Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

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Kunzait_83
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Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:10 am

So... this post.

Honestly, for all the difficulty and hurdles that a topic of this magnitude would require on my end, probably among the hardest parts for me to work out was how the hell do I even get this thing started in the first place?

It was in quickly delving back through my recent posting history trying to think up an idea for how to even begin this thing that I stumbled across this little gem from something I posted months and months ago back when I was first throwing that vintage DB art tumblr blog together:
Kunzait_83 wrote:Do not remotely mistake this though for "the return of Kunzait the Dragon Ball essayist" though. That's ship has LONG and permanently sailed and sunk to the bottom of the Pacific, which is where I fully intend to leave it to rot.
….

…..oh how hilariously bald face of a lie THAT'S now gonna be in the wake of this gargantuan behemoth.

There's simply no possible way for the opening of a post like this from a person like me with my history with this particular community to somehow NOT be awkward. This is gonna be fucking awkward. So to take from a valuable lesson I've long learned since I was very little: when in doubt, shamelessly make fun of yourself.
Kunzait_83 wrote:Do not remotely mistake this though for "the return of Kunzait the Dragon Ball essayist" though. That's ship has LONG and permanently sailed and sunk to the bottom of the Pacific, which is where I fully intend to leave it to rot.
Well looks like I'm making like James Cameron and digging this old fossil up for another maiden voyage. And yes I know the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic and my quote referenced the Pacific, but why let pesky historical accuracy get in the way of a perfectly good pop culture reference? Especially one this befitting because like Cameron's bloated '97 opus, this is going to be a WAY overly-long ass-number. Hopefully its also somewhat educational.

Bottom line: I made the concrete decision several years back to up and leave this community rather than be the person who starts this discussion. Then flash forward about 4 years or so and now I'm making the concrete decision to go back on my previous concrete decision and start this conversation after all.

*Throws up hands in the air*

The takeaway here? So much for concrete decision making.

The topic title is key here though:

Genre.

That's predominantly what we're going to be focusing on here. Genre: definitions, conventions, history, historical context, and so forth. Specifically (of course, obviously) Dragon Ball's genre. I doubt I'll be blowing too many minds or rousing too much in the way of controversy when I note that Dragon Ball has easily one of the single most dysfunctionally bizarre fandoms (specifically on the North American side of things) of damn near anything one can think up. I've been in more than my share of weird fandoms for weird shit my whole life, and I've been in this particular one for a decent chunk of time: trust me, this one's up there.

And quite frankly, this is a topic - that of genre - that I personally find to be at the heart of a MASSIVE amount of the modern day Dragon Ball fandom's many, many freakishly bizarre quirks and idiosyncrasies. Which is part of why we're gonna be spending. A. Fucking. LOT. Of time. Unwrapping Dragon Ball's genre. And as the topic title denotes, Dragon Ball's ACTUAL genre. Because that I feel is where so much of the heart of the dysfunction at the core of Dragon Ball's modern day (and by modern day I mean from roughly 1997/1998-ish or thereabouts and onward) North American fanbase initially stems forth from.

I think we can all agree that among the most important basic details to know about any given creative work of fiction is its genre. Before anyone sits down to discuss say... The Godfather, everyone knows that we're settling in to discuss an epic mob/crime drama. Same goes for The Shining: we all know we're talking horror. On a very baseline, brainstem nature, genre is crucial. Genre is key. Classifying a given work's genre sets the tone for almost everything that's bound to follow in terms of discourse regarding the work itself.

So... very quickly, off the cuff, off the top of everyone's heads here, what is Dragon Ball's genre?

*Typical canned responses*

”Dragon Ball is Shonen!”

Bzzzzt! Wrong. Shonen isn't actually a genre: its a target demographic (that of middle school-age boys). Any other takers?

”Dragon Ball is an Action Cartoon!”

That's... closer. But also EXTREMELY vague. There's a much more specific, tangible answer that covers everything that Dragon Ball represents under a single word.

”Wait a second... that can't be right. EVERYTHING that DB encompasses in a SINGLE word? But Dragon Ball is such a weird hodgepodge of disparate things: fantasy, sci fi, martial arts, ancient myth, dopey gag manga... how do you cram ALL of that into just one single word?”

Not only is there a single genre label that covers EVERYTHING that defines Dragon Ball as Dragon Ball, its also one of the oldest ever genres in the entire history of fiction. One of the oldest and one of the broadest-reaching and encompassing in terms of media that its invaded and stylistic tones it has taken on. And frankly I think its fair to say that understanding this genre is necessary and key in order to truly understand Dragon Ball – certainly to understand its cultural frame of reference - at all on a basic-level.

So now I'm going to say something that I DO think will probably rile controversy: I think that in not understanding the fundamentals of Dragon Ball's actual genre, I think that a VAST majority of Dragon Ball's modern day Western fanbase doesn't really understand the series itself to a certain degree. Which is sad for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that A) neither Dragon Ball nor its actual genre are exactly rocket science and B) this genre is and long has been the FARTHEST thing from super underground and niche (it WAS among Westerners at one point, but that hasn't been the case for more than 15 years now) especially all the more so now today in this hyper-connected and globalized world where everything is a Google or Wiki search away.

Yes I think that the root of this dysfunction runs MASSIVELY deep in the core of this fanbase. How deep? I distantly recall one of the most glaringly incorrect and misunderstood things I ever heard said about this series was something to the basic effect of (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here) “Its very easy for most people to forget that Dragon Ball is an anime because there's nothing particularly Japanese or Asian about it at all.”

One might immediately guess that that came from some awful dub-based discussion, but that'd be incorrect: that came directly from VegettoEX “Mr. Dragon Ball” himself right from one of his old podcasts.

Truth be told that statement IS sort of half-based in truth: there's NOT whole lot that's specifically Japanese running at the core of Dragon Ball's storytelling roots. But Asian? Oh this is as Asian a genre as they conceivably come.

The genre of course, as the thread title plainly gives away, is Wuxia. Which is a very, very, VERY Chinese genre, making Dragon Ball a bit of cultural cross-pollination.

So: here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna talk Wuxia in this thread. Or rather to start with, I'm gonna talk. A. LOOOOOT. About Wuxia. Because frankly there's an ungodly lot to discuss, because this is a genre with as dense a history behind it as they get.

And no one else is raising this topic anywhere else in DB fandom despite how GLARINGLY apparent it is that this topic ought to be raised and is stupidly long overdue being properly examined. I didn't want to be the person responsible for “unpacking” any of this for the wider Dragon Ball community for numerous reasons (that I may or may not delve into as we get deeper into this) but its been made apparent to me in a few recent discussions I've had that no one else is going to bust this chestnut open.

I've got the time to spare, so fuck it: Basic Wuxia 101 For Dummies it is. And its coming to you all courtesy not from someone who's actually... you know, smart, or at least someone who's had some actual semblance of formal training and study in Chinese culture, history, or linguistics; no, your teacher here instead is an aging dork who learned just about everything he ever knew about this genre largely from ratty VHS tapes with horrendous subtitles, obtained via growing up around a ton of stoners and junkies in a seedy neighborhood over 25 years ago.

Yep, nothing can POSSIBLY go awry from this.

As a token of my enthusiasm for this topic however, this isn't going to just be the usual rambling, wordy nonsense typical of one of my ancient old diatribes on here from back in the day. Oh no, we're going a few extra miles here: liberally scattered throughout are numerous high resolution images and animated gifs taken from throughout quite literally my entire lifetime's worth of accumulated Wuxia media. I've gone this extra step of including these for numerous reasons:

First off they MASSIVELY dress up what would otherwise be an absolutely insufferably boring lecture of an info-dump session.

Secondly they act as handy visual aids that at times save me from having to needlessly spend more text describing shit I can just as easily show.

Thirdly, because of how tragically, obscenely under-discussed any of this currently is in present day DB fandom: I want to hammer home with the use of LOTS of media exactly how far reaching this stuff actually goes so that A) it gets across how directly under your noses this whole time a lot of this stuff has always been (because frankly one of the single most infuriating aspects of this whole topic is seeing it get routinely swept aside unknowingly, having something that is so MASSIVE across global mainstream media be senselessly disregarded within all discussion for so globally mainstream a work of media for no real justifiable reason), and B) so that some random jackass can't derail the discussion with pointless disbelief.

“I never heard no one on any DB forum I've ever visited talk about Wuxi-whatever, so how do I know you're not just making all this up?”

Pictures're worth a thousand words. Moving, animated ones probably that many millions more. So don't just take the word of some ranting, long-winded jackass on some forum somewhere such as myself as gospel: I've brought along with me countless bundles of hard evidence to back up each and every claim I'll be making throughout this bulimia of text.

So without further ado, lets get this underway.
http://80s90sdragonballart.tumblr.com/

Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:11 am

Prologue: The Idiot Basics

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Wuxia (technically pronounced closer to “woo shya", but often mispronounced by many Westerners as “woo zeeya”): broken down, the Chinese term translates to “Martial Hero”, from the words Wu (meaning martial, warrior, fighter, soldier, etc. popping up obviously as a component of a dizzying array of Chinese martial arts-related terms and phrases, such as this one) and Xia (meaning chivalrous, noble, heroic, etc.)

Basically the name for this genre succinctly captures and summarizes its core-most narrative themes and elements universal to all the stories that it comprises: physical fighters and combatants (trained in various forms of Chinese or otherwise Asian martial arts fighting styles) who hold to or against a particular code of noble principals and ethics. More on the particulars of those ethics later.

Compared to most fiction genres that are still hugely popular globally today, wuxia is old. Oooooooold old-old. Its hard to accurately gauge, but it roughly dates back 2nd or 3rd Century BC (though the term Wuxia itself originates a fair deal later on) putting its origins somewhere approximately within Qin Dynasty China, with the earliest known wuxia tales passed on orally or scrawled on scrolls in the form of archaic poetry.

Poems were the earliest known medium for crafting wuxia myths, but of course it would hardly stop there: over the ensuing millennia, wuxia would find its way into virtually every (and I mean every) storytelling format man has devised, including music, performance art, plays...

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...opera...

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...paintings...

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...novels...

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...comic books...

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...and eventually of course, film...

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...television...

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...animation...

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...and video games.

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While the genre itself may date back to ancient times, the actual name Wuxia is a much more recent coinage, with the word's origins as a genre-label for martial myths dating back to the 19th Century Qing Dynasty and being retroactively applied to much earlier works by many scholars and historians.

Beyond martial arts and honor codes, the other key ingredient that defines wuxia as a genre is magic and mysticism. What makes a martial arts story a wuxia story goes a fair bit beyond simply depicting heroic figures engaged in standard kung fu battles and rivalries: wuxia stories originated in ancient Chinese myths, folklore, and tall tales. Beyond their honor codes and principals, what also defines a wuxia character is their immensely exaggerated proficiency in supernaturally powerful martial arts fighting styles and techniques.

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In the simplest possible terms, Wuxia is the direct Chinese equivalent and counterpart to European Arthurian/Tolkien-esque High Fantasy. No, seriously.

In both genres there are dragons, there are monsters, there is magic, there are beautiful princes and princesses, there are valiant knights (of a sort), there are thuggish barbarians, there are cunning and deceitful thieves and bandits, there are corrupt and power hungry evil warlords, there are ancient and wise old mystics and mentors, there are enigmatically mysterious lone wolf nomads and vagabonds, there are quests and journeys across strange and dangerous lands, the tone is that of grand epic myth, and the setting is generally in a distant, ancient medieval past of kingdoms, swords, and sorcery.

For all the immense cultural differences between them, the absolute rock-bottom core-most essentials are strikingly similar and directly comparable.

Except of course for the fact that European High Fantasy has 100% less characters eating viciously brutal and elegantly swift kung fu kicks to their craniums than Wuxia does. Advantage: Wuxia. :P

There's a hugely, vastly great deal more beyond this of course, but that covers the absolute bare bones basics in a brief, summarized form. We'll try to break down the details and particulars from here on out one step at a time.

And for the benefit of the really, really cheap seats here, the reason that this topic is hugely important, relevant, and stupidly long overdue a proper delving into on this forum is for the simple reason that Dragon Ball IS a Wuxia series. Not Wuixa-inspired. Not Wuxia-esque, not Wuxia-tinged, or Wuxia-flavored. Dragon Ball, from Pilaf to Boo and all else in between IS a Wuxia tale through and through from head to toe. Wuxia aimed at Japanese grade school children granted, as well as heavily personalized via Akira Toriyama's own unique artistic flourishes... but Wuxia just the same.

NOTE: Evidently its been brought to my attention that Wuxia, being a Chinese term, isn't generally recognized as a word in Japan. Not that anything at any point in this write-up here really acknowledges one way or the other Japan's views on the word itself, but regardless its been made VERY specific to me that Japan DOESN'T use the word and its VERY important that I make this clear here. This really shouldn't have any bearing on anything else that follows, as regardless of Japan's chosen terminology for the genre of Mythical Martial Arts Fantasy, clearly this is a genre and set of narrative tropes that they are absolutely no strangers to and have indulged in and helped contribute to the evolution of a tremendously great, great deal across their own Japanese media: as much of what you'll see here will clearly demonstrate.

And as we delve into learning the fundamentals/history of the genre itself, we'll also be taking a look at Dragon Ball's place and standing within the genre as well as maybe dispel a few long-standing misconceptions (held to and perpetuated by even some of the most thoroughly knowledgeable and dedicated amongst the members here) along the way.

Everyone ready? No? Tough shit. Y'all are WAY past overdue for this. Let the training begin.

Part 1: Setting, Archetypes, and Tropes

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Lets start with the setting of most Wuxia stories, since that's a bit of a specific topic unto itself.

There's actually a set name for it, and its an exceedingly important term to remember and hang onto whenever consuming, examining, or otherwise discussing and thinking about Wuxia in general: Jianghu.

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Much like the term Wuxia itself, Jianghu was a word coined a fair bit later on in the genre's lifespan. Its a topic of debate for some, but its generally agreed that the Wuxia epic novel Water Margin (one of the four most singularly important cornerstone works of Chinese literature, three of which are Wuxia, alongside a certain other Wuxia novel by the name of Journey to the West) is the likely progenitor of the word as it applies to the genre in the modern context.

The translation of the word is a bit odd: taken literally it means “Rivers and Lakes”, likely stemming from the typical scenic depiction of the lands featured in Wuxia tales as that of misty mountains overlooking a lush wooded land of dense forests, plains, and... well, rivers and lakes. The word itself has been around for at least over 600 years and pre-dates Water Margin by a bit, but its generally agreed by many that Water Margin helped codify the word's proper context as it pertains to Wuxia as a genre.

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Put simply, Jianghu is the catch-all term for the highly idealized, romanticized, and mythologized depiction of ancient Dynastic China that about 90% of all Wuxia stories are traditionally set in. Much in the same way as Middle Earth holds basically the exact same function for the medieval European lands in the similarly genre-codifying works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

As with Middle Earth, the world of Jianghu is very much a mythic fantasy world of grand beautiful kingdoms, regal and elegant royalty, downtrodden simple peasants, ruthless outlaws and thugs, scenic villages with shops, inns, and taverns, vast, treacherous wastelands, hideous wild monsters, curses, ghosts, evil spirits, supernaturally powered mystic artifacts and weapons (well hidden or guarded of course), and skilled warriors of a staggering variety of dispositions and allegiances.

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In Jianghu there is always a new conflict on the horizon, be it a massive scale dispute between entire kingdoms, a supernatural uprising of demons from the underworld, a war of philosophical differences between martial arts schools (often resolved by beating each other senseless usually), or a simple, personal blood feud or rivalry between two individual martial artists.

There are always new adventures and journeys unfolding somewhere, be they a young martial arts student's rite of passage, a long cross country training voyage for a seasoned warrior, a quest to find and retrieve a sacred crystal, talisman, sword, dagger, or fighting staff granting the user with immense Chi-infused power, a tireless search for a lost, deadly, forbidden martial arts technique (recorded in written manuals generally, an extremely common Wuxia MacGuffin), a roaring rampage of revenge by an enraged martial artist against the thugs who wronged him/her, or perhaps a massive gathering of warriors for a martial arts fighting tournament.

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As the supernatural plays such a vital role in defining the world of Jianghu, ghosts, demons, gods, and other assorted metaphysical beings also play great prominence throughout a great deal of Wuxia fiction. Its not uncommon in fact for characters to frequently cross over into the afterlife/spirit realm, converse with, and even train under various immortal beings, and generally continue about with their journeys/martial arts conflicts there.

TL;DR: Chinese Kung Fu Middle Earth (coined long before Tolkien's great great great grandparents were ever born). That's Jianghu in the simplest nutshell.

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And in defining the world in which these stories are set, we then must also define the many types of characters who populate it.

Obviously the central conceit of this genre is martial arts (preposterously exaggerated supernatural martial arts, but martial arts just the same), thus a vast majority of wuxia characters and archetypes are made up of various stripes of martial arts masters and students.

With the practice of martial arts being as heavily mythologized and even downright deified as it is in this genre (its not at all uncommon for a master kung fu expert in a Wuxia story to be spoken and thought of as a god), another very important concept to understand in Wuxia fiction is that of the Xia and the Wulin.

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Simply speaking, Xia is a term referring to practitioners of the (sometimes literally) godlike forms of martial arts utilized throughout Wuxia fiction, allowing the user to perform awe inspiring feats of physical, mental, and spiritual strength. In most Wuxia tales, the Xia are a highly secretive, underground community of martial arts experts, often made up of a very, very loosely connected network of schools, clans, and sects scattered all across the lands, who typically exist somewhere out on the far flung fringes outside of mainstream society.

By this token the Xia are also defined by their name, taken from the “chivalrous/noble” half of the word Wuxia: they are defined not only by their superhuman level of martial arts mastery, but also by their relationship with various codes of honor and philosophical principals of the martial arts community (that relationship consisting of a lifelong adherence to or rebellion against those principals, depending on the character in question).

Depending on the individual, particular Wuxia story in question, its not unusual for Xia and their abilities to be thought of and dismissed by typical, average peasants, townsfolk, farmers, etc. as little more than played up rumor and gossip. In some stories however, by contrast, they can just as well be depicted as famed, revered (or feared), and well known far and wide. As with anything in a genre this old and dense, it varies a lot from one generation of stories to the next.

The underground, fringe society of supernaturally powerful martial arts practitioners that the Xia make up in itself (complete with all their ethical codes, beliefs, traditions, customs, etc.) is typically referred to commonly as Wulin, which basically means The Martial Arts World, or Martial World.

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As noted, the depiction of Xia and the Wulin/Martial World and how it interacts with or is viewed by the rest of mainstream society can vary greatly depending on the individual story being told. Overall, generally speaking however, no matter what their standing (or lack thereof) may be among the general populace of the lands of Jianghu, Xia are almost always depicted in some way or another as existing and operating outside the law and parameters of government, monarchy, or whatever power structure might be in place within the Jianghu world of the story in question.

No matter their “alignment” (in D&D terms) or personalities or quirks, the typical, traditional depiction of the Xia across the vast majority of Wuxia is usually that of outsiders, renegades, and staunch individualists, who when push ultimately comes to shove show little actual regard for traditional laws of the land, acting as though said laws generally do not apply to them.

As their name denotes, they are governed solely by their own martial honor codes and values (or lack thereof in some villainous cases) which they hold as sacred above any other form of power structure. If aligned with a specific martial arts school, then often times the rules and codes of the school and the whims of its masters will take precedent for a Xia well above that of the ruling kingdom or government of the lands.

Apart from their inhuman level of skill and dedication to (or rejection of) a set of rigid warrior's principals, Xia are also notable for their sheer single-minded dedication to perfecting their kung fu training. While some Xia characters can be portrayed as devoting more spare time to individual, non-martial arts related pursuits (ultimately this will vary from character to character and writer to writer, more so particularly in later, more contemporary stories), generally speaking overall, a typical Xia character in a traditional Wuxia story is someone who has forsaken just about close to ALL other aspects of life that do not in any way contribute to the betterment of their skills and the further sharpening of their bodies and minds.

This in turn is another factor that paints Xia as outcasts of society, no matter how heroic their deeds or how noble their intentions: to them their training and their improvement as warriors comes before almost ALL else, even if its at the direct expense of a happy, leisurely life (and it very often is). There is never a time for rest, never a time to set martial arts aside for a higher cause: to them, there IS no possible higher goal in life than total mastery of the martial arts.

There are a wide, vast abundance of classic Wuxia character archetypes that have populated the genre's stories for literally thousands of years.

Very classically there's the Youxia, roughly translated as “roving/wandering force” or “Knight Errant”, essentially the Chinese equivalent of a masterless Samurai or Ronin. A very cliché go-to standby central hero (or at the very least intriguing supporting player), the Youxia are usually (though not necessarily always) lone travelers.

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Youxia are often wandering adventurers aimlessly traveling the Jianghu lands in search of new challenges for their fighting skills, new adventures to excite them, new opportunities to test and prove their mettle as warriors, and so forth.

In their backgrounds they can come from virtually anywhere of any social caste. They can be former princes or princesses who ran from their kingdoms, tired and bored of pampered, spoiled lives, they can be former government bureaucrats who'd grown weary of enforcing laws they do not truly believe in (or the children of government stooges rebelling against their families), they could be strong, brave peasants from poor villages who seek fortune for themselves and/or their families or justice for the downtrodden (a fairly common, often used stock type for such characters).

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In terms of martial arts training, they could have picked up their skills from a vast ocean of possibilities. They could be formerly devoted students to a particular school who either left it willingly due to philosophical differences or were perhaps driven from it when the school was destroyed by its enemies, or perhaps driven from it due to deceit from a rival student or a bitter falling out with its master. If from a wealthy or privileged background, its not uncommon for them to have picked up their skills from training by a famed master hired by their families to help teach them proper-self defense and discipline.

While regal, dignified warriors with nobility in their roots was a more standard characterization for Youxia in earlier Wuxia tales, later Wuxia stories would more commonly depict many Youxia characters as coming from poorer, often rural regions: a common characterization for these can be that of uncultured, rough and tumble, and naïve to the stuffy, prim and proper ways of larger civilizations. The former depictions tended to offer a more romanticized, loftily admiring frame of view to the character, while the latter would be generally seen as framing the hero as a more down to earth, relatable everyman, particularly to common Chinese peasants with more experience toiling in farms than hobnobbing with wealthy land owners and government VIPs.

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(Youxia: seasoned and deeply principled superpowered martial arts warriors who roam Jianghu in search of new challenges and worthy opponents to test and prove their skills.)

Ultimately though the backstory of any given Youxia character is an entirely flexible matter. What ultimately defines them is their current status as a nomadic warrior free of any ties to any particular group or land, with absolutely no allegiance to anyone but their own individual drives and motives, and who are traditionally driven by a strong, unshakable set of personal values tied to their fighting arts (however individual or perhaps even unconventional they may be unto them).

Youxia are considered among the absolute oldest and earliest of all Wuxia character types, the subjects of some of the very earliest, most antiquated poetry in the genre's entire history. In fact, long before being dubbed Wuxia, most stories within the genre were typically known as Youxia, named for their usual choice of protagonists. As such, examples of Youxia are impossibly vast.

One of the most iconic examples within modern Wuxia fandom is Zhang Wuji, the main protagonist of the (VERY oft adapted) wuxia novel Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre.

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A popular go-to favorite wuxia hero the last several decades, Wuji very much embodies the anti-authoritarian/social outsider aspect of Youxia and Xia in general, in that he's largely defined by his reluctance towards and mistrust of power structures and authority: something which he wrestles with a great deal when he is eventually chosen to become a leader of a martial arts sect himself.

Another notable Youxia is Linghu Chong, the titular character for The Smiling Proud Wanderer series.

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An orphan raised in the mountains by a pair of great kung fu masters (one of whom eventually becomes one of his greatest enemies), Chong is the archetypical “rural, spunky, scrappy” Youxia through and through, whose bright, playful energy stands in stark opposition to that of the stoic, reserved Youxia of older myths.

For my generation of Western Wuxia fandom (late 80s/early 90s), Linghu Chong is among the most instantly recognizable and fondly remembered wuxia heroes, embodied most memorably by a very young Jet Li in a pair of Smiling Proud Wanderer film adaptations (The Swordsman) that were insanely popular at the time (and probably were most responsible alongside the Once Upon a Time in China series for Li's pre-Lethal Weapon 4 fame stateside).

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Speaking of my generation of Wuxia fandom, another notable Youxia for me is among my very first growing up: Ting Yin from Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain.

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A highly competent, dangerous fighter specializing in guided/homing ki/chi attacks...

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(Yamucha and Kuririn would certainly be proud)

...Ting Yin is decidedly of the more traditionally “serious, aloof” stripe of Youxia, and who has always been memorable to me for his somewhat ambiguous morals and self-doubting nature, making him a very atypical subversion and deconstruction of the more traditional examples of this archetype.

Two of the most ridiculously well known, popular, and often used (and re-used, and re-re-used) characters in a Youxia-like role are taken from actual real life history: Fong Sai-yuk and Wong Fei Hung, two actual historical figures whose martial arts skills and real life exploits/bravery has long ago since earned them near-mythical status in China and the world over.

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(The real life Wong Fei Hung)

As fantastical and fantasy-oriented as it is, Wuxia still takes a great deal of its elements and inspirations from real life historical Chinese events and people, and Fong Sai-yuk and Wong Fei Hung are hardly exceptions, being typically given very much the Youxia character-type in a dizzying array of both grounded/realistic as well as fanciful Wuxia embellishments of their deeds and adventures (some of which are among the earliest modern examples). Wong Fei Hung in particular has ran the gamut in terms of his characterization/depiction in these fantasy takes of his exploits, from stern and somber to wildly over the top energetic and humorous (the latter most popularly by none other than Jackie Chan in the Drunken Master films).

Another hugely important and common Wuxia archetype is the Xian. A very loose word whose translation can range anywhere from “enlightened spirit” to “transcendent being” to “immortal saint” to “superhuman”, or even simply “wizard” or “sage”.

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A distinctly Taoist concept (Taoist and Buddhist beliefs and philosophies making up a GIGANTIC chunk of traditional Wuxia lore) Xian are ancient, aged old masters of the martial arts in all its forms and stages: physical, mental, and especially spiritual. Xian are veteran, weathered old warriors who have mastered the mystical aspects of kung fu so thoroughly and so completely that they are no longer considered entirely human anymore, but something more evolved, something closer to the spirit realm than the physical realm.

As such, while Xian are traditionally ancient and heavily aged in physical appearance, they are generally considered ageless and quasi-immortal (living lifetimes of hundreds, if not thousands of years old), their minds and spirits so advanced that their bodies are now able to withstand a great deal of the deteriorating factors of advanced age (allowing them to move just as well as, often far better even, than a young, fit person in their physical prime).

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Geniuses at philosophical matters as much as they are at the art of combat, Xian are the elder statesmen of the Wulin/Martial Arts World and the Xia as a whole, and are roughly the closest thing the community has to a “ruling body” of sorts. Xian are of course almost always HIGHLY revered and respected within the Martial Arts community of Xia, whose views and opinions are generally looked upon by younger warriors with the highest of deference.

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Often (but not necessarily always) hermetic and solitary by nature, Xian commonly isolate themselves further away from civilization than most other Xia typically tend to, living generally in very remote, hard to reach locations, typically dangerous to even attempt to travel to. This trait can be easily read as further emphasizing their increased detachment and alienation from the rest of normal society as their increased physical and spiritual powers have grown and transformed them so much so as to remove them bit by bit from feeling as if they can relate well with others (though this attribute of course can vary greatly from one characterization to the next).

For Xian who are more sociable and living out in plain view within society however, its a common, well worn stereotype for them to be perceived and written off by the average townsfolk as little more than a crazy old beggar/vagrant spouting laughably nonsense superstitions.

Its also of course extremely common for many Xian to have at one point been Youxia themselves at some point earlier in their lives previously.

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The Xian of course is the archetype from which your stereotypical “wise old master/teacher/mentor” figure, at least certainly within kung fu fiction, directly springs from. The direct Japanese equivalent term for this character type is of course... Sennin, a word which ought to be a tad bit familiar to folks here.

Among the most well known examples of a Xian (arguably/possibly the primary inspiration for it) is Zhang Sanfeng. Debatably a real life historical figure (though this is an extremely contested claim due to numerous conflicting accounts), Zhang Sanfeng has nonetheless been used as the Xian archetype countless, countless times to the point of downright embodying it.

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(Real life statue of Sanfeng in the real life Wudang mountains)

A holy man of Taoist principals known in legends for his humility and total absence of ego along with his immense, superhuman martial arts prowess, Sanfeng if the (highly embellished) accounts of his life are to be believed had supposedly lived to well over 200 years of age. Regardless of the highly dubious nature of most historical accounts of his life, the tales and mythos surrounding him has sparked the imagination of countless Wuxia writers and storytellers for countless hundreds of years now. Many stories and legends have him as the creator of the art of Tai Chi as well as an innovator of many internal Chi/Qi/Ki focusing techniques.

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(Sammo Hung as Zhang Sanfeng in the 1993 film adaptation of Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre, which features Sanfeng as a mentor of Zhang Wuji and a major supporting character.)

Of course as with any archetype or trope, there are definite subversions, and its not at all uncommon to find Xian in Wuxia stories who are anything but noble or benevolent, but rather are corrupt, deranged, and driven mad with vanity and ego by their own power and mastery (or who were possibly already so thoroughly corrupted from the getgo and were driven to acquire such an advanced level of mastery and skill for all the wrong reasons right out the gate). Twisted Xian like this are often considered some of the utmost dangerous opponents and adversaries one can face in a Wuxia story.

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(Corrupt Xian: Just because they teach you mystical Kung Fu doesn't mean they like you.)

Among the most popularly well known “Corrupt/Wicked Xian” examples is of course Bak Mei (or Pai Mei, depending on your dialect of preference) aka “White Eyebrows”. Much like Zhang Sanfeng, Pai Mei was supposedly a real life historical figure of shaky authenticity and dubious accounts.

Once a Shaolin high priest residing in the primary monastery for the entire sect (and supposedly the creator of the Eagle Claw style, one of the most brutal and lethal of all the animal-based Shaolin forms), legend has it that he betrayed the order and helped lead the Qing Dynasty to sack and burn the temple to the ground: an event which wiped out a LARGE percentage of the Shaolin order's best warriors, leaving a mere five to wander the country in search of students to pass their skills on to and someday rebuild the order (thus disseminating many Shaolin techniques and fighting secrets beyond the temple walls). This event is much like Bak Mei/Pai Mei himself in that while its grown incredibly famous and notorious over the centuries, its actual accuracy is subject of debate.

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(Pictured in the center of the crowd: Pai Mei, Shaolin Executioner, as portrayed by Lo Lieh in one of several Shaw Bros. feature films featuring the character.)

Nonetheless, this story of an attack on the principal Shaolin Temple (lead by a treacherous priest with large white eyebrows) has similarly endured to be used often in countless Wuxia stories and folklore (Water Margin most famously) as a key event in the back history of the (Wuxia-ified) Shaolin Order and among the most horrific atrocities committed against the Wulin in Jianghu.

Pai Mei's key role and participation in this temple raid has likewise painted him permanently as one of the most iconic, famous examples of an evil, amoral Xian in Wuxia fiction. While most prominently depicted to modern audiences in a trilogy of Shaw Bros. films, millennial Western audiences will of course immediately recognize him from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films (where he's portrayed as more or less the same Pai Mei from the Shaw Bros. films).

In Kill Bill, the fact that none other than the mythical Pai Mei himself is used by Bill's Deadly Viper Assassination Squad as their go-to “wise old hermit mentor” is meant to further paint them as a group of villainous fighters, adding an extra layer of amorality to them for Kung Fu fiction-savvy audiences to whom the name Pai Mei immediately conjures sinister connotations.

Another common archetype in Wuxia is that of the Assassin.

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Self-explanatory enough, Assassins are martial artists who primarily use their skills as guns for hire, selling their fighting abilities to the highest bidder. Driven by money and greed rather than principals and ethics, Assassins are thus traditionally cast as villainous figures.

Often times the Assassin is vaguely similar to a Youxia (and can possibly be considered something of a dark counterpart to them, depending on the story) in that they are often lone, masterless, and without any particular allegiance to any faction (beyond who pays well); though some later Wuxia stories have posited Assassin characters as belonging to particular martial arts schools who train and dedicate themselves to the business of fighting and killing other warriors (or even non-fighters) for monetary profit, and are thus generally portrayed as thoroughly corrupt compared to other schools (or at the very least a bit more sketchy and shady).

Rarely ever portrayed as having the slightest ounce of honor (making them seen as thoroughly despicable by most other Xia), assassins are often times the underlings for a higher villain of a story, but can sometimes take center stage as the primary antagonist if the vendetta between them and the hero is personal enough or the danger they represent great enough. They can also sometimes show regret for their profession and turn away from it towards a life of righteousness, depending on the story in question.

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(Yo Xi Hung, master martial arts assassin.)

One of my favorite Wuxia stories about a martial arts clan of Assassins is the Shaw Brothers classic The Avenging Eagle, which focuses on the criminal Iron Boat Gang and their elite kung fu hitmen the 13 Eagles. The Eagles' leader Yo Xi Hung is one of the all time most memorable on-screen martial arts assassins shy only of the great Hwang Jang Lee's many villainous roles; the story pits him against Chik Ming-sing, a remorseful former student and killer of his wishing to make amends for his murderous past with the gang by turning and fighting against them, and Cheuk Yi-fan, a fighter whose family were victims of Chik Ming-sing during his time as a hitman for the Eagles and is reluctantly teaming with him (in spite of Chik's direct part in slaying his loved ones) in order to strike at the deeper heart of the evil responsible for their deaths.

Then of course there are the Monks.

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Monks can come from a variety of sects (real-world based, or completely fictional) and are generally among the most unwaveringly focused and dedicated warriors in the Wulin/Martial World even by the usually rigid standards of a common Xia, having literally committed every waking minute possible aspect of their entire lives (down to even their very appearance and banal daily habits) towards nothing more or less than the further sharpening of their bodies, minds, and skills towards the art of fighting.

Monks are even more remote, secretive, and removed from society than most typical Xia, typically spending most of their time holed up in their various temples and temple grounds far from civilization, rarely venturing out into the world unless its for the utmost urgent of matters. Often times however, a Monk character in a Wuxia story can be a “wandering Monk”, who roams freely throughout the Jianghu lands. This could be for any number of reasons: the Monk could have broken free of his sect, his sect/temple could have been wiped out in a battle, or he could be simply on a specific mission requiring a great deal of travel.

Very often, a Monk's principal motives in a Wuxia story will differ greatly from that of a Youxia: Youxia traditionally fight purely for the sake of growing their own skills and for their own personal ideals, whereas Monks much more often tend to have far more broader-ranging motives, usually tied to the will and orders of their temple and its masters. This however doesn't usually apply to Monks who have splintered away from their temples, and there are many former Monks who wander Jianghu and fight more for their own personal reasons, similarly or identically to Youxia.

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The two most stereotypically common monastic sects used throughout the vast majority of Wuxia tales are of course the Shaolin and the Wu-Tang (or Wudang, depending on your preferred dialect). The Shaolin were/are of course a real life sect of Buddhist monks, while the Wu-Tang (named for the mountainous regions they often reside in) are a largely fictional one borne of a collection of myths and folktales spanning countless hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Throughout the vast majority of Wuxia fiction that they appear in, the Shaolin and Wu-Tang are posed against one another as mirror opposites, rivals in power and standing throughout the Martial World, and often as adversaries (to varying degrees of acrimony depending on the story). According to lore, the Wu-Tang's origins have them as having long ago splintered from the Shaolin into their own sect. While the Shaolin's beliefs and philosophies stem from Buddhism, the Wu-Tang's stem from Taoism.

In most Wuxia tales, Monks (particularly Wu-Tang) tend to often be masters of some of the most outlandish and flagrantly supernatural of martial arts styles and techniques. Even in a more relatively “grounded” Wuxia story (relative being the operative word here), its not uncommon for the monks, should any appear in the story, to be the ones most outwardly flying around zapping things with their Qi/Ki/Chi energy. This is all relative of course from individual story to individual story as just as many Wuxia tales can have just about every major character of importance capable of displaying such raw power.

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In a great many Wuxia stories, monks are enigmatic and often considered “odd” or “impenetrable” in their beliefs and practices even to some of the more outlandish Xia characters (but generally still respected more often than not), and are just as much spiritual/religious figures as they are elite warriors. Traditionally used as supporting characters, many Wuxia stories have also featured monks as the primary narrative focus as well. Needless to say they are also of course usually forces to be reckoned with in a fight.

And of course, like Xian, not all Monks are necessarily of the honorable or noble sort: many Wuxia stories feature individual monks or entire monastic sects who are very much corrupt and wicked in their ways and intentions.

One of my all time favorite Wuxia characters is an example of an evil monk: the insane, renegade Shaolin Monk Huogong Toutuo.

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Driven mad with greed and lust for power, Huogong stole from his temple a secret manual containing instructions in the mastery of the Solar Stance, a powerful martial arts technique that helps the user greatly increase their focus and output of Ki/Chi/Qi. He spends a large chunk of the story as a fugitive on the run from nearly every faction within the story (who all want from him the manual and the secrets/knowledge of the technique for their own various reasons and uses) and remains remarkably slippery, resilient, and nigh impossible to capture or kill.

Monks of course are very easily and immediately distinguishable visually by their (typically) yellow and red Kasaya robes, shaved heads, dotted incense burns/scars on their foreheads, as well as sometimes carrying Khakkhara staffs (denoting their dual nature as religious/warrior figures), prayer beads, and wearing large, bowl-like Kasa hats.

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Also as per their religious aspects, in more horror/spirit/ghost/demon-themed Wuxia stories (of which there are a great, great, great many, enough to establish itself as its own sub-genre of wuxia: “horror-wuxia” if you like) Monks, generally of the Taoist sort, often play the role of Exorcists and demon/ghost hunters, and supply a great deal of knowledge & exposition about the rules and laws of the spirit realm.

One of my favorite examples of this is of course Yin Chik-ha from A Chinese Ghost Story (played by the great and recently departed Wu Ma).

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A Taoist warrior monk and ghost hunter/exterminator, Yin Chik-ha is the source for a great deal of handy information about the demon world for the (non-fighter/non-martial artist) protagonist Ning Choi-san, as well as acting as Ning's primary protector/combatant when it comes time for the two to navigate the endless void of demonic hordes when they inevitably cross over from the living realm into the spirit world during the climax.

Full disclosure: Monks have generally always been among my absolute all time favorite character types in Wuxia fiction since my earliest exposure to the genre, and the one I most heavily latched onto as a small child, mostly due to their incredible sense of dedication and discipline in their typical depictions.

And speaking of which, another extremely important element to the tapestry of Wuxia is a fairly broad archetype: Demons, Gods, Monsters, and the Supernatural

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As noted earlier, the world of Jianghu (just like many other fantasy worlds) is filled with a vast bestiary of inhuman creatures. This in itself covers a fairly broad range throughout the genre's history: many are mythical beasts and monsters that roam the wilds as animals and can pose natural threats against unsuspecting warriors traversing these magical (and treacherous) lands.

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Other creatures are more friendly and can even be tamed and act as useful allies to the heroes.

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Apart from wild monsters, there's also the presence of demons, ghosts, and various assorted evil (and benevolent) spirits. These can range wildly from anything to giant Oni-like demons,

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or legions of underworld hordes,

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hideous shape-changing Hellspawned abominations,

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undead Chinese Vampires (Jiangshi),

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more traditional zombies,

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and malevolent spectral entities that can possess mortal beings.

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Some are lesser demons who are mindless vehicles of destruction, but others are extremely intelligent, cunning, and powerful Demon Kings/Queens and Generals who take on leadership roles among their clans, often acting as primary villains/antagonists across a great many Wuxia stories.

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By extension of these supernatural beings appearing in the physical/mortal world, Wuxia also at times leaves the Earthly plane entirely and wanders into Bangsian fantasy (fantasy fiction set in or otherwise devoted to the afterlife). Numerous Wuxia stories devote their focus towards the heavenly realm...

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...and Hellish underworld...

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...often with gods and deities, usually from Buddhist or Taoist lore, appearing as characters who interact, directly or otherwise, with Wulin martial arts masters and other denizens of Jianghu.

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Thus it is not at all out of the realm of possibility for deceased fighters to find themselves exploring the afterlife and facing otherwordly challenges and adventures there.

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Then there are the Scholars.

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Scholars, unlike the character types listed above, are not martial artists or warriors of any sort at all. Scholars are civilians; and not jut any normal non-combatant, but ones who tend to play a very specific type of role in many Wuxia stories. Sometimes referred to as Wen-Shi (which translates basically to “Scholar Class”), as the name plainly denotes, scholars are intellectuals and bureaucrats, generally often from very wealthy, privileged backgrounds. They have forsaken most forms of physical pursuits in favor of study and acquiring knowledge.

While generally seen as a perfectly fine and noble pursuit unto itself, scholars are traditionally not often portrayed in Wuxia fiction under an especially flattering light. Within the context of the genre, scholars are more often than not portrayed as naïve (i.e. book smart over street smart), pampered, sheltered, cowardly, weak, and easily bullied, cowed, manipulated, and intimidated.

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Scholars often play a variety of supporting roles throughout an assortment of Wuxia stories, and are often usually brutally victimized in various ways by the villains/antagonists of the piece. Generally they are there to serve as a marked contrast to the Xia: the Xia are strong, brave, determined, and righteous in all the ways that Wen-Shi are not. A Wen-Shi in a Wuxia story can very well be good hearted and well meaning (or a sniveling little weasel, again depending on the story/writer in question), but ultimately they serve as a cautionary tale of a life without martial discipline being one in the same as a life of perpetual victimhood.

Ironically enough, in real life historical/Dynastic China, the temperamental divide between the real world Wen-Shi and Wu-Shi (warrior class, i.e soldiers and fighters) was far less marked and stark, with actual Chinese soldiers and warriors generally having a greater degree of genuine respect for the knowledge of scholars than is typically portrayed in Wuxia and Chinese fiction in general (where the “aggressive Alpha Male grunt vs passive Beta Male geek” card tends to be played up far more theatrically for dramatic effect).

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As with Monks, scholars are also generally easily identifiable visually in a Wuxia tale by their gaudier manner of dress, less flattering physical builds (too skinny/lanky, or too chubby/paunchy), awkward gait and body language, as well as their variety of distinctively shaped hats (which vary depending on the region) denoting them as intellectuals.

We also then have Bandits.

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Bandits are a common problem throughout the lands of Jianghu, and prey upon ragged peasants and the wealthy/royalty alike. Generally more commonly encountered in remote wastelands or mountainous regions (where the law cannot easily get at them) Bandits tend to attack and steal from travelers as they pass through their various territories.

The fighting skill level of a bandit in a Wuxia story can vary greatly anywhere from a completely unskilled punk to a genuine warrior of fair adeptness. Bandits can work alone, or they can be part of a larger clan of thieves carving out their own territory.

Bandits have a very long and storied history as stock villains in Wuxia stories, often as canon fodder or minor obstacles (less commonly though as actual main antagonists). Other Wuxia stories however would also sometimes paint them as anti-heroes, or even full blown allies to the heroes, working on a sort of “Robin Hood”-esque principal (rob from the corrupt, give to the needy).

A perfect example of a heroic bandit in Wuxia (to the point of being the central protagonist of his own series) is Chu Liuxiang, one of the most famous creations of prolific Wuxia novelist Gu Long, and who has since appeared in countless film and television adaptations based on his literary appearances.

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Liuxiang is a classic noble Robin Hood-like bandit, a high-class scoundrel of the underworld with a heart of gold as well as a mysterious past (even his true age isn't really known, nor is the identity of the master who trained him) and a seemingly bottomless network of old friends and acquaintances all across Jianghu who all typically owe him “favors”.

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(70s martial arts film star Ti Lung as Chu Liuxiang in one of several Shaw Bros. produced film adaptations of the characters' literary exploits.)

With a houseboat as his traveling base of operations and always involving himself in some new caper, heist, or scheme (often with the ultimate end goal of helping someone), Liuxiang also possesses impeccable martial arts skills and nearly unparallelled Ki/Qi/Chi mastery. Defined by his almost inhuman level of patience and calm, and his overall relaxed nature and perceptive intellect, his signature trademark weapon (to the point of the character single-handedly popularizing it across wider martial arts media and works) is a simple fan which he uses largely defensively rather than for offensive strikes.

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Due to his disciplined level of restraint, Liuxiang often only uses his massively powerful repertoire of Ki/Chi/Qi techniques in extremely controlled, subtle, and decidedly non-flashy displays of strength, only RARELY fully cutting loose with the full scope of his power in the most extreme and dire of circumstances.

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Another one of the best known examples of a more romanticized/heroic depiction of a bandit in Wuxia is Song Jiang from Water Margin, who lead a band of 36 outlaws (operating largely out of the Liang Mountains) in open rebellion against corrupt imperial forces for the Song Dynasty.

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(The 36 Bandits of Liang from Water Margin.)

Then there are Soldiers.

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Soldiers are warriors who fight on behalf of the power structure/status quo of the current ruling government/monarchy of Jianghu in a given Wuxia tale. In spite of sometimes (generally in the cases of the more prominent/important characters of this type) possessing superhuman kung fu proficiency comparable to the Xia, Soldiers are in many ways mirror opposites to most Xia. As the Xia often act well outside of Jianghu mainstream society, Soldiers by contrast thoroughly embody and personify it. To put it in a VERY stupidly oversimplified context, if the Xia are the Rebel Alliance, the Soldiers are the Storm Troopers for the Galactic Empire.

In spite of their opposed standing within the Jianghu power structure from that of the Xia, the role of Soldier characters in many Wuxia stories is a fair bit more complex than one might think at first glance. While sometimes playing the expected role of generic villains, grunts, mooks, cannon fodder, secondary/main antagonist etc. many Soldier characters however have also been lent significant complexity and development throughout Wuxia's history.

Its not unusual or uncommon for a Soldier character to feel torn or guilt ridden about their job, and to eventually become a Xia themselves (a very common backstory for a Youxia is that of a disillusioned former Soldier), or at least a reluctant ally/mole on the inside for the principal Xia characters. Also, particularly should a kingdom in question be of the benevolent stripe, Soldiers can also occupy conventionally heroic roles from the outset.

Put another way, Soldiers are warriors in a Wuxia story who are not of the Wulin community, in spite of sometimes perhaps possessing comparable fighting skills; though once again even this can come with its own set of subversions/complications, as there are soldier characters who are sometimes depicted as ALSO being Xia with ties of their own to the Martial Arts World (which can be used to play up their internal conflicted tensions with the lands/kingdoms they fight for: duty to one's kingdom vs honor to one's martial arts school, etc).

One of the most densely complex, and richly layered soldier characters is Jet Li's Nameless Prefect in the 2002 Wuxia epic Hero.

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A prefect for an unknown small providence, Li's nameless soldier harbors a secret vendetta against the current emperor of the Qin Dynasty for ordering an attack on his home state which saw the massacre of his family among the casualties. Feigning loyalty to the ruling government while secretly honing his skills on the side in an array of lethal martial arts styles and techniques (including his signature attack “Death at Ten Paces” which allows him to strike an opponent's vital points from a distance) in numerous duals and fights with Xia warriors, the nameless soldier attempts to gain the trust of the Qin emperor by foiling several assassination attempts on him by other Xia fighters who are rebelling against his rule.

Eventually his exploits earn him a face to face with the emperor, who immediately sees through his facade and correctly deduces the prefect's true intentions. They talk, with the nameless prefect recounting his story and the emperor explaining to him his desire to unite the warring states in peace. The prefect becomes overwhelmed with what he sees as the emperor's noble broader intentions in spite of the violence that was inflicted by him along the way towards it, and surrenders himself willingly, renouncing his revenge and agreeing to be executed for his intended assassination, dying a martyr so that the Qin emperor can continue to unite all of the kingdoms under one rule.

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The nameless prefect is an incredibly fascinating example of the Soldier archetype, all the more so when considering the broader scope of the genre. He secretly trained himself as a Youxia, fighting in duals amongst the Wulin community and sharpening his fighting skills under the guise of loyalty to the kingdom when in his heart he thinks mainly of himself and his own loss and wishes nothing but to avenge his slain loved ones.

At the start of the story, in spite of still being outwardly in military service, in his heart he is acting as a Youxia through and through with a Youxia's individualistic ideals and sense of justice/vengeance driving him. By the end of his long discussion with the emperor, the loyal soldier in him wins out and he sees the wisdom in the collective and the needs of the many outweighing his own personal needs: he renounces the Xia's values and dies a “hero” for his kingdom and government, like a true soldier.

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From the personal vantage point of this unnamed character, his is a heroic end: in his heart of hearts he is a soldier who spent most of his career struggling with an inner conflict brought about by grief and causing him to stray from the collectivist ideals of the state towards the more individualistic values of the Xia. By the end he overcomes his personal crisis and ultimately chooses to be a loyal servant of his kingdom, even if that means his death. This is a Wuxia story told not from the perspective of a Xia, but a Soldier.
Last edited by Kunzait_83 on Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:33 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:11 am

A mirror opposite of this character is Yuen Biao's character Ti Ming Chi from Zu: Warrior's of the Magic Mountain.

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Ming Chi is a young soldier taking part in a vast war between several rival nations. However Ming Chi is a free spirit at heart and is completely disillusioned with what he sees as the petty bureaucratic squabbling of these giant kingdoms. He seeks adventure and fighting for a cause that he finds more fulfilling... thus he completely forsakes being a soldier and loyalty to his kingdom in favor of pursuing his own path.

In doing so he winds up befriending, traveling with, and fighting alongside the above mentioned Ting Yin, learning mystical kung fu and the ways of the Xia along the way. Ming Chi and Ting Yin are a bit of an odd couple: Ming Chi is youthful, spirited, and filled with idealism, whereas Ting Yin is older, deeply cynical, and world-weary from his many journeys and adventures as a Youxia throughout Jianghu.

In spite of their clashing personalities and many hardships and battles faced along their travels, Ming Chi never experiences the “buyer's remorse” of Jet Li's nameless prefect... when he abandons his life as a soldier in pursuit of life as a Youxia, he remains very much faithful to that path, and he ends the story a stronger and more principled Xia than even his mentor Ting Yin.

Lastly (there's certainly loads more character-types, and sub-types, and sometimes sub-types OF sub-types, but I could be here quite literally forever and ever going through all of them, so I'm trying to keep this as basic-most and broad as I possibly can) there are Warlords.

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Warlords are VERY often used as major villains in a Wuxia story, and are despotic rulers of corrupt, dystopic kingdoms. Warlords can be non-fighters who are physically weak, but mentally cunning masterminds who have their own throngs of minions to fight for them, or they can be corrupt members of the Wulin themselves who are just as dangerous in a one on one fight as they are seated upon the throne giving orders.

Warlords are as stock a villain-type as it gets in Wuxia, and come in a dizzying array of variants, shapes, and sizes. They can be grand rulers of a vast, powerful kingdom (or kingdoms), or petty tyrants making their way conquering smaller villages and bullying the weaker townships. No matter how great or small of a threat they represent to Jianghu as a whole, they will almost always inevitably come into conflict of some sort with principled Xia, who will fight them either on behalf of the weak whom the Warlord is dominating, or purely for the Xia's own personal reasons.

Probably one of the most currently well known examples of this character type in modern Wuxia is Lord Godless – gotta love that name - from the best selling Chinese manhua (comic books in China, essentially the Chinese equivalent of manga: MUCH more on those later) Fung Wan.

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One of the greatest, deadliest martial arts masters in all of Japan, Godless, his family, and his armies travel to the mystical lands of Jianghu from abroad hoping to expand their empire and dominate the Jianghu kingdoms and the Wulin community. In an effort to consolidate his power and hold over the Wulin, he manages to have most of the greatest Xia masters and teachers captured and brutally tortured into swearing their schools'/clans' loyalty and allegiance to him and his rule.

In doing so, he comes into conflict with the series' two primary protagonists, Wind and Cloud, bitter rivals/comrades who happen to be divided on separate journeys at the time of Godless' arrival. Wind crosses paths with Godless first and attempts to master a fighting style utilizing negative/dark Chi/Ki/Qi energies in order to defeat him and protect the Wulin community. Throughout the series Wind was always the patient, level-headed counterpart to Cloud's moody, temperamental hair-trigger, so it is assumed that Wind would have the self-control necessary to be capable of tapping into negative, demonic Ki/Qi/Chi energies without fully plunging into total insanity... which doesn't quite pan out as well as expected.

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(Simon Yam as Lord Godless in the 2nd live action Fung Wan movie, Storm Warriors.)

Godless is an exceptionally powerful warrior, putting him within the class of Warlord-type characters who are more than capable (and indeed, incredibly feared) fighters, requiring the protagonist to risk undergoing dangerous training of an unstable new technique in order to stand up to him... a very common Wuxia narrative trope.

Another example of a Wuxia warlord is Lord Iron Fingers from a childhood favorite of mine, the latter-era Shaw Brothers film Shaolin Prince.

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A corrupt member of a royal court who betrays and murders his kingdom's rightful emperor before grabbing the throne for himself, Iron Fingers is eventually opposed only by the slain emperor's two young sons who are whisked away as babies from Iron Fingers during his initial treasonous attack by the emperor's loyal bodyguard and are raised separately: one by a trio of clumsy, oafish Shaolin monks, the other by a wealthy prime minister.

They both grow up into capable, powerful Youxia (both exemplifying the two primary contrasting “types” of Youxia: one a naive, cheerful country bumpkin who was raised in seclusion by the three monks, the other a regal, worldly, serious-minded warrior who comes from nobility) and find each other through a series of supernatural/paranormal adventures before teaming up to depose Iron Fingers, whose name comes from his signature fighting weapon: a metal gauntlet with an extended pair of fingers that he uses skillfully in combat for guarding against blades and striking with expert precision at his opponents' most vulnerable points.

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Of course not all characters of the Warlord's nature are necessarily leaders of entire Jianghu kingdoms. Wuxia being a martial arts genre, some despotic, megalomaniacal, tyrannical ruler-types in it could also lord their power over martial arts schools, clans, and sects. In fact, should a martial arts school become thoroughly corrupted enough by an evil, wicked master, it could in turn transform into a full blown Cult with fanatically devoted followers and arcane practices of religious-like zealotry.

Martial Arts Cults are another common faction in Wuxia and cult leaders can often take on villainous roles very closely similar to that of a Warlord of a whole kingdom or empire. The Sun Moon Holy Cult from The Smiling Proud Wanderer series is a famous example of a martial arts cult in Wuxia and its leader Dongfag Bubai is easily one of the most famous and iconic examples of a villainous Cult Leader in all of Wuxia.

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Bubai's origins stem from the Sunflower Manual, a manuscript of incredibly powerful fighting arts written by a skilled warrior many years before the story begins. It is discovered by Yue Su and Cai Zifeng, two masters of the Mount Hua school who, while unable to permanently obtain the manual for themselves, each memorize a different half of it and return to their school to put together what they've learned from it and reconstruct the entire manual. Unfortunately the reconfigured whole that they come up with is partly indecipherable and incorrect, and this leads to a fierce rift forming between the two masters, each one thinking that he has a better and more accurate memory of their half of the manual and that the others' is flawed.

Nonetheless what they DO know from their halves improves their martial arts skills significantly and this ultimately leads them to branching the school off into two different rival factions, each focusing its training on a different set of techniques: Yue Su's focusing on Ki control (and Yue Su's successors many years down the line going on to being the ones who raise and train the series' main protagonist Linghu Chong in Su's fighting arts) and Cai Zifeng's focusing on sword techniques. The Shaolin temples meanwhile see the fanatical obsession that mastery of the Sunflower manual's techniques inspire in two of the most wise masters in the Wulin community and become afraid of its corrupting influence, so they send one of their most trusted monks Duyuan to the two masters to act as an intermediary and help settle their conflict by convincing them to stop trying to practice the Sunflower manual's skills.

The two masters apologize to one another and to Dunyuan but nonetheless convince him to try and help them properly reconstruct the whole of the manual based on what they've memorized of it. Dunyuan is able to logistically piece together the full, proper manual based on what the two masters know and successfully recreates a workable copy of it. However in the process of this, confirming the Shaolin temple's fears about the manual's techniques, doing this has a corrupting influence on Dunyuan's thinking and he becomes psychotically obsessed with and fixated on the manual's teachings and techniques. He renounces the temple, and further tweaks and makes adjustments of his own to the manual's teachings into a fighting style of his own based on it.

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Many years later, the teachings of the corrupt, re-purposed Sunflower manual are passed on to Dongfang Bubai, a devoted warrior whose mind – like that of all the other fighters that have studied the manual's teachings before him – is corrupted by his continued study of its fighting arts. Bubai is so singularly fixated on mastering the manual's skills that he even castrates himself and becomes a eunuch (just as the manual's original author did), a practice that the manual advises will allow the practitioner to dramatically increase their focus and their body's ability to perform many of the techniques more fluidly. Developing an increasingly feminine demeanor as a result of this, Bubai masters the Sunflower manual more thoroughly than any fighter before him, and uses its skills to ascend to leadership of the Sun Moon Holy Cult, defeating its previous leader in the process.

While not also without his more honorable and sympathetic side, Bubai nonetheless is ultimately a villainous figure in the story and transforms the cult into one of the most lethal and feared martial arts sects in all of the Wulin world, inspiring devotion in his followers through despicable cruelty, typically poisoning all of them with toxins that cause them agonizing physical pain that can only be alleviated with medicines that he doles out to them sparingly as rewards for their successes.

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Dongfang Bubai, through his fanatical devotion to his martial arts mastery and his complex psychology as well as his compassionately portrayed bisexuality and strongly hinted at transgenderism (usually leading him to be portrayed by female actresses in live action adaptations, most famously by Brigitte Lin in the aforementioned Jet Li films) has without question grown to become one of the most fascinating and influential characters in Wuxia of the last 50 years, inspiring countless characters in anime, manga, and video games who take various traits and elements from him, as well as making him somewhat of an icon of the Chinese LGBT community. His trademark weapons are long, thin needles that he infuses with his Ki and uses as incredibly deadly throwing weapons, capable of devastatingly maiming and crippling his opponents with frightening accuracy.

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(Yurimaru from the classic 90s anime Ninja Scroll, whose appearance, fighting style, sadism, and sexuality are clearly heavily influenced by Bubai.)

For as many different characters and archetypes that populate Jianghu in a given Wuxia story, ultimately most Wuxia stories are ruled over by the honor-bound principals of the Xia (they're basically NAMED for their principals after all). These ethical concepts are often the very backbone upon which most Wuxia narratives are crafted, so with that being the case, let us then look over at...

Part 2: The Xia Values System

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It should be noted at this point how starkly, vitriolically anti-authoritarian a VAST majority of Wuxia often tends to be. While there are individual instances of a government/authority being portrayed positively/benevolently (usually as a smaller underdog whose “just” rule is being usurped/undermined by a far more powerful, malevolent tyrant rule), by and large most Wuxia in general tends to more often than not portray government/royal authority as bullying, greedy, corrupt, ineffectual, and in dire need of having its ass kicked.

This ties in with the traditional role of the Wulin/Martial Arts community as existing outside of conventional, mainstream society. The Xia who make up this community are defined by their own personal values, which are generally portrayed within the context of the genre as noble, righteous, and pure, and whose esoteric, individualistic nature can sometimes clash with the worldly, collectivist bureaucracy of imperial law.

The concept of individualism is at the heart of the Xia's principals. As martial arts masters who dedicate their entire lives to the betterment of their art, the Xia believe above all else in the power of the individual's own drive and spirit as being capable of conquering all else around it. This is a MARKED contrast with the idea of collectivism and “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, which is a pretty deeply ingrained and widely held way of thinking not just in China, but across a great deal of various Asian cultures as a whole historically.

This is a concept whose level of power in the Eastern world can VERY easily be taken for granted by Westerners who are typically weened from birth on the concept of individual drive and excellence conquering conformist group-thinking. This concept essentially functions as a LARGE core of the continued appeal that Wuxia tends to have all throughout Asia.

It should also be noted that a tremendous amount of the Xia's values are incredibly archaic and antiquated, by about as much as you would expect of many forms of medieval thinking. Some Xia concepts even directly clashed against and overrode not only imperial/governmental laws, but even many (at the time) mainstream Chinese RELIGIOUS thinking and philosophical ideas, such as Buddhism, Taoism, and even Confucianism.

As noted earlier, the improvement of their martial arts skills (i.e. improvement of one's self) was placed far, far, far above all else in terms of priority. Above friends, and even family. A part of the thinking here is that Xia consider a great many social norms that most take for granted and abide by unthinkingly as being completely arbitrary and meaningless. Where DOES it say exactly that every man (or woman) HAS to eventually settle down and have/raise children? For whom does this benefit or appease exactly?

Xia are generally known to bristle at labels and concepts that are applied in ways they feel to be without any real thought or justification, such as countries, borders, rulers or even family ties. Often a Xia will place obligations to acquaintances or even total strangers well above those of blood, direct kinship, or authority figures that they see no reason why they should respect without that respect having been properly “earned” in the first place.

In essence, Xia are staunchly and to a fault against what they feel to be “blind loyalty”. ALL respect HAS to be EARNED first, and showing undue respect and deference to ANY other party (regardless of titles) that hasn't truly earned it in their eyes was seen as sniveling or being easily cowed. This is a major reason why Xian are given such high regard in the Wulin community: in achieving such a high state of mind, spirit, and skill, they've demonstrated all the reason in the world (all the reasons that matter most to a Xia at least) why they should be respected and revered. A Xia will follow the word of a great Wulin master WELL before that of an Emperor, governor, or even a spouse or parent.

Apart from the continued improvement of their own martial arts skills, the other major value they honor above all else is the eventual passing down of their skills and martial knowledge to a worthy student. This is seen by most Xia as comparable to having/raising children, and is of far, far infinitely greater value and meaning to them than that of a “traditional” family. For Xia, the continued improvement and survival of their art is all that truly matters.

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This is a large reason why martial arts schools and teachers can hold such a profound connection and significance to a Xia: a martial arts school and teacher/student relationship is far, far more of a family tie to them than an actual blood relation, and this is also why the betrayal of a school/teacher by a treacherous student is seen as such an unspeakably grave, horrific offense.

And as with most anything else with a Xia, “arbitrary” ties such as family or blood do not factor strongly into their choice for an ideal student: the student has to properly prove their worth to the master and would be accepted only should they succeed in doing so. It could be their child (if they have any), or it could just as easily be a complete stranger.

Not that Xia are without more “traditional” concepts of justice. Among their beliefs, Xia were STRONGLY against the use of excessive force against a weaker foe. This was seen as arrogant bullying and thuggery, and was strongly, strongly looked down upon by Xia who held firmly to these values.

While most Xia generally don't make it a specific point of SEEKING OUT such injustices to combat them, if confronted with any form of unjust violence, a principled Xia would generally feel obligated to intervene on behalf of the victimized party. The Xia strongly believe in “fair” combat between mutually skilled warriors, and see the victimizing of non-fighters by a trained martial artist as among the cruelest, most heinous and cowardly of crimes one can commit (and naturally among the most commonly committed by many Wuxia villains).

While undue/unnecessary force is frowned upon, force in and of itself however is not. What I mean by this is, while bullying the weak and defenseless is considered grotesque, complete and total pacifism is not at all a desirable trait to have in the eyes of the Xia. By contrast, when it was considered necessary or justifiable at least, a proper display of force was considered an absolutely honorable means of achieving one's goals. This goes VERY much against the highly pacifistic principles of Buddhism, Confucianism, and many other mainstream Chinese religions who value pacifism as a tremendous virtue.

While such religious ideologies had their flexibilities on pacifism (i.e. self defense under only the most extreme and dire of circumstances generally), Xia are generally portrayed as a great deal more apt and willing to throw a punch should they see an opportune moment to test their abilities honorably. The Xia do not see much inherent value or honor in a warrior who has never tasted at least SOME degree of actual combat in their lives.

While their ultimate main goal in martial arts training is primarily self-betterment, these skills are seen as generally NEEDING to be properly battle tested at some point or another in order for one to truly prove their worth as a fighter (thus the popularity in Wuxia stories of martial arts tournaments). Too much inactivity for their skills is not at all seen as desirable to most Xia.

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In once again displaying the archaic, medieval nature of Xia morals, another huge component of the Xia's sense of justice is also rooted in straight up cold-blooded revenge. In almost ANY case of having been personally wronged, a Xia would NEVER rely on anyone else (certainly not a law enforcement figure) to exact justice on their behalf. Revenge is VERY often the principal motivation for a Wuxia hero to face the villain, rather than “altruism” as its traditionally defined in the modern context, and rarely is this ever presented as a bad thing.

Blood for blood and an eye for an eye is at the heart of how a great many Xia choose to see justice being meted out. Revenge would be carried out on either their own behalf if wronged, or also on behalf of others who are non-martial artists unable to fight for themselves, particularly if the other non-fighter in question is someone who has shown some degree of hospitality and kindness to the Xia in question; thus tying back into the whole “earning respect” part of it.

A tremendous amount of the Xia's ideas of respect hinge upon the concept of reciprocation: showing respect and honor only to those capable of returning it. Doesn't matter who you are, if you show a Xia no sign that you are capable of properly returning their respect then expect to be treated very coldly (maybe even condescendingly) by them in kind.

Of course all this talk about the honor system behind a class of martial arts masters wouldn't have any of its context without the... y'know, actual martial arts part of it. So with that said, I think its about high time well get down to...

Part 3: Qigong/Chi Kung/Kikou and Mystical Kung Fu Techniques

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Heh heh. Now we get to the really fun part. :D

We can be here discussing characterizations, narrative conceits, and old fashioned chivalric ideals until the cows come home... but at the end of the day, Wuxia is above all else a martial arts genre. And what would a discussion about a martial arts genre (even one this fantastical) be without getting down to the actual “everybody was kung fu fighting” part of it?

As we've established and is obviously and readily apparent, the martial arts skills detailed and displayed in Wuxia fiction is ANYTHING but rooted in reality. Rather its all derived from very ancient myths and folktales about the concept of Qi and Qigong. Or Chi and Chi Kung. Or Ki and Kikou. However you wish to verbalize it. For the sake of simplicity and being that this is a Dragon Ball forum and all, we'll just go with Japanese form of Ki/Kikou from here on out (as much as it'll clash horribly and awkwardly with all the Chinese terminology I'll still be using throughout).

Kikou is of course a real life martial arts concept, and in real world terms it is simply a form of breathing/meditative exercise that allows one better control and balance of their body, movement, and muscles. In the martial arts fantasy genre of Wuxia however, it is the source of most of the characters sky-splitting, earth-rending kung fu abilities.

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In both Wuxia and real life kung fu, martial arts exercises and techniques can generally be broken down into two main categories: external (Wai, represented by Yang) and internal (Nei, represented by Yin).

External kung fu is about what you'd expect: it focuses primarily on the tangibly physical (building/improving muscles, tendons, reflexes, flexibility, etc) and concerns itself with techniques such as basic punches and kicks, grappling, etc. Things that any martial artist of any school or any skill level is bound to learn about right off the bat. This sort of training builds a fighter's personal power (or Li).

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Internal however, is where the real meat lies. Internal martial arts is the training and honing of a fighter's focus, breathing, awareness, and things of that nature. In real life martial arts, internal martial arts training helps improve a fighter's psychology, patience, understanding of their surroundings in the heat of a fight, and can even help with SOME physical attributes (to an extent), particularly stamina and resistance to pain.

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In the fantasy genre of Wuxia however, internal martial arts training is something profoundly more spiritual and the key to unlocking the (often literal) power of a god. In Wuxia, internal martial arts training is the primary means (shy of some sort of plot-specific magical ability-granting weapon/artifact/MacGuffin) by which the fighters of the Wulin community build their Ki (spiritual power).

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The nature of Ki itself is something you all should already know (to at least SOME extent or another) even just from Dragon Ball alone at this point: Ki is the universal life force/spiritual energy and essence inherent within all living things, harmonious within nature, without which nothing could exist - some of it represents positive energies, some of it negative energies (thus the Yin Yang), blah blah blah, etc etc, a bunch of stuff George Lucas shamelessly ripped off when he created The Force for Star Wars.

Neigong (internal exercises) is the Chinese term for the specific training a fighter of the Wulin community undergoes in order to harness control and mastery of their Ki. You see Dragon Ball's own interpretation of this when Goku trains under Popo and Kami (and Mutaito in anime filler) or when Videl trains with Gohan and Goten. It involves metaphysical concepts and exercises such as deep meditation, intense breathing exercises, expanding or narrowing one's focus and concentration within themselves and within specific Dantian areas of the body (more on Dantians soon) to grasp and release their innate Ki within. The trick is to keep one's mind and willpower as flexible and adaptable as they've trained their body to be in external exercises.

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Neijing (internal strength) is when a fighter successfully masters and controls their Ki enough to wield it as a weapon, as an extension of their body and will. This unlocks a whole giant HOST of supernatural martial arts abilities and techniques... a number of which we'll run through right now!

Something to note before we proceed with that though: I recall their being a pretty fair amount of misconceptions out there among more recent fans that some of these forms of Ki mastery and combat are somehow unique to Dragon Ball as well as certain other Shonen anime and manga... when really it's anything but. I haven't been a regular on these forums for the last 5 years now so I'm not entirely sure how much some of these misconceptions still stand here, but during my tenure here I was amazed to discover how much most users here (and present day Western DB fans in general) posited Dragon Ball (or some other Shonen fighting series) as having innovated or been principally responsible for its specific supernatural depiction of Kikou and Ki-based fighting.

This... is staggeringly incorrect. Basically just about close to EVERY single superhuman ability you see in Dragon Ball (and countless other Shonen fighting manga/anime) stems originally (in one form or another) from Wuxia lore, much of it going back to its very beginnings thousands of years ago, and has been ever present all throughout its modern output of media. Once again, as with anything in a genre this old and dense, the depictions of these abilities can vary WILDLY in how far they're taken. But rest assured, Dragon Ball is HARDLY even remotely the first (nor last) to take these abilities as far and as exaggerated as its become famous for depicting them.

NOTE: Because this is overwhelmingly the most gif-heavy portion of this whole blithering schpiel, the vast majority of visual examples of the following techniques and abilities being performed or displayed across various Wuxia media are contained within spoiler boxes for the benefit of those with slower computers/connection speeds or reading this via smartphone or what have you. Simply click “View” to check them out.

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(Lu Zhishen, one of the main characters from Water Margin, uses his superhuman physical power to uproot a tree with his bare hands, as depicted in this 19th century painting of a scene from the story.)

Superhuman strength is a pretty basic ability. Martial artists of the Wulin community in Wuxia fiction can of course utilize some of their Ki to vastly increase their pure physical strength and power to god-like levels far beyond what their muscles alone are capable of, making them capable of smashing through solid rock, and rending the lands, mountains, and large statues/buildings/structures into dust with a single blow.
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Similarly Xia can also use the same basic principal in strength enhancement to also vastly increase their physical toughness and durability, allowing them to take inhuman levels of physical punishment. Its not at all uncommon for martial artists in Wuxia to be sent hurtling through mountains, cratering into the earth, and eating punches and kicks that can easily demolish a large house full force with their unguarded bodies and faces, and still be standing unharmed.
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Another basic superhuman attribute of course is their speed. Xia can also utilize Kikou to move and react at lightning speeds, sometimes invisible to the naked, untrained eye. The reflexes and movement speeds of a Xia in many wuxia tales makes their fights and movements complete blurs to witness, allowing countless dozens, if not hundreds, of punches and kicks to be rained down upon one another within mere moments, as well as allowing them to zip about the lands to and fro, sometimes with the speed of a bullet.
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As a fascinating sidenote, the most likely mythological source for the commonly depicted imagery of a Xia fighter so fast that their striking limbs are a myriad blur is an extremely important piece of Buddhist lore: the legend of Guanyin and the Thousand Arms.

Guanyin (also known as Avalokitasvara in original Sanskrit) is a deity and Bodhisattva (one who has attained a supreme state of enlightenment, generally through benevolent acts of charity) who is the center of numerous Buddhist myths. One of them being a story where Guanyin, acting out of compassion for the struggling harshness of life for so many, attempts to use her power to free all sentient beings in existence from the continuous, never-ending cycle of reincarnation.

Unable to at once comprehend the minds and wills of so many beings, her head shatters into eleven pieces. Amitabha, a deity known for attaining perfect enlightenment/Buddhahood, helped her by turning the fragmented pieces of her head into eleven separate heads, all capable of hearing and understanding the many cries of the suffering and needy in the world. Attempting to reach out to all of them at once, her arms likewise shatter into countless fragments. Once more, Amitabha aids her by granting her over a thousand arms, all capable of reaching out to and helping those in need or pain.

Statues of a multi-headed and multi-armed Guanyin are objects of great religious and mythological significance in Buddhist iconography, a symbol of not only boundless compassion and selflessness, but also (and more integral to Wuxia) a symbol of dedication, determination, and personal growth/improvement externalized via the image of Guanyin physically transformed by her will to accomplish her goal (an altruistic one of alleviating suffering).

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A great deal of Wuxia lore takes ideas, concepts, and iconography from Buddhist and Taoist myths: one of the single-most powerful and famous mythical martial arts techniques in all of Wuxa fiction is of course the Buddha's Palm (or Palm of a Thousand Buddhas), a series of superhumanly fast and powerful palm strikes backed by the complete focus of all of a fighter's ki capable of shattering mountains from thousands of miles away in some stories and that is attainable only to warriors who have achieved a perfect physical and spiritual state of being (akin to Buddhahood or Nirvana for a martial artist).

It is very likely and oft speculated by many Wuxia enthusiasts that the indelible image of an inhumanly fast Wulin martial arts master whose body moves so swift that they appear to have countless limbs all striking at once can trace its artistic/visual roots to statues, sculptures, and other ancient artwork depicting the Buddhist tale of Guanyin and the Thousand Arms.

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Strength and speed being so heightened by a Xia's martial arts and Kikou skills, they can also use their power to strike from a distance via the pressure behind the force of their punches and kicks. Sometimes even this is ample enough to destroy whatever targets might be in their path. These strikes are actually examples of Fa Jin, a concept we'll be exploring in depth very shortly.
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Sometimes on occasion a martial artist's seemingly blinding speed may not be speed at all, but rather a form of ki-projected warping/teleportation.
Lets stop here a moment to elaborate on another important point relating back to external and internal martial arts: up until we got to teleportation just now, much of the supernatural attributes of a Xia martial artist of the Wulin we've discussed here involved further supernatural enhancement of regular, natural physical attributes. From here on out the techniques will be getting VASTLY more esoteric and blatantly spiritual in nature. This is as good a time as any to note the difference between “hard Ki” and “soft Ki” techniques.

Once again this concept, fantastically exaggerated in Wuxia though it may be, has an actual real life basis in real world martial arts. In real martial arts training, hard Ki training focuses on strenuous physical exercises designed to toughen the body and strengthen the muscles a bit further beyond what they're normally capable of.

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(Though as with everything else in real martial arts, Wuxia kicks the methods and results of internal/external martial arts training waaaaaaay up to the level of pure mystical fantasy.)

Real life martial arts experts in some styles and forms (particularly real life styles of Shaolin Kung Fu) practice taking real hits to the body (in a relatively controlled manner) over and over and over again as a means of getting used to the force of impact and hardening their senses to it so as to reduce the “shock” of getting hit in an actual fight. This training also teaches them how to better control their inner-muscles, allowing them to tighten and contract otherwise sensitive muscles on command, literally “hardening” their muscles almost like protective armor.

Should a common non-martial artist face off against such a trained expert, the martial artist will come across to the average person as if he is superhumanly invulnerable, being able to withstand devastating repeated blows with hardly so much as a concerned reaction.

Here's a video of an actual demonstration of a real life Shaolin martial artist showing off the results of such hard Ki training exercises. Yes, this is 100% legitimate and not staged or faked in any way, and those sticks at the five minute mark are the farthest thing in the world from soft or remotely easily breakable.

Hard Ki training is a form of external martial arts and is part of the basis in Wuxia fiction for the superhuman toughness and durability of most martial arts masters of the Wulin community, many of whom practice such hard Ki training to the point of solidifying their bodies into being literally diamond-hard, unbreakable, and unyielding to mere mortal blows.

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Now however we'll be moving more into supernatural techniques obtained by most Xia from “soft Ki” training. Soft Ki is training that focuses on a martial artist's mental clarity, balance and coordination of their body's Meridians (more on Meridians shortly), and controlled breathing, all of which allow a sort of “relaxed leverage” in a fight that can in many cases be more effective and useful than pure brute strenuous muscle use. Soft Ki is essentially another term for Neigong, or internal martial arts exercises.

Using a similar principal to some forms of the earlier mentioned teleportation (i.e. focusing one's Ki on a particular spot) particularly powerful, lethal Xia can focus their Ki onto a specific target and “detonate” it like a bomb.
Then of course there's one of the single purest displays of a Xia's Ki mastery: the manifestation of their Ki as forces of concentrated energy and palm blasts.

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Stemming from Taoist lore and myths about the highest forms of Ki control in relation to the real life martial arts concept of Fa Jin (release of power). In real life martial arts, Fa Jin is in essence when a fighter suddenly puts forth a sudden burst of previously reserved energy into a move: a punch that's suddenly more fast and aggressive than any prior ones, a swift rush into close quarters with one's opponent that catches them off guard, etc.

Far from anything inherently supernatural (though certainly impressive and awe-inspiring to see from a skilled fighter) Fa Jin in the real world is simply, in the plainest of layman's terms, when a martial artist does not hold anything back for the sake of endurance and “cuts loose” so to speak with absolutely everything they have in a quick burst of highly focused attacks/techniques, preferably at a wisely chosen moment to do so.

One of the most famous real life examples of an actual Fa Jin attack was Bruce Lee's One Inch Punch, which allowed him to put forth a tremendous degree of power at extremely close range and with little to no spatial leverage to draw power from for the strike. This was accomplished, as are many Fa Jin-based attacks, through extraordinarily precise control of one's body coupled with focus of one's Chi/Ki.

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(“A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.” - Bruce Lee, essentially describing Fa Jin and Chi/Ki control.)

Real life Fa Jin is an INCREDIBLY difficult concept to master in real martial arts, and can take a student years to properly hone it simply for even just a single strike. It requires an incredible degree of muscle and Chi/Ki control; or rather, a perfect co-ordination of physical and mental focus in order to achieve the level of force that some of the most devastating Fa Jin strikes can put forth.

In Wuxia however, being the magic and myth-based genre of kung fu fiction and folklore that it is, Fa Jin has a much more literal and fantastical expression in combat: where a fighter “releases their power” by discharging a huge burst of stored up Ki energy in their reserve as a massive “blast” or “shockwave” of some sort that can attack a foe from vast distances.

In most depictions, fighters and mystics of the Wulin community are capable of channeling their inner spiritual Ki energy and focusing it into lethal, destructive forces of light fired from their bodies, usually...

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(But not necessarily always)

...their hands. The effects of these blasts can range from being as simple as a powerful punch from a great distance, or a fiery inferno capable of leveling and wiping out virtually anything in its path.

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The root core of this myth stems from the Chinese concept of Meridians.

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According to traditional Chinese medicine, Meridians are pathways throughout the human body through which Ki energy flows and is transferred from one part of the body to another. Different areas of the body handle and maintain the flow of Ki differently from one another: in total there are three major hemispheres of the body's Ki flow which are referred to as Dantians.

The upper half of the body for instance is the Dantian concerned with consciousness and clarity of thought: being closer to the heavens, this part of the body is represented by Yang (white/heavenly power). The lower half is closer to the Earth and is the Dantian more concerned with expelling and releasing pent up energy and is thus represented by the Yin (black/earthly power).

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The very middle of the body however is the core. The most important Dantian for mastering Kikou, it is the center of gravity through which both halves find balance and in which both heavenly and earthly energies converge and intermingle. In martial arts, both of the real life sort and the mythical fantasy sort found in Wuxia, all power built up for a Fa Jin strike starts at and stems from the core. This is why deep breathing exercises are so necessary and integral to achieving mastery and control of one's Ki: the core is where the diaphragm is located.

When meditating to focus, harness, and train/strengthen one's Ki, while all three Dantians are to be given focus, the core Dantian is the most important in terms of raw martial arts strength and power (while the upper Dantian is the bigger focus for mental clarity and perception, which is deeply tied into the Taoist myth of the “Third Eye”: much more on that way, way later on).

This is also why when training in martial arts, horse stances are so useful: in a horse stance, all the body's focus is at the core, where both arms are also pulled back towards as the martial artist prepares to practice and hone their striking.

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(A real life Shaolin monk training in a horse stance.)

The power locked within the core/central Dantian is also where the concept of the Kiai (often translated as “Spirit Yell”, but really is actually closer to “Harmony of Ki”) comes from. In real life martial arts, a Kiai shout is used to help release one's power from the diaphragm (thus the core of the body) when striking, and is used both to help build additional power for a strike as well as to possibly distract and startle one's opponent.

In Wuxia, due to the supernatural/exaggerated nature of martial arts techniques, a Kiai yell can also be used both as a devastating offensive technique as well as a defensive way to disperse an oncoming Ki attack. A Kiai yell from an exceedingly powerful Xia can absolutely devastate a weaker opponent. This is also where the idea of firing Ki blasts from one's mouth stems from: you're literally releasing the spiritual power of the body directly from the core.

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And furthermore, this is also why when preparing to deliver an exceptionally powerful Ki attack, many martial arts masters of the Wulin community take on stances where their hands and arms are at their sides and/or near the gut: because that's where all the power and energy that they're building up for the attack is coming from.

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Its also important to note a MAJOR distinction here that Fa Jin sometimes plays in depictions of superhuman physical strength in Wuxia: sometimes when a fighter of the Wulin world performs a feat of supernatural physical power, they are actually using their pure muscle strength which denotes their mastery and training in Hard Ki techniques.

However OTHER times, there may be more of a metaphysical role involved in the fighter's show of seemingly brute power: some displays of super strength in Wuxia are less the result of the fighter's innate physical toughness and are more a display of Fa Jin: a strike with the force of supernatural Ki energies locked within their core being released and accomplishing a show of force that their mere muscles on their own are not capable of.

This in fact is how ancient Xian are able to maintain so much seemingly limitless physical strength at such advanced ages. When a Xian ages, their normal muscles, tendons, and bones weaken and deteriorate the same as anyone else's... however the strength of their Ki is so great that it almost doesn't matter, and through Fa Jin strikes they are able to topple giant oak trees and mountains no different than (and in many cases even more proficiently than) youthful fighters who are in the height of their physical prime. Fa Jin strikes are also usually how seemingly physical strikes are able to hit from such long distances (“pressure” strikes noted earlier).

Thus Fa Jin in most cases is generally seen as an example of a Soft Ki technique: while elements of the purely physical still play a vital role, there is a much greater degree of mental and spiritual focus at work in the technique's effectiveness.

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In real life martial arts, a true Fa Jin strike is something that can take so much focus and so much hard practice and talent to master that they're the sort of things you'll generally only see some of the very best masters in the world capable of pulling off with any form of ease, and even then they'll hardly constitute the majority of their attacks in a fight, generally being saved for only when truly necessary.

In Wuxia however, incalculably NUMEROUS attacks executed by Xia warriors of the Wulin community in combat are usually more often than not some sort of a Fa Jin attack, with many of the most godlike battles in a Wuxia story consisting of masterful fighters exchanging (oftentimes literally) world shaking Fa Jin attacks in rapid fire succession, thus displaying their inhumanly supernatural mastery of the highest forms of martial arts techniques.

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(This is a concept you all might be just a hair bit familiar with, even if you don't realize it.)

While a display of Fa Jin can in Wuxia, as in real life, denote a devastating punch or kick or series of punches and kicks (though such punches and kicks in real life, unlike Wuxia, can't actually be delivered at sound-breaking mach speed nor crumble a skyscraper into dust: this sentence is hereby the winner of this year's annual “No shit Sherlock” award), oftentimes in Wuxia when a martial artist puts forth literally EVERYTHING he or she has in their reserve, digging deep within the core of their very being and essence, the attack is expressed as the classic beam or bolt of light/energy.

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(Or sometimes an invisible shockwave).

And when you you have a Wuxia story where such impossibly advanced attacks can be delivered by numerous characters with the utmost effortlessness to the point of their being routine... watch the fuck out.

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(Huang Yaoshi, one of the five greatest masters in all of the Wulin world in Legend of the Condor Heroes, can completely obliterate the very ground you stand on with his Ki from many miles away without barely even needing to think about it.)

This is what I meant earlier about these sorts of Ki blasts representing the purest expression of a martial artist's power in Wuxia fiction: a martial artist is often drawing Ki energy directly from the physical and spiritual wellspring from which it is the most concentrated and focused within them before discharging it with utterly devastating results.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:12 am

As powerful as these energy blasts can be, there are many supernatural defensive techniques available to a martial artist capable of repelling them, including barriers and shields projected from their Ki,
reflecting/deflecting them back at their original user with the force of their own Ki,

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in some extreme cases knocking them aside barehanded,

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or of course countering a Ki blast with one of their own, resulting in an “internal made external” struggle for dominance of the two martial artists' projected inner energies.
Other defensive techniques against powerful Ki attacks can be about as... unconventional and unique as some of the fighters themselves.

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A Xia's inner Ki strength can often grow so great, that merely focusing it throughout their bodies in a basic manner is more than enough of a display of force in and of itself, projecting an “aura” of spiritual power around their bodies that in and of themselves are capable of repelling basic attacks and hurtling aside just about any sort of physical object (or weaker persons) in their path. Sometimes this aura can also even be merely the result of the warrior drawing and gathering up ki within themselves for a particularly devastating attack.
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Its also sometimes possible for two combating Xia's flared Ki auras to “clash” against one another, either canceling one another out in a large shockwave if they're evenly matched, or otherwise “pushing” against one another for dominance, similar to two dueling beams.
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An incredibly common technique across virtually all wuxia stories also is a martial artists' ability to move, levitate, and guide objects (of virtually any size) with their projected/focused Ki, almost like telekinesis.
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It is also an extremely common tactic for a Xia to use this form of levitation on their own swords, blades, and other weapons to attack and defend with them from a distance.
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Similarly of course, it is also hugely, hugely common across almost ALL forms of wuxia (regardless of the level of superhuman skill on display) for martial artists to use this form of Ki-based levitation on themselves. This can range anywhere from increasing their agility and leaping ability to superhuman levels, to of course outright flying and soaring throughout the skies, completely free of gravity entirely.

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(A Dongyang wood carving on display at the Leifeng Pagoda in Hangzhou China depicting a Xia warrior soaring high through the skies of Jianghu under the power of his Ki in a scene from The Legend of Madame White Snake, one of the single oldest Wuxia stories in the genre's existence.)
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And also, lest I forget among the most obvious of a Xia's martial arts skill, the ability to innately sense and hone in on another person's Ki, particularly if its an especially strong fighter with a highly trained and massively powerful Ki.

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As with so many other supernatural martial arts techniques of the Wulin world, the crux of the uses for sensing another fighter's Ki in the heat of combat stems from the positive and negative furies of Yin and Yang. Very often most Xia engaged in combat will commonly lock onto one another's Ki in an attempt to “read” each others' moves, attempting to better predict what the other fighter will do next.

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(Attacking intent denotes aggression and is represented by Yang, while defensive intent denotes passivity and is represented by Yin. In Wuxia a martial artist of the Wulin community can, through proper training, instinctively detect the difference between the two intentions in their opponent's Ki and act or react accordingly.)

Once again it must be stressed that the level to which these abilities can be utilized by a martial artist can vary greatly from one wuxia story to the next. However there are a fair number of them where the characters are capable of maximizing their innate potential and cutting loose with most (if not all) of these abilities, creating destructive, god-like battles and displays of supernatural force.
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Techniques of this nature when utilized in combination with one another can result in fights that sometimes resemble less traditional martial arts fights and more aerial dogfights between living weapons of mass destruction.
Most of these abilities are among the more common/basic supernatural skills a martial artist of the Wulin community can learn and obtain via intense physical and spiritual training across a great deal of the majority of Wuxia stories. Beyond these there are untold countless more specialized, unconventional, and individually unique abilities (sometimes only usable by only one or a small select few warriors) which can vary greatly from one story and set of characters to the next.
Among the most, for lack of a better way of putting it, “commonly uncommon” supernatural Ki techniques is a degree of control over the natural elements: Fire, Water/Ice, Wind, Earth, etc. (hold the inane, tired Captain Planet references please). As Ki itself is supposed to be an inherent part of nature, a somewhat stock manner of depicting a Xia who has achieved a particularly great or unusual degree of Ki mastery is to show them being able to harness and control the natural elements to varying degrees. Depending on the character or story this could even be a specialty of theirs, particularly if they're some sort of demon or deity.
One of the more rare techniques, generally reserved for some of the upper most powerful martial arts masters of the Wulin world, is the ability to use one's Ki to "bind" and restrain/cuff the limbs of one's foes. In most portrayals this technique is easily effective against weaker or lesser foes while the more powerful the intended victim of the move, the more difficult it is to keep them restrained. A favored technique of villainous warriors in particular who use moves like this to arrogantly toy with their victims.

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Something else to note is the prevalence of weapons vs unarmed combat in Wuxia. A VERY sizable chunk of Wuxia's fighting tends to very often be focused on ancient medieval Chinese weapon-based combat (particularly swordplay, but also quarter staffs, more exotic blades, and even archery), and these weapons' effectiveness can also of course be further tremendously enhanced – to similarly godlike proportions - and even given other unique supernatural powers by the focused Ki of the warrior wielding them (or possibly have some sort unique mystical power to them that's entirely of their own if the weapon is somehow cursed or enchanted in some way).
However unarmed hand to hand-focused fighting in Wuxia of course has more than its considerably large place within the genre as well. Most Wuxia tends to refer to unarmed hand to hand combat under the antiquated term “pugilism”.
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And I'd be remiss of course if I failed to point out that the supernatural Ki-based powers of the Wulin community are far from solely for attack and violence. Healing is a very important component of a great martial arts masters' repertoire of techniques, and many Xia are very capable healers with a wide assortment of mystical potions, elixirs, acupuncture/pressure points, and of course Ki channeling abilities.

The healing properties of a martial artist's focused Ki can range from repairing (usually lesser/minor) physical injuries as well as being transferable to a weakened/exhausted fighter whose own Ki has been depleted.
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Lastly, considering superhuman nature of most Xia's fighting skills, it can be a fairly common occurrence for them to have opportunities in many wuxia stories to “show off” to some extent whenever confronting a common thug or conventional fighter whose “skill” is purely within the physical rather than metaphysical realm. In such situations, even the most humble and compassionate Xia can sometimes appear somewhat cocky as they casually brush off what would normally be a lethal strike and demonstrate a total lack of fear or concern about the supposed “danger” of their opponent's comparatively piddly attacks.

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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:13 am

To be continued next page...
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:14 am

To be continued next page...
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:17 am

To be continued next page...
Last edited by Kunzait_83 on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:19 am

To be continued next page...
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:20 am

To be continued next page...
Last edited by Kunzait_83 on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:23 am

To be continued next page...
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Polyphase Avatron » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:51 am

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Reminds me of an upvote/downvote war on imgur...
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Neo-Makaiōshin » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:59 am

:o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o
DRAGON BALL is godly !!
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Cetra » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:21 am

I am extremely annoyed by those memory wasting pictures that keep pushing the posts' position all the time, no matter if that was an impressive effort to write these posts.
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Metalwario64 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:27 am

Hey, I know you intended to leave for good, but there are still several people from back in the day that missed you and your essay posts, so don't feel too bad about breaking that "promise". :lol:

I hate to take away from all of that though, but yeah, when I first clicked the thread, all of the images completely filled my RAM and slowed my computer to a crawl. Perhaps you ought to cut out some of those images? :angel:

I'm going to have to stop the loading of the page so I can read it.
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by JulieYBM » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:14 am

I swear to God, if you delete this before I get a chance to read it tonight I will slap you silly!
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:42 am

Tried rejiggering most of the posts a few different ways, none of them really worked out, so here's what I'll be doing... I'll leave up the first two parts for now and if we can get discussion of this thread up to another page, I'll post more of what I've written. Sound good? Besides, it'll give the people who give a shit about this enough breathing room to absorb this in digestible chunks. Don't worry, the rest of this novel is safely tucked away and pretty much completed: its not going anywhere.

My sincerest apologies for any difficulties with people's RAM/page loading, but there's a good reason I went overboard with the images/gifs/media: the sheer depth and scope of the topic warranted it.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kamiccolo9 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:06 pm

Kunzait_83 wrote:Tried rejiggering most of the posts a few different ways, none of them really worked out, so here's what I'll be doing... I'll leave up the first two parts for now and if we can get discussion of this thread up to another page, I'll post more of what I've written. Sound good? Besides, it'll give the people who give a shit about this enough breathing room to absorb this in digestible chunks. Don't worry, the rest of this novel is safely tucked away and pretty much completed: its not going anywhere.
Why not just put the pictures in spoilers?
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Metalwario64 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:14 pm

I'm pretty sure they'd still be loaded into RAM. It would also be annoying clicking the "show spoilers" button after every paragraph.

I do think some of the GIFs could work as static JPGs though, like the meditation ones. Anyhow, I don't want to derail Kunzait's original point of the thread any further.
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by Kunzait_83 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:17 pm

I've sort of did the spoiler-tag thing with the example gifs for all the Qigong techniques: all the heavy-duty gifs for those are now under (clearly marked) spoiler tags. The idea works out fine for those I think.

So far as the rest of the posts/images go however:

A) There's a goddamned LOT of them. Putting ALL of those images and gifs under spoiler tags would be a colossal pain in the ass of an editing job for me and as MetalWario noted it would also just end up looking awkward as all hell in the finished product. Also...

B) Upon further consideration I sort of like the idea of giving people here a chance to have some degree of mental breathing room with all this. This is a DENSE-ass topic, all the more so due to how little attention its received within the last decade+.

So ANYWAYS...

What we've got up here so far covers a helluva lot to begin with: a basic overview of Wuxia as a genre (including fundamental terms, concepts, character archetypes, and other assorted tropes) along with a pretty thorough breaking down of the inner workings of the mythology behind the supernatural martial arts combat and its typical depictions throughout the genre's history.... which in and of itself is a pretty damned key topic as it relates to the genre as a whole, and DB in particular.

And speaking of the genre's history, coming up in the subsequent parts is the REAL meat of this thing: where I begin to plow through the ENTIRE modern day history of Wuxia across 20th Century media and pop culture... starting at the 1920s (yes, that means we crack into Wuxia during the Silent Film era) and moving up through today at present. Its pretty damned exhaustive. Following that we'll conclude with an entire section dedicated purely to Dragon Ball and its place and standing within the genre's confines, and perhaps maybe after that (and I've yet to really write this yet) perhaps maybe a bit where I yap a tad about my own personal history as a fan of the Wuxia genre.

Stay tuned.
http://80s90sdragonballart.tumblr.com/

Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

theoriginalbilis
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Re: Dragon Ball's True Genre: We Need to Talk about Wuxia

Post by theoriginalbilis » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:17 pm

I, for one, have missed you, Kunzait_83.

I've missed the analysis and discussion of Dragon Ball that you brought to the table in previous years. Yeah, Dragon Ball's is pretty much a animated wuxia. The same with Fist of the North Star, which mixes a bit of Mad Max into it as well. I also agree that Dragon Ball's at its best when it's a fine balance between action, comedy, and high-stakes drama.

Welcome back, dude!
Twitter: @WillB_Animating Xbox Gamertag: Original Bilis PSN: ChuckleSquirts
A 2-D animator currently working on cool stuff in Austin.

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