Kojiki and Hunan
Kojiki and Hunan:
Over three millennia ago foreigners came to the shores of the Hammerlands from a land far, far to the east. The reasons why and how have now been long forgotten, like their ancestral homelands, and like their homelands the peoples of that land are shrouded in mystery.
It is not known why they came, perhaps seeking freedom from persecution or just new lands to inhabit, but when they arrived in the Heimallands they found the land already inhabited with a variety of strange folk. Elves and Dwarves were abundant and vicious bands of barbarians were prospering in nearly every corner of the land. What followed was a bloody conflict that would last nearly a century.
The next 85 years are known to scholars as the Age of Strife. Trying to carve their place in the land brought the foreign settlers into direct conflict with the native peoples, and the radical difference in culture proved too large an obstacle to overcome. Additionally, they brought with them ancient cultural rivalries, a feud between the Kojiki and Hunan that had existed since the birth of their people, one which has not diminished today.
Eventually the bloody conflicts subsided and the Kojiki and Hunan withdrew to independent and remote areas, removing themselves from the day to day activities of the lands. They cut themselves off and moved into sprawling city-temples for protection and to preserve their ways. The next ten centuries are known as the Age of Isolation, and for a little over 1,000 years these two cultures remained in near total Xenophobic isolation. It wasn’t until the rise of Tokugawa Matsumoto that the isolation was broken and the Kojiki once more moved among the peoples of the land. Matsumoto declared himself the first Shogun and decreed that all the peoples, Kojiki and Hunan, must follow his rule into the new millennium. The Hunan did not agree. Led by the Priests of Shao Ling they fought the rule of Shogun Tokugawa. The next period is known as the Age of War.
Today, there is division in the Daimyo of the Kojiki as well as the Hunan Shao Ling, with each City-State ruling itself, keeping their own customs as well as their own agendas. Fighting more amongst themselves than with the Holmish neighbors they tentatively share the land with.
Kojiki: The Way of the Bushido
Like the Hunan, the Kojiki have a long and rich martial tradition. The Bugei, or Martial Arts were founded and taught by family organizations known as ryu. Each ryu has its own teachings and style of the bugei. One of the most famous was the Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, founded by the legendary Iizasa Choisai Ieno Sensei. Born in the Age of War at the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate, in the Chiba Prefecture, he was a gifted warrior and martial artist. He won countless battles on the edge of his blade and much honor and glory, fighting for the Chiba family. When Chiba fell after the battle of Honmei, he retreated to Katori Shrine (at age 60) and dedicated himself to philosophical study and martial training. After a period of 1000 days, he returned and founded the teachings which became known as Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. He lived until the age of 102 and left behind a massive body of philosophical and martial teachings. These teachings were later adopted and incorporated into the base beliefs of the warrior class known as the Bushi, known as the Way of the Bushido. After the Muromachi period these warriors were referred to by a more commonly known name: Samurai.
The Bushi carry two swords, the o-dachi (or longsword) and the ko-dachi (or shortsword). The most famous of these combinations being the Katana and Wakizashi. A great deal of ritual and custom deals with the handling and care of these weapons. For example if, when kneeling in respect, a warrior positions his sword to the right then he is signaling noble intentions, if to the left it is a sign of mistrust or hostility to the host. If he places his sword with the handle facing his host then he is challenging the skill of the host. Also, to step over the sword of another while it is on the ground is considered a grave insult to the bearer, for to the Bushi, the sword is the soul, and to disrespect it in such a way is often to invite a duel, likely to the death.
For those Kojiki who venture out into the lands of the savages, far away from their City-Temples, slight or minor infractions are sometimes overlooked (though not always), as the ignorant, uncultured ways of the peoples there.
Hunan: The Shao Ling Tradition
One of the most rich and diverse of the Martial Traditions, The Hunan founded the Shao Ling temple for the training and spiritual teaching of its monks. It wasn’t until the Age of War, under the first Emperor Ch’ ing that their prowess in battle became fully realized. After the Ch’ ing Dynasty, when the Emperor feared the combined might of the monks as a force beyond his direct control, he ordered the Shao Ling temple to disband. The monks were scattered and divided, often having splinter groups formed under the teaching of a particular master, and some groups forming anti-political parties like the White Lotus and White Lily societies. It wasn’t until much after the Ch’ ing Dynasty fell that the Shao Ling temple was reformed. Unable to decide on one specific set of tenets however, there was much division in this reconciliation, and there was much competition from the differing styles. A rift that carries on all the way into the world of today.
Northern Style; The monks who fled to the north were forced to travel high up into the mountains and travel long distances in search of sustenance and safety. As a result, strength of the legs were considered of paramount importance. Grace and flowing movement marks the Northern styles, as well as wide and strong stances. One of the more important aspects of the Northern Styles is their focus on kicks. Ranging from jumping style kicks to the flying sidekicks, good legwork was critical on the often uneven ground of their battlefields. The Northern Styles include forms like Crane, Dragon, Eagle, Horse, and Praying Mantis.
Southern Styles; The monks who stayed in the south worked in the lush agricultural fields of the areas as well as travelled the many waterways between temples, using their upper bodies for rowing and toiling in the dirt. As such, the Southern Styles are marked by a focus on the upper body. Combining strong solid stances with flurries of lightning punches, low direct kicks and grappling arm movements, the short efficient movements of the Southern Styles focus on quick attack and overpowering your foe. Styles include Monkey, Cobra, Leopard, Snake and Tiger.