Dugu Qiubai Information
|Created by||Jin Yong|
|Literal meaning||Loner seeking a defeat|
Dugu Qiubai is a fictional character who is mentioned by name in three wuxia novels by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). He does not appear in any of the novels because he lived in an era long before the events of the novels took place. Nicknamed "Sword Devil" (劍魔; jiàn mó) to reflect his prowess in and devotion to the practice of swordplay, he attains the philosophical level of "swordsmanship without a sword", which means that he uses swordplay techniques in combat without the physical existence of a sword.
Dugu Qiubai's family name Dugu (literally "alone") suggests that he was ethnically Xianbei. His given name "Qiubai" literally means "seek defeat". His full name thus roughly translates to "Loner Who Seeks Defeat". It represents his status as an invincible swordsman who is haunted by solitude as no one can defeat or equal him in swordplay.
In this novel, set in the late Song dynasty, Yang Guo inherits Dugu Qiubai's Heavy Sword Technique. He encounters the Condor, a giant eagle-like creature that was once a companion of Dugu Qiubai. The Condor saves Yang Guo after he lost his arm, and leads him to Dugu Qiubai's Tomb of Swords. Yang Guo learns Dugu Qiubai's skills with the help of the Condor and inherits the Heavy Iron Sword. The Heavy Sword Technique has a rigorous requirement on inner energy. It emphasises simple swings and moves accompanied by potent inner energy exertion. Although it lacks the fancy and stylish movements of typical swordplay styles, it is more effective than the most complicated form of sword attacks. When Yang Guo was learning this technique, he commented that average swords would be broken immediately when he channels his inner energy into the sword during fights. The sword's weight would also boost the power of his swings and thrusts. Yang Guo mastered the inner energy technique used by Dugu Qiubai and fulfilled the requirement.
Dugu Qiubai's swordplay technique, the Nine Swords of Dugu, is featured in this novel. The protagonist, Linghu Chong, learns this technique from the reclusive swordsman Feng Qingyang, and uses it to counter its "unorthodox" counterpart, the Bixie Swordplay (辟邪劍法; bìxié jiànfǎ).
In a very brief inner monologue, Chengguan, a knowledgeable but naïve Shaolin monk ponders about two great swordsmen in the past who performed swordplay without following any defined stances: Dugu Qiubai and Linghu Chong.
Created by Dugu Qiubai, the Nine Swords of Dugu (獨孤九劍; Dúgū jiǔ jiàn) are nine independent sword stances created to overpower all sorts of weapons, including swords, sabers, spears, clubs, staffs, whips and arrows, as well as barehanded attacks. This swordplay has nine stances, each of which is designed to counter a particular style of martial arts. The mastery of all nine forms allows the swordsman to counter a wide range of moves, including those involving the use of weapons. The first core element of the swordplay is speed. The swordsman is trained to quickly predict and identify the weaknesses in the moves executed by an opponent, and then attack those weak points. The second core element of the swordplay is its formless nature and adaptability. Unlike typical martial arts styles described in wuxia stories, the moves of the Nine Swords of Dugu do not follow any fixed sequence or pattern. As such, it is impossible for an opponent to predict and counter correspondingly the moves of the swordplay. The key to mastering the swordplay is to understand the two core elements instead of rigidly memorising all the stances. Once the swordsman has grasped the essence of the swordplay, he can use it in endless forms and variations, hence the swordplay has no fixed sequence or pattern. During combat, the less the swordsman remembers, the less restricted he is by the original stances. He is thus able to customise and adapt the swordplay accordingly.
The nine stances are:
- General Index Stance (總訣式; zǒng jué shì)
- Sword-defeating Stance (破劍式; pò jiàn shì)
- Saber-defeating Stance (破刀式; pò dāo shì)
- Spear-defeating Stance (破槍式; pò qiāng shì)
- Mace-defeating Stance (破鞭式; pò biān shì)
- Whip-defeating Stance (破索式; pò suǒ shì)
- Palm-defeating Stance (破掌式; pò zhǎng shì)
- Arrow-defeating Stance (破箭式; pò jiàn shì)
- Qi-defeating Stance (破氣式; pò qì shì)
Dugu Qiubai's final resting place is known as the Tomb of Swords. In The Return of the Condor Heroes the Condor leads Yang Guo to the Tomb, where Yang Guo reads a statement which Dugu Qiubai carved in stone:
"Having roamed the jianghu (martial artists' community) for more than 30 years, I have killed all my foes and defeated all champions. Under Heaven no one can be my equal. Without any other choice, I could only retreat and live in seclusion in this deep valley, with only a Condor as my companion. Alas, all my life, I have sought a match but in vain. Unbearable loneliness is my destiny." — "Sword Devil" Dugu Qiubai 
Yang Guo also read this at the Tomb of Swords:
"The "Sword Devil" Dugu Qiubai has become the invincible and unchallenged swordsman under Heaven, hence he buried his swords here. The heroes of the realm bow before me. Now, my Long Sword is of no use anymore. The agony!" 
- The first sword (present)
- "My first sword was so sharp, strong and fierce that none could withstand it. With it in hand, I strive for mastery by challenging all the heroes of the Northern Plains in my teenage years." 
- The second sword (not present, represented by a wooden tablet)
- "My second sword was violet in hue and flexible in motion. I used it in my 20s. With it, I have mistakenly wounded righteous men. It turned out to be a weapon of doom that caused me to feel remorse endlessly. I cast it into a deep canyon." 
- The third sword (present)
- "My third sword was heavy and blunt. The uttermost cunning is based on simplicity. With it, I roamed all lands under Heaven unopposed in my 30s." 
- The fourth sword (represented by a wooden sword)
- "After the age of 40, I was no longer hampered by any weapon. Grass, trees, bamboos and rocks can all be my swords. Since then, I have developed my skills further, such that gradually I can win battles without reaching for weapons." 
- (in Chinese) Tan, Xianmao (2005). Dugu Qiubai: The Image of a Lonely Genius Comes to Live. In Rankings of Jin Yong's Characters. Chinese Agricultural Press.