Paradigm Basics: Do is the way and the way is Do. Akashics work their art by unifying mind, body, and soul. When one is in complete harmony with oneself the flow of chi can accomplish anything.
The Brotherhood places great importance on a fact taken for granted by many other mages: that chi, or quintessence, is native to the living body. According to the Hermetics, a person's pattern holds free quintessence which can be used for magick, but that is about as far as many care to take the idea. For the Akashics, this fact is all important. Chi does not rest, placidly, in the pattern of mind, body, and soul, but flows freely throughout. A trained individual can direct this flow into surprising feats.
To this end, most Akashics practice active and reflective techniques. The primary repository for teachings on how to accomplish this is Do. Do, as an active martial art, enables the student to perform maneuvers to agitate the chi and enable it to be unleashed towards dynamic effects. Do, as a style of reflective meditation, enables the student to relax the chi and allow its calmed essence to flow into constructive, renewing pursuits. Some members of the tradition use similar but Western styles as opposed to the more common Eastern techniques, but all follow the active/reflective division.
In actual practice, an Akashic learns styles of motion, emotion, and thought which unify to channel chi in the appropriate way. For example, a death-dealing strike might involve leaping out of a Fivefold Wolf stance into a turning roundhouse while visualizing the opponent's demise and feeling a brief flash of sorrow. Such activities properly prime and direct the chi, such that when it is released in the strike it is aspected to perform the task required. As a student increases in enlightenment her body, mind, and soul grow closer in alignment such that each act of magick is no more complicated than any other action.
Much of the tradition's teachings focus on following one's own path by intuition and wisdom. As such, unawakened students find it very hard to progress far in the understanding and integration of the paradigm. They can mimic other Brothers, and even sometimes achieve a lucky break in understanding, but never truly achieve the same levels of unity. However, this limitation has made the tradition stronger. Hedge wizards of the Tradition have long sought out rituals and writings of other unenlightened orders. While unable to direct the chi with a simple action, they nonetheless can invoke complex forms that can not only affect personal chi, but the flow of chi in the surrounding world. As the hedge Akashics learn martial arts-based magick from their enlightened brethren, so have awakened Akashics learned ritual magick from their sorcerous counterparts.
Paradigm Casting: As explained above, the process of casting usually involves an active or reflective unification of mind, body, and soul to produce an effect. As such, simple effects and practiced, roted effects can be pulled off immediately, while even more complicated effects typically only take a few more seconds of concentration and martial forms.
Rituals typically take the form of chanting and purification rites. These rites can take hours or days, but have an advantage over other Traditions in that Akashic rites can go on for days.
Paradigm Benefits: Amongst the Traditions the Akashics are the unquestioned masters of combat, meditation, and acrobatics. This is due to the benefits of following the Way. Do is not a martial art in and of itself, but an enlightened way of understanding the root principles of all martial arts.
In game system terms, Akashics can use Do to make actions easier and thus more effective. Rolls of Brawl, Melee, and Meditation as well as appropriate uses of Acrobatics, Firearms, and Dodge can have their difficulty reduced by spending Quintessence much like when creating magickal effects. The character can spend Quintessence up to her Arete rating per roll in such a way, but is still limited by her Avatar's rate of channeling per turn. This allows the character to pull off truly stunning feats of prowess completely without actual magick being used.
Since Do is so closely tied to magick, it enables the character to add magick to physical force. Much as other casters would make a reflexive Perception+Alertness roll to place a fireball, for example, an Akashic can make a reflexive attack roll to place an effect. This means that, essentially, an Akashic can cast an effect on a target and physically hurt that target in the same attack without taking multiple action penalties. The magick becomes intricately linked with the attack.
Finally, in the modern world much of the Akashic Brotherhood's less showy effects are coincidental. Following a very successful campaign of marketing martial arts movies in the Eastern and Western worlds many individuals accept that master martial artists can bend the laws of physics. Thus, in most areas of the present day, using spheres to perform "impossible" actions is coincidental. This includes things like shattering objects with a punch, bounding up walls, and other such stunts. This does not include throwing fireballs, running on bamboo, or other such activities that the common viewer clearly realizes requires special effects and wire-fu.
Paradigm Limits: The major limit of the Akashic paradigm is its reliance on action. Without rituals an Akashic is unable to do truly large scale or long range attacks. Further, the unification of mind, body, and soul means that if an Akashic is physically, mentally, or emotionally handicapped then magick is harder to perform. This could involve physical wound and restraints, mind control or recurring flashbacks, or simply being overcome with the wrong emotion.
Another factor of the paradigm that is a problem for some is the rejection of materialism that the paradigm requires. Brothers who enjoy the finer things in life tend to find their growth slowed in the Tradition and in enlightenment while they are still dependent on material things. Some Akashics manage to own things without being dependent on them, but there is still a Tradition-wide bias against those that have many material possessions.
Finally, the Akashic paradigm is largely one of personal development. Teachers can demonstrate how effects should work and can outline the philosophies of the paradigm. However, it is up to each individual student to incorporate this meaning into herself. This tends to slow growth for many, as mentors can only give advice, not set easily followed goals.