Wuxia, Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists, are the tales of Honorable Fighters. The heroes do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society. Wuxia heroes are usually bound by a code of chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless or the poor are oppressed. The wuxia hero fights for righteousness and seeks to remove an oppressor, redress wrongs, or to bring retribution for past misdeeds.

The heroes are also larger than life in their abilities. They can often:

Combatants use a wide range of weapons in combat. The most commonly used ones are the saber, sword, staff, and spear. Everyday objects such as abaci, benches, fans, ink brushes, pipes, sewing needles, or various musical instruments are also used by characters as weapons as well.

Characters can move swiftly and lightly at superhuman speeds. They can glide on water surfaces, scale high walls and mount trees, making them seem as though they can fly. Qinggong is based on real Chinese martial arts. Its use is highly exaggerated in wuxia stories and wire fu films in which characters can circumvent gravity and literally fly.

The ability to build up and cultivate mystical “inner energy” (qi) and utilise it for several purposes. Characters use their inner energy for attack and defense purposes when combined with their martial arts. They may also use this form of energy to heal internal wounds or even purge venom from their bodies after being poisoned, or use it to attain superhuman stamina. In the context of wuxia stories, this kind of energy is a prerequisite for practice of qinggong, dianxue (dim mak) and other superhuman feats of speed and strength. The more neili one has, the better one can perform those mentioned feats. Neili is gained by many years of special breathing and physical exercises, consuming (sometimes accidentally or unknowingly) rare herbs, fruits or other substances of legend that are beneficial, or in some cases by deliberate transference from one to another, such as master to student. Neili can be used as a source of power for mystical skills such as projection of energy, toughening the body to take strikes, increasing physical strength to superhuman level, and other paranomal effects. Pugilists who possess these powers draw them from the use of qi originating from the body rather than black magic and wizardry however.

Dianxue these stories are most likely the source for the Dim Mak (點脈) and are based, in part, on the real-world techniques of Chin Na (擒拿). Characters use these techniques to kill, paralyze, immobilize or control opponents by attacking their acupressure points (xue 穴) with the bare hand or weapons. A victim may be immobilized for hours after being hit on the acupressure points. Such techniques may be used for healing purposes, when excessive bleeding may be halted when certain acupressure points are pressed. Real-life martial artists do use such techniques in martial arts to paralyze or stun their opponents. Their effectiveness is highly exaggerated in wuxia stories.

Enter the world of Wuxia, enter the world of Jianghu (江湖) and gather in the wulin (武林), congregate with sects, clans, disciplines and various schools of martial arts.


Tales of Wuxia