Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yue Fei

Yue Fei was a famous patriot and military general who fought for the against the Jurchen armies of the . Since his political execution, Yue Fei has evolved into the standard model of loyalty in .

Yue Fei’s biographies

Yue Fei Biography

A biography of Yue Fei was written 60 years after his death by his grandson, the poet and historian ''Yue Ke'' . It was later compiled with other such biographies in 1345 as part of the ''Sòng Shǐ'' , a massive 496 volume record of various historical events and biographies of noted Song Dynasty personage, by Yuan Dynasty Prime-Minister ''Toktoghan'' . It is located in the 365th volume in this collection and is numbered biography 124. A dating symbol in its preface points either to the year 1684 or to 1744. It was banned in the reign of Emperor Qianlong. There are two main versions of this novel in existence. The original had eighty chapters. There was an illustrated edition of this version published in 1912. In the introduction of his translation, Honorable Sir T.L. Yang states:

"''The work is a historical novel in form, but it is in fact based almost mainly on legends which were current amongst the common people for centuries. Indeed some of the events described there are nothing more than Qian Cai's own imagination.''"

Birth and early life

Several sources state Yue was born into a poor tenant farmer's family in , , Henan province. According to , the Chinese immortal , disguised as a wandering priest, warned the future-general's father, ''Yue Huo'' , to put his wife and child inside of a certain clay jar if baby Yue began to cry. A few days later, a young child squeezed Yue's hand too hard and he began to cry. Soon, it began to rain and the Yellow River flooded, wiping out Yue's village. His father held onto the clay jar as it was swept down the river, but eventually drowned. This well-known story is actually fiction. Although the much older mentions the flood, it states Yue Huo survived the flood. It reads, "侗死,溯望設祭于其冢。父義之,曰:“汝為時用,其徇國死義乎。"

"After , would offer sacrifices at his tomb. His father praised him for his faithfulness and asked him, 'When you are employed to cope with the affairs of the time, will you then not have to sacrifice yourself for the empire and die for your duty?'" In ancient China, a person was required by law to temporarily resign from their job so they could observe the customary period of mourning. For instance, Yue would have had to mourn his father’s passing for three years, but in all actuality only twenty-seven months. During this time, he would wear varying degrees of coarse mourning robes, caps, and slippers, while abstaining from silken garments. When his mother died in 1136, he retired from a decisive battle against the Jin for the mourning period, but he was forced to cut the bereavement short because his generals begged him to come back.

"''When was born, a flew into the room, so his father named the child Fei'' ''. Before was even a month old, the Yellow River flooded, so his mother got inside of the center of a clay jar and held on to baby Yue. The violent waves pushed the jar down river, where they landed ashore … Despite his family's poverty, was studious, and particularly favored the Zuo Zhuan edition of the Spring and Autumn Annals and the strategies of Sun Tzu and Wu Qi.''"

According to one book by martial arts master ''Liang Shou Yu'', " is a great big bird that lived in ancient china. Legend has it, that Dapeng was the guardian that stayed above the head of the first Buddha, . Dapeng could get rid of all evil in any area. Even the Monkey King was no match for it. During the Song Dynasty the government was corrupt and foreigners were constantly invading China. Sakyamuni sent Dapeng down to earth to protect China. Dapeng descended to earth and was born as Yue Fei."

Martial training

The says, "Yue Fei possessed supernatural power and before his adulthood, he was able to draw a bow of 300 and a Cross-bow of 8 . learned archery from . He learned everything and could fire with his left and right hands." states Zhou teaches Yue and his archery and all of the . This fictional novel also says Yue was Zhou's third student after the Water Margin bandits Lin Chong and Lu Junyi. The ") says he studied the bow and military tactics under the military leader Zhou Tong and the spear under the spear master ''Chen Guang'' . Before he was an adult, Yue could draw a bow of 300 catties and a crossbow of 8 stones and could fire a bow with either his left or right hand.

Both the '''' and ''E Wang Shi'' mention Yue learning from Zhou and Chen at or before his adulthood. The representing "adulthood" in these sources is ''Jí Guàn'' , an ancient Chinese term that means "twenty years old" where a young man was able to wear a ''formal cap'' as a social status of adulthood. So he gained all of his martial arts knowledge by the time he joined the army at the age of nineteen.

Famous tattoo

According to legend, Yue's mother tattooed ''jìn zhōng bào guó'' across his back before he left home to join the army in 1122. The says after the traitor sent agents to arrest Yue Fei and his son, Yue Fei was taken before the court and charged with treason. But “飛裂裳以背示鑄,有“盡忠報國”四大字,深入膚理。既而閱實無左驗,鑄明其無辜。” refer to this tattoo in two of their stele monuments created in 1489, 1512, and 1638. This first mention appeared in a section of the 1489 stele talking about the Jews' "Boundless loyalty to the country and Prince". The second appeared in a section of the 1512 stele talking about how Jewish soldiers and officers in the Chinese armies were "Boundlessly loyal to the country". This book also claims that "Israelites" served as soldiers in the armies of Yue Fei. The group portrait shows eight people--four generals and four attendants. Starting from the left: attendant, Yue Fei, attendant, ''Zhang Jun'' , ''Han Shizhong'' , attendant, ''Liu Guangshi'' , and attendant.

According to history professor ''He Zongli'' of Zhejiang University, the painting shows Yue was more of a scholarly-looking general with a shorter stature and chubbier build than the statue of him currently displayed in his tomb in Hangzhou, which portrays him as being tall and skinny. ''Shen Lixin'', an official with the Yue Fei Temple Administration, holds the portrait of Yue Fei from the "Four Generals of Zhongxing" to be the most accurate likeness of the general in existence.


In his "From Myth to Myth: The Case of Yüeh Fei’s Biography", noted ''Hellmut Wilhelm'' concluded that Yue Fei purposely patterned his life after famous Chinese heroes from dynasties past and that this ultimately led to his martyrdom. but he was never a full-fledged member of the civil service rank. A second theory is that he joined the military in the hopes of emulating his favorite heroes.

''Stone Lake: The Poetry of Fan Chengda 1126-1193'' states, "...Yue Fei 岳飛 ...repelled the enemy assaults in 1133 and 1134, until in 1135 the now confident Song army was in a position to recover all of north China from the Jin … Yue Fei initiated a general counterattack against the Jin, defeating one enemy after another until he bivouacked within range of the Northern Song dynasty’s old capital city , Kaifeng, in preparation for the final assault against the enemy. Yet in the same year Qin ordered Yue fei to abandon his campaign, and in 1141 Yue Fei was summoned back to the Southern Song Dynasty capital, where he was murdered at Qin ’s instigation."

Six methods for wielding an army

Yue Ke states his grandfather had six special methods for wielding an army effectively:

;Careful selection: He relied more on small numbers of well-trained soldiers than he did large masses of the poorly-trained variety. In this way, one superior soldier counted for as much as one hundred inferior soldiers. One example used to illustrate this was when the armies of Han Ching and Wu Xu were transferred into Yue’s camp. Most of them had never seen battle and were generally too old or unhealthy for sustaining prolonged troop movement and engagement of the enemy. Once Yue had filtered out the weak soldiers and sent them home, he was only left with a meager thousand able-bodied soldiers. However, after some months of intense training, they were ready to perform almost as well as the soldiers who had served under Yue for years. Still, a great deal simply say he was executed, murdered, or "treacherously assassinated".

Kneeling Iron Statues

states after having Yue Fei, Yue Yun, Zhang Xian arrested under false charges, Qin and his wife, ''Lady Wang'' , were sitting by the "eastern window", warming themselves by the fire, when he received a letter from the people calling for the release of the General. Qin was worried because after nearly two months of torture, he could not get Yue Fei to admit to false treason and would eventually have to let him go. However, after a servant girl brought fresh oranges into the room, Lady Wang devised a plan to execute the general. She told Qin to slip an execution notice inside the skin of an orange and send it to the examining judge. This way, the General and his companions would be put to death before the Emperor or Qin himself would have to rescind an open order of execution. An anonymous novel was written about this called the ''Dong Chuang Ji'' during the Ming Dynasty.

When asked by General Han Shizhong what crime Yue had committed, Qin Hui replied, "Though it isn't sure whether there is something that he did to betray the dynasty, maybe there is." The phrase "perhaps there is" or "could be true" has entered the Chinese language as an expression to refer to fabricated charges. For their part in Yue Fei's death, iron statues of Qin Hui, Lady Wang, and two of Qin Hui's subordinates, ''Moqi Xie'' and ''Zhang Jun'' , were made to kneel before Yue Fei's tomb . For centuries, these statues have been cursed, spat and urinated upon by young and old. But now, in modern times, these statues are protected as historical relics. There is a poem hanging on the gate surrounding the statues. It reads:

"''The green hill is fortunate to be the burial ground of a loyal general, the white iron was innocent to be cast into the statues of traitors.''"

One source states, "In 1162 the restored his honours, and gave proper burial to his remains. A was put up in his memory, and he was designated 忠武 the Loyal Hero. In 1179 he was canonized as 武穆 ." Legend has it that Yue Fei studied in the Shaolin Temple with a monk named and learned the "Elephant" style of boxing, a set of hand techniques with great emphasis on Qinna joint-locking. Other tales say he learned this style elsewhere outside the temple under the same master. After becoming a general in the imperial army, Yue taught this style to his men and they were very successful in battle against the armies of the . One book claims he studied and synthesized 's qigong systems to create Xingyi. On the contrary, proponents of believe it’s possible that Yue learned the style in the Wudang Mountains that border his home province of Henan. The reasons they cite for this conclusion are that he supposedly lived around the same time and place as Zhang Sanfeng, the founder of ; Xingyi’s , which are based on the theory, are similar to Taichi’s "Yin-yang theory"; and both theories are Taoist-based and not . The book ''Henan Orthodox Xingyi Quan'', written by ''Pei Xirong'' and ''Li Ying’ang'' , states Xingyi Master ''Dai Longbang'' "于乾隆十五年为“六合拳”作序云:“岳飞当童子时,受业于周侗师,精通枪法,以枪为拳,立法以教将佐,名曰意拳,神妙莫测,盖从古未有之技也。"

"''...wrote the ‘Preface to Six Harmonies Boxing’ in the 15th reign year of the Qianlong Emperor . Inside it says, '...when was a child, he received special instructions from Zhou Tong. He became extremely skilled in the spear method. He used the spear to create methods for the fist. He established a method called Yi Quan'' .'' Mysterious and unfathomable, followers of old did not have these skills. Throughout the , and Dynasties few had his art. Only Ji Gong had it.''"

The ''Ji Gong'' mentioned above, better known as ''Ji Jike'' or ''Ji Long Feng'' , is said to have trained in the Shaolin temple for ten years as a young man and was matchless with the spear. Ji supposedly created it after watching a battle between an eagle and a bear during the Ming Dynasty. Other sources say he created it while training in the Shaolin temple. He was reading a book and looked up to see two roosters fighting, which inspired him to imitate the fighting styles of animals. Both versions of the story state he continued to study the actions of animals and eventually increased the . The "Fanzi Boxing Ballad" says: "Wu Mu has passed down the Fanzi Quan which has mystery in its straightforward movements." ''Wu Mu'' was a Posthumous name given to Yue after his death.

Besides the martial arts, Yue is also said to have studied Traditional Chinese medicine. He understood the essence of Hua Tuo’s ''Wu Qin Xi'' and created his own form of "’’ known as the ''Ba Duan Jin'' . It is considered a form of ''Wai Dan'' medical qigong.
He taught this qigong to his soldiers to help keep their bodies strong and well-prepared for battle. One legend states that Zhou Tong took young Yue to meet a Buddhist Hermit who taught him ''Emei '' Qigong . His training in Dapeng Qingong was the source of his great strength and martial arts abilities. Modern pracitioners of this style say it was passed down by Yue. One martial legend states Zhou learned Chuojiao boxing from its originator ''Deng Liang'' and then passed it onto Yue Fei, who is sometimes considered the progenitor of the style. Chuojiao is also known as the "Water Margin Outlaw style" and ''Yuānyāng Tuǐ'' . In the Water Margin's twenty-ninth chapter, entitled "Wu Song, Drunk, Beats Jiang the Gate Guard Giant", it mentions Wu Song, another of Zhou's fictional students, using the "Jade Circle-Steps with Duck and Drake feet". A famous folklore Praying Mantis manuscript, which describes the fictional gathering of eighteen martial arts masters in Shaolin, lists Lin Chong as a master of "Mandarin ducks kicking technique". However, he believes Mantis fist was created during the Ming Dynasty, and was therefore influenced by these eighteen schools from the Song. He also says Lu Junyi taught Yan Qing the same martial arts as he learned from Zhou. Master Yuen further comments Zhou later taught Yue the same school and that Yue was the originator of the mantis move "Black Tiger Steeling Heart".

Modern day

Yue has a of the Republic of China named after him. It is called ROCS Yueh Fei .

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