Many people who have played Koei’s Romance of The Three Kingdoms series know well that the greatest warrior featured in ancient China was one Lü Bu, a general of Dong Zhuo’s.
Playing the game would lead you to believe that Lu was an invincible, mindless brute who did everything through strength in arms but the real man was a complex, dynamic and dare I say intelligent tactician.
While the romantic versions of the great warriors of Lü Bu’s time will all appear special and formidable; Lü Bu himself was battle-proven historically and won many wars that he should not have.
Lü Bu was a beast; tall with massive arms and had the skills of a General, being formidable with both a bow and a spear. One of the main things that Lü Bu was respected for was his skills on horseback with the bow and arrow; dude could ride around you and pick you off from a gallop. For this he was dubbed the “Flying General”.
Actually one of the most impressive archery shots in history was made by Lü Bu but it is hard to confirm given the Three Kingdom Romance that has exaggerated and changed a few things dealing with men of his time.
Lü Bu was also a matchless duelist, he knew no equal but the one flaw that he had within his time was his lack of loyalty and quick hand at betrayal. Lü Bu killed 2 men who regarded him as a son in order to further his ambitions.
The Birth and Death of A Matchless Warrior
Lü Bu – known also as Lu Fengxian was adopted by Ding Yuan to be his Chief Secretary. Yuan was fond of Lü Bu and saw him almost as a son; but Fengxian wasn’t content in his station and killed his would-be father after a tyrant by the name of Dong Zhuo had invaded their land.
Coming before Dong Zhuo with Ding Yuan’s head in tow, Lü Bu brokered a deal with the tyrant for some gold and Ding Yuan’s favorite horse “Red Hare”.
Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu became tight and Lü Bu became his closest bodyguard; but Dong Zhuo was a sadistic bastard with a quick temper. His temper was so bad that he would often toss a spear at his most trusted bodyguard (Lü Bu) who began to slowly hate the man for it as the years went by.
Lü Bu also fell in love and began having secret rendezvouses with Dong Zhuo’s prized concubine, a woman named Diao Chen who coincidentally was a plant within the palace in order to coerce Lü Bu into murdering his master… Zhuo’s enemies were smart in doing this.
Brilliant tactician and matchless warrior was nothing to a woman’s wiles it seems and so Lü Bu did China a favor and slew his master Dong Zhuo in order to stop the spear chucking and sneaking around to be with the woman he loved.
You would think that this act of betrayal would lead to Lu Bu’s punishment but instead it earned him the title of “Graceful Lord” and before long “General of the Left”. Lü Bu became a vagabond of sorts as no master wanted a proven traitor in their midst (would anyone). So he tried unsuccessfully to take over some lands with his sizable army; clashed with one of the mightiest generals in the land (Cao Cao) and ended up fleeing for his life after 100 days of stalemate and an eventual famine.
After fleeing Cao Cao, Lü Bu tried to join Governor Liu Bei in the Xu Province but skirmishes with another general who Lü Bu unsuccessfully tried to join (Yuan Shu) made it a bit too busy for Liu Bei to honor any such allegiance. This led to Lü Bu making a famous arrow shot in order to broker a deal from Liu.
The legendary bow of Lü Bu
The place was Xiaopei and Lü Bu who had just set up south of the point where Liu Bei’s forces and Cao Cao’s forces led by Ji Ling were set to clash. Lü Bu seeing the opportunity for an alliance urged the generals to cease fire and ally with him if he could hit the sharp tongue of a halberd from about a mile away.
Folks the “sharp tongue” he referenced is the edge of a blade, and if you thought Robin Hood’s arrow splitting shot was great, consider a man at about a mile out – putting an arrow on the sharpened edge of a halberd blade. Lü Bu did just that and Liu Bei and Ji Ling no doubt stunned at Lü Bu’s godly bow skills agreed to meet with him.
Too Much Treachery
The peace brokered in Xiaopei by Lü Bu did not last long as he finally got his wish in joining Yuan Shu against Liu Bei. This prompted Liu to make a temporary alliance with his enemy Cao Cao and the men found a way to take down the invincible Lü Bu.
Lü Bu had gotten comfortable in his Xiaopei digs and began whoring and drinking nonstop while he was stationed there. After seeing how terrible he appeared in a mirror one day after drinking, Lü Bu banned liquor in his camp and none of his men were allowed to consume it.
One of his generals (Hou Cheng) however caught a thief stealing 50-some horses and decided it was special enough an occasion to break out some alcohol to celebrate. Lü Bu was enraged at Cheng’s defiance. He ordered Cheng disgracefully whipped and the insult made the general want revenge, so he conspired with 2 other important men Song Xian and Wei Xu in order to put an end to Lü Bu.
In the morning Hou Cheng stole Red Hare (Lü Bu’s prized horse) and defected to Cao Cao’s camp, telling the warlord to strike at Lü Bu that very day. Cao Cao did just that and when the exhausted Lü Bu went to take a nap in the middle of the day during the fighting, Song Xian and Wei Xu bound the sleeping Lü Bu and presented him before Cao Cao.
Knowing Cao Cao to be a man who didn’t like to kill off talent but instead recruit them, Lü Bu pleaded his case and swore loyalty but Liu Bei reminded his ally of Lü Bu’s former traitorous acts and Cao Cao decided that it was too great a risk to keep Lü Bu around.
Lü Bu’s former crimes had finally caught up with him and he was hanged and killed by Cao Cao and Liu Bei.
He was one history’s greatest warriors and he is still the subject of many “who would win” arguments in historical talks today. Lü Bu was and will always be a badass in history’s eyes and when you think of famous arrow shots you should do well to remember the Flying General’s tremendous shot.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.