Eighteen Palms of power to kick a dragon's butt

By Alexis Hooi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2009-04-07 09:06:15

It unleashes enough internal energy to dispel a legion. It bulldozes foes with a frightening force. Those foolish enough to stand in the way risk having their innards mashed.

Eighteen Palms of power to kick a dragon's butt


This is the Dragon-Subduing 18 Palms, one of the most powerful kungfu techniques in the Chinese martial arts universe and a skill I have dreamed of acquiring since I was young.

The 18 Palms is just one legendary move to fulfill my kungfu fantasy.

There is the Six Meridian Mystic Swords skill - this allows the user to harness his internal strength and channel it through his fingers, which become deadly power beams that pierce through enemies.

Or consider the Universal Shifting Stance, which redirects and reverses opponents' attacks through uncanny manipulation of energy streams within the body. Maybe even the Toad Technique, which uses absorbed poison to increase internal energy for lethal blows.

Okay, all of these might sound baffling or even downright ridiculous, especially the last example.

But therein lies my point. It is nearly impossible to appreciate these imaginary kungfu skills in English on their own because a large chunk of the cultural and literary connotations are lost in translation.

Those who persist in understanding these pillars of the Chinese martial literary tradition, or wuxia, might want to start by watching the numerous TV serials and screen editions of Louis Cha's 15 seminal works to see how the 85-year-old author continues to delight generations of Chinese at home and abroad with his feats of fighting.

Cha himself is one of the best-selling Chinese authors of all time. More than 100 million copies of his works have been translated into multiple languages since he churned out his first wuxia series in newspapers in 1955.

Listen carefully to what a Beijing cabbie is tuning to the next time you are in the capital.

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