Hero Born Q4: Wulin martial arts world

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The wulin martial arts world is presented as something quite different from the normal sphere of everyday people. It's also distinct from the world of artisocrats and rulers. (Again, that's different from Western standard.) There aren't any particular "entry requirements" to wulin: you don't have to be born of the right parents, and few people are destined to be great martial artists.

Also compare the background of the Seven Freaks, of disparate commoners, to the more refined Daoist martial artists. Do they get the same respect?

Comments

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    I liked the idea (and I have no idea if it in any sense reflects the reality of the time) that there were all these different schools, all with varying social / spiritual / idealistic practices.

    Spurred on by this book, I started watching some of the numerous martial arts spectaculars that have appeared in recent years - like House of Flying Daggers and all - and they have the same diversity of practitioners. There seems to be an important (but slightly obscure, to me at least) distinction between adherents of an individual master, and followers of a particular school (the latter often linked to a monastery).

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    I definitely had the feeling the monastic artists were more respectable in society than the freaks, but within the fighting community, it seemed like skill (measured by how often you win?) or, lacking evidence of skill, who your shifu is, we’re what determined respect. And I think the reader is meant to hold more respect for the unorthodox than for the orthodox.
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    I think the idea of winning fights, and having that reputation, is part of how martial artists earn prestige. If they can demonstrate that their fighting style is superior (by defeating other masters) they can attract students, both for profit and influence. I get the feeling that the monks don't need to prove their worth, and that everyone generally acknowledges that monks' kung fu is superior others'. That was a minor plot point in Crouching Tiger.

    I agree that the Seven Freaks, and other commoners, were more sympathetic. Perhaps that's just a "common man" trope, as the monks came across as rather ethereal and connected to the elites.

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    The original 'eastern elites' LOL.
    (populist conservatives in the US and Canada try to whip up followings by blaming everything on the 'eastern elites' who run the government. I first heard the term out of the mouth of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but he wasn't very original so I doubt he coined it.)

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    > @Apocryphal said:
    > The original 'eastern elites' LOL.
    > (populist conservatives in the US and Canada try to whip up followings by blaming everything on the 'eastern elites' who run the government. I first heard the term out of the mouth of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but he wasn't very original so I doubt he coined it.)

    Ha! Over here the equivalent would be the resentment felt in the peripheral regions to north and west that posh folk in London who went through expensive private education run the political show just to serve their own interests - it's more of a north-south divide than an east-west one
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    I have found that the Wulin world is fractal, and can be viewed on all different scales, becoming more and more intricate as you delve into it. There are two ways to become great ion this world within a world. One is to be born that way (The Freaks) and one is to become that ways (The Monks). They are different ways to get to the same place, and that - different ways to get to the same place - is what I think wuxia is all about.

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    edited July 25

    Were the Freaks born into the martial arts world? I didn't get that impression. I thought they still worked hard to develop their skills, but it's a more "folk hero" style than the formal, high-class teaching of the monks. If you will, it's the difference between wise women and academic wizards.

    I do like your observation that the "martial arts world" looks fairly uniform to those outside it, and gets more fragmented the more you look. Bringing out those differences between groups and people is something for good gaming, I think.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    Were the Freaks born into the martial arts world? I didn't get that impression. I thought they still worked hard to develop their skills, but it's a more "folk hero" style than the formal, high-class teaching of the monks. If you will, it's the difference between wise women and academic wizards.

    By "Born that way" I meant the Freaks didn't seem to need a Sifu themselves. They had what appeared to be inborn abilities they could practice and make better. This is perhaps why they did not teach the hero internal kung Fu, as that was intrinsic to them.

    I do like your observation that the "martial arts world" looks fairly uniform to those outside it, and gets more fragmented the more you look. Bringing out those differences between groups and people is something for good gaming, I think.

    I think that's an important part of the Wulin indeed!

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