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The art of punching


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Late October, 76AD

Lucius walked into the Castra with a bit of hesitation. He had passed the building many times, being close to his own family's domus, but this was the first time he had ever been inside. He did so by Longinus' suggestion. Whether he was going to join the legions, or the vigiles, he needed to have some sort of a fighting experience - and who better to learn from than a trusted veteran of the legions, who currently served as praetorian? The guards at the door pointed him out, and Lucius walked into the courtyard where training happened, trying to look confident. He had always been at ease around all sorts of people, but the soldiers put him on edge. He walked up to the young man who, hopefully, had been notified of his impending visit.

"Decimus Rutilius Atellus?" he asked with a friendly smile, masking his hesitation.

@Sains

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It had been some time since Decimus last trained a fresh man during his service. In Britannia there were many times when he'd overseen the training being conducted by several newly appointed Centurions, but every man in the first cohort had been a veteran to some degree. He was truly excited to get the chance to go over the fundamentals again, as it was somewhat easy learning, and had consequently been preparing a small training area off to the side of the courtyard so they wouldn't be bothered by any of his comrades who were hacking away at their own poles.

It wasn't hard to spot Lucius out of the small groups of men wandering around in simple clothing, but the boy didn't appear to be overly scrawny or unsuited for combat. In some ways he looked hardier than some of the boys who got off the boat on the Isle, but only time would tell if he had the makings of a fighter.

"Salve, citizen. I trust you're the one that Longinus speaks of." 

He returned the boys greeting a with a smile and a quick nod, though this smile was soon replaced by a look of general seriousness that would seem all-too-typical of the soldiers walking about the grounds. 

"Are you to be the next Achilles?"

 

@Chevi

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"Salve, citizen. I trust you're the one that Longinus speaks of." 

"Salve. Lucius Vipsanius Roscius. Indeed, Longinus sent me." he nodded, looking curiously around. It seemed like everything was arranged for training. He'd thought that their first encounter would be... a bit more theoretical. War stories, maybe?... But he didn't mind the practice. It made him curious.

"Are you to be the next Achilles?"

Lucius grinned at the question.

"I hope not. I'd rather be someone who survived the war, if that's all the same to you." Short life, eternal fame. The choice had been made for Achilles, but he was not sure he'd choose the same. "I've never been one for fame anyway."

@Sains

 

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The boy's response would elicit an amused smirk from Decimus as he approached to give the boy a once over. As prepared as he may have seemed, Decimus would admit that he didn't quite feel like the old and grizzled veteran that he'd become in Britannia. In many ways, even if he were supposed to be one of the Empire's most elite warriors, he felt far more civilian than he ever had in his service on the frontlines. He'd not been involved in any real fighting for some length of time, and that thought did nothing to comfort the slight ego he'd developed as the leader of the first cohort of a frontline legion. But it wouldn't matter all that much, especially for a boy like Lucius. Even if he smelled better, wore clean clothing, and had lost the paranoia that had come to dominate his mind in the Britannic bush, he could still train the boy to be a decent man-at-arms. 

"Well, we'll see if we can make you into a passable peacekeeper then. They'll teach you how to carry water well enough when you join up, but it pays to be ready to handle any of the drunks in the Subura that give you trouble." 

Even though he was more of a palace guardsman at this stage of his career, Decimus had become fairly well acquainted with the city and its various seedy neighborhoods and troublesome areas. It was well worth knowing what places should be avoided on any form of royal excursion, infrequent as they might be. 

"Ever been in a fight?"  

 

@Chevi

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Well, at least his joke landed, even if his punches were not likely to. Lucius decided Longinus had chosen wisely about a possible teacher.

"Well, we'll see if we can make you into a passable peacekeeper then. They'll teach you how to carry water well enough when you join up, but it pays to be ready to handle any of the drunks in the Subura that give you trouble." 

"That... sounds very useful. Especially because, as I have learned, the vigiles don't get weapons." Lucius pointed out. Not that he had made up his mind yet about joining the vigiles at all. But he liked the possibility.

"Ever been in a fight?"  

"I... can't say I have" he looked a little sheepish about it "Unless you count those times when I was a kid and wrestled with other kids. Not an adult fight, though... So. What do I do?"

@Sains

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"It's a bit different from those matches," he'd begin, smirking at the very thought "But the core idea is the same." 

The boy had the lock of a novice about him, but this was hardly surprising to a man like Decimus who had been tasked with this exact job in the past. It was jarring, learning how to fight, but the ability to put a man in the dirt always seemed to be an epiphanic source of confidence for those who'd never given it a try. That could of course have been because he was training men that intended to learn to kill other men, but he expected that the drive to win in a bout existed in most everyone. To dig a man's fighting spirit out of a lifetime of luxury, however, was not always easy. 

Decimus took a few steps towards a simple pole that he'd set up in their little 'dojo'. It was much like the ones that were hacked at with wooden swords, in fact it was one, but it could be used for more than that purpose. 

"Watch and listen." he'd say, rather stoically. 

"The first thing you 'ought to know about a street fight is that speed is often the decider. You've got to hit first, and in the right spots."

Methodically he'd point to each area that he, apparently, deemed as noteworthy in that line of thought. 

Nose

Stomach

Groin

"No concerns about hitting a man below the belt, I trust?"

 

@Chevi

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"Watch and listen. The first thing you 'ought to know about a street fight is that speed is often the decider. You've got to hit first, and in the right spots."

It was strange, talking about fighting in the streets. His ancestors would have head a heart attack, hearing about such things. Fighting in the legions as a tribune... that was another story. But Lucius found that he was curious about this lesson. At least, if he did decide to join the vigiles, he could use his skills to help people. By punching wrongdoers in the...

"Nose. Stomach. Groin. No concerns about hitting a man below the belt, I trust?"

Lucius arched an eyebrow and winced. Ow.

"Let's say none. As long as I'm the one doing the hitting."

@Sains

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It wasn't hard to admire the boy's spirit. When he'd first heard of this youth he'd feared, despite any assurances from Longinus, that this boy would be yet another noble sprite that didn't quite understand what they were getting in to. Now that was certainly still possible, but the the witty quips that Lucius was putting forward were indicative of the fact that he was at least willing to learn about fighting. 

"As you say!" he'd exclaim "Getting hit isn't the aim, but I'll help you through that too."

Fortunately, Decimus had some pretty recent experience with getting knocked about. Whether or not he'd be able to relate any good advice based on that experience was somewhat questionable, but he could think of a few things that he'd wished he'd done differently that day that might be of use.

"Anyways, lets get to some demonstration." 

He didn't expect that suggestion would garner any great amount of excitement from Lucius, but learning through experience was usually best. 

"Ready your feet and we'll practice the most common attack of your average man. The charge." 

 

@Chevi

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"As you say! Getting hit isn't the aim, but I'll help you through that too."

"Oh, fun." Lucius grinned. It was not gonna be fun at all, is it.

"Anyways, lets get to some demonstration. Ready your feet and we'll practice the most common attack of your average man. The charge." 

Lucius blinked, then spread his feet into a wider stance, and bent his knees. It felt more stable that way. If he was going to get charged... well, that brought back memories, from playing around with other boys his age. However, that had been a long time ago...

@Sains

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Decimus watched as the boy got into a lower, more ready, sort of stance that he would call passable. The guardsmen plodded a few paces away from Lucius before stopping about five meters away from where he stood.

"There's two good ways to do this. The first thing to understand is that you're not going to stop a man cold when he's running at you... Unless you dwarf him."

That was the truth. He could remember one time in particular he'd made that mistake against a surly German trader who had challenged him to a friendly spar when he'd first entered service. The mere thought of how he slammed into that brute made him smirk as he readied himself to run at Lucius. Like a tree, that man. 

"Anyways, stay low. One way is to brace your dominant leg on the ground and use your hands to guide the bastard into it. It's not the best but it works sometimes. The best way is to wait till he's committed and then bring your whole body low with your head down and forward. Thrust yourself forward when his legs hit your hands and he'll fall like bricks. Got all that?"

 

@Chevi

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"There's two good ways to do this. The first thing to understand is that you're not going to stop a man cold when he's running at you... Unless you dwarf him."

Lucius nodded. He did not have that advantage over Decimus. If he tried to stop him in his momentum, more likely than not he would end up on his back. Lucius was aware other guards were watching the training with mild interest.

"Anyways, stay low. One way is to brace your dominant leg on the ground and use your hands to guide the bastard into it. It's not the best but it works sometimes. The best way is to wait till he's committed and then bring your whole body low with your head down and forward. Thrust yourself forward when his legs hit your hands and he'll fall like bricks. Got all that?"

"I... think so?" Lucius steadied his stance, trying to play out the technique in his head. He would only have a second to actually do it right. "Ready."

@Sains

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Decimus eyed the man's stance and then the other guards who'd seem to have taken quite the interest in their little spar. It wasn't as if there was any fear of a bruised ego from this sort of encounter, but it was slightly amusing that so many of them were interested to see who would end up on the ground. What came next would be somewhat of a mental exercise for the veteran who'd learned for years of the proper way to handle this sort of thing. On the whole it was somewhat unlikely that Lucius would face many if any men with the skillset of a member of the Praetorians, and it would be in no-way fair for Decimus to bowl the boy over after telling him exactly what to do. 

So, taking a moment to line himself up properly, Decimus began his 'charge' from about thirty feet. It was plenty of space to get up some speed, and from the get-go he noticed Lucius tensing up in obvious anticipation to perform one of the techniques that he'd been so briefly instructed on. Decimus, for his part, kept on charging like a lunatic. 

What happened next was an exhibition of some raw talent. Lucius crouched at more-or-less the same moment that Decimus would have and drove himself forward into the thick wall that was the veteran's stomach. All at once the Praetorian found himself in the air and quite unable to direct himself as Lucius rose and sent Decimus rolling over him and onto the hard dirt. Hoping that Lucius had taken in his short lesson, Decimus was quite able to put out his hands and roll into the fall that could have otherwise caused him to chip a tooth or worse if he'd managed it like the drunken fools that the boy was likely to end up against. All in all, it was an impressive display of initiative. 

@Chevi

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Lucius was more surprised than anyone that he actually pulled off the exercise. One moment, Decimus was charging at him, and the next, they had collided, and somehow the praetorian was thrown over his shoulder and to the ground. Lucius staggered for a moment, and tuned to see if he'd landed alright. Some people watching from a distance made some whistles. He... did it right, apparently?

"Are you alright?" he offered a hand to help Decimus up. "That... felt effective?"

@Sains

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Lucius would find Decimus in good spirits after the little maneuver. The whistles from across the courtyard couldn't dampen his spirits any, though he knew as well as anyone that this event would likely get him a few ribbings for the next couple of days. Decimus grabbed the boys hand all while letting out an airy chuckle that showed he was pleased with the results of their first little action. It was too early to tell if this was something that the boy wouldn't need much more help on, and they would almost certainly need to refine some of the more advanced aspects of foot placement and presentation, but it wasn't bad at all. 

"Yes, well!.. You can't beat the basics." he said, regaining his breath for a short moment after he'd stood. He wasn't exhausted by any means, but even he could recognize that those dead sprints were getting harder and harder as he got on. 

"Gods... Well it was good. You presented a bit too early, but I doubt some lout would have spotted it anyways. We can work on that." 

 

@Chevi

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"Well that's... good" Lucius grinned, helping Decimus up. He had not made a terrible mess on a first attempt. Maybe he had a chance to survive an actual brawl. A slight one. "So what if... what if whoever is coming at me is armed?... Or, dunno, brandishing a chair?" People were not generally armed inside the city of Rome, but places did have knives lying around. And every once in a while one would hear stories about someone getting stabbed in the seedier parts of town...

@Sains

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