About the Art of Tir'ayEditThe modern incarnation of an ancient dark elf unarmed fighting style, the origins of Tir'ay beyond the beginning of the Moonless Age are mostly forgotten. It is the accepted belief that it was a traditional style that was the speciality of one of the minor dark elf tribes, practicing members of which who would, after fleeing the destruction on the surface, settle with others in the area that would eventually become the former home - now destroyed - of the group of refugees calling themselves the Tei'kaliath.
Tir'ay quickly established itself as the standard and became increasingly popular as both a dedicated combat style and as a pastime for all individuals, regardless of their place in society, as it offered structure, discipline and purpose. While not everyone practiced the art, all knew of it and those who practiced it were well-regarded. There was little time for play, for our survival then required hard work, but Tir'ay competitions were common and usually at the center of any celebrations or festivals.
Though it has been practiced and taught for a thousand years, Tir'ay has changed little in form and even less in philosophy, although there are no known Tir'ay masters still alive; if any survived the destruction of our former homeland they did not come with us. Because of this, we are writing this treatise in the hopes that the memory of our ancestral art will live on, even if we do not, that our hertiage may never truly be forgotten. Read this well, take its principles to heart, and never let it be said that we gave up.
May we live on.
The Three RealmsEdit
The three realms in which we dwell, which we must know in order to act effectively, is the Self, and the Physical and Ethereal Surroundings. Of the three, the Tir'ay fighter can control only the Self, and where the Self occupies in both the Material and Ethereal environments. To master the realms, the Tir'ay fighter must Know the Self, Feel the Mana and Use the Terrain. Being aware of one's limitations in all these areas allows one to move freely within those limits, placing one at a distinct advantage to the opponent which does not know.
- Know the Self: While the flow of mana may always be different, and the terrain may change between battlefields, the Tir'ay fighter remains the one common variable. While not constantly the same, the fighter should still be most intimately familiar with themself, fully aware of the five aspects and knowing where the limits of their ability lie so that, if the need to fight arises, they will always be prepared. While the path to improving the self is an ongoing task, the goal of expanding one's limits an endless one, pushing one's self during training and playing to one's strengths in a conflict are two very different things. Knowing the Self is key to all victories.
- Feel the Mana: Auras are what separate the Fae races from the goblins, ferals and others, our ability to use mana one of our greatest strengths (and true weaknesses). One must always be aware of the flow of mana and keep their own aura at the ready, so that if an opponent draws upon their mana abilities, attempts to dodge or harden one's aura against the attack can be made.
- Use the Terrain: Utilizing the terrain, regardless of location, is perhaps the easiest of the three realms to understand but one of the hardest to master. Assessing areas of approach, stable and unstable ground, and areas which play to your strengths while forcing the opponent into their weakness are all part of Using the Terrain. This is also the realm most heavily dependant upon the style of Tir'ay which one practices, as different forms favor different terrains.
The Five AspectsEdit
The five aspects compose all material bodies and, by understanding these aspects, the Tir'ay fighter is able to fight effectively. If a combatant is not aware of how to engage an opponent properly, the strongest of attacks is generally rendered useless and strength is needlessly wasted. The five aspects are bone, muscle, blood, breath and will, and it is the balance of these five that result in a healthy, capable combatant. Assessing these aspects eventually should become second nature, wherein familiarity directly contributes to the efficiency of the fighter.
- Bone: Bone is the foundation of the body and is what allows us to remain upright, reinforcing and supporting our every action. While the breaking of any bone is a painful thing which can result in a wide range of complications, as a general rule the closer a bone is to the core (the head and torso), the more vital it is. That is to say, the breaking of small bones in the hand or foot does not hamper a combatant as much as the ribs or collar. Additionally, the joints are vulnerable points which hinder just as much, if not more, than the bone itself. Understanding the assembly of the bones allows one to protect their own while attempting to break another's and, thus, neutralize an opponent's mobility or functionality.
- Muscle: Muscle is the mechanism which allows the body to move and can absorb most of the force behind the blow. While severing or pummeling the same spot of muscle results in a decreased effectiveness, in general attacking the bone is more effective. As an aspect, muscle is generally more applied to the self as movement would be impossible without it and strengthening the muscle to strike harder is possibly the most common goal of a fighter. Muscles must be taken care of, for overuse may result in damage as much as lack of use.
- Blood: Blood carries fuel throughout the body, bringing life to every inch. Preventing blood from reaching an part of the body results in the death of that part, although the process to actual decay is slow, numbness and lack of strength can be noticed quickly. Most noticable is the fact of preventing blood from reaching the head (by blocking the major artery of the neck) quickly results in unconsciousness. Attacking the major arteries and veins of the body also tends to result in causing a great deal of pain, which can be used to break an opponent's focus.
- Breath: Breath energizes the blood, and is vital to life, but more importantly, control of the breath allows one to extract greater performance from the body. One who does not know how to breathe properly loses stamina, strikes weakly, and - in extreme cases - can even lose consciousness from over-breathing. Mastery of the breath, and hindering the opponent's ability to draw breath, gives the Tir'ay fighter yet one more advantage.
- Will: The least measurable aspect of the body, the will is the driving force of any fight. If one opponent possesses the superior physical attributes, but has no will, they can (and have been) overcome by an opponent that refuses to give up. When two Tir'ay fighters go against one another, the first moments are spent locked eye-to-eye as each assesses the others desire to win. If one fighter recognizes the superior will, it is not shameful to concede the fight before a single strike is thrown. It is the sole responsibility of the Tir'ay fighter to find the reason they fight, for this reason drives the Will, and in the realm of the reason the Tir'ay fighter becomes truly fierce.
The Four EngagementsEdit
There are four ways to engage the opponent and they are the Strike, the Hold, the Break and the Throw. Using any and all of these engagements, the Tir'ay fighter seeks to overcome their opponent by employing the engagements in concert with their knowledge of the Three Realms and Five Aspects.
- Strike: The strike is simply using the body to inflict a blow; the simplest of all unarmed techniques. It is natural to strike with the fists or kick, but a Tir'ay fighter seeks to make these instincts as effective as possible. As the hands and feet are full of small, easily breakable bones, most strikes use knees and elbows. Open-palmed hits using the ridge or blade of the hand are far more common than fist strikes.
- Hold: The hold is, more often than not, an interim technique. To grab an opponent is a simple thing, but one must then either move into a full-hold (such as a choke), a throw or a break lest the opponent break free. Full holds are rare in Tir'ay, as they are not effective for fighting more than a single opponent; mobility is paramount to the Tir'ay fighter and you will find few willing to lock themselves in one place for very long.
- Break: The break is exactly as described, attacking either the bone or the joint in order to break it and prevent its continued use. Generally reserved for actual engagements, it is considered a mark of skill to place an opponent on the brink of a break in a friendly match, but releasing the captured limb before doing so.
- Throw: A favored engagement of most Tir'ay styles, the throw removes the opponents balance, equilibrium and, in the case of some throws, their breath. Done correctly, many throws place the fighter in a position of immediate supremecy and a point where the fight can be quickly ended. As a defensive art, the throw is used to remove an opponent's senses long enough to disarm them and escape or disable them further.
Forms of Tir'ayEdit
While Tir'ay is united by its basic principles, there are many different sub-styles within the overarching whole that have risen to fill the niches, based upon the needs and the will of the practicioners. While categorizing how many individual styles might have existed would take pages, for it is widely believed that each person who practices Tir'ay does so in their own unique way, it is simply easier to classify them according to the major unifying characteristics. They are the following: