Several days passed as Niu took on the responsibility of training the Clan of the Mediocre Yet Effective Club Bonk. The big man, much as his master once did, strolled past his students with his hands clasped behind his back, spouting words of wisdom. However, seeing as how the Whirlwind and his men had been standing on one foot on top of turned over buckets for the past three hours, they weren’t all that interested in listening.
“To become a kung fu warrior, you must learn to ignore all the signs of weakness presented by your body,” Niu said. “You must overcome them in order to become a better version of yourself.”
“I’ve got to piss,” a clan member shouted.
“Ignore it,” Niu said. “For once you are locked in battle, your body will ache with all sorts of pains. Every inch of your body will beg you to rest but your opponent will not afford you any respite.”
“I’ve got to sneeze like a bastard,” the Whirlwind said.
“Ignore it,” Niu said.
The Whirlwind tilted his head back. “Ah…ahh…”
Niu placed the edge of his pointer finger under the informal organizer’s nose.
“I feel like we don’t know each other well enough for this,” the Whirlwind said.
“We shall soon become brothers on the field of battle,” Niu said. “There is no task a brother should be embarrassed about helping another brother with. Is that better?”
“Quite,” the Whirlwind said.
Niu removed his finger and carried on. “Only mental strength can overcome physical weakness. When pitted against a dangerous adversary, you must not burden your mind with thoughts of how much your back hurts, or how tired you are, but rather, what is the best way to strike back at your opponent so that you may save yourself and continue to contribute to your clan’s glory.”
The Whirlwind chuckled. “Sounds like pussy talk. Bring on the gold!”
The other clan members hooted and hollered in agreement.
“Yes, well,” Niu said. “There won’t be much of that either if you don’t learn to control yourself.”
“Can’t we stop now?” a random clan member whined.
“Four hours,” Niu said. “No more. No less. And remember, we fight as a chain and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link…”
“Cliched drivel,” the Whirlwind said.
“Yet true all the same,” Niu said. “The first warrior to break on the field will bring his entire clan down. Accordingly, the first man to fall before the fourth hour is complete will be responsible for making all of you have to repeat this exercise again in its entirety.”
The Whirlwind’s nose twitched. “Ahh…ahh…”
Niu put his finger underneath the Whirlwind’s nose once more.
“Thank you,” the Whirlwind said.
“Don’t mention it,” Niu replied.
“Fight through it, brother,” Niu said.
And with that, Niu took a face full of snot as the Whirlwind fell off of his bucket and down on his backside. The remaining clan members moaned and groaned as they dismounted their buckets.
Niu shook his head as he offered the Whirlwind a hand. The informal organizer took it, then rose to his feet.
“Far be it from me to criticize a renowned member of the great Clan of the Sacred Yet Inscrutable Tiger Claw, but I thought when you said we were going to undergo kung fu training, we might, oh, I don’t know…”
The Whirlwind raised his voice. “…learn how to throw a punch or two!”
“Punch me,” Niu said.
“What?” the Whirlwind replied.
Niu glared at his student. “Go on.”
The Whirlwind was puzzled. He looked to his men, who were eagerly watching. Not wanting to disappoint them, the informal organizer made a fist, hauled his hand back, and fired it at Niu’s chest.
“OW!” The Whirlwind shook his hand as if he’d just attempted to punch a brick wall. The big man stood quietly, smiling and unscathed.
“Did that hurt?” Niu asked.
“Immensely!” the Whirlwind said.
“Punch me again,” Niu said.
“No,” the Whirlwind said.
“Why not?” Niu said.
The Whirlwind cradled his aching hand as if it were a wounded bird. “Because it…hurts.”
The informal organizer nodded as if he just understood a lesson.
“When your opponent is not your instructor, but rather, a member of the Clan of the Terrifyingly Unnatural Brain Bite, do you think you will be allowed to take a break until your hand feels better?”
“No,” the Whirlwind replied.
“You’ll have to fight through the pain and keep punching because it’s either his brain or yours,” Niu said.
“Understood,” the Whirlwind said.
Niu clapped his hands twice. “Come, students. Rest for a few minutes, get some water, then its back on the buckets for four more hours.”
That command was met with all manner of complaints and obscenities.
“We will keep doing this until all of you complete four hours together,” Niu said.
The clan members continued to say terrible things about their instructor as they dispersed.
“You know, for a fatalist, you sure work hard,” the Whirlwind said.
“Perhaps I’m just taking what the fates have given me and doing my best,” Niu replied.
“Perhaps we should all just drink and fornicate until the day we die and if the fates want to motivate us to do something different, they’ll find a way,” the Whirlwind said.
“They did,” Niu said as he patted the Whirlwind on the back. “They brought me to you.”
The Whirlwind rubbed his sore hand. “Can’t imagine how badly it hurts to perform the tiger claw move.”
“Luckily for you, you won’t find out,” Niu said.
The Whirlwind looked betrayed. “Oh come on. We’ve been standing on buckets for days and you won’t even teach us your clan’s signature move?”
“There is no time,” Niu said. “One begins to unlock the secrets of the Sacred Yet Inscrutable Tiger Claw as a child and only fully masters it as an adult after many years of training. All I have time for is to teach you and your men how to strengthen your bodies and minds and perhaps a few basic moves.”
“Then how are we supposed to separate one of those brain biting bastards from its brains?” the Whirlwind asked.
Niu winced. “As much as it pains me to say this, you will have to incorporate your clubs into the moves I will show you.”
The Whirlwind grinned and pointed at Niu. “Club Fu is real!”
“It is not real,” Niu replied.
“Official recognition from a member of the Clan of the Sacred Yet Inscrutable Tiger Claw that the Mediocre Yet Effective Club Bonk is a real kung fu move,” the Whirlwind said.
“Bonking someone over the head with a club is not a kung fu move,” Niu said.
“Isn’t it?” the Whirlwind asked.
“No,” Niu replied.
“But isn’t it?” the Whirlwind asked.
The big man pulled a chrysanthemum out of his pocket and chomped on it.
“Why do you keep eating flowers like some kind of ignoramus?” the Whirlwind asked.
“I was going to get to that,” Niu said. “You all must eat them to avoid becoming undead.”
“I’d say you’re joking but I doubt you have a humorous bone in your entire, ridiculously large body,” the Whirlwind said.
Niu reached into his pocket and handed the Whirlwind a chrysanthemum. “Tell your men to pick more. They must be eaten constantly to avoid brain lust.”
“Brain lust?” the Whirlwind asked.
“The desire to consume a brain in order to obtain the knowledge inside,” Niu said.
The Whirlwind bit the head off of the chrysanthemum. “Not the worst thing that’s ever been in my mouth.”
Niu grimaced as he walked away. “Your face, attitude and general demeanor offend me to no end.”
The Whirlwind shrugged his shoulders as he popped the chrysanthemum stem between his teeth and held it there as if it were a toothpick. “Sounds like one of my wives.”
“Ungh.” The Whirlwind realized he was not alone. The man who had been complaining about the need for a pee break was on the ground and groaning.
The informal organizer walked over to the man. “Break time, fella. You can go relieve yourself.”
“Too late,” the man said.