Most us here agree in The Declining Theory, which pretty much says that Martial Arts skills in general (inner power, techniques, lightness of kung fu, etc) decline or deteriorate from the older to the younger generation. So, if this deterioration theory holds true then… In general, heroes in DGSD should be much more powerful than heroes in LOCH/ROCH, heroes in LOCH/ROCH should be more powerful than heroes in HSDS, and so on.
There are some exceptions to rules however, as some Experts have pointed out in the past… ZWJ is always treated as equal (if not close) to GJ and YG. DFBB is just too controversial and out of this world since it took 4 Fighters to take her (or him) down with tricks too, Shi Po Tian is another hard-to-gauge fighter with superhuman ability, close to Sweeper Monk.
But let's particularly focus on comparing between LOCH/ROCH and HSDS here.
I found an excerpt from the first edition of HSDS, the only version I read a long time ago, translated by Kirara from the Indonesian translated version (the last couple paragraph of GX's story) :
Now Guo Xiang was certain that what the monk was reciting must be from a book about martial arts. "Great Monk does not know any kung fu, but he is a bookworm he memorized whatever he read," she thought. "Several years ago, at the peak of Mount Hua, he said that beside Leng-keh-keng (Leng Qie Jing or Leng Ga Sutra), Reverend DaMo also wrote a book called Jiu Yang Zheng Jing. He said that the book was to help people make their body stronger and healthier. But after practising according the the theory of the book, without knowing it, both teacher and his student had acquired such a powerful Internal Strength that is umatcahble in the realm of kung fu. That day, when he was attacked by Xiao XiangZhi, with just a single movement he had injured his attacker. Even Father or Big Brother Yang might not own such a high level of skill. The way Zhang JunBao defeated He ZuDao is more puzzling. Isn't it because they have learned Jiu Yang Zheng Jing? Aren't the words he is reciting now is Jiu Yang Zheng Jing?"
The Goan (Yuan in Mandarin Pinyin) Dynasty was a Mongolian dynasty ruling in China. During the period, people did not pay much attention to the literary arts because the patriotic people were eager to study martial arts to drive the Mongolians away. Therefore, in that era, there were a lot of amazing kung fu experts appearing in the realm of kung fu. Their number was bigger, and their skill was higher than the experts in the late Sung Dynasty, namely the era of Guo Jing, Huang Rong, Yang Guo, Xiao LongNu and others. The experts coming from the West were mostly from Kun Lun Clan, whereas the experts from China were mostly from Shaolin, Wudang and E'Mei Clans. Other than the 4 Big Clans, there were still hundreds, even thousands of smaller clans. Here ended the introduction to the story of the Dragon Slaying Sabre or The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Sabre.
Even Guo Xiang who knew what her father (GJ) and her big brother (YG) were awesome fighters with great martial arts skills and inner power, had DOUBT about them when she compared them to Jue Yuan and Zhang Jun Bao (Zhang San Feng).
Also it seemed like the first edition clearly stated 'in that era (HSDS), there were a lot of amazing kung fu experts appearing in the realm of Kung Fu. Their number was bigger, and their skills was higher than the experts in the late Sung Dynasty, namely the era of Guo Jing, Huang Rong, Yang Guo, Xiao Long Nu and other.'
OK.. So what does this mean ? Does the declining theory still hold true ?
Did Jin Yong made changes in the second edition of HSDS (how about his future third edition) ?
Is this a writing flaw in the original HSDS and fixed in the second edition ?
How do you interpret these excerpts ?