Trying to find help finding a fantasy book. Unfortunately, I only really remember one scene;
The main character is male, and travels to a distant region with a society of people who speak a different language. His goal is to train his martial and sword skills. This society is built around their fighting skills, where more skilled fighters are more respected.
His trainer is a female character who is a bit of an outcast herself. He finds that they all believe he can't cut it in their training/tests, including the trainer. The trainer is really harsh with him, as are most people in this society due to the fact that the main character is a foreigner.
I believe his first real test involved crossing the area beneath this large tree with leaves like blades to touch the trunk of the tree without dying. The leaves are closer together and more difficult to cross the closer you get to the trunk.
I think that at first, when he tries, he gets a bunch of cuts. He thinks the challenge is impossible. Then he sees one of the children of the village just dancing between those branches and leaves on the outskirts of the tree without getting hurt. He does finally get through the leaves and ends up doing it with no injuries at all.