Hohō (歩法, "Step Method") is the art of high-speed movement, and one of the four integral skills of the Zankensoki. Althought not a means of combat by itself, Hohō is a highly useful set of supplementary techniques that considerably enhance mobility of the practitioner.
On the whole, Hohō concerns broadly defined mobility. Naturally, this includes reflexes, speed, and suppleness. There are several other important factors, however. Elements of stealth, deception, and anticipation are necessary to employ Hohō techniques in a manner that is deliberate and effective. Evasive manoeuvres and high-speed movement all require a proper degree of spatial awareness, as well as quick thinking. As such, Hohō is more than a fast motion, or amazing feats of dexterity, but also a pertinent form of combat philosophy. This marks the fundamental difference between the ability to outrun or outmanoeuvre the enemy.
Shunpo (瞬歩, "Flash Steps") is by far the most popular and widely used aspect of Hohō. Practitioners augment their natural fitness with innate spiritual power, and learn the ability to traverse great distances in the blink of an eye with the least amount of steps and effort required. Moreover, spiritual pressure control can be employed to reduce friction, and further facilitate motion as a result. In spite of its simplicity, the technique drastically increases basic movement speed. As such, it is valued not only by high-ranking Gotei 13 soldiers, but also members of the Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō.
Usually, ordinary and expert practitioners of Hohō focus solely on polishing the art of high-speed movement. In turn, master-class users employ a number of advanced techniques to perform impressive feats of mobility. Furthermore, Hohō may be deployed in conjuction with the other Zankensoki skills in order to facilitate their delivery.
- Hakaitsuchi (破壊槌, "Battering Ram"): The practitioner charges head-on at the target. With the employment of Hohō to produce abnormal force a simple dash becomes a devastating attack, linear but lightning-fast.
- Hyakugeki (百撃, "Hundred Strikes"): The technique consists of a series of one hundred blows performed within a fraction of a second. Whereas exhausting in the long run the resultant damage is often severe.
- Kūkihokō (空気歩行, "Air Walking"): One of the basic applications of Hohō which is nonetheless extremely useful. Practitioners learn to condense miniature platforms made of Reishi particles beneath their feet in order to, quite literally, walk in the air. In spite of its simplicity the technique greatly improves the user's mobility and reach.
- Narunosuke (鳴之助, "Resounding"): First, the practitioner causes one of their limbs, preferably an arm, to vibrate at high frequency with the application of Hohō. Then, one performs the attack with increased power and piercing capabality.
- Nisemure (偽群れ, "False Swarm"): The user generates numerous flickering clones that mimic the actions of the original. They do not last long but may be deployed as a distraction whilst the practitioner is performing an attack.
- Reihei (霊兵, "Ghost Warriors"): This sophisticated manoeuvre involves the generation of several tangible copies of the practitioner. These copies emerge from the user's flickering body and may act independently for a short duration of time. Whilst this allows the practitioner to perform a few different techniques nigh simultaneously, any damage done to the copies will transfer to the original.
- Senka (閃花, "Flash Blossom"): An advanced technique that requires great precision. The practitioner swiftly moves past the target and performs two lightning-fast strikes during the transition. Even though designed as an incapacitating technique, the manoeuvre may be easily adjusted to become lethal.
- Senpū (旋風, "Whirlwind"): Rapid circling about the enemy causes a violent windstorm that may confuse and suppress them. Skilled practitioners may attack during the manoeuvre to exploit the momentum.
- Utsusemi (空蝉, "Cast-Off Cicada Shell"): A move performed for the purpose of deception. The user leaves behind a semi-tangible afterimage clone which might appear to sustain potential damage before it vanishes. The ensuing confusion can be then exploited by the practitioner to counter strike.
|Hijitsuzai (非実在, "Nonentity")||Probably the most fanciful and demanding Hohō technique. Only seasoned masters may attempt to learn Hijitsuzai, a process which requires decades of arduous training before they reach a degree of competence sufficient to successfully perform the technique. The user applies Hohō to their state of existence, a feat remarkable even amongst powerful spiritual beings. Consequently, one reaches a state where the user, for all intents and purposes, is and is not at the same time. The very particles that constitute the body oscillate at incredibly high speeds so that one obtains genuinely wraith-like qualities. Motion becomes extremely swift while movement speed is simply astounding. The user may virtually shift in and out of existence to pass through potentially crippling blows or insurmountable obstacles only to rapidly deliver a strike of one's own. The technique is perilous to the advanced Hohō master; it requires a great deal of focus and caution. However, its utility in high-level combat is extraordinary.|
|Ichimoku (一目, "Glance")||High-speed movement is one thing. The practitoner needs the ability to perceive one's surroundings while travelling with great speed. Normally, this skill develops through natural progression. However, it is entirely possible to deliberately train and perfect said skill. Competent Hohō specialists may purposely augment their senses and reflexes in a manner analogous to the way Hohō is ordinarily applied to their physical fitness. As a result, they obtain the ability to perceive with remarkable detail and in a negligible amount of time. To them, the world seems to briefly become nigh motionless so that they can observe and analyse during what is a literal blink of an eye for the enemy. About the only shortcoming of this ability is that it cannot pierce the barrier of a stilled time. Nevertheless, the Hohō specialist will know, exactly, when time is being tampered with and will react the following instant.|
|Ipposaki (一歩先, "One Step Ahead")||Specific mindset rather than a singular technique. The practitioner carefully observes and analyses actions of the enemy. Verbal commands, facial expressions, gestures, body language, all form a complex pattern. Masterful user of Hohō reacts and anticipates without hesitation. There is no need to waste time upon deliberation, to make conscious decisions. When the practitioner crosses paths with an enemy, they enter a complex, branchy intersection where every step leads to a specific result, one of the many permutations as they struggle to overtake one another on the road to victory. As such, it is only natural for the Hohō master to travel faster than anyone, always treading the shortest path to success with nary a careen on the way. Knowledge and experience greatly facilitate such an approach so that the user may appear to be always one step ahead of the enemy, predict every action, never to be caught off guard.|
|Jikūana (時空穴, "Wormhole")||While seasoned practitioners of Hohō continuously test their limits and reach ever greater velocity with effort and practice, there exists a pre-determined maximum for what kind of speed might be achieved: the speed of light. Nevertheless, powerful spiritual beings tend to hack away at the laws of physics with their every action, bend, twist or outright violate them with a proper exertion. This is one such case. Perhaps in recognition of the effort required, the universe seems to grant a degree of leniency to an exceptional Hohō master and offer plausible means of breaking the unbreakable limit. Or, ironically, circumvent it in a way. For the concept of a wormhole exists, a spatiotemporal bridge that may directly connect two distant locations and provide a shortcut that warps the very fabric of existence. With such a nigh-impossibility in mind, it now rests with the advanced Hohō master to display an amount of skill and resolve in a herculean effort sufficient to manifest such means of faster than light travel. And employ them to laugh in the face of causality and traverse great distances in a period of time that is not, should not, be possible. If occasionally, because tolerance for such flagrant disrespect of natural laws is low.|
|Kagerō (カゲロウ, "Mayfly")||In the unlikely event that an advanced master of Hohō is injured during a battle, there exist means to recover that do not rely upon the arts of Kidō. Should such a specialist deplete one's stamina, the issue may be alleviated as well. For it is possible to tap into the power of Hohō in ways unthinkable to an average warrior but highly logical, and valuable, to a genuine specialist. The natural body processes that lead to the closure of wounds and replenishment of spiritual energy might be deliberately accelerated. Scratches heal, bruises fade away, fractured bones knit and supply of energy is restored. However, ironically, the process requires a short period of great focus that may be difficult to find in the midst of a heated battle, and it can never exceed the extent in which the body is naturally capable of recovering.|
|Nyūkō (入冦, "Encroachment")||To be fast is to be able to escape an enemy strike and deliver a hit faster than the eye can see or the body may react to. Presumably, in the following instant. But there exist means of defence comprehensive enough so as not to leave any transient opening to be exploited, or the opponent's speed might prove sufficient to at least counter such attempts, if not prevent them. But the pinnacle of velocity lays further than that. Like any other skill honed by the Shinigami across millennia, the limits of speed are yet to be discovered. Be that as it may, the current achievements in this field are already astounding. For a single strike and with a considerable exertion, the advanced Hohō specialist may move so fast that the fabric of reality distorts around one, allowing one to phase through any conventional means of defence, no matter how thorough, and pierce the opponent within what appears to be one instant. Such encroachment may be considered an affront, provided the offended party survives long enough to formulate an opinion.|
|Suisei (彗星, "Comet")||Incredible speed entails massive momentum. The sheer velocity an advanced specialist of Hohō may achieve is not only a means of mobility and evasion but a lethal weapon on its own. Many spiritual beings, veteran warriors in particular, boast impressive physical strength. Sometimes, ample spiritual power might be employed to reinforce a physical strike. But an advanced master of Hohō has another means to accomplish analogous feats: speed. With proper acceleration one may transfer momentum into an expression of physical force. As a result, a single finger poke might pierce a Kidō barrier, its caster and ten rows of buildings behind them. A single blow may shatter a mountain or extinguish an existence. The means of inflicting instant death indeed.|