After arriving on Wudan mountain, Priest Master Shi Yan Hui instructed me to practice Ki-zami-zuki for 100 years.
Upon completion, I was ordered down the mountain and to stand in front of a large tree.
“Cobra,” Master started. “Demonstrate to me, what you have learned. Use your bare hands to cause as much damage to this tree as you can.”
I struck the tree three times, with perfect accuracy, producing a small dent in its bark and shattering the bones in my hand.
I returned to form and gathered chi, yet the pain was too much to bear. I told Yan Hui, that I could not strike any longer. He reached across and grabbed my broken fist. He began to squeeze. “You have learnt nothing!” he shouted.
He began to squeeze even harder... He smiled as I attempted to hide the pain. And then he let go. With tears in my eyes, I returned to stance.
I watched him reach up and pluck a leaf from the tree and let it float off into the wind. “That part of the tree will surely die.
The tree will not be the same without it. That’s damage, is it not? With my bare hands, no?”
He continued: “You sit with a broken hand, I will pluck a few more leaves. Maybe I will pluck them all, and enjoy my tea.”
That’s exactly what he did. Every single leaf. The odd tea broke, before walking back to his quarters. With his hands perfectly intact.
As punishment for my ignorance, Po ordered me to stand in front of the tree in a crane position until the leaves regrew the following year.
Rain. Snow. Cold. Wind. I did not move. For 365 days.
My hand healed. The leaves returned.
Such is the way of Wudan.