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Way of Wushu is a Wuxia Interactive Comic by Tumblr artist ShamefulDisplay. Updates irregularly, but often.

Our protagonist, Laowai ("Foreigner") is a starving Street Urchin living in a city of the Celestial Empire. One day, while fighting with some other urchins over scraps, she piques the interest of a martial artist, Huang Yi, who promptly takes her under his wings to train her in the Wutai Body Arts. After five years of grueling training, having taught to her everything he knew, he passes her on to his master, Houwang, who subjects her to five more years of training, even more grueling than Huang Yi's. Having grown into a powerful if inexperienced martial artist (and a woman too), Houwang decides she's ready to begin a martial arts career on her own and gifts to her a Peach of Immortality, then sends her on her way. However, Huang Yi's past and radical worldviews quickly catch up to Laowai and she's swept up in a Blood Feud between to opposing factions: the capricious Dragon Gate Sect and the zealous Fancheng Coalition. Caught between two warring clans, none of which she can support, she must do something before her master's deeds bring bloodshed to the Empire.

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As of October 24, 2016, the author decided to cancel the comic, citing difficulties with writing in Interactive Comic format. His new project is Chanda.

Read here.

Newcomers may want to stop by the archive to get caught up on the story so far.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Laowai, through and through.
  • Ambiguously Brown: So far we haven't met anyone else with Laowai's dark skin tone. She's apparently from "the Endless Desert that lies to the west".
    • Ipokash also counts. The narration even remarks that her name and attire is completely foreign to the Celestial Empire.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The Dragon Gate Sect cares little about anything but constant self-improvement, and then using all that power however they wish.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Liu Gang's reaction to having her right arm irreparably broken by Laowai is to cut it off entirely.
    Liu Gang: I don't need this broken piece a' shit anymore!
  • Animalistic Abomination: The monkey demons that inhabit the Forsaken Valley.
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  • Animal Motifs: Houwang is monkey-themed. He's childish, immature, has a monkey-like laugh ("ukikiki!") and looks the part too. He's pretty clearly based on Sun Wukong.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Houwang is loudmouthed, rude, arrogant, and an insanely powerful Wutai warrior. The Dragon Gate are also this.
  • Ax-Crazy: Liu Gang, the leader of the Dragon Gate, is... unstable. His disciple Jiao is arguably even worse.
  • Badass Grandpa: Kunchen, an elderly xia who travels through Liaochun and just by the way trounces an entire inn's worth of bandits.
  • Bald of Awesome: All of the Wutai monks shown so far (Huang Yi, Kunchen and Jun) have shaven heads. Houwang is a possible exception, but it's unsure if he's a member of the Wutai Temple. Huang Yi later grows out his hair to signify that he has gone rogue.
  • Balls of Steel: Wutai monks, apparently. Laowai learns this the hard way when she attempts to Groin Attack Huang Yi.
    It’s like kicking brick! You realize the stories about monks kicking each other in the nads for training are true.
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  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Zig-Zagged with Laowai, who prefers using staves but can hold her own with her bare hands just fine.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Laowai's outfit after she completes her training features nothing but a Sarashi around her chest.
  • Big Eater: Whenever she can afford it, Laowai eats a lot. She's more used to starving though.
  • Big Entrance: Houwang makes sure that you remember his entrance.
  • Bleached Underpants: ShamefulDisplay is a pornographic artist, and this shows prominently on the way adult!Laowai is drawn.
  • Blood Brothers: Huang Yi and Liu Gang apparently used to be this.
  • Breath Weapon: Liu Gang's Dragon's Breath technique involves blowing a qi-charged gust of wind that cuts the target.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Laowai is able to run faster than the human eye can follow due to ten years of intense training.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Jiao doesn't attack Laowai, just begs her to hit her as hard as she can, with an unsettling Slasher Smile.
  • Cool Old Guy: Again, Kunchen.
  • Cute and Psycho: Jiao, oh so very much. One commenter described her as "skimpy, smiley and psycho".
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Jiao's Turbulent Qi Technique involves her rapidly circulating her qi in her body, and gaining a power boost through this. However, this takes a massive toll on her body, and she eventually burns herself out completely.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Laowai has a side of this.
    [about Houwang] You’re beginning to get the feeling that your master is more of a 「Great Nuisance」 than a 「Great Sage」…
  • Deceptive Disciple: Liu Gang used to be this to the Silver Tiger's brother. Then he killed him.
  • Die or Fly: Houwang takes a very simple approach to teaching Laowai the Qi Sublimation Technique: drain all her qi, even the amount she needs to survive, then dumps her in the Forsaken Valley and tells her that she has to learn to absorb the twisted qi of the place in order to stay alive. Then he tells her to survive in the Valley on her own for five years.
  • Energy Absorption: Laowai is able to absorb qi from her surroundings, and thus keep going even after she's ran out of qi. This allows her to avoid Heroic RRoD for a much longer time than usual. Of course, if her surroundings have twisted qi, it won't be healthy for her.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Pretty much the only difference between Imperial China and the Celestial Empire is the name.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The main conflict of the story. On one hand we have the Dragon Gate Sect, who don't care about anything but getting stronger and stronger and stronger, and then testing their strength on anyone they want... but they aren't explicitly evil, they just don't really care; plus they do seem to know honor, if Liu Gang's words are anything to go by. On the other hand, we have the Fancheng Coalition, The Alliance who aim to take down the Dragon Gate... but they are a corrupt, squabbling assortment of clans who are obsessed with honor.
  • Groin Attack: Laowai's signature finisher. Understandable less effective against the fairer sex.
  • Heir to the Dojo: Huo Xiaosheng, who prematurely became the leader of the Wind Blade School when his father's sword arm was ruined by Liu Gang.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Laowai enters a mindless volley of attacks after getting beaten to within an inch of her life by Liu Gang.
    "Whether it’s mettle, the Peach of Immortality, or sheer instinct - you can feel every fiber of your body screaming at you to 「finish this」."
  • Honor Before Reason: This seems to be the Fancheng Coalition's way of doing things, seeing how they're willing to challenge the vicious Dragon Gate to a tournament over a non-lethal but career-ending injury.
    • Subverted with Du Shun, who first appears to be a classic example of this, but isn't below sneaking up on and killing Huang Yi with a poisoned throwing knife.
  • Hot-Blooded: Du Shun is very passionate about justice.
    • Downplayed with Laowai. She's confident and passionate, but still Genre Savvy and measured.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Jiao's reaction to being hit by Laowai is uncomfortably sexual, complete with trembling and an exaggerated pleasure face.
  • Impaled Palm: During their fight, Laowai impales Liu Gang's right hand with her staff. And then twists around the staff 360°.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of the Silver Tiger.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Du Shun, who utilizes an unnamed technique using a chopping sword, and Huo Xiaosheng, who uses the Wind Blade Technique.
  • Important Haircut: After arriving to Fancheng, Laowai's hair gets cut short in a battle. She keeps it.
  • Improvised Weapon: Kunchen infuses his hat with qi and uses it as a frisbee.
  • Insult Backfire: Huo Xiaosheng cuts Laowai's hair with a Diagonal Cut in an attempt to humiliate her. She turns it around to insult him instead.
    Laowai: Oh, this is nice! I’ll have to spread the word that there’s an expert 「hairdresser」 in Fancheng!
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Jiao seems to... take pleasure in her fight with Laowai.
    • The fact that Laowai moves in close to keep Jiao from kicking doesn't help.
    • Taken to the logical extreme with Laowai kissing Jiao to catch her off-guard. Turns out it's her first kiss, and Jiao's as well.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Houwang is a vain, arrogant asshole, but he does seem to love Huang Yi.
  • Ki Manipulation.: Downplayed. Qi is present in the setting, and used by all martial artists, but usually not directly. They often use qi to boost regular physical attacks, but supernatural moves (such as Houwang's Doppelgänger Attack and Huo Xiaosheng's Razor Wind) are relatively rare.
  • Kick the Dog: It's not enough for Du Shun to simply kill Huang Yi, he also has to decapitate him in front of Laowai.
  • Knight Errant: This is the official description of xia, although their ranks feature all kinds of characters, ranging from the wandering knight type (such as Kunchen and his apprentice Jun) to downright assassins (such as Du Shun).
  • Lady Drunk: Mrs. Pei, Laowai's surrogate mother.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: At least one reader has referred to Ipokash as "he" by accident. This doesn't seem to be the case In-Universe though, as the narrator makes it clear that she's very obviously female.
  • MacGuffin: The Peach of Immortality that Houwang gave to Laowai. According to himself, he stole it from the very heavens. Now that Laowai has eaten the Peach, it's the peach pit that serves the same role.
  • Magic Enhancement: The most common way of using qi is this, ranging from Laowai's Super Speed to Du Shun using his hands like blades.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Houwang trained Huang Yi, who trained Laowai. The succession is a bit thrown off, because Houwang then also trains Laowai, but it's there.
  • Master of Your Domain: The Wutai Body Arts are all about this. You use your qi to consciously alter your body's performance.
  • Master Swordsman: Du Shun is so good at swordsmanship that he doesn't even need a sword for it, he just infuses his arm with qi and uses his hand as a blade (though this does put him at a disadvantage). Huo Xiaosheng, though bratty and short-tempered, is suprisingly good with a sword and gives Laowai a serious challenge during their second encounter.
  • Meaningful Name: Most of the characters' names are appropriate titles translated into Chinese.
    • Laowai: Foreigner
    • Houwang: Monkey King
    • Liu Gang: Just Kill
    • Jiao: Shout
      • As a further bonus, "Jiao" is also the Chinese word for exchange, which reflects her signature technique of circulating qi through her body at dangerous rates.
  • Meaningful Rename: Laowai renames herself Huang Laowai after arriving to Fancheng to honor her now-dead master.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Poor Huang Yi.
    • Also happened to the Silver Tiger's brother, who trained Liu Gang and ended up being murdered by him.
  • Names To Run Away From Very Fast: The Forsaken Valley. It lives up to its name.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Peach of Immortality doesn't actually make you immortal unless you eat it regularly. It gives you a massive power boost though.
    • Zig-Zagged somewhat in that the fruit's references one of three mythical Chinese Fruits of Happiness: the Peach, which brings a long life; the Citrine, which brings good fortune; and the Pomegranate, which brings... progeny...
  • Old Master: Senior Monk Kunchen. Also Silver Tiger, the head of the Fancheng Coalition.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Laowai collapses to the ground unconsciously after beating Liu Gang.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Laowai's "Demon Rush" finisher that she uses to floor Liu Gang.
  • Razor Wind: The Wind Blade Technique features pulling this off with sword slashes.
  • Rival Dojos: The Dragon Gate Sect and the Fancheng Coalition are locked in a blood feud.
  • Running Gag: The fact that Laowai's Finishing Move is a Groin Attack. In any given battle scene, the reader command "Kick him in the dick" will appear at least once. It even appears as a pun once.
    That… dick! He’s really getting a kick out of this!
  • Schizo Tech: Mostly averted, the comic is generally consistent with its level of technology, but Du Shun does wear glasses.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Laowai starts the story as a scrawny child, but grows into quite a stunning woman by the second time skip.
  • Shout-Out: According to Du Shun, the Dragon Gate Sect "follows the parable of the dragon gate - that a carp that leaps a waterfall shall become a dragon."
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Laowai absolutely shattering Liu Gang's right arm by twisting it around. Eurgh.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: The comic has more or less clean language, but Liu Gang doesn't hold back at all.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Somewhere in the middle, slightly tilted towards the idealistic side. The Celestial Empire is a corrupt system that keeps the peasants subservient to the higher classes by mostly keeping martial arts away from them; that said, life doesn't suck, and you can usually rely on the ''xia'' to pull you out of danger. The main conflict of the story is an incredibly morally muddy blood feud with no clear good guys and bad guys. However, Laowai's heroism does seem to be making a change, and she manages to convince the people outside the feud that it's pointless (even if she fails doing the same with the Coalition).
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Huo Xiaosheng.
  • Smoke Out: In contrast to his Big Entrance, when Houwang teleports away, he simply vanishes in a puff of smoke.
  • State Sec: The Jinyiwei, the imperial secret police comprised of martial artists. Du Shun is a member.
  • Statuesque Stunner: There is plenty of detail put into adult!Laowai's musculature, and she doesn't wear a lot of clothes. She's pretty tall too.
  • Stripperiffic: Jiao wears low pants and a leotard, which leaves her hips exposed.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: The Wutai Body Arts, the technique of Laowai, Huang Yi and Houwang utilizes both physical skill and qi. There are many other techniques that fit this trope, such as Huo Xiaosheng's Wind Blade Technique and Liu Gang's Dragon Claw Technique.
  • Tiger Vs Dragon: A not-so-subtle example. Silver Tiger is set to fight Liu Gang, who uses a martial art called the Dragon Claw Style. It's Subverted outside of battle where Silver Tiger is calm and dignified and Liu Gang is Sir Swears-a-Lot.
  • Time Skip: There are two five-year-long ones that skip most of Laowai's uneventful Training from Hell. She goes from 12 to 22 over the course of the story.
  • Training from Hell: Huang Yi subjects Laowai to this, day in, day out, for five years straight. Houwang's training is even worse, and it basically just consists of him dumping her in an accursed forest swarming with demons and twisted qi and telling her to survive on her own for five years.
  • Verbal Tic: Houwang sticks his idiosyncratic laugh, "ukiki!" at the end of lots of his sentences.
  • Vigilante Man: According to Du Shun, xia are this by definition.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Huang Yi's training involves this.
  • Wainscot Society: Martial artists form their own little society, called the Wulin, inside the Celestial Empire, and enjoy moderate amounts of independence from its government. They are apparently second in power only to the Emperor.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Adult!Laowai is a Sarashi away from being this. Even part of her pelvis is visible.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Jiao has nowhere near the amount of qi possessed by other high-level martial artists in the setting, but can go toe to toe with Laowai by circulating her qi through her body at high speeds.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Huang Yi wants a world where martial arts are available to learn by anyone, not just to the secretive Wulin, and thus peasants aren't defenseless against the higher classes... but his way of going about this is revealing the secrets of the Wutai Body Arts to the vicious and unpredictable Dragon Gate Sect.
  • World of Badass
  • Worthy Opponent: Laowai thanks Jiao for the great battle after she's beaten her.
  • You Killed My Brother: Instead of the crippled arm of Huo Xiaosheng's father, this is revealed to be the motivation of the Fancheng Coalition. Liu Gang killed the Silver Tiger's brother, and he wants revenge.
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