the adventures of rick oahu ~ chapter 2 ~ the weapon makers
Chapter 2 ~ The Weapon makers
The large Korean plains town of Onsong borders North Korea and the southeast edge of Monolith China. It is separated only by the river Tuman (The river of skulls); a desolate plain of mute earth which is the bitter wind-swept witness of a hundred thousand deaths on this ancient battleground.
Fifteen kilometres south from the town centre the North Korean Army has levelled and cleared an old rice farm of about 1,000 square metres.
They have surrounded it with guard towers and razor wire fences fifteen foot high.
There is only poor shelter within these fences and the eight men imprisoned there work ceaselessly in their Wushu training. Silent black robed Chinese masters work with them in the techniques of Xingyiquan *1, Southern Fist *2 and Baguashang *3. Some trainees squat over containers of wet river sand and gravel, rapid punching into the surfaces with their open fingers.
This man, a shaven headed and sun-blackened Englisher crouches over his torment and punches twenty blows to the minute into hard packed gravel, both hands, nine hours without ceasing, twice a day. He mutters away any interfering reasoning that the task is voluntary rather than punishment.
The ends of his wrists are clubs.
This other man, a bitten down Australian youth with the wide shoulders of a surfer stands over his devil and punches into a drum of river pebbles with a remorseless energy, each blow knuckle deep, every blow always with the one hand.
All the fingers of his punching hand are blackened and he is no longer able to bend either the forefinger or the index finger as both have been wrapped together for six months with skin swathes taken from his calf muscle and have been bound by cured animal tendons. Visiting surgeons from the Sinwan Bone Implant Hospital have attended to the union and have prepared the conjoined and exposed pair of fingernails into an oversized and bone hard single stabbing point. The Australian uses a whetstone to sharpen the nail, and he punches and punches into and through the stones. Acupuncturists regularly attend the men as the endless regime of toughening fingers weakens the eyes.
– and thus is the weapon fashioned. Thus is human evolution hurried backward.
An Iraqi youth with fingers like talons strikes into his barrel of wet sand with the controlled psychopathic hysteria of a man in hot battle. His back is a griddle of deep hotwire scars earned by his insolence and fortitude in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib.
The Quan Shuzi Society admits only eight men for each twenty-five month training term and after the payment of $550,000 USD by their sponsors, and then after they have undergone extensive vetting by both the Chinese and American security services. This is the only known cooperative success involving China, America and North Korea and is a highly secretive arrangement. The money is not refundable, even if a man is found unsuitable at vetting stage.
Men in training either die under the harsh conditions, are killed as unsuitable, or are set free after they have completed their training at which time they become available for selective hire.
There is no shelter within the wire, no running water, no bedding. Their clothing is discarded at the entrance and replaced with uncured animal skins. They are allowed no weapons.
Rain or snow is their only deliverance from thirst.
Three times a week live pigs, chickens and fruit are thrown over the wire for sustenance.
Conversation between the attendees is forbidden, as is masturbation, as is prayer.
Their God is their hand and the weapon it can be fashioned into.
Mindful of the unwavering barrels of the Chinese and Korean Guards Rick grasps the razor wire and yanks it hard enough for the whole southern wall of the compound to shiver and when he releases the strands he smiles at his unbloodied palms. The path from Brisbane to Korea has taken over two years and in a week he has an appointment in Hong Kong for his first assignment.
Somebody will die. The first.
* 1 -Xingyiquan – The word translates approximately to “Form/Intention Boxing”, or “Shape/Will Boxing”, and is characterized by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power. There is no single organizational body governing the teaching of the art, and several variant styles exist.
* 2 -Southern Fist – Contemporary Nanquan features vigorous, athletic movements with very stable, low stances, extensive hand techniques and a vocal articulation called fasheng (“release shout”) which is the predecessor of the Japanese and Korean martial arts kiai. Power is driven from sharp waist movement with special emphasis on fast stance transition to generate power and speed in the arms. Signature hand techniques of Nanquan are the consecutive downward strikes of the left and right fist called Gua Gai Quan (Gwa Kup Kuen; 挂盖拳)
*3 – Baguashang – The practice of circle walking, or “turning the circle”, as it is sometimes called, is bagua zhang’s characteristic method of stance and movement training. All forms of bagua zhang utilize circle walking prevalently as an integral part of training. Practitioners walk around the edge of the circle in various low stances, facing the center, and periodically change direction as they execute forms
Banner image is of the reception committee, and of Oahu passing into the camp.