Balancing Act


koshka_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Balancing Act
Synopsis Ygraine comes upon Koshka practicing some fancy footwork the courier had shown her several days earlier, and begins a first semi-official lesson in combat training.
Date January 19, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Though the halls are drafty, sometimes they provide the best place to be alone in a castle that's teeming with people. That's Koshka's reasoning when she sought out a passage that seemed less traveled. Not for anti-social tendancies, the teenager has settled into life in Bannerman, taking up chores and beginning to get to know the other Lighthouse kids. But sometimes, for some things, you just need to get away.

Though a chill lingers in the air, Koshka has left her hoodie and jacket in a pile against a wall, and even lacks a hat and scarf. Though her movements seem active enough to keep the cold at bay. The youth is working, moving through the footwork and postures Ygraine had shown her just a few days ago. She's been moving at varied speeds, though with a focus to make sure everything is just as she'd been shown and starting over again until it's done properly. Presently, the girl is moving slowly, with deliberate placement of her feet.

Another person dressed for exercise rounds a corner, made pretty much instantly recognisable by the combination of dyed red hair and the intricate dragon artwork put into her skin by Xiulan. At present, Ygraine has one of her smaller packs slung over a shoulder, and is moving as if with purpose - though she slows, head cocking as a smile lifts the corners of her mouth, watching Koshka practice.

Ygraine isn't immediately noticed, Koshka's face set with concentration. Her forehead is furrowed slightly, with brows pulled a little closer together. She's moving toward the courier, though slowly and steadily. Then, one foot is placed just off its intended mark, she knows it and it's time to start over again. When she pauses, hands lifting up and fingers lacing behind her head in preperation of starting over, the teenager notices Ygraine.

A shy grin breaks over Koshka's face as her arms drop to her sides. "Hey, Ygraine."

The Briton's slight smile turns into a broad grin. She swings the pack off her shoulder, resting it against one wall, before offering a formal bow. "And hello to you, too. I see that you're taking this seriously. And I'm rather impressed. As well as pleased."

"Yeah." Koshka's tone inflects upward at the end, almost making the single word response a question. "I do want to learn. So.. I've been trying to make time to practice." Practicing footwork is easy, she'll still have to get around to her ability. Her hands go into her pockets, shoulders lifting into a tiny shrug.

Ygraine nods, then moves a touch closer, reaching out to rest a hand lightly upon Koshka's shoulder. "Good. If you work at it, you'll get more out of it - as well as getting better faster. Some people can pick this kind of thing up near-instantly, but… they're one in a million. I've seen precisely one person who just… walked into a class and had beautiful style and poise. Most people - including those who go on to compete at the highest level - have to work hard at it to get really good. So I'm glad to see that you're pushing yourself. And while I do hope to be able to get at least three of you sparring against each other and practicing together, working on your own can be really valuable as well."

If only she had it so easy. But, Koshka has hard work ingrained in her, so time will be found. "Don't know if I'll ever compete in anything, but.. I want to be able to stop people from hurting others." Or herself, but that goes without saying. "So I mean.. I'm really trying to find time. —Sparring with who?" While she assumes Ygraine has others she's teaching, the idea hadn't really been given much thought.

"A young lad here, Kendall, has had a lesson from me", Ygraine says with another smile. "I've no idea if you've met him yet. But…." A slight pause, and she shoots Koshka a somewhat quizzical look. "Shirley also expressed an interest. Are… you two getting along all right?"

"Oh, Kendall." Koshka cracks another grin and nods. "He can… make it look like he's coming out of walls and things." Illusions, it actually looked pretty fun. "Just met him really shortly, my first night here. Didn't get to really talk much." When asked about Shirley, the teenager gives a shrug, her grin losing its luster. "I guess we get along alright. I think she needs an attitude adjustment, but.. maybe she's just new." She'll try to give the older girl the benifit of the doubt, after all, Koshka was new once herself.

Though Ygraine chuckles at the description of Kendall, lifting her brows, she looks rather more concerned as Koshka gives her opinion on Shirley. "Oh dear. An attitude adjustment? How so? What's… she not realising?", the Briton ventures cautiously.

"Like.. she asked how things were here right?" Koshka huffs a sigh and shakes her head. "She got all …whatever about how she might have to help out with the younger kids. Got all pissy about how she had priorities and didn't want to take care of stupid kids. Not to mention all her pouty 'I can't controll it I don't know how' garbage. It's like she won't even try, like she expects the answers to just be handed to her." No, Koshka herself isn't upset by any of it. Not at all.

Ygraine laughs softly, gently shaking her head. "I can see how that wouldn't go down well. But… do try to cut her some slack. For what little it's worth, I seem to be one of the more experienced trainers we have available… and I can't even begin to figure out a way for her to consciously turn off her ability right now. That's where the attempts to gather data, and the… tests come in. Heck, there's a fair chance that it just needs to settle down - it only manifested the day before she came here."

A gentle shrug, then a sigh. "And… more generally… I can't blame her for being upset. She was showing up to meet a friend, and wound up having everything go haywire around her, spending the night in the Ruins of Midtown, fleeing here, and… being banned from even letting her father know that she's still alive. So… try to forgive a bit of brattiness, if you can. I hope she'll prove to be worth some initial aggravation."

Koshka's mouth opens, then closes again. It's an argument definitely not worth the time or effort, and so she resorts to deflecting and doing something else. It wasn't that long ago Koshka had been living on the streets, having had to run from her own father. While some parts have gotten better, there's still some bitterness toward her own situation.

The teenager turns and retrieves her hoodie, pulling it over her head and stuffing arms through the sleeves to shield agains the chill. "So, I've been doing these poses and walking and stuff. I'm nowhere near perfect at it, but I think I got the basic idea."

Ygraine sighs quietly, shooting Koshka another sympathetic look. But she's not at all sure if she might not already have said too much about just how bad Shirley's situation is in some ways. So she settles for awkwardly attempting to communicate mute understanding for a moment… before nodding.

"Perfection is likely to take a decade or two", she says dryly. "Hmmmm. Savate - what I teach when I'm not covering basic self defence and dirty fighting - is a Western martial art, so it's not exactly the same as the more famous Eastern ones… but a lot of the same basic principles apply. In popular parlance, a 'black belt' denotes a master - someone who's as good as you can get. In practice… it just means that you've been taught and have demonstrated competence in all the moves. Once you're a black belt, you're ready to start the real learning - how to put it all together in the best possible ways, how to push yourself to new heights…."

"What I'm trying to say is that there's learning to do far beyond my competence in this. And you could keep learning for the whole of your life, if you wanted to. Certainly if you branch out into related disciplines. But the core of it - the… means of approaching it all. That you can learn very early. And I think you're making a good start… which means that I'm inclined to keep giving you new things to practice for as long as you want them. But the core'll always be balance, even if I now start showing you different forms of it."

For lack of persual regarding Shirley's presence, Koshka is thankful. She's not likely to bring the subject up again on her own, despite being asked to help. The youth will continue to assist wherever she can, even if it involves finding ways for the new girl to control her ability.

Pushing her hood down to hang around her shoulders, Koshka turns to look up at Ygraine. Her sleeves are pushed up to her elbows, then hands make way back into her pants pockets. "I'm not really interested in belts or whatever." Martial arts hadn't even been on the menu before, having never had a need or a means until finding herself in Ferry care. "I just want to learn to fight. To be… a warrior. To keep people safe and stop the bad guys."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "A warrior? Hmmm. It's a crappy job that no one appreciates, you know. And as soon as people think that you're remotely competent, you'll find yourself being given stuff way beyond… well."

She shakes her head, then grimaces. "My first serious fight, I… well. Throwing myself off a building's roof to catch someone as he fell was perhaps the most sane part about it all. But I can certainly teach you to handle yourself better. Mixing in some of the dirty fighting tricks might make a lot of sense. You're simply not big and strong enough to get instant benefit from learning how to throw a good punch, at least not against the kind of people likely to attack the Ferry. One good punch even from someone of your weight can put down the average incompetent in the street if you land it right, of course. But anyone with training'll shrug off or block a lot of what I can do unless I cheat. But in time… we can see about making you count as 'someone with training' yourself. For now, doing vicious and unexpected things so you have time to run will be more use… alongside working on making you properly competent, I promise."

"Well I don't want to sit around and hide all the time," Koshka points out in exaggerated indignance. "I'm not a gonna be a victim or anything and I'll use anything I find to stay alive and keep others alive too." Strong words for someone who's never really faced those types of situations.

Hands drawing out of her pockets, Koshka tries a punch or two, one from each hand. "So besides the stick, or keys, or pen. I should try …pinching or something? Hitting in soft parts?"

"Remember the target zones?", Ygraine says quietly. "Now… let's try something very, very basic. Not a combat move, just a demonstration. Form a fist with your right hand. Extend two fingers. Use those two to give a slap to your other arm. Find a level where you're doing it just hard enough to make a noise, like this. Got it? Get the feel of that… now do that - and no more - to your voice box. Feel that? It chokes off your air for a moment. Makes you flinch. Feels rather weird. Now imagine even a glancing punch that lands just there, even from you against a grown man. If you can land it right, there are a lot of nasty little places you can startle and hurt people. And some really horrible things you can do if you put your weight into it."

As each of the instructions are given, Koshka follows. First tapping her arm and next her throat. She follows up with just feeling her knuckles, brushing them against the more sensitive front portion of her throat. "Just a glancing punch would hurt. A full… reall hit… Yikes." Tilting her head slightly, Koshka looks up at Ygraine.

"A full hit? You can collapse the trachea and kill someone", Ygraine says quietly. "But that is - thankfully - very unlikely to happen. There're reasons why people instinctively flinch and drop their chin if they see something coming for their throat. Better a bruised jaw than… well."

She shakes her head, as if to clear it. "Another. I think I've mentioned this one before, but… you might've heard of 'boxing someone's ears', right? Well, there's a lot more than just hearing going on in there. The body's main balance system is a system of tiny little bone canals - labyrinths - in the inner ear. One set on each side of the skull, so that you can sense movement in all three dimensions at the same time. They're well-protected - the skull is pretty good at its job. But if you slam your hands over both someone's ears at the same time, you can create a pressure wave that's got nowhere to go but in. That can burst eardrums and cause permanent damage to the balance system. You can leave someone deaf and perpetually travel-sick, dizzy and staggering."

Killing someone isn't likely something Koshka would want to do. Not unless it was really, honestly necessary. Her nose wrinkles, brows drawing together. "Yeah, maybe… if it comes down to that… I'll just do something different."

When the topic of learning turns to striking the ears, Koshka nods, recalling her own experiments with pressure and sensation. "Clap the ears if I can reach them. —Speaking of… What if I can't reach someone? If their arms are long enough to keep me out of reach." And as most people are taller than her, it's a very real situation she'll find herself in.

"A glancing blow to the ear just rings a little - doesn't do much… but the outer ear itself is quite vulnerable. Punch someone on the ear while you're wearing a ring and they're likely to bleed. A lot", Ygraine says quietly, answering an earlier point first.

"Sadly… and fortunately… the odds are that most people who want to attack you will be men. And most men upon fighting a girl or a woman will do one of two things - try to cuff you across the face or otherwise send you sprawling, generally with a casual display of strength and violence… or they'll grab you and attempt to overpower you with strength and muscle. The first, if we can teach you to dodge, can open up new opportunities. If they put force into something and meet no resistance, they'll be off-balance and surprised at the same time. The second… hrmmm. That's a lot harder, but there are some options. One of the most basic is to actively go towards them. If they grab you, spring in. Drop your whole weight heel-first onto the arch of their foot as one option. Trying to knee them in the groin generally won't work unless they're standing with their feet planted and legs apart - unsurprisingly most guys expect a women to either scratch at their face with nails, hammer uselessly at their chest with their fists, or go for their balls."

"If you're grabbed… it's one of the times that the key can be really useful. Jab it hard into anywhere soft and they'll know about it, but there're lots of other options. Lock your wrist like this, like you're gripping onto something tightly. Now poke at it with a finger, from the underside. All those lines and ridges, locked steady… imagine someone ramming a key into that. At the least, it'll hurt like crazy. And that's without stepping in and jabbing it between their ribs to relfexively collapse a lung, or going for their throat, or ramming it into their solar plexus, or jabbing them in the crotch with it."

"Less violently…? If you're willing to hurt yourself a bit, I can teach you another nasty little option, which serves as a proof of principle, in part…"

"And you said most people who attack are either looking for a fight, or have a reason." Koshka remembers that, too, and hopes she doesn't tend to look too much like a victim. "So there's those who're probably gonna try and hit me, like you said. And I can usually get away from that sort of thing. —Had practice.. when I was younger.."

With a pause, Koshka considers being grabbed. Going into the opponent instead of trying to avoid it or back out of it. "Didn't you say that guy… Um.. Jay— Jaiden? He kind've does that thing, right? Maybe I'll get lucky and run into him." Besides knowing the finer points of throwing, he would be one of those larger male types to practice against.

"And it's not so much the violence that scares me," Koshka says. "Just… well it's nothing I've done before." She'd been on the receiving end of violence before, not totally the dealing end.

"Mmm. Yeah. I was to give you some basic advice on avoiding looking like a good victim for random attacks. Remind me to get to that in a bit", Ygraine says with a wry smile. "Not that you do a bad job now, but… gah. Side-tracking. Ummm. Right."

Yes, part of the reason that I think that Jaiden and I make a good team for this is that we offer complementary style and rather different body-types. And… real violence is horrible. If you ever start liking it, figure out what to do to change that. It's an addiction, for some people. One of the worst you can have."

Clearing her throat, she holds up her left hand in front of herself, side-on and at chest height. "Mirror me. Use your other hand to take hold of your little finger. Gently fold it down so that it's curled up. Just hold the back of the lowest digit with your index finger of the other hand, and use the thumb to curl it up like this, see? It feels quite comfortable. Now gently and slowly apply more pressure. The results are quite impressive."

"Never been in real violence," Koshka says quietly. Not sure if you could say home before Elijah took her in was real violence. "But my mom's boyfriend was one of those… He …was violent." And he never seemed sorry for any of it.

The teenager gives a small shrug and looks toward her discarded jacket. "But I should find bigger people to practice with too, right? Not sure who else here knows anything, but… With so many there might be someone." If not directly for teaching purposes, she can at least find someone willing to wrestle around with her and maybe show her a trick or two.

But then Koshka's attention is drawn to the instruction, and studiously she follows Ygraine's teaching. First taking a finger and curling it, then adding her other hand into the mix until she's squeezing the little finger together. As the pressure increases, she winces and shakes her head, then her hand. "..That hurts."

"It does, yes", Ygraine says with a rueful little smile. "It's bloody hard to actually do in a fight… but an over-confident opponent, even a woman, will often grab someone seen as 'just a kid'. It's a gesture of authority - and arrogance - as well as of direct control. But you need to be a Hell of a martial artist to have a little finger too strong for you to bend and crush. Anyone competent'll get out of it pretty quickly - but for at least a moment or two, most people'll be thinking of nothing but the pain. And incompetent attackers… you can literally lead around by their little finger. You can use it to kind of lock the wrist, like this? The pain itself'll make them want to go with you when you move, and once you've got the wrist locked, you can guide the arm - and the rest of them, too."

"That's one of the keys. Make them do what you want. Find a way to get them to put in the muscle work and move their weight. There's an old adage in some of the throw-based styles that 'where the head goes, the rest will follow' - literally, you can do some quite astonishing things to people if you just get control of how their head moves. But that applies to thoughts as well - and if you can get someone utterly focused on pain… they won't do much else of use for at least a little while…."

"But that leads onto another point. A warning. I… heard that some of the refugees here thought it would be a good idea to start up a bare-knuckle boxing ring for sport. Stay the heck away from any sparring with them, please. They might well think that punching a few of your teeth down your throat would be 'a good lesson', or they might assume that we have people around who can fix shattered bones."

Kohska nods along to the warning while working hand around, manipulating the other to try various locks and pressure holds. "I haven't heard anything about a boxing ring," she answers absently. Not that it wouldn't be interesting to at least watch. "But I won't fight with them, just.. spar with people around here."

"They were told to shut it down. That's… part of the reason there are practice mats in this place", Ygraine says quietly. "But be careful who you spar with. Bare-knuckle fighting is… crazy. And the people who do it tend to regard pain as a necessary part of the learning process. They don't get to stay in most martial arts groups. Once you know what you're doing… maybe you can choose to take that sort of risk then. But while you're still very much taking your first steps…."

Shaking her head, she musters a smile. "That reminds me of another weak spot - and one you can again generally expect to be quite hard to use in a 'normal' fight, but gets a lot easier if your opponent wants you in close. The nose. Any blow to the nose tends to smart. Hit the bridge of it, up here, and you're affecting the eyes and the sinuses and probably giving the brain a good jolt, too. Hit it side-on, and you can break it very easily… but if you're serious about hurting someone, punching the nose isn't the best thing to do, though… nasty things can happen just from a punch."

"It's easier, however, to do harm with an open hand. Cock it back like this, and you bring the heel of it into play. Drive that, as hard as you can, against someone's nose and you'll pulverise it. Miss a little low, and you'll loosen their teeth - and probably smush their lips all over them. And probably gash open your hand if they have their mouth open, so it's not a win-win scenario. But if you hit someone's nose like this, while driving upwards, you can kill them. Send bone-shards straight back into the brain. And that's one of the reasons not to even spar with people who think that beating you up is necessary. Anyone who wants to pound on you as part of the learning process might wind up hurting you - or even killing you."

Using the heel of one hand against the palm of the other, Koshka tries the various sensations. She tries with knuckles as well, brows knitting together. Yeah, either could be useful in most unwanted situations. "Since.. actually hitting someone this way could probably kill them, how do you practice?"

"Initially? Non-contact", Ygraine says with a smile. "I want you to get a good feel for what's right before I ask you to produce it under significant stress. You won't succeed anywhere near all the time… but while people say that you learn from mistakes, you learn best from screwing up when you already know what you ought to be doing, and can compare what happened with that - rather than just having a teacher tell you that you did it wrong, or a sparring partner complaining about you hitting them harder than you're meant to…."

"But don't worry - we'll be moving onto contact work, I promise. Just not immediately. That does lead me into one of my other standard lectures, if you don't mind having your ear bent some more? If you'd prefer a bit of practical, then I can have you mirror my moves for a bit."

"But how I can know if I'm doing it right, if I'm not doing it to someone?" Koshka looks up at Ygraine, hands falling to her sides. "I can test it on myself, because I can see what I'm doing and feel it. But on someone else… It might be slightly different how I need to do something." There might be more, but it's lost to the teenager nodding her head.

"Let's do more of the moving stuff." It's still chilly down here, and Koshka's beginning to cool off. "That way I have more to practice, before you come back."

"Fair enough. I can talk as we move", Ygraine says, gesturing towards the middle of the corridor. She pads towards the indicated spot - moving a little away from her pack - and drops into the relaxed, poised balance of the en garde posture she showed in the first lesson. "I'll teach you the savate en garde shortly, but this one's very good for forcing you to balance." As she talks, she commences the mirroring training game, taking steps forward and back in random sequences, mutely prompting Koshka to respond immediately to keep the distance the same. "Any unsteadiness is very easily felt in this one. Now…. Remember the basics: the first foot you move is the one that's in the direction you're going. Get your two feet together and you make yourself very easy to knock over, and limit your options. Try to keep your head up and steady - again, that keeps you poised. If you lean in any particular direction, you lose a good measure of your balance."

"But I know I've told you all of that before, so we'll add another element. Part of the reason for doing this is in straight lines is that it's simple - a straight line is the simplest form of movement. In future, and especially in a more upright stance, we can do practices like this where I can move left or right as well as forward or back. But the straight line is the most basic - and it's the foundation for everything else."

Koshka falls into place across from Ygraine, a living mirror that follows her movements. Though unlike a mirror, the teenager isn't a perfect reflection, her lack of confidence wrought from inexperience in even the simpler movements showing through. Still, she tries, head tipping occasionally to watch her feet and every attempt being made to keep her motions slow and steady.

For the moment, Ygraine isn't adding extra complications by changing pace or feinting to move one way then darting the other. Instead, she wants to keep Koshka's mind and feet busy simultaneously.

"Now… part of the reason that this is simple is that there's as little to it as possible. The smallest range of movements for your body to make… and also the shortest distance. The more simple things are, the less chance there is of things going wrong - right? To a fair extent, that applies to a lot of what you do in a fight."

Rolling her shoulders a little, Ygraine comes to a halt, rising to her feet to stand in a 'normal' posture. "Now… most people if they throw a punch will try something like this" - she swings her fist at an imaginary target at about head-height… then repeats the gesture in slow motion. "It uses pretty much just the arm, a bit of the shoulder, and it travels in an arc. It's slow, weak, and rather than going from A to B in the shortest distance possible, it adds extra distance. Yet while the attack is traveling that extra way - and doing so slowly - the target only has to step back a few inches to dodge it. If you want to hit, one of the basic ideas is to have your attacks cover the shortest distance possible, and do so as fast as possible."

Coming up to stand normally, Koshka watches the punch. Her eyes narrow slightly as the second one is formed. "So you're saying big windmilling John Wayne kinds of punches are bad." Makes sense, look how much space and time there is in the exaggerated motion.

"If you can use the extra distance to put in extra power, they can be…", Ygraine says with a wry smile. "But they're a very bad habit to get into. You also want to use distance efficiently - and that means working with your muscles… and using as many of them as you reasonably can… and also using them as best you can."

Pivoting, she adopts a one-legged 'classic' mid-strike martial arts stance, torso canted one way while her free leg is raised to kick the other. "Now, you'll have seen people do this sort of thing in movies. The basic reason is to get the maximum use out of the most powerful muscles in the body." A simple kick is snapped out, then again repeated in slow motion, before she rights herself. "In my case, they're over-powered for my size, thanks to spending half my life on a bicycle. That's part of the reason I chose Savate as my style - it'd teach me to make good use of my literal greatest strength. But it can also be a good one for people without a great deal of basic strength to learn - you might as well learn to hit as hard as you can."

"A 'normal' kick" - she mimes one towards Koshka's shins - "is done with the leg pretty much straight. Just about the only power you get into it comes from swinging your hip and straightening your knee. Past a pretty low angle, you're no longer putting real power into it. One of the things we need you to learn is where you have muscles, and which ones to call upon for different types of strike. A punch, for example, should at least come from your shoulders, and you can put a lot more into it than that, if you know how. Likewise, a kick from the knee down might give someone a nasty bruise on their knee - but if I do a side-kick full-strength, I can send grown men flying if they're not set up to receive it."

Resuming playing the mirror, Koshka mimics the kicks. Slow and poised on one leg, she tries first kicking around belt level, then aims for something around the knees. With varying degrees of success. She'll have to work on flexibility as well as balance. Straightening again, the teenager looks up at Ygraine. "Don't know someone my size could do that. Kinda small. And scrawny."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "I'm not expecting you to. And, frankly, don't try any kicks against a grown man - not above the knee. He'll just catch your foot, until you're a lot faster. But the point is that we can work towards using the most powerful muscles you have, for when simply fighting dirty and running won't work… or haven't worked. It's not, and never should be, a first option. Especially while you're unskilled. Kicking someone in the nose or throat can be every bit as lethal as a hand-strike, but it's a lot more clumsy and a lot harder to pull off right."

"Now… punching. Again, it's basic physics and geometry for the most part - you want to move in straight lines, and you want to be adding force for as much of the time that you're moving as you can manage. If you're moving without making your blow harder and faster, there's a good chance you're wasting effort and should be doing something even more simple and even faster."

"So…." Ygraine adopts a classical boxer's stance. "Part of the reason that this makes sense in a boxing match is that it lets you use your hands and arms to defend yourself. It's not just that they offer an obstacle, but any attack coming in, you're already part-way to blocking. Someone trying to punch you has to get their fist to cover a distance measured in feet - you can stop that from landing on your head just by moving one or the other of your arms a few inches at most. It gives you time to see what's coming and to react to it. And it also gives you options for how to do things yourself."

A jab is cracked out, then repeated slowly. "The jab is a very quick punch, because it's pretty much as straight as possible. You start with your bicep already tensed, filled with power, and put all of that into straightening your arm. For more power, you also put a real snap into it from other muscles. I'll show you how to get all of them into it in a moment, but… that is a jab with just the arm, and that is one with all I can put into it, even right down to tap some of the power in my legs. See the difference? In contrast, the back arm is set up to be used for the real power attacks - it's got further to come, so it's slower and easier to dodge or to get something in the way of it… but if you know what you're doing then every single extra inch it travels is letting you add more power. There's this as a basic hay-maker, with just the arm and only as much rotation as is required to swing it around… or there's this where I put in everything."

"Basically… like a jab should come before a punch then?" Koshka copies the stance once again, and tries for a jab punch combination. Slowly at first, and then a second time a little faster. She frowns, hands dropping to her sides and then going into her pockets. "Can I work on that while doing the footwork stuff?"

"I'd been going to give you something a little different, to start with", Ygraine chuckles. "Less… general use, but it's very good for letting you feel a wide array of muscles, and also as a test of balance. If you've ever seen just about any kind of martial arts movie, you'll have seen someone delivering a strike from right back here, down by their hip… then driving upwards like that, yes? It makes you rotate your whole torso, and involves everything from shoulders to hips, and lets you drive a bit with your rear leg, too. Doing that very slowly can let you feel each bit activate in turn…."

"But yes, you can work on them in combination with movement - and with each other. And I can show you how to deliver the most power, when you're still and braced and can really put everything into it."

And so the lessons continue. Ygraine poses possibilities and explains basic theory on hand to hand combat with Koshka standing studious and thoughtful to the concepts. Throughout the lecture the principles are applied, the older woman demonstraighting and allowing time for the younger to attempt and feel out the motions. The teenager won't have grasped everything she's been taught today, likely it will be lost somewhere in practice.

By the time the lesson comes to an end, Koshka seems ready to find her bed, though the day still has plenty of hours left to it. She finds her jacket, and tugs it on over her hoodie. After fidgeting over the zipper, the teenager leans back against one wall, blue eyes lifting toward Ygraine. She'll be sore tomorrow.

For Ygraine, the process has been rather less tiring in a physical sense than a mental one… but she's gradually adjusting to her coaching duties, and even ventures to offer Koshka an encouraging (if somewhat sweaty) arm around the shoulders once it's over. "You're doing well", she says, tone quietly warm. "I'm pleased with your progress. Just try not to push too hard too fast… and have a think about how this kind of discipline might help you otherwise. You should be able to work from the ground up with your ability, for example. I can offer some help with that, but a lot of both this and work with your ability can be done alone - pushing yourself to make the basics second nature."

Koshka's head nods then comes to rest against the wall as well. "I'll try and be careful about that. Working with my ability and everything else, I mean. Which.. I should probably go and work on my dust stuff anyway." Which requires finding another quiet corner that's got a fair bit of debris to it. The teenager grins tiredly up at Ygraine.

The Briton chuckles. "I'd recommend having a bit of a rest now. Grab something to eat. Clear your thoughts a little. If you move straight onto something else, your mind'll still be half here, most likely. And since I'm trying to help you to feel what you're doing so that you can control it and figure out how to shape it… it's probably a good idea to make sure you're not thinking about how to keep your centre of gravity in balance, or how you tweaked your wrist a bit."

A warm, encouraging smile, then Ygraine chuckles again. "But I am pleased with you. Your enthusiasm and your hard work. Now… I can show you one of the places I've done a bit of practice myself, while out here - but first, I want a drink." Stooping to pick up her pack, she flashes a grin then guides her young protege off into the innards of the castle.

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