There had never been many disciplines that fitted into Orthodox Realm. 80% of all disciplines belonged in Hard, Edge and Soft. Yin and Yang Realms disciplines made up 10% of all disciplines. Heart and Orthodox Realms made up the remaining ten. Orthodox Realm disciplines were the minority among even the shared percentage with Heart Realm.
As of current, an easy-to-learn Orthodox Realm discipline didn’t exist. Creating an Orthodox Realm discipline was a daunting challenge in its own right. If it was easy, apothecaries would be out of a job. Nobody had ever invented an Orthodox Realm discipline on their own for it required one to amalgamate the accumulated knowledge and experience of their predecessors. Thus, sects that possessed an Orthodox Realm usually had centuries of history.
Those who could learn Orthodox Realm disciplines were the envy of martial artists. For instance, everyone knew of Shaolin’s Yijin Jing, Wudang’s Tai Chi and Mount Daluo’s Castoff, and all of them cultivated Orthodox Realm internal strength. One might argue that their sect name wasn’t the intimidating factor; the existence of an Orthodox Realm discipline being in their arsenal was what warded people off.
“There is no chance you happened to luckily be equipped with Orthodox Realm internal energy because there’s no luck to speak of when it comes to this.”
After an extensive inquiry into Su Xiao’s training, Ye Luo was shocked to learn he was completely oblivious to what discipline he had been training and lacked a mental cultivation to go with his internal energy cultivation. It was the equivalent of implying that the internal energy developed autonomously. If he wasn’t Su Xiao, she would’ve dropped him already for talking out of his rear end.
“Maybe it’s in your family’s discipline, but they don’t want people to know, so they didn’t tell you.”
Su Xiao couldn’t connect the dots.
The young girl, having gotten over being nervous with the group, tapped Su Xiao on the shoulder. “To learn something so great without a mentor is a sign of immense luck. You should be grateful, not troubled.”
“Thank you, Miss. I have a tendency to have tunnel vision. Had it not been for you, wait, we’ve only mentioned six realms. What about the other two?”
Luo Mingzhu hid her smile behind her hand: “There is no need to bother with them, Young Master Su. While Heart Realm disciplines are technically martial arts, they’re not by definition. My father says that studying martial arts is also a study of literature. Our actions are the physical manifestation of knowledge. There are barely any Heart Realm disciplines compared to the six we’ve mentioned, and they’re extremely rare to come by. You can worry about them when you come across one.”
“What about Unorthodox Realm?”
Neither Luo Mingzhu nor Ye Luo were erudite on Unorthodox Realm to speak on it.
Luo Mingzhu, having deliberated for a while, answered, “Well… Nobody can even say for sure if any disciplines in the category even exist. The realm itself has existed since the inception of the eight realms, but nobody has ever heard of any internal style that fits Unorthodox Realm internal energy. Nobody knows how the realm came to be.”
Ye Luo added, “Some believe it’s a code name for demon arts. Perhaps internal energy of Unorthodox Realm is totally different to natural energy or anything we perceive to be normal. That explains the reason for the ‘unorthodox’ term. There’s no evidence to prove the theory’s authenticity, though. If it is true, the first Unorthodox Realm discipline to exist would be Demon Sect’s Spring Wind Rainy Night Divine Art.
“Ximen Chuideng was undefeated until the imperial court and Seven Champion White Princes personally quashed his rebellion all thanks to Spring Windy Rainy Night Divine Art, and he hadn’t even mastered it completely – so they say.” Seeing the question marks floating above Su Xiao’s head, Ye Luo went on. “Though this knowledge is basic to us now, we were taught it over the span of several years in childhood, so it’s unfair to expect you to digest it all in one go.”
Ye Luo was patting Su Xiao on the shoulder when she felt a row of pricks on her hand upon touching him.
Luo Mingzhu cut in between Ye Luo and Su Xiao: “Young Master Su, is there anything else you don’t understand?”
I don’t care if you’re Luo Ming’s daughter. I swear I’ll settle the score with you, tramp!
“What are the Perfection and Void Piercer things you mentioned?”
“You don’t even know what they are?” blurted Ye Luo. “Why would your parents let you leave home without this basic knowledge? They are martial artists’ four realms and an old cliché.
“Aside from testing one’s mettle with fists and weapons, martial artists have an easier way of determining who is superior to whom. Different eras may have different terms for them. As for the current era, there are four realms, therefore sixteen levels, in which martial artists are graded: Perfection, Void Piercer, Manifestation and Divine Realms. The four realms are based off internal styles’ cultivation progress, and there is no means of going beyond.
“Each realm consists of five levels. In order from lowest to highest, they are: beginner, level two, level three, peak and fallen. Based on my observation of how hard you punched, I would surmise you are Void Piercer level three, which is technically called Void Piercer Three. After our little test, I believe you might have reached Void Piercer Peak – if not higher.
“You can decide if you can win or not based off this grading system, and you’re better off searching for alternatives if you’re not on the same level in the same realm.”
“Wait, the next realm up from Peak is Fallen?”
“That’s the real thrill of internal styles.” Luo Mingzhu lifted her shoulders to her ears. “When your internal strength reaches a certain level, you reach the apex and then come back down. It’s the principle of, what comes up, must come down. Fallen is the nightmare of martial artists, which is why some call it ‘mental demons’.
“When transitioning from Peak to Fallen, one must work even harder to get over the wall, or they will regress even further. The further they regress, the harder it is to determine what their level is. Those who reach Void Piercer and Manifestation struggle as if they’re swimming against the tide at Fallen. Consequently, mental status becomes more and more paramount each time you progress. Getting stuck and unable to climb down is considered typical; however, if you can escape the shackles of Fallen, you can expect to be among the greats.
“I am sixteen this year. Last year, I was at Beginner. I’m now at Void Piercer Three. It took me four years to progress again after hitting Void Piercer Fallen.”
Realms –I am translating the levels within the realms as levels because, technically, they should be translated as realms. “Realm” is comprised of two characters, but splitting it into two separate characters still means “realm”. In Chinese, this text has split the two different characters to indicate the realm (main four) and realms (four levels within the main four), so you can distinguish. In English, Realm is just one word; translated literally, it’d read “Just Realm Third Realm”… Because it’s redundant even in Chinese (to a lesser degree), as Ye Luo pointed out, Void Piercer level is shortened to Void Pierce Three. I’m compromising word-for-word accuracy so that we can distinguish in English.
To stress it again, these realms and levels are indicators of characters’ progress in DISCIPLINES, not rankings of fighters or their progress as a fighter. I.e. holding a black belt is a sign of how much you’ve learnt in a systemised curriculum, not an indicator of your proficiency in the discipline or a fight. Fighting competitions wouldn’t need to exist, otherwise.
Don’t stress if you can’t digest this all at once because, honestly, the information even used often thus far (even where I am ahead of you). When necessary, the story will provide the differentiations for you.