I was so excited I could barely think properly. My 15th match was bound to happen and I just knew I was going to win it (although I took another longer break before I got back into martial arts), but a little fear of failure was left at the back of my mind and I desperately tried to ignore it. It wasn’t like I would fuck everything up if I lost, right? Okay, it was exactly how it was. Funny…
A guy called Lee Yao walked up to me and pulled out a violet fan. I tried to tell to tell him how funny it looked, but he didn’t understand Simlish. Or maybe just didn’t listen. Whatever.
Everything worked out as well as it could, although I almost died out of laughter when I realized he had socks on as well. Seriously, what’s wrong with these guys? I was wondering whether Li Yuan lent him those, but nope, the smell was too nice for them to be his.
I let out a sigh of relief. Four more to go. I could do this. You can do this, Sam. You can do this.
My next opponent was Lin Hua. Again. I can’t say I was very surprised when I saw her. After so many other times sparring with her before, I was relaxed and self-confident. I had already known all her weak points and how to make use of them. I won.
Delighted, I threw my hand in the air. I was almost there, almost the champion, the winner, I almost had everything I wanted. Almost. Lin Yua stared bluffly at me as she was leaving. Jealous much? Or maybe she had dreams of finally winning with me? Well…in her dreams!
I breathed slowly, waiting for my next sparring partner to show up. Oh, Shen, we haven’t seen each other for a while. You’re in for a little game with me? He glared at me right after bowing.
“This time will be your last, Pink Shirt,” he said through gritted teeth. I smiled at his funny accent.
“I don’t think so, homophobic ass,” I replied as we began the sparring.
I won once again. I wiped my forehead and realized my whole body was wet from the sweat. Was it because of making physical effort or rather because my penultimate fight was bound to happen? Probably a fine mixture of both.
I nodded at the woman as I saw Sima Zhi walking in my direction. This wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought. I bit my lip as I noticed the black belt around her hips. Fuck it, it’s not like these belts meant anything. She and her fat ass sucked and I knew it. And soon enough I would prove it to her.
So, that was it. I won exactly nineteen sparrings in a row throughout the last 11 years I spent in China practicing, working hard and doing everything I could to ace every and each one of those ranked sparring matches. And now I was frightened as hell when I realized there was only one opponent left for me.
The Grand Master Deng Wang, the skillful man who managed to win 20 ranked matches in a row and now could be proud of the title. I felt my heart beating in my chest at such a fast pace that I could well have been some fucking rabbit and not a man. What was wrong with me? I couldn’t chicken out. Not now. I gulped my saliva and looked the man straight in the eyes. He didn’t look scary. In fact there was something oddly reassuring about him. I just didn’t understand why in the world he put on the white belt when everyone knew of his rank. I was a bit confused, to be honest.
It was a very important match for me, most important of them all. If I was able to beat Deng, I would be the next Great Master and prove myself worthy in the eyes of the whole China. Below I will attach you a little video where you can see how quick and yet full of twists and turns was my fight with Deng.
As we bowed, we both knew it was a legendary moment, time for Deng to pass on his metaphorical crown and the title along with it. Because of the fact that I, Samien Robinson, managed to fight my last opponent and earned myself the title. It still didn’t come to me in its fullest as I tried to ensure myself that it really was the end. I was ripped off of my thoughts by the sound of Deng Wang clapping his hands.
“Congratulations, you made it,” he said and there wasn’t a tang of wrath in his tone. His congratulation was sincere and I found it surprising.
“Thank you,” I said, grinning widely. I FUCKING MADE IT, RIGHT?!
I stood on the sort of a “scene”, not sure how to call it, along with some reporter and Deng Wang. Bright reflectors shone me right in the eyes and I was wondering why the fuck the people here thought they needed that much light IN THE DAYLIGHT. Were they fucking insane? I could barely see anything. Maybe the people who gathered for the celebration saw more than me, though.
Suddenly it all began. I regained my posture, trying to make anything out of the reporter’s words. All I could understand was “Samien Robinson” (said very weirdly) and “Deng Wang”, which I learned I pronounced quite differently to them. Not that I cared, though. Finally the man stopped talking and an interpreter standing beneath us next to the scene started translating his words to Simlish. Nice of them to have thought of me.
“Welcome to the special ceremony, in which we are going to pass on the martial arts Grand Master title from our latest master Deng Wang to the new master, Samien Robinson. He’s a foreigner and spent the last 11 years of his life working hard to earn the title. We are pleased to see that a foreigner managed to master our favorite sport.”
I sent some kisses to the audience, while the reporter was readying himself for another speech and Deng Wang seemed like he wanted to get it done with as soon as possible. It sounded so fake, but I was still proud of myself. The presenter started talking shit again and when the reflector stopped shining me in the eyes for a moment, I spotted Adaeze sending me her dissatisfied look.
I realized that from now for sure she’d for sure never be satisfied. I was her last hope. I sent her a smile in return. See, Adaeze, it’s not your work, it’s mine.
For the biggest part of the celebration the presenter talked and talked and talked about the history of martial arts. The interpreter was relentless and kept on translating. I thought I’d fall sleep right there. People there must have heard this story a million of times, but they still seemed quite attentive. Were they brainwashed or something?
Anyway, when I closed my eyes and almost took a nap there, I suddenly realized that the presenter was looking at me with a gift in his hands.
I heard the interpreter saying that I now needed to get changed for I was given a new martial arts uniform. This sounded interesting.
I turned to the audience and thanked for the gift, wondering how the hell they folded the uniform to fit it in the rather small box. Oh, whatever, I was going to see how in a while. I turned to leave the scene and headed to the room behind us to get changed.
When I came back, everyone was cheering and checking out my brand new black-yellow uniform. I have to admit it was rather stylish, but not as fancy as I thought it’d be.
“Thank you, Samien. And now it’s time for you to perform a traditional bow in front of everyone present as a symbolic gesture of giving away the title,” announced the interpreter, so I approached Deng and performed the “traditional bow”, which, to me, wasn’t any different than a normal bow.
In the end I showed off the traditional martial arts movements and observed the crowd with pride. Adaeze avoided my gaze, looking to the side, and apparently desperately wanting to be somewhere else. I imagined she was silently nagging Biyu, who seemed to rather enjoy the celebration, to go home.
Anyway, soon enough it really was time to go to our houses and when I say houses I really mean it, because I gained a huge amount of money and a certificate of partnership along with my new uniform and was finally able to buy myself a real house in China and leave this damn base camp. I was the king there, the most famous persona everyone looked up to. I was so respected that no Shen or Adaeze could make fun of me anymore.
The house I chose was the farthest from the town center I could get. You know, I liked fame, but I wanted solitude at times, too. Plus I got too used to living far from people because of my previous house on the swamps of Twinbrook. Of course these could not be compared with how fancy this one was. Do they even have ugly houses in China?
I finally got what I wanted. I must say I hadn’t felt that satisfied before in all my 35 years of age. Surprisingly, I didn’t even feel old, not at all different to my 24-year-old self who arrived in China eleven years before earning the title.
It is fine. Everything is fine. Now that I have so much time on my hands and I can properly think about other things that are not martial arts-connected, it’s new phase of my life, a happier, less stressful one…
I need a love triangle, alcohol and a thousand packs of cigarettes.
Note: Hope you enjoyed Sam’s adventure with martial arts. Fortunately, this is the last time we hear about these bloody martial arts. Are you tired of them yet? Well, anyway, the music used in the video of Sam’s last sparring can be found here. Game sounds were recorded in such a crappy way I decided to put some Chinese music from the WA EP there instead. And I’m sorry but I messed up while changing Deng’s outfit and he wears the white belt instead of black, but he really is level 9. Here on the bottom are some bloopers from this chapter.