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The Martial Art and Chinese Literature

The earliest literature work on the martial art or chivalrous characters was Records of the Grand Historian, a masterpiece from Sima Qian, the great historian in Western Han Dynasty. In the book, the sections such as Biographies of Knights-errant and Biographies of Assassins recorded the legendary characters including Jing Ke, Zhu Jia and Guo Jie in the form of historical biography.

It was not until the emergence of romantic novel in Tang Dynasty when the literature of martial arts came into being. The characters recorded in legends of Tang Dynasty were widespread in both government and the public, such as those in The Bearded Warrior, Nie Yin Niang and The Kunlun Slave.

Besides the Tang legends, the Wushu-related contents are also commonly seen in other styles, such as the poem A Song of Dagger-Dancing to a Girl Pupil of Lady Gongsun by Du Fu in Tang Dynasty. The “Legendary Weapons of China” is also frequently mentioned in Yuan drama, and the martial art described in the famous classical novels Outlaws of the Marsh, Romance of Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West should be familiar to the ears of the readers.