Remembering Jin Yong, forever in our hearts
The great wuxia (武俠) author Louis Cha (武俠), better known as Jin Yong (金庸) passed away on Tuesday 30th October. You might not recognise him, but the chances are you have watched a film based on his novels. Jin Yong was very influential in the wuxia genre. If there was ever a swordsman drama on TV or in cinema, it's probably based on a Jin Yong masterpiece. Jin Yong's career started when he used to write wuxia stories for Ming Pao, a local Hong Kong based newspaper, together with comic strips and later published as novels. From books came television adaptations, films and even computer games. Wuxia was what many Chinese guys dreamt about and one of the reasons why so many wanted to be swordsmen. I'm a bit different, in that I wanted to be a spearman. One of the reasons why Shaolin, Wudang, Emei and Hua Shan lives on the the minds of Chinese people, is because of influence wuxia still has. Why Tai Chi partly remains popular is also down to wuxia and Jin Yong.
Wuxia has a special place in Chinese literature. The Western equivalent would be the Norse Saga's and related genres. Of which Richard Wagner's operas and JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth both belong to. Wuxia a blend of Chinese mythology, mysticism, martial arts, chivalry, honour and in some cases, a background in Chinese history. Some are short stories, others span several novels. The appeal of wuxia has spread to other parts of Asia, where wuxia novels have been translated into other languages. In some ways, wuxia has a positive influence on people, but it also has a negative effect. In the past, martial arts was an education and there was a moral dimension, a sense of responsibility and the need to uphold justice, patriotism and protect people from harm. But the concept of righteousness has also guided people down the wrong path. The Water Margin is a fine example of all these concepts and yes I read it.
My own experience of Jin Yong came from my youth, when I watched television dramas from Hong Kong. I remember the Condor Trilogy well and they provided many good memories. Jin Yong's work inspired me to study deeply, Chinese philosophy, spirituality, history and culture. Martial arts come at a later time and I didn't choose Tai Chi because of Jin Yong. Although there was a spark of inspiration somewhere. Wuxia is not popular in the West and it is largely due to cultural differences. But many people reacted positively to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So there's hope.
Jin Yong retired from writing decades ago and now he will be missed. Thank you Mr Cha.
Thank you for reading my blog.
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