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Li Guang shot the rock tiger

Jan 17, 2009

Storyteller: Our muscle and bone made human body might not be as powerful as steel and engine powered machines. But you can never underestimate the potential of our body, either intelligent or physical. A computer can never beat human on playing Go game; and the Olympic records are refreshed again and again. And you must have heard some extraordinary stories about how powerful a human being can be in emergency situations.  Here is another that kind of story. I start with a poem, then the story details.

Li Guang shot the rock tiger

Border-Songs, II of IV, by Lu Lun (Tang Dynasty)

The woods are black and a wind assails the grasses,
Yet the general tries night archery —
And next morning he finds his white-plumed arrow
Pointed deep in the hard rock.



Li Guang, a famous general in Han Dynasty, was born in an archery family. He was trained at an early age with perfect archery skills. In the battle with harassing northern nomad tribes, he dominated enemies, and scored lots of victories.

During Wu Emperor years, Li Guang was appointed as satrap of  Right-peking Prefecture. At that time, tigers were found in that area and harmed people. For the security of people, Li Guang often led troops hunting for tiger.

One day, back from a long hunting trip, Li Guang passed the village of Tiger-shaped Rock. It’s already midnight with dim moonlight. There were many strange shaped rock formations, numerous thorns around, and wild grasses were wuthering in the wind. While passing the bushes, Guang suddenly discovered that there was a shadow, shaped like a tiger crouching in the grasses. It’s so dangerous to approach a tiger so close.  With no chance to hesitate, Guang let his soldiers pass rapidly, fired an arrow with a fully drawn bow. “Hjuuu~” The arrow hit the target precisely. Since it’s too dangerous to search in the dark, The troops decided to check the prey next morning.

The next day, the troops went back to search and seize their prey, but got really surprised: the target is not a tiger, but a tiger-shaped boulder. The arrow penetrated into the rock deeply, only left the plumed end outside. Everyone was amazed. Even General Li could not believe himself. He drew his bow and fired a few more arrows with his full strength.  None could penetrate into the rock anymore.

After this incident, local people admired their satrap even more. Huns were also panic-stricken, did not dare invade or harass the border over the next years.

[Recommended Reading on Amazon]
1. A Book about Chinese Army history: Soldiers of the Dragon: Chinese Armies 1500 BC-AD 1840 (General Military)

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