Beggars' Sect

Beggars' Sect
Traditional Chinese 丐幫
Simplified Chinese 丐帮

The Beggars' Sect is a fictional Chinese martial arts sect featured prominently in works of wuxia fiction by writers such as Jin Yong and Gu Long. The sect has also found its way into some Hong Kong martial arts films such as King of Beggars.

The sect's members are mostly beggars, as its name suggests, but some of them do come from other walks of life as well. They are noticeable in public for their dress code and behaviour. The members adhere to a strict code of conduct and maintain the utmost respect for ranks. They uphold justice and help those in need through acts of chivalry. The Beggars' Sect is also one of the supporting pillars in defending the country from foreign invasion.[1]

The sect has a wide network of communications and the members have a reputation for their excellent information-gathering skills. This is due to the sect's large size and nature of members which allows them to blend into different parts of society easily.

Contents

History

The sect is founded in the Han Dynasty[2] and lasted for centuries. It is featured in wuxia novels such as Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (Song Dynasty) and The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (Yuan Dynasty).

The Beggars' Sect is also one of the largest, most famous and recognised martial arts sects in the jianghu until the Yuan Dynasty.[3] Its fame and popularity begins to decline in the Yuan Dynasty due to ill discipline among its members and poor leadership.

Organization

The sect is divided into two sections, namely the "dirty clothing" section (污衣派) and the "clean clothing" section (淨衣派). The former is dominated by beggars while the latter is dominated by non-beggars.[2] It has many headquarters (分舵) spread throughout the land and each of them is headed by a headquarter master (舵主).[3]

Each member carries at least one pouch-like "bag" (袋子) and the number of bags he/she carries indicates his/her rank in the sect.[3] The highest rank a member can attain is the rank of an elder (長老), which is second only to the chief. Elders carry nine "bags" each.[3]

The sect is headed by the chief (幫主), who represents the highest authority in the sect. Each chief is selected from a pool of nominees based on his/her martial arts prowess, contributions to the sect, conduct and popularity. The chief carries the revered Dog Beating Staff (打狗棒) as a symbol of his authority and position as chief.[3][2][1]

The sect has some weird practices and customs, such as the one which allows all members to spit on the chief after he assumes his position as chief as a mark of respect.[1]

The Four Great Elders serve as the chief's deputies and reserve with the right to remove the chief from power if he fails in his duties. Besides, there are also elders with designated duties, such as Discipline Affairs Elder (執法長老),[3] who enforces law and order in the sect. The Training Elder (傳功長老)[3] oversees the martial arts training of members.

The sect holds monthly meetings to discuss their plans in the jianghu at different locations every meeting.[2]

Martial arts

The most notable martial arts of the Beggars' Sect are the "Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms" (Chinese: 降龍十八掌; pinyin: Xiáng Lóng Shíbā Zhǎng) and "Dog Beating Staff Technique" (Chinese: 打狗棒法; pinyin: Dá Gǒu Bàng Fǎ).[3][2][1] The chief is expected to have a profound mastery of both skills, especially the latter, which is only passed on from the chief to his successor. No other member, not including the elders, know the "Dog Beating Staff Technique".[2][1] However, the members know the "Dog Beating Formation" (打狗陣), which is their battle formation.[3] A typical member of the sect is usually armed with at least a wooden staff.

Since the members of the sect are not only limited to beggars, people from all walks of life join the sect as well, including scholars and military officers. As such, the martial arts of the sect are rather diverse as well, since some of the members know other forms of martial arts prior to joining the sect. For instance, Wu Changfeng from Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils uses a customized form of saber movement while Chen Guyan carries a sack filled with poisonous creatures and he uses them against his enemies.[3] The martial arts of the sect are very diversified due to the nature and origin of the members.

Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms (降龍十八掌)

  1. The Proud Dragon Repents (亢龍有悔)
  2. The Soaring Dragon in the Sky (飛龍在天)
  3. The Fighting Dragon in the Wilderness (龍戰於野)
  4. Use Not the Submerged Dragon (潛龍勿用)
  5. Crossing Great Rivers (利涉大川)
  6. The Bird Descends Gracefully (鴻漸於陸)
  7. A Sudden Advent (突如其來)
  8. Tremors which Shook the Land (震驚百里)
  9. Diving into the Abyss (或躍在淵)
  10. The Divine Dragon Swishes its Tail (神龍擺尾)
  11. The Dragon is Seen in the Fields (見龍在田)
  12. The Twin Dragons Fetch Water (雙龍取水)
  13. The Fish Frolics in the Depths (魚躍於淵)
  14. Riding the Six Dragons Timely (時乘六龍)
  15. Dark Clouds but No Rain (密雲不雨)
  16. With a Loss comes Confidence (損則有孚)
  17. Treading on Ice (履霜冰至)
  18. The Ram Charges into the Fence (羝羊觸藩)

Dog Beating Staff Technique (打狗棒法)

  1. The Fierce Dog Blocks the Path (惡狗攔路)
  2. Whack Two Dogs with a Staff (棒打雙犬)
  3. Hit the Dog's Back Obliquely (斜打狗背)
  4. Flip the Dog Upside-down (撥狗朝天)
  5. Retrieve the Staff from the Mastiff's Jaws (獒口奪仗)
  6. Whack the Dog's Head with a Staff (棒打狗頭)
  7. Reverse Jab the Dog's Bottom (反戳狗臀)
  8. Lift the Mad Dog with the Staff (棒挑癩犬)
  9. Squash the Dog's Back (壓扁狗背)
  10. No Dogs Under Heaven (天下無狗)

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Cha, Louis. The Return of the Condor Heroes (神雕俠侶). Ming Pao, 1959.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cha, Louis. The Legend of the Condor Heroes (神雕俠侶). Hong Kong Commercial Daily, 1957.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cha, Louis. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部). Ming Pao, 1963.

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