Portraits of Thirty-three Swordsmen – 6 Old Man of Jingxi

No. 6 Old Man of Jingxi: wind, thunder, and lightening, all [with] a piece of stave.

Tang Dynasty. A man named Wei Xinggui used to tell people a strange incident he was involved in when he was young:

One time when he was touring Jingxi, he arrived at an inn near nightfall. He wanted to go a lot further. In front of the inn there was an old man making a barrel. He was in the process of securing the staves with iron hoops. The old man said to him “Honored guest, you can’t travel at night here, too many bandits.” Wei patted the bow and arrow at his waist and laughed, “I’m an expert archer. Their ilk does not concern me the slightest.” The old man immediately apologized “I am in the presence of a hero, this one man has said too much.”

Wei traveled on horseback for tens of li (1 li = 0.5 km). The night is complete dark by now. Suddenly he felt someone jumping out of the grass behind him, following his horse. “Who is it?” Wei shouted. The person did not respond. Wei took out the bow and arrows, and fired off several shots in quick succession. The man did not retreat. So Wei shot at him several more time, all of them missed the target. Reaching into the quiver, he found it empty. Afraid, Wei took off at maximum speed.

Within seconds came sound of thunder and wind. Wei immediately got off the horse, and leaned against a giant tree (wuyizidi: obviously way before Franklin). Lightening bolts arced across the night sky, several of them circling each other, gradually approaching his tree. In the darkness suddenly objects started falling to the ground like rain. Looking closely, he realized they were branches from his tree. Shorter and shorter his tree became, and higher and higher the fallen branches piled around him, quickly reaching knee level. At this rate, he himself would be cut to many pieces just like the tree. Now shivering uncontrollably, Wei threw away the longbow, kneeing and praying to the sky, begging for his life. After a while, the brilliant lights gradually faded, and the wind and thunder died down as well.

All the branches from the tall tree are gone now, the trunk only half of its previous height. When he reached for his horse, he found the saddle and luggage gone, and he dared not go further anyway. So he doubled back to the inn.

The old man was still making barrels in front. Knowing he had encountered an exceptional person, Wei bowed down in front of the old man. The old man laughed “Honored guest, you cannot rely on archery, you must know swordsmanship.” He then took Wei to the back, where Wei’s saddle and luggage were set side. “You can take them back, I was merely test you just then.” He took out a piece of stave, on it were all the arrows Wei shot him with.

Thoroughly impressed, Wei Xinggui begged the old man to take him in as a disciple. The old man declined, but did talk a little about essence of swordsmanship. Wei managed to learn 10, 20% of that.






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