Chapter 13: I, Your Father, Have Excellent Posture
After successfully unsealing his Tenketsu, Wu left Hinata and Sakura at a loss for words as he rose, dusted himself off, and acted like he hadnt just spent the last three minutes keeled over.
“Well, now that thats out of the way, lets get started with our training. We dont have much time before the three of you need to return home, so Im only going to demonstrate the basics of what I want you to practice in the months to come.”
Before Wu could demonstrate the training method, Kaia abruptly shouted, “So cool!” She didnt know how painful having a Tenkesu sealed was, but seeing Wu recover so quickly left the snaggletoothed Inuzuka with stars in her eyes.
Furrowing his brows, Wu failed to quash but managed to diminish some of Kaias excitement as he said, “Pay attention.” in a firm tone.
Nodding her head, Kaia stood a little straighter while Hinata and Sakura just watched on in silence. As they did, Wu once again demonstrated his ability to sit on empty air, this time without using the Adamantine Body to freeze his lower body.
“This is what I intend to teach you. While it might look simple, this is the basics of the basics when it comes to strengthening your core while also improving your Chakra circulation.”
Raising her hand, Sakura asked, “How does it improve Chakra circulation Does it have something to do with your feet sticking to the ground…”
Though he wasnt particularly fond of being interrupted in the middle of a demonstration, Wu nodded his head in affirmation, answering, “I was just about to get to that part.”
Rising to his full height, Wu turned away from the trio and approached the reinforced log that served as his striking post. Then, to the wonder of the three girls, he walked up the side of the log, standing completely parallel before turning to them and saying, “This is the Tree Sticking Exercise. By infusing Chakra into the soles of your feet and maintaining an equilibrium with the surface, you can walk on or adhere to just about anything. Better yet, its amazing for improving your core.”
Demonstrating his point, Wu placed his hands behind his head and began doing crunches. Just standing parallel to the ground placed a tremendous burden on the body, but things got really intense when you transitioned to doing handstands and finger walking.
Flipping onto his feet after busting out a quick ten crunches, Wu turned to the bewildered duo and overexcited Inuzuka, asking, “Any questions…”
Raising her hand a second time, Sakura responded, “Yeah…how, exactly, do you channel Chakra into your feet I mean, I can kind of imagine how, but were still working on the Leaf-Sticking Exercise back at the Academy. How do you expect us to do something this…advanced”
Crossing his arms, Wu shamelessly replied, “Trial and error. So long as you take into consideration what youre doing wrong between attempts, youll eventually be able to succeed. Just make sure you dont practice alone or climb too high. If you fall onto your head or land on the back of your neck, thats it. Youre done.”
Understanding what Wu meant when he said they would bedone, a knot formed in Sakuras throat. She had never been afraid of heights, but the thought of falling backward onto her head caused her knees to tremble…
Rolling his eyes, Wu asked, “Whats with the overdramatic reaction Im not asking you to start the Tree-Sticking Excercise right this instant. I was just giving you a demonstration of what allows me to stick to the ground.”
Raising his right foot, along with a rather sizeable chunk of earth, Wu added, “Once you attain sufficient mastery, youll be able to spread your Chakra through surfaces to harden and cling to them. Doing it with dirt is pretty tricky, so I intend to have the three of you take turns atop this log. If you fall, Ill catch you. Then its the next persons turn.”
After patting the log for emphasis, Wu directed his gaze to Kaia and said, “Youre up, Kaia. Take off your sandals and climb up. Once you get used to doing it barefoot, you can switch to having your sandals on.”
Without needing to be told twice, Kaia peeled off her sandals, throwing them off to the side before scurrying up the log. It was around three meters tall, more than twice the height of everyone present, but children with Chakra were capable of some pretty incredible things.
Expecting Kaia to immediately throw herself off the log just so he would have to catch her, Wu was pleasantly surprised to see her bring her hands together to form a Ram Seal. Unfortunately, the moment she attempted to squat, she immediately lost her balance, tumbling backward off the log.
Catching the petite Inuzuka before she could impact the ground, Wu did his best not to reveal his disappointment as he smiled and said, “Dont let it bother you. For now, move off to the side and practice the Leaf-Sticking Exercise with your feet.”
Though she was somewhat reluctant to leave Wus arms, Kaia nodded her head before rising to her feet and scampering off to the side. A faint blush colored her cheeks, but thanks to her fang-like tattoos, it didnt stand out as much as it would have.
Shifting his gaze to the remaining girls, Wu was about to order Sakura up before pausing when he gazed into Hinatas eyes. They immediately gave him an idea, so he adopted a massive smile and said, “I just thought of a way we can increase the effectiveness of our training.”
Before the girls could ask what he meant, Wu pointed at Hinatas eyes and asked, “Your Byakugan can see the flow of Chakra, right From now on, I want you to use them when Sakura and Kaia go up on the log. That way, well know for certain whether or not theyre circulating their Chakra properly.”
While Wus idea wasnt bad, Hinata nearly threw a wrench into his plans, revealing, “The Byakugan places a heavy strain on the eyes…using them too frequently can lead to temporary or permanant blindness…”
Instead of being discouraged by the revelation, Wu gave a curt nod and asserted, “If its ordinary ocular strain, I should be able to treat it with my Mystical Monkeys Palm. You can also just deactivate them if they start to hurt. Im not going to force you to overuse them.”
As she was used to her father doing precisely that, Hinata blinked a few times, stunned by thepragmatism of Wus words. She wasnt sure about letting him use his Mystical Monkeys Palm to treat her, but it was nice to know he was thinking about her well-being…
Demonstrating she had at least some redeeming qualities, Hinata was able to use her Byakugan precisely as Wu had envisioned. As a result, Sakura managed to stick to the log on her very first attempt, albeit after threatening vengeance if Wu tried looking up her dress. Her words gave Wu the idea of letting her hit the ground when she fell, but he managed to restrain himself for the sake of the trust he had built over the past month and a half.
When Sakura inevitably fell from the log, Wu received her without issue before giving Kaia another opportunity. The Hyuga were famous for their finesse and Chakra Control, so after confirming she was okay with it, he had Hinata watch closely as Kaia struggled for nearly twenty minutes to infuse Chakra into her soles. That was already pushing the limits of the Hyuga heiresss capabilities, so she ended up deactivating them before Kaia was able to succeed.
As it was already pretty late in the day by then, Wu had Kaia leap off the log so that Hinata could have a go. Her control was surprisingly worse than Sakuras, something Wu made special note of, but she managed to hold the squat for a few seconds before falling off. Not because she was lacking in Chakra Control, but because her muscles gave out on her.
Out of curiosity, Wu asked Hinata to perform an ordinary squat. She was reluctant due to the embarrassing nature of the pose, but she eventually gave in after a bit of peer pressure.
Proving Wus suspicions, Hinata was only able to hold a squat for around ten seconds before her legs were trembling like a newborn fawn. She did her best to endure a while longer but inevitably fell onto her bottom after an additional five seconds. Comparably, Sakura held out for more than a minute while Kaia had no trouble holding the pose as long as she wanted. The Inuzuka Clans techniques conditioned their entire body, so Kaia had decent stamina and a well-balanced physique. At least compared to other girls her age.
Once each of the girls had had a turn on the log, Wu decided to end the training session so that he would actually have time to focus on his own. Kaia wanted to continue, but Wu managed to talk her down by reminding her they would be training together frequently from then on. That was enough to convince her to leave, though not before Hiruzen could appear out of thin air togreet them.
Having left his hat inside, Hiruzen appeared even older than usual as he adopted one of his grandfatherly smiles, musing, “Ah, you must be Wus friends. I trust he wasnt too hard on you during your training session…”
Though they were a little surprised and intimidated by Hiruzens sudden appearance, Sakura managed to speak on the groups behalf, answering, “No, Sir. Wu-kun made sure we took the necessary precautions and did his best to prevent us from injuring ourselves…”
Caressing his beard, Hiruzen gained a twinkle in his eye as he remarked, “Youre a very well-spoken young lady. I imagine youre among the top of your class in terms of academics. Keep up the good work.”
While she was used to receiving praise for her academics, Sakura became bashful in response to Hiruzens words. The latter was the most powerful, influential, and, most importantly, the most respected person in the entire village. In his prime, people referred to him with titles such as theGod of Shinobi andThe Professor. He was a legendary figure in the hearts and minds of most of Konohas citizens, so Sakura felt a little overwhelmed to be receiving his praise.
“T-Thank you, Sir…m-m-my name is-”
Interrupting Sakuras stammering, Hiruzens smile softened as he mused, “Haruno Sakura. My grandson here has told me much about you. You also have a very conspicuous head of hair.”
Blushing crimson, Sakura reached up and began smoothening her hair. She hadnt looked in a mirror since the training ended, so she was a little worried it looked unsightly.
Amused by Sakuras reaction, Hiruzen was tempted to tease her further before noticing the flat expression on Wus face. He then took a moment to clear his throat before saying, “Well, I just wanted to meet Wus friends. Now that I have, I should be preparing for dinner. Be sure to take care on your way home. Konoha is safe, but caution forever trumps complacency.”
Finished with what he had to say, Hiruzen folded his arms behind him in a sagely manner before walking in the opposite direction of the children. He had intended to tease Wu a bit more, but that could wait till later. After all, he didnt want to embarrass his young protege in front of a group of girls, one or more of which he might have a crush on.
Seeing Hiruzen walk away, whistling in amusement, Wu had to restrain himself from pulling out his staff and attempting to smack the old man over the head. His chances of landing a hit were slim, but the imagined payoff almost made it worth the risk. Instead, he turned to the trio of girls and asked, “Did you forget that youre supposed to be leaving Come on. I can at least escort you to the front gate.”
With Wus words returning them to their senses, Kaia, Sakura, and Hinata followed after him before eventually departing the estate. The latter was almost immediately received by a member of the Hyuga Clan, one of four that had been spying on the manor. Almost immediately after that, a two-meter tall grey wolf appeared to pick up Kaia, the little girl climbing atop it and waving enthusiastically before departing. This left Sakura on her own, looking back at Wu with a hint of expectation in her eyes…
Feigning obliviousness, Wu returned a smile and raised his hand, saying, “Ill see you tomorrow, Sakura. Oh, and good work during todays training. Your Chakra Control genuinely surprised me.”
Realizing that Wu wasnt going to walk her home, Sakuras expression revealed a hint of anxiousness as she meekly replied, “Thanks…I dont have a lot of Chakra, so I do my best not to waste it…”
Nodding his head in approval, Wu asserted, “It really shows.” Then, as he didnt want to give the girl an opportunity to ask for an escort outright, he gave one final nod before turning around and walking away. At least, that was his intention…