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Thread: The road to ruling nations does NOT go through wulin...

  1. #1
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default The road to ruling nations does NOT go through wulin...

    Recently, we discussed how some wuxia villains saw gaining supreme martial arts skills as merely the primary step to grander ambitions, including ruling entire nations. I disagreed with this view, believing that the majority of wuxia villains develop wulin "tunnel vision" and lose interest in worldly affairs outside of martial arts.

    In any case, it seems that martial arts supremacy rarely leads directly to great political power. Consider some of the most powerful individuals in Jin Yong's wulin: Janitor Monk, the Siu Yiu Sect Elders, the three DGSD brothers, Dook Goo Kau Bai, Wong Seung, the Greats of L/ROCH, Cheung 3 Fung, Cheung Mo Gei...few of these came to rule nations, and those who did (i.e. the Deun princes) ruled not because of their martial arts, but because they had inherited the posts of their forefathers.

    On the other hand, consider who the most powerful political entities of Jin Yong's China were: Khitan emperor Yeh Lut Hung Gei, the Yeun Nans of the Jin Empire, Genghis Khan and his descendents (including Kublai and Mongke), Chu Yeun Cheung, Emperor K'ang Hsi...none of these individuals were wulin elites. Each of them had rudimentary martial arts skills at best, and even with all their political power, they were not dependent on whatever martial artists were on their payrolls to conquer/secure their empires. That was done through their armies.

    It would seem that the road to political power in the wuxia universe doesn't really go through wulin.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Well, that's mostly due to storyline purposes; since Wuxia and Wulin is already 'set' within Chinese timelines, and most at least pay lip service to Chinese history, it's impossible.
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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    Well, there are several instances when emperors supposedly paid a lot of attention to martial arts.

    Just in DGSD, we have at least 2 such occasions.

    1. 30 years ago, rumor had it that Liao empire would try to steal kung fu manuals from Shaolin. The heroes of Central Plains thought: with our martial arts, they would sure gain a huge advantage.

    2. Western Xia country established the "Hall of First Classes" (Yi ping tang), which hired top wulin dogs to strengthen their might.

    Dali was a semi-powerful political entity, and their royalties knew high martial arts.
    忽见柳荫下两个小孩子在哀哀痛哭,瞧模样正是武敦儒、武修文兄弟。郭芙大声叫道:「喂,你们在干甚麽?」武 修文回头见是郭芙,哭道:「我们在哭,你不见麽?」

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    Well, that's mostly due to storyline purposes; since Wuxia and Wulin is already 'set' within Chinese timelines, and most at least pay lip service to Chinese history, it's impossible.
    Understood, except wuxia writers (particularly Jin Yong) go through a great deal of trouble in their stories trying to convince us that somehow, the doings of these wulin martial artists and the exhibition of their incredible superhuman skills will change the course of nations.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Yup. But that's what the protagonists are for! Keeping them from changing the course of nations.
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    Senior Member dewyloony123's Avatar
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    Ditto everyone else's comments on history, although I think Ken's right--there seems to be a contradiction i.e. JY insists the actions of the heroes (like GJ, XF, HR, YG, ZWJ) will change the course of history... but they don't. And the road to ruling nations really doesn't run through wulin. So I think there's another dimension to this best described by Han Feizi.

    Roughly speaking, he says that the success of the state hinges on the relationship between the sovereign and minister. Ministers need to be brilliant and capable, but most have agendas which don't necessarily serve the sovereign's ultimate agendas. Thus, the sovereign needs to be empty and still to hide his intentions while letting the ministers do all the activity (e.g. of suggesting policy) so he can observe what their true agendas are. This helps cement his power. Also, in the Han Feizian framework, level of skill is not necessarily a prerequisite for ruling--to be empty and still, a ruler can be either very brilliant or very, very dumb. Only the ministers need to be extremely skilled.

    So, the analogy is that to some extent, wuxia stories substitute ministers with wuxia. That's why the road to rule does not go through wulin--wulin figures are always active, and in the Han Feizian framework, activity is a weakness and stillness a strength. Furthermore, the kings aren't necessarily good at martial arts, which again is no problem--the wuxia just have to be.

    Anyway, that's my rough idea... the analogy isn't perfect but it seems vaguely similar.
    Last edited by dewyloony123; 01-24-08 at 11:03 AM.
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Only twice in the Jin Yong canon has wulin intervention actually altered the course of nations, and in both cases, Jin Yong had to bend history: in DGSD, the intervention of Siu Fung, Hui Juk, and Deun Yu prevented Liao and Sung from going to war, and in ROCH, Yeung Gor's killing of Mongke Khan delayed the Mongol conquest of Sung by around thirteen years.

    But even in the case of ROCH's ending, the wulin men were only able to delay the inevitable.

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    Senior Member dewyloony123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    But even in the case of ROCH's ending, the wulin men were only able to delay the inevitable.
    Perhaps JY is echoing the sentiment found in "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"--no one can overcome the flow of history. Take the "Beginning Song" of Three Kingdoms:

    O so vast, O so mighty,
    The Great River rolls to sea,
    Flowers do waves thrash,
    Heroes do sands smash,
    When all the dreams drain,
    Same are loss and gain.


    Green mountains remain,
    Under pink sunsets,
    Hoary fishers and woodcutters,
    Along the banks, find calm water,
    In autumn moon or in spring wind,
    By the wine jars, fill porcelain.

    Discuss talk and tale,
    Only laugh and gale...
    (from http://www.threekingdoms.com/overture.htm)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Only twice in the Jin Yong canon has wulin intervention actually altered the course of nations, and in both cases, Jin Yong had to bend history: in DGSD, the intervention of Siu Fung, Hui Juk, and Deun Yu prevented Liao and Sung from going to war, and in ROCH, Yeung Gor's killing of Mongke Khan delayed the Mongol conquest of Sung by around thirteen years.

    But even in the case of ROCH's ending, the wulin men were only able to delay the inevitable.
    I think Zhang Wuji and his hijinks with the Ming Cult also had a big impact on altering the course of nations. Actually, he would've been the prime example of how invincible martials helps one gain wulin supremacy. And, if it wasn't for real history necessitating some chump named Zhu Yuanzhang founding the Ming Dynasty, he most likely would've became emperor.
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    Senior Member dewyloony123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bliss View Post
    I think Zhang Wuji and his hijinks with the Ming Cult also had a big impact on altering the course of nations. Actually, he would've been the prime example of how invincible martials helps one gain wulin supremacy. And, if it wasn't for real history necessitating some chump named Zhu Yuanzhang founding the Ming Dynasty, he most likely would've became emperor.
    Fits in a bit with the Han Feizian idea of how to get power... according to Han Feizi, ZWJ was probably doing it all wrong: He was too active in wulin affairs.
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    There were a couple of close ones in Book and the Sword. The Red Flower Society and Chen Jialuo were almost successful in getting Qianlong to agree to renounce his Manchu heritage and restore a Han-ruled dynasty. After Qianlong backed out, they almsot assassinated him as well.
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    The wulin folks were influential to the extent that sometimes, their actions and decisions could set the table, so to speak, for the non-wulin guys that inevitably took over. Almost never, however, have the wulin guys been able to attain the throne themselves. The only ones, really, were Dali's Deun emperors, and even their rise to power had less to do with 1 Yeung Finger than it did with their political maneuverings.

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    If we're discussing JY novels, then this observation is completely on point. We know he wanted to keep history more or less intact though. I think it would be more fun to discuss whether this observation is logical, given what we know of wulin members' abilities.

    I think it's silly how the Khan or the corrupt Sung emperors weren't assassinated years and years ago. With the abilities demonstrated by the Greats, and even those well below them, they should easily be able to come and go as they please. Hong Qi Gong was able to stay undetected in the imperial kitchen for a month. If he really wanted to, I can't imagine him being unable to assassinate the emperor. There are simply no people in there that can stop a patient Great, who is willing to wait a month or so and carefully plan on an assassination plan.

    I know we discuss silly plans all the time like throughout the 16 years of when Xiang Yang was under siege, why couldn't powerful Wulin members just go and assassinate 50 or 100 men each everyday, and 365x50x16 = 292000 per elite wulin member. Of course this is rather farfetched, but with the abilities of most martial artists compared to a soldier, it really isn't that out of the question. With their superhuman powers, they really don't use them to it's fullest extent. Wulin should really play a bigger part than it does.
    Last edited by tape; 01-24-08 at 05:56 PM.

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    Senior Member mawguy's Avatar
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    who wants to rule a nation, have to deal with red tape and bureaucrats, and be holed-up in some stuffy palace when you can roam the known world and do as you please? :P
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    All of which makes Mo Yung Bok and Mo Yung F'uk's plan to use martial arts and constant wulin disruption to restore their precious Yin Kingdom all the more inane. Mo Yung Bok decided to give up after being slapped silly by the Janitor Monk, and Mo Yung F'uk was never equal to the task, but even if both father and son had kept at it, they wouldn't have succeeded because they were doing it all wrong. Messing with wulin and learning all the world's martial arts wasn't going to bring back their Yin Kingdom: the Mo Yungs had no army, and they had to take on four or five powerful states if they were going to restore Yin.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mawguy View Post
    who wants to rule a nation, have to deal with red tape and bureaucrats, and be holed-up in some stuffy palace when you can roam the known world and do as you please? :P
    *Mo Yung Bok and Deun Yin Hing raise their hands*

    "Me! Me, sir! Meeee!"

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    Senior Member mawguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    *Mo Yung Bok and Deun Yin Hing raise their hands*

    "Me! Me, sir! Meeee!"
    *regards them severely* you two belong in a seniors home! leave the politics to the young 'uns. you both have sons, let them fight it out. there's no country for old men!
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