Form And Foils


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Scene Title Form And Foils
Synopsis There are a few extra visitors at Asami Tetsuzan's fencing class, both familiar and not.
Date September 2, 2020

Claremont Center - Training Hall C

"Today, we're going to work on your consistency," Asami says, dressed down in athleticwear today instead of bearing a vest with a facemask propped against her hip. Still, she holds her training foil pinned to her side by her arm, looking at her students, maintaining at least that level of normal to her posture. In front of the mirrored wall in the hall they use for training in swordplay, tennis balls hang at the end of knotted strings, patiently waiting for their role to see completion.

"This is a practice I do myself at home, so don't underestimate its use, all right?" Her head dips forward in a momentary glower of warning. This wasn't the most glamourous exercise to go through, but no less critical in her mind. Reaching up to grab the handle of the foil, she brings it around and moves herself to face the ball at the end of the line, blade's tip to the ground. She stands sideways for the sake of her demonstration. Her free hand comes to her core in a telegraph to mind for posture as she sinks down just so onto her knees without losing the straightness in her spine. "You're going to take everything we've learned so far and put it on display here, whether you first realize it or not. If you decide you want to take this home with you and keep practicing, this is one of the best ways to practice your form and keep it consistent. What we're going to do is assume our stance, and hold our posture. Your torso should stay up the entire time, only one foot moves with you. We'll take that, and—"

With the most precise lunge, barely stepping out at all, Asami prods the tennis ball with the tip of her foil, directly in the center. It goes swinging back, then hits the tip of the foil again, coming to a still.

"The goal I want you to work toward, is that— gaining control over your touches and making your stance work for you. Watch yourself— correct yourself if you see yourself slipping. Try to see if you can hit the ball so it comes back and lands on the button again. Then do it again."

It's harder than it looks.


The mirrors aren't the only thing that reflect Asami’s presence and movement. Jac Petrelli poses every bit as much like the instructor, following footwork and posture with the accuracy that comes from hours and years of practice. Although she's been a student for only a couple of years, the hours portion is well in the bag. Her eyes dart back and forth between her own reflection and Asami’s form. Studying and comparing join with small shifts and repositionings of feet or shoulders.

The teen’s concentration is clearly on perfecting her stance and weight distribution, but this is an exercise she's participated in before. She knows the rules.

Jac’s eyes come up on the question. They always do, and she's always ready for the next challenge. Without so much as a verbal response, she sinks into the stance, trusting her muscles to remember the feel of everything lining up properly and just so. It takes less than a second, the thrust of her foil happening as soon as she's moved. The tennis ball is tapped away, swings back when it reaches the end of its arc, then bumps and rolls off the end of her foil.

As all this has been going on, a cautiously deadened swishing marks the opening and closing of the door to the training room, replaced with even greater delicacy afterwards by the visitor who enters through it so as to create the least amount of disruption while the lesson is ongoing.

A little Taiwanese woman is present as the newest spectator, an inoffensive slip of a thing in a lined crepe coat and a dark-blue cloche hat embroidered with a single, modest felt rose. At first glance, she might just be some mother here to pick up her kid from karate practice.

But by the look of it, she is here alone, and the mood evoked by the way she carries herself is one of almost tremulous uncertainty. It seems she does not wish to make herself an imposition on the proceedings between Jac and Asami, and so she settles herself into a place where she can just watch, apparently impressed by what she observes over the next few minutes to a point of quiet awe.

It is only once an appropriate lull falls that Yi-Min at last ventures to ask the question she holds so closely to herself, her accented voice sounding very worriedly polite— "Pardon me. Is this where to sign up for fencing lessons?"

The distant sound of the door to the training hall opening is accompanied by a flurry of apologetic noises. “ごめんなさい.”1 Can be heard spluttered out by a short, dark-haired man adjusting his glasses as he steps through the door.

“Hiro how many times do I have to tell you work on your English.” Kimiko Park enters behind her brother Hiro Nakamura a moment after, carrying a gym bag in one hand and a drafting tube slung over her shoulder.

“Sorry.” Hiro says with a grimace, holding the door open. “You’re only a little late?”

Kimiko fixes Hiro with a stern look, then relents when she hears a jubilant giggle of delight come in after her. Ami Park hops through the open doorway, looking back over her shoulder at someone and smiling broadly and giddily. She hooks an arm around her uncle’s shoulders, grinning broadly. “ドンマイ,”2 she says with a quirk of one brow up.

Thank you uncle,” Ami adds before placing a kiss on his cheek and leaning away to catch up to her mother. Kimiko angles a look between Ami and Hiro and back again, eliciting a toothy grin from the teenager. “He got me volume 4 of The Drifting Classroom.”

Kimiko immediately fixes Hiro with a steely look. “You were late picking her up because you were buying manga?!

Got to go!” Hiro yelps, shuffling out of the door and waving backwards after himself. Kimiko closes her eyes and sucks in a sharp breath through her nose, then exhales and lets her shoulders slack as she thrusts the gym bag and drafting tube over to Ami.

“Enjoy your class.” Kimiko says, one brow twitching. “I’m going to go break a shinai over your uncle’s head.”

Slinging the gym bag over her shoulder and taking the drafting tube by the stap, Ami leans in and kisses her mother on the cheek like nothing is wrong at all. “See you after class.”

The initial intrusion by the new visitor is so soft it goes unheard by Asami at first, until one of the students turn first to see Yi-Min. "Just ask if you have questions," she advises her students, then she completes her turn to see the new face for herself instead of just in the mirror, brow arcing. The eventual question breaks the expectation in the look she gives the other woman, a smile replacing it instead.

"Yes, we can get you signed up here," she replies easily. "But I'm not the sort of person that makes someone sign up for something they're not sure of. I'd be happy to have you stick around today and decide for yourself…" With a curious cant of her head as she tries to read Yi-Min's body language, she suggests, "You can watch, or, if you want to take your coat off, join us for warm-ups. We're taking it easy today, practicing form. It'd be a great spot to jump in."

But she can't resist the siren's call of her native tongue forever, when the Park family comes through the doorway next. Her brow begins to furrow a touch, a polite nod given to Kimiko, and then she moves on back to Yi-Min. Ami knows the drill. She can join on her own time.

The Japanese invasion that happens not long after Yi-Min lets herself in makes her consciously shrink even further into the background, like a hitchhiker avoiding a group of moose thundering across the road in front of her.

It takes her a minute to recompose her upset mental footing, but Asami addressing her makes her look back up with an expression of barely suppressed shock in her gaze.

And though it doesn't quite dissolve away entirely, her sheepishness brightens into a glow of evident pleasure at the fact that Asami isn't immediately throwing her out for clearly not belonging there. "Yes!" she says in a quiet but more chipper tone of voice, doffing her flower-felted hat right as she does— whether out of excitement or fear that Asami would change her mind right then and there if she were too slow left unclear.

"I would love this, and I am sorry if I get in the way. I shall try my best not to." Already, she’s looking back towards the floor at where Jac is so gracefully performing her exercises.

Jac moves, feet adjusting ever so slightly, back and shoulders resting just so. She jabs the ball again with the precision and grace of a cat. One who's severely miscalculated her jump and landed in a filled bath. The force behind was a little too much for the distraction of Ami and family entering.

She grins and waves at the other girl, wrongly estimating — and probably definitely trying help Asi talk up the class by showing off a little bit — the return of the tennis ball.

Luckily for everyone, it's harmless. Especially when Jac reacts in surprised instinct and whaps the felt-covered orb soundly before it baps her in the face. The ball breaks from its string and bounces once, thock, off the mirror, once again against the floor. From there it rolls, trailed by wide blue eyes and a cringe that defines whoops, toward the door.

By the benches, Ami sets down her backpack and switches into proper shoes, unzips her hoodie and throws it over her bag, and then unfastens the cap on her drafting tube, withdrawing a fencing foil from inside where it’s stashed in the middle of actual drafting paper. Grinning ear to ear, Ami puts the cap back on the tube and hustles over to one of the lockers to grab a vest and mask, donning the former and keeping the latter under her arm.

Treading across the floor toward where Asami is, Ami sets down her mask on the mat since they’re only doing form practice and bounces up and down on the balls of her feet. She slants a sideways glance at Yi-Min, one brow raised, then leeeeeeeans over into Jac’s personal space, shielding her mouth with one hand as she asks “Who’s that?” in a noisy whisper.

Since Yi-Min hasn't been scared off yet by the enthusiasm of the younger cabal of students, ready to jump in nonetheless, Asami makes a thin small smile that otherwise gleams in her eyes. While the fresh arrival is ridding herself of her coat, she looks over her shoulder toward Ami while she crosses back to where the others are practicing.

At least it's a small group today. Apart from Jac, there had only been three others.

"I'm Asami. The others here today—" referenced with a look in the direction of each, "are Marco, Hannah, June, Jac, and Ami." With a glance back to Yi-Min, Asami confides with a smile, "No tests on names. Just your form once you pick up your foil." She breaks off from where they stand to dig into the storage locker of equipment.

When she returns, it's to offer Yi-Min a foil of her own. "You grasp it like so," the instructor says with a demonstration with her own. "It's quite light, but the weight is almost all in the grip. It can take some getting used to when you're in the heat of the moment…" which implies maybe Yi-Min will get some sparring practice before she goes for the day.

"And I've more than once been asked 'just like a lightsaber?', so, yes— after a hair of research, I can now confirm, it's just like a lightsaber." Asami lets out a quiet laugh filled with mirth, glancing the direction of the younger two.

“I don't know.” Jac’s voice is less a whisper and more of a soft pitched murmur. She turns her head to further confer with Ami about Yi-Min’s presence, unbothered or unaware that her personal bubble has been invaded. In fact it's actually welcomed, because it means she doesn't need to worry about being heard by the rest of the class and especially not heard by their instructor.

“A newbie.” Jac’s voice is still soft, and it carries a slight giggle as she flicks a look in the woman’s direction. “I don't think I've seen her before.” And she assumes the other girl hasn't either, given the question. Missing Asami’s turn in their direction, Jac looks at Ami with brows raising and a grin tightening her cheeks. “Do you think she’ll stay? It would be good to have someone new, for when we spar.”

When Yi-Min sheds the voluminous shape of her crepe coat and hangs it away in the nook dedicated to such things, it's as though she also peels back some of the mantle of hesitation that had been afflicting her mannerisms up to that point.

It isn't hard to tell which of the two items had, in fact, been the more cumbersome.

Underneath, it can be seen that she had come prepared to the lesson; she wears capris and a black racerback tank that exposes her slim, wiry frame. She might be new to fencing, but at least she isn't at all out of shape.

"Thank you for asking. I think I do plan to stay," Yi-Min announces cheerfully without looking up towards where Jac and Ami are conversing, her dark eyes disclosing the same glow of contentment as her expression. Yes, she'd overheard from all the way over here. It's with the instructor that her true interest lies though, not these two teenagers, and she follows the initial instructions given once Asami returns with rapt attention. "Indeed? Do you offer lightsaber dueling classes too? I hear it is an international sport now," she can't resist remarking with a docile but cheeky grin of her own, her gaze bright on the handle of the foil that she had been given to grip.

“My uncle has a lightsaber,” Ami says cheerfully, carefully following Asami’s instructions. “It’s plastic, but it lights up and makes noises when you swing it. He used to have two, but I broke one of them.” Her smile spreads into a guilty grimace, followed by a flutter of laughter.

“I think being an unbearable nerd is his international sport,” Ami thinks to note after the fact, giving her foil a little unnecessary flourish in the air, offering a side-long look to Jac. “Speaking of which, are you up for going to Chinatown later? I need to pick up some DVDs for my uncle and I was thinking about getting some boba or something and checking out the shops.” Ami hadn’t been terribly close to Jac, but there’s a reluctant hesitance in her expression and a fond smile that shows she’s trying.

That Yi-Min proves she came more prepared than she let on brings Asami's poker face to slip, brow climbing for a moment in appreciation for the way she sheds her modesty like a snake would shed its skin. She gives the woman an appraising nod as she moves past, looking to her other students again. That they've all caught on to the lightsaber comment brings her to have a wry grin of her own.

"Maybe someday we'll work with lightsabers, but today's not that day. You all have work ahead of you yet."

Asami claps her hands before her twice. "I want to see perfect posture through these exercises first. Let's line it back up and get started."

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