Chapter 1: Xu Jingming
Earth. July 2, 2081, 13:50.
Clouds and rumbling thunder gathered over the most prosperous city in China—Binhai City. A storm was brewing.
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The weather is so unpredictable in the summer.In a room on the top floor of the Cosmos Center, a young man looked at the dark clouds and lightning through the floor-to-ceiling windows before raindrops began to patter on the glass windows.
The young man walked to the center of the room and placed his hands on the ground before slowly and steadily doing an inverted handstand. He first straightened his arms and retracted one hand before completing a single-hand handstand with his right hand.
“Hu~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~”
The sound of breathing rang in his ears. Xu Jingming felt the muscles in his core tighten and also felt his entire bodys weight burdening his right arm.
In the first three minutes, his arm felt very comfortable, and his arm muscles and bones felt the deep stimulus. But at the fourth minute, his palm muscles started to throb with pain—it became torturous. It worsened in the fifth minute, but Xu Jingming was already used to it. After persisting for five minutes, he very naturally switched to doing the handstand with his left hand.
I wonder if Dads back has gotten any better today.Xu Jingmings thoughts wandered as he held the handstand; he thought of his sixty-year-old father that suffered from a chronic back injury. Yesterday, he heard from his mother that his father had aggravated his back injury when moving heavy objects…
Ill pay a visit when Im done with everything thats on my plate, Xu Jingming thought.
His father had taught him the single-hand handstand when he was young; it wasnt part of the national teams training regiment.
Xu Jingming didnt enjoy good health in his youth, so his father taught him martial arts to strengthen his body—one of them was theone-armed inversion. As the effects from long-term practice showed, it became one of the five main stances he practiced daily. He practiced all year round and had persevered for 20 years—even when he was sick or injured. He didnt take a break unless there was some special reason. As the saying goes, the practice of martial arts without doing basic training was a waste of time and energy.
Just a few days break was sufficient for the ligaments, bones, and muscles to decline.
Xu Jingming walked over to the desk and sat down after he finished his inversion training. He drank a few mouthfuls of water and watched the rain outside.
My leg starts to hurt once it becomes humid.Xu Jingming looked at his right leg and massaged it gently.I havent stopped physiotherapy for a single day, but my right leg… just wont recover.
“If my right leg wasnt injured, I probably stand a chance of becoming number one in the world,” Xu Jingming said softly.
Every martial art expert feared injuries the most throughout their career. To Xu Jingming, breaking his leg was a nightmare.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Xu Jingming looked up and said, “White, answer the video call.”
Light gathered in front of Xu Jingming and condensed into a two-meter tall projection—a tall and stout fatty in a bus. He laughed and shouted, “Old Xu, weve already set off from the hotel. Well probably arrive at Cosmos in about 20 minutes. Haha, its been a year since we last met, right Lets have a good drink tonight.”
“Dont worry, Bear. Ive already reserved a barbecue restaurant.” Xu Jingming smiled at his childhood friend and exhorted. “Drive safely.”
“Chill, man.” The stocky fatty continued, “This batch of kids from the provincial team idolize you. They want to take a glimpse of your spearmanship. You have to give them some pointers and let them understand the gap between them and a world-class expert.”
“Young folks these days are getting better and better with each passing generation. Ill count myself lucky if I dont screw up,” Xu Jingming said with a chuckle.
“How can you screw up I would love for that to happen; itll mean that my provincial team has produced another genius.” The fatty laughed. “Alright, Ill talk to you later.”
“See you later.” Xu Jingming waved his hand, and the projection in the air disappeared.
The Jiangnan provincial teams training spanned ten days, and the fee was 50,000 yuan. In fact, this couldnt even cover the venue fees. However, a combat center being used for the provincial teams training was also a form of advertisement. This attracted more combat enthusiasts to join the center.
Professional gladiators need to put food on the table even after they retire.Xu Jingming got up, went to shower, and changed his clothes.
Although being a professional gladiator sounded impressive, they only earned a fewappearance fees at their peak in reality. Very few in the world earned more than a hundred million their entire career; most professional gladiators only made enough for a living.
Earning money after retirement became even harder. Although Xu Jingming was also a world-class martial arts expert, his best show was getting into the top eight at the World Martial Arts Tournament.
Income of the martial arts world was pyramidal, and very few stood atop the pyramid! First place received a ridiculously high income, but income plummeted from second place onward.
Xu Jingming waited at the entrance of Cosmos Center with a few staff members. From afar, he saw an electric bus driving over in the rain.
When the electric bus came to a halt, the doors opened, and more than ten people from the Jiangnan provincial team alighted.
“Bear.” Xu Jingming saw the big fatty who got off the bus first. It was his good friend, Liu Chongyuan.
“Old Xu.” Liu Chongyuan walked over excitedly, hugged Xu Jingming, and slapped him on the back. The latter wore a grimace and could only treat it as a massage.
Liu Chongyuan was 2.03 meters tall and weighed more than 180 kilograms; he appeared like an upright bear. He was also a professional martial arts expert back in his heyday, holding a shield in one hand and an ax in the other. He ranked 39th in the World Martial Arts Alliance at his peak; thus, he had a comfy job at the Provincial Sports Bureau.
“This is Coach Xu.” Liu Chongyuan grinned and said, “The Coach Xu that youve been longing for!”
“Spear Demon Xu Jingming!”
“We are seeing him in person!” The provincial team members were thrilled. Being in the industry, they naturally admired this senior.
When he saw these team members, Xu Jingming felt as if he were looking at his young self.
They were young and full of vigor!
They were nothing like him—retiring from competitive martial arts due to injuries.
Xu Jingming said with a smile, “Ah Chen, bring them over for the selection of weapons.”
“Alright, Brother Xu,” the young staff member replied.
“Bear, lets go to the third floor and wait for them.” The two good friends, Xu Jingming and Liu Chongyuan, happily went to the third floor.
Cosmos Centers armory occupied an area of 500 square meters. There were many kinds of melee weapons such as sabers, spears, swords, rods, shields, axes, hammers, chains, etc. These were all weapons used in martial arts competitions. However, the swords and sabers were blunt, and their surfaces were coated with a cushioning material, which greatly increased their safety. The professional spears had their statistics labeled on the shaft: length, size, diameter, and weight. There were hundreds of spears, all arranged against the wall.
“As expected of Cosmos Center—its one of the best combat halls in Binhai City. It has the entire assortment of weapons.” All 11 members of the provincial team used spears, which was why they participated in Xu Jingmings training.
In terms of spear technique, Xu Jingming was recognized as one of the top ten professional gladiators in history.
The professional spears had their data labeled clearly, so the 11 members quickly chose their usual weapons.
“This is the first time Im seeing Xu Jingming in real life. He looks so ordinary. He doesnt look as intimidating as he does in videos,” a tall man said as he tried out his spear.
“He looks much thinner too,” said another young man.
“He lost weight,” said a stocky man with a nod. “Before he retired, I watched him compete several times live. According to the Martial Alliances public information, he was 1.78 meters tall and weighed 93 kilograms. He has lost quite a bit of weight. I reckon he weighs at most 85 kilograms.”
The members of the provincial team discussed.
They knew very well that a height of 1.78 meters and a weight of more than 80 kilograms sounded overweight to ordinary people, but for professional gladiators that had heavy builds and high muscle-to-weight ratios, it appeared slightly underweight.
“His strength mustve decreased with his weight.”
“I wonder how much strength he has left.”
“Some professional gladiators give up training after retiring. Their bodies go out of shape, and they become much weaker.”
The team members discussed.
“I still want to see how big a difference there is between a World Martial Arts Tournament candidate and me. Who wouldve thought that he would be so much lighter I wonder how much strength he still has left.” The stocky man found it regretful. He had been selected to participate in a national-level team training last year, and his goal was also the most prestigious competition in the pugilistic world—the World Martial Arts Tournament. He originally looked forward to meeting Xu Jingming, who had entered the World Martial Arts Tournament twice, but he was somewhat disappointed now.
How much strength did Xu Jingming have left after losing weight Was he still the domineering Spear Demon of yesteryear
“Even if his strength has dropped, he still has experience.” The tall man beside him smiled. “Hes still more than capable of giving us pointers.”
“Perhaps he wont even engage in actual combat with us,” muttered the youth. They had been instructed by many coaches of the older generation; very few of them would engage in actual combat with them.
On the third floor of Cosmos Center was a martial arts arena that matched the World Martial Arts Tournaments standards. The arena was 20 meters long and 20 meters wide, surrounded by six-meter-tall barbed wire.
The members of the provincial team came to the third floor and saw Coach Liu and Xu Jingming standing there.
“Get in position,” Xu Jingming said. He used to be a member of the Jiangnan provincial team, but he was later selected to join the national team.
These 11 team members all held spears in their hands as they stood in line orderly.
Perhaps Xu Jingmings strength had decreased after he retired, but his past achievements still made these team members admire him. Naturally, they were very obedient.
“From today onward, I will be your coach. The training will span a total of ten days. Except for starting in the afternoon today, training will be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. starting tomorrow.” Xu Jingming swept his gaze past them. “I dont want anyone to be late, nor do I want anyone to leave early.”
“Yes, sir,” replied the 11 members in unison.
“Good. This is our first time meeting, so lets get our hands dirty. Show me how strong you are,” Xu Jingming said. “Itll allow me to tailor the training to your abilities.”
Get our hands dirtyThe team members looked at each other, surprised and delighted.An actual battle in the arena
Xu Jingming has the guts to fight in actual combatThe team members couldnt hide their joy.. Since Xu Jingming dared to do so, it meant that he still retained most of his peak strength after retirement.