senbon needles. But the downside is that afterwards, the Teikaiken must be done again to get new grass. Stage 4: Hishou (Flight) To gain air, take flight to your enemy, and strike them down when they least expect it. The Hishou stage is the start of more dashing attacks, dashing forwards towards a target or moving through the air for some sort of attack. While it was always possible before this, the attacks used are simply airborne variations of earlier attacks. Now the acrobatic nature of combat is taken into account. Now rapid feats of foot and sword are made from above an opponent’s, flying drop kicks moving straight into falling slashes. Normal Techniques Yottsu Odori Ude (Four limbs dancing) Description: This is simply a variant of the butterfly kick seen throughout martial arts styles. This attack is particularly dangerous when an opponent may be keeping track of the user’s Jian instead of their feet. But using feats of strength, it is possible to begin the spin of the butterfly kick mid flight, allowing the attack to begin while on the fall from a jump. Kujaku Sentou Zatto (Peacock fights roughly) Description: While a rather basic technique, it is refined and is usually considered applied to this stage of Suusenken knowledge. From a more defensive stance, the user swings their sword forward and dashes forward with their blade leading the attack in a long bound forward. The attack isn’t unnaturally fast once moving, but it is well targeted and the speed of execution and ground covered can leave opponents off guard. Special Techniques Nagai Kusa Yotoginai (Long grass goes unwatched) Description: A temporary development that is used to take the opponent by surprise, this technique is usually used during a forward lunge to make it that much more dangerous. The lingering grass gathers quickly at the end of the Jian, extending the blade and keeping a similar sharpness as a basic sword. The length of the Jian is doubled within seconds like this, but the ruse doesn’t last long and will fade back to normal Teikaiken after a post. Stage 5: Henkan (Return) To go back to basics, a regression to the start, to return is to take all that you have learned and attempt to utilize it in new ways. A practitioner in the Henkan stage knows they are not a master, but now they are no longer focusing on new things, only on making what they currently know even better. While the style is usually about using momentum to facilitate strength, at this stage a user learns to use the strength they’ve naturally built up over their training to work over an opponent. Normal Techniques Raikou Dageki Sankai (Lightning strikes thrice) Description: An amazing acrobatic feat, Lightning strikes thrice is a mix of the earlier butterfly kick and sword swings. While rising into the Butterfly kick, the practitioner strikes at the opponent, then as they are coming back down and their backhand would pass the opponent, they swing with their sword, then a middle kick is delivered as the user lands. This helps not only deliver several attacks, but keeps the opponent constantly on guard during the attack so they do not get attacked while airborne. Stage 6: Medo (Goal) For many, this is the end of the road, the goal. Medo stage is leaving the basics behind, and blending them together. This is no longer using them in new ways, but fusing them into whole new products. Every technique that was possible from a stable standing position is now possible on the run, on the defensive, from the air, nearly every attack can be adapted to new uses. The user has even gotten to the point of effectively fighting off multiple targets, his limbs and his weapon being able to divide focus to mount two different offenses/defenses. To many, this is what a master looks like, but a true Suusenken user knows the truth, and that there is still something that is beyond. Special Techniques Kaze Henkashi Kai (Breeze picks up clippings) Description: A brash use of ki. This causes the lingering blades of the Tenkaiken to swirl around the user violently. Usually combined with a physical assault, the long blades of grass have the velocity to cause rash cuts while they create a green-tinted whirlwind around the user. Anything, even allies, who move within a foot of the user, will catch many small cuts as if caught with the tip of a kunai’s blade. These cuts can go through clothing but can’t even phase metal based armor.
Stage 7: Shuujuku (Mastery) Shuujuku is the end of the road, as such it is also known as Shuuryuu, the end. The Suusenken user is now what all other users hope to be, honed and powerful. In combat they are relaxed and calm, never faltering, as every technique they plan to perform has been practiced again and again, many times in real combat. They can attack and defend as one complete body, their sword merely an extension of their arm; they spin it with grace and attack with fury. Their attacks now utilize the maximum of their speed, strength, and dexterity. This is mastery. Special Techniques Itten-Suusenken (1000 blades strike furiously) Description: While many would consider a direct sword strike from a weapons master to be deadly enough, the Itten-Suusenken is the true danger. The attack is very deliberate, especially considering the usual unexpected strikes the style makes use of. To use the technique, the user must pull the point of their Jian back to their side, focusing ki into the blades of grass that surround them. This grass clumps, forming 10 smaller kunai sized blades of grass. When the user brings the Itten-Suusenken forward to jab at an opponent, these blades move forward as well, and each grass blade has the sharpness to puncture even the strongest armors. If this attack is not evaded, chances are the target will receive punctures of such depth and force that some limbs will be unusable or lost in the process.