The Underdog Sect of Jin Yong: Quanzhen!

*Written by Mencius

Many Jin Yong readers have a poor image of this Taoist school founded by Wang Chongyang mainly because many tv adaptations tend to overdo and over-emphasize their mistakes, making them look bad, nasty and annoying while they are not that annoying. Another reason why many fans do not like them is that a lot of people look at Quanzhen via Huang Rong and Yang Guo's perspectives.

Both characters had a rather bad impression of the Quanzhen disciples, but both were young at that time they formed such an opinion and they later changed their attitude towards them for the good.

Also, many articles are written on them, even a close friend of Jin Yong, the author Ni Kuang, once wrote: "Apart from Wang Chongyang, all the other Quanzhen disciples are idiots!"

I find these opinions on Quanzhen a bit harsh and unnecessary. Hence this article. I shall review each generation of Quanzhen and sometimes comparing them with other characters from "The Legend of the Condor Heroes and "The Return of the Condor Heroes."

First generation:
- Wang Chongyang also known as Central Divinity: Wang was one of the five great martial arts experts and the winner of the first tournament at Mount Hua. In his younger years he tried to retake the lost territories of the Song dynasty. He did this out of love for his country and wanted to revive the lost pride of the Han people. He did NOT do it out of personal reasons like some other articles say. When he failed, he felt tired and defeated and retreated to his tomb, which we cannot blame him. When a normal person just met failure, defeat he/she would ponder and contemplate on his mistakes, failures alone. It is only a natural reaction and he was enlightened by Lin Chaoyin after a few years. Both of them roamed the world together for some time.

Although Lin and Wang were in love with each other they ended up alone. Both were to blame for this unhappy ending. The two of them had very strong personalities and often conflicted with each other one matters like martial arts. Both were too stubborn and too proud to give in to each other.

Love is sometimes not enough.

But I think it is unfair to blame everything on Wang Chongyang. Wang was wrong to ignore the hints Lin gave but Lin Chaoyin was also very wrong when she said to Wang: "If you win this final contest I will kill myself."

Another thing that annoys me is that the disciples of the Gumu School (Ancient Tomb School) were to spit on Wang's painting before entering the school. That is a bit too much.

I think I shall leave this romance part for what it is, if Dr. Phill lived around that time he might have helped Wang and Lin.

In a short period of time he was able to found a new and respected martial arts school, namely Quanzhen. For a very short 80 to 90 years Quanzhen took over Shaolin's position as leading martial arts school in Wulin. Most of this credit goes to Wang Chongyang.

As said before, Wang Chongyang was the victor of the first tournament at Mount Hua. I believe when it comes to personality and character Wang was also superior to the some of the four masters. Also the other four greats respected and were in awe of Wang's martial arts and character.

The reason why Wang entered the tournament was to prevent any more unnecessary bloodshed over "Jiu Yin Zhen Jing." He never studied it himself but only glanced through it but, nevertheless, he was able to understand it and fully utilize it to overcome Lin's "Yu Nu Xin Jing."

Wang Chongyang had seven fairly good disciples, all his disciples started learning martial arts at an older age and were able to reach a very good level. Which is in my eyes very admirable on both sides.

Basically Wang Chongyang was a hero and a respected Wulin senior who achieved a lot of great accomplishments in life.

I also compared Wang to the other four great masters.

If I look at Huang Yaoshi I find even more annoying than the Seven Masters of Quanzhen. The decisions Eastern Heretic made are so strange. For example:

Preferring a playboy with a track record in sexual offences over an honest, heroic young man as a son-in-law. That is really strange. Also, breaking the legs of the other innocent disciples and banning them from his school was mad. When he regretted this act he was too proud to even admit he was wrong at that time. By the time he felt remorse most of his disciples were dead.

Huang Yaoshi was too petty and too stubborn at many times. He taught his disciples to protect their country but he himself did little on this particular field. He was never around to help Guo Jing and Huang Rong in Xiangyang and when he did arrive, it was because of Guo Xiang. So there was not a lot of patriotism in him.

Furthermore, Huang also knew that Mei Chaofeng relied on live people to practise her claws on. He did not order her to stop doing this kind horrible act. When the Seven Masters of Quanzhen were attacking her because Mei was killing again, Huang scoffed at the Seven Masters and blamed them for bullying his blind pupil. Wang Chuyi once met Huang and the other Greats at Mount Hua so he approached him wanting to pay his respects. Huang flew up and slapped five of the Seven Masters just because he was a Wulin senior.

Even when there was a misunderstanding between him and the Seven Masters he would not explain the misunderstanding to them. Huang was planning to defeat them, humiliate, and reprimand them first before explaining. That is absolutely uncalled-for.

Although Wang Chongyang died early and the readers could not read all his past actions, we do know that Jin Yong wrote that Wang had a heroic spirit and he tried to do what Huang was protecting your own country. It is my opinion that Wang Chongyang is superior to Huang Yaoshi, not only in martial arts but also as a man.

Ouyang Feng was a villain and Wang Chongyang was not. There is the fundamental difference between both of them. Although Ouyang was a "heroic" villain he had his despicable moments like ambushing Hong Qigong a few times and launching a sneak attack on Tan Chuduan (one of the Seven Masters) and Huang Yaoshi.

Ouyang Feng failed to bring up his son/disciple properly. Ouyang Ke was his heir and not only did Ouyang Feng fail to mold him into a hero but not even a heroic villain. Even the martial arts of his heir was beneath standards. Ouyang Feng failed as a father and a teacher.

As said before Wang Chongyang was a hero and Ouyang Feng can only be called a "heroic" villain. So I believe Wang Chongyang again is superior to Ouyang Feng.

Duan Zhixing/reverend Yideng was a great man and an enlightened Buddhist monk. I have great admiration and respect for him. But I always feel that he could have done a lot for his people if he stayed emperor of Dali. Duan Zhixing abdicated because he could not deal with the death of Yinggu's son. Which was not his fault, he was wrong not to help but facing such a situation, I am not sure whether I would risk all my internal energy and my life to save the son of someone else.

It is my belief that he became a monk to avoid this personal problem and I always believe that an emperor should devote a lot of his time to preserve and protect his country and citizens. Perhaps my expectations of an emperor are a bit too high, after all, emperors are human beings too.

I would not say that Wang Chongyang was greater than Duan Zhixing but I do know that Duan Zhixing had a very high regard of Wang and he felt he lacked Wang's heroic spirit.

Hong Qigong was a hero a true "Xia Ge." Unfortunately, he was lazy and he hardly put effort in the internal affairs of the Beggars Association. The internal struggle of the beggars was suppressed by him but was not solved. That internal turmoil between the two groups was solved by Huang Rong and Lu Youjiao.

He also did not put effort in teaching or moulding a suitable replacement. If Huang Rong did not know how to cook those delicious dishes, Hong Qigong would have missed out on the opportunity to have two great pupils.

The level of martial arts of the other beggars was not very high, Hong Qigong taught some of them some martial arts but only for a few days and he never took the time to really teach any of them. Again, just lazy.

I think as the leader he should invest more time in the well-being of the Beggars Association, it is his job to make sure that the Association prospers. In my opinion Hong Qigong lacked a sense of responsibility. Nonetheless, Hong was one of the most lovable, admirable characters in the novel.

- Zhou Botong was the younger martial arts brother of Wang Chongyang, also known as the "Old Imp." Zhou was a silly, funny old man who loved martial arts. He was obsessed with martial arts leading to his silly behavior. Zhou Botong was only responsible for one bad act: leaving Yinggu to suffer, he left without a word and ran away when he heard her name. This caused Yinggu to spend the greater part of her life alone, bitter, and heart-broken.

Like his martial arts brother, Zhou Botong was quite muddle-headed in love. I think Zhou Botong was an equal to the other four greats when it comes to personality and such. He had his flaws and obsessions but, on the other hand, he had his own positive traits, like being a carefree man with no worries, living his life as he wanted, feeling free and playful.

I like to point out that I am not trying to canonize Wang Chongyang. He was a man too and he too made mistakes, especially when it comes to Lin Chaoying. But I feel Wang was definitely better than Eastern Heretic and West Venom when it comes to personality. Both Huang and Ouyang were too unconventional and sometimes downright mad and lacked the true heroic spirit that Wang had.

Also I feel Hong Qigong was inferior to Wang. Hong lacked a feeling of responsibility. Whether he liked or not, he was the leader of the beggars and he should have paid more attention to his job instead of roaming the world in search for delicacies.

Wang Chongyang was a very responsible man and he really put a lot of time and energy in the well-being of his school and his disciples. We can say Quanzhen was founded by Wang, of course he would try to protect it. But we can also say the previous leader of the Beggars Association appointed Hong Qigong as the new leader, meaning he believed Hong was qualified and responsible enough to lead the Association. But Hong Qigong was not responsible enough and took his job as leader too lightly.

Duan Zhixing/reverend Yideng is a man of high integrity but he was too emotional and failed to have see that his country needed an emperor like him. However, he was too upset because of that incident with Yinggu and became a monk to contemplate on his mistakes rather trying to do something good to benefit Dali and its' people.

In the end, I just wanted to say Wang Chongyang is not an old annoying Taoist priest that a lot people see. Guo Jing saw him as a hero and perhaps even as an example of how a man should live. Everyone makes mistakes, so it is not fair to ignore the flaws of the other four greats and only hammer on the flaws and faulty decisions Wang Chongyang made in his life.

The second generation of Quanzhen consists of the Seven Masters. They are often seen as really annoying characters and a lot of people hate them for some strange reason. I think the tv series have a very strong role in this misconception. In most tv adaptations the Seven Masters are portrayed as really stubborn and dumb Taoists, especially in the TVB 1983 version. Everyone's character was blown out of proportion, especially Qiu Chuji and Sun Buer.

After reading the novel many times I cannot find anything that really makes them bad or stupid. Except one part, that is in "The Return of the Condor Heroes" after the death of Yin Zhiping the remaining Five Masters finally found out what transpired in the Chongyang Shrine. The five of them discussed Yin's actions and sighed and said something like: "Although Yin Zhiping raped Xiao Longnu but in the end he refused to surrender to the Mongolian emperor. So we still respect him as leader."

I find this reasoning very wrong. In other words, all crimes can be forgiven as long as you are loyal to your country. That is absurd. However, besides from this point I cannot read any other incidents in the novels that makes the Seven Masters bad.

A lot of things are accidents, the death of Granny Sun was one of them. Hao Datong never wanted to harm her life, it was self-defense what Hao did. Granny Sun was cornered, her palms and Hao's palms were entangled and she knew that if Hao released his energy she would surely be severely injured. Hao turned around to ask a disciple what had happened. At this point, Granny Sun raised her leg and wanted to kick Hao. It was too late for Hao to jump aside so before he could think again he pushed out and struck down Granny Sun.

Hao Datong felt remorse after killing her and wanted to kill himself. Secondly, the Five Masters also accidentally wounded Xiao Longnu. Like I said, it was an accident. They never wanted to strike her, that blow was intended for Ni Moxing. But he jumped aside and Xiao Longnu was standing there motionless in a trance. So she received that blow instead. Again an accident but Jinlun Fawang wanted to take her life so he was even more to blame for Xiao Longnu's injury. In order to get a clearer view of the Seven Masters I shall review them individually.

- Ma Yue: In my opinion, he was a true gentleman and a great leader of the Quanzhen. I respect and like him very much as an enlightened Taoist but also as a Wulin senior. It was very admirable of him to travel thousands of miles to Mongolia to teach Guo Jing Quanzhen "neigong." He did not have those fears that the martial arts of Quanzhen will now be known to outsiders. Quanzhen neigong was renowned and a very powerful neigong theory, yet he still passed it on to Guo Jing. Ma Yue was able to put aside the "fear" that Quanzhen martial arts will be known by outsiders. Also, he remained calm and respectful in many situations, unlike his other martial arts brother Qiu Chuji.

I have only praise for Ma Yue and I think the show-down at Chongyang Shrine would not be so chaotic if Ma Yue was still alive. Guo Jing also had very high regards of this "teacher."

-Tan Chuduan was the second disciple, we know very little of him. He was killed very soon by Ouyang Feng. But I think he was a good man when he saw Mei Chaofeng using innocent people to practise her claws on he stepped in and battled her for an entire day but lost in the end.

-Liu Chuxuan was the third disciple. Like his second martial arts brother we know very little about him. The only thing Jin Yong wrote about him was that he was rather intelligent and most disciples never knew what he was thinking.

-Qiu Chuji is a very interesting character. I find him sometimes very unreasonable in "The Legend of the Condor Heroes". His demands of Yang Kang are sometimes very high. Qiu wants Yang to immediately reconcile with Yang Tiexin and forget about the "father" that raised him for 18 years. Guo Jing had to take Mu Nianci as wife because this is the final wish of Yang Tiexin.

Another incident was when he first met Yang Tiexin and Guo Xiaotian, he thought they were henchmen of the Song government because both Yang and Guo knew some basic martial arts. Qiu Chuji was suffering from a bad case of paranoia at that time.

However, as the novel progresses Qiu became more and more reasonable and in the end of "The Legend of the Condor Heroes" he is no longer the reckless Taoist in the beginning. And in "The Return of the Condor Heroes" his temper is also under control.

"Old Taoist Qiu" is not a bad man. His heart is at the right place but sometimes his temper gets hold of him. Occasionally he does the wrong thing at the wrong time, for example, giving Yang Guo a firm talk when he first arrived at Chongyang Shrine. At that time Yang Guo needed nice, warm words and not a scolding.

Qiu's intentions were good. He was afraid that Yang Guo would follow his father's footsteps so he wanted to place more emphasis on teaching morality and conduct above imparting martial arts.

No matter how you view him, Qiu Chuji was still respected and admired by a great hero, namely Guo Jing. And if Guo Jing respected him, Qiu could not be a bad person, he is just a very straightforward man.

-Wang Chuyi is a good man, he saved Guo Jing once. He is not unreasonable like Qiu Chuji. He had very high regards of Guo Jing and liked him very much. Guo Jing always saw Wang Chuyi as his benefactor.

Even reverend Yideng had a good impression of Wang Chuyi. The only two things Wang Chuyi did wrong was accepting Zhao Zhijing as his disciple.

The second thing was making a very stupid remark when the Five Masters left the YuXu Cave. Wang Chuyi said: "Xiao Longnu, why did you invite all these Mongolian warriors to the Chongyang Shrine and killed so many of our disciples? This is a fight between Gumu and Quanzhen, and we should solve it on our own."

This was a very stupid remark. The Five Masters just saw Xiao Longnu battling Jinlun Fawang and the other 3 experts. Why such an idiotic conclusion! I found this remark very unfitting for Wang Chuyi. Wang Chuyi was a very calm and logical man and he would not jump to such rash and silly conclusions. I really feel that Jin Yong should revise this part because this is really illogical.

-Hao Datong only accidentally killed Granny Sun. This is his only crime and he remorsed over it his entire life. He tries to take his life two times to pay for his mistake. The first time he is stopped by Qiu Chuji. The second time he gives Yang Guo a sword and told him to avenge Granny Sun. But Yang Guo mocks him and said he just put up a show because he knew Guo Jing would never allow him to pick the sword. I really disliked what Yang Guo did at that time, Hao was ready to face the consequences of his mistake. So Yang Guo's scoffing was uncalled-for.

-Sun Buer has been mocked severely in the 1983 and 1984 tv version of "The Legend of the Condor Heroes" and "The Return of the Condor Heroes". This was mainly due to the exaggerated performance of Rainbow Chen.

The real Sun Buer is just an old Taoist priestess with a very bad temper. She just easily holds grudges and is very conservative.

In the end, she was really touched by Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu's love for each other and smiled when she saw the true love and devotion they had for each other. In the end she is not that bad but only a grumpy old Taoist priestess. If I compare her to another Taoist priestess, namely Li Mochou, I think Sun Buer is a swell woman. At least Sun does not kill innocent people randomly.

The third generation is not that magnificent, there are no extraordinary people amongst them. Most of them are good decent normal people.

Unfortunately, we have the likes of Yin Zhiping and Zhao Zhijing.

-Yin Zhiping cannot be forgiven, whatever he did right in his life cannot make up for the crime he committed against Xiao Longnu. Also, if it was not for his indecision and his poor judgement, the Chongyang Shrine would not have been so easily overrun by Mongolian warriors.

In my eyes Yin could never do anything right, even in his younger years. I felt that he was such an arrogant little Taoist in "The Legend of the Condor Heroes". His actions were muddled, rash and uncalled-for. Challenging Guo Jing to a fight in Mongolia, cussing Huang Yaoshi, showing arrogance for the fact that he is a disciple of the Quanzhen school.

But in the end he took responsibility for his crime and paid with his life, showing that he was not bad to the end.

- Zhao Zhijing is a complete idiot. This man does everything wrong, starting from the first time I read about him in the novel. He could not tell who the enemy was and led the Grand Dipper Formation against Guo Jing instead of the true aggressors, namely Huo Du and his men.

This man has no talents at all, he is ignorant and believes that he should be leader because his martial arts are the best amongst his fellow martial arts brothers.

Most of his martial arts brothers dislike him. The Seven Masters had no high opinion of him at all. It is beyond my comprehension that Zhao actually thought he was destined for leadership. It seems that he also lacks self judgement and insight.

He betrays Quanzhen to the Mongolians and really thinks he can be and stay the supreme leader of the Quanzhen School. Such nonsense! He does not have a plan. He just messes about as he goes along. For instance, when the Mongolian warriors defeated Zhao's opponents he turned to Xiao XiangZi and said: "Thank you, but if my five elders would come out of the cave......"

Xiao XiangZi interrupted him: "Let them come if they want I shall defeat them too."

Zhao was not pleased by this remark and he felt afraid and thought: "Don't belittle my teacher and my other elders, if they would come they would surely teach you a lesson. But when the Five Masters would find out that I betrayed the sect they would surely kill me."

Zhao Zhijing is such an incompetent nincompoop!

His entire life is filled with failures and errors, there are just too many to mention. I feel no pity for this man.

-The rest of third generation consists of rather good people like Li Zhichang, Wang Zhitan and others who stayed loyal to the sect and country. They are not extraordinary people like their patriarch Wang Chongyang or their teachers, the Seven Masters. They are just normal people with mediocre abilities and I do not think they are rubbish or fools like other people call them.

Of course there are a few who have a rather lowly personality, for instance, Zhao Zhijing and a few of his followers, but they do not represent the entire Quanzhen School.

In the end, I would like to say that I am not trying to canonize Wang Chongyang, the Seven Masters and the other Quanzhen disciples. I am merely trying to point out that a lot of hate against them is unjustified. Of course, they have done/said some wrong things in their lives but are those actions, words really that detestable? I find it not to be the case.

A lot of readers overlook their positive sides and I think it is only fair that we should take in account all the positive and the negative points of a character before we label them as bad, stupid etc.

Once again I really feel that Quanzhen is not that bad as people think. And I hope you will treat them a bit more objectively in the future.

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