Can’t beat them? Try harder!


Among the world’s Chinese martial arts novelists, my favourite is Jin Yong, a writer based in Hong Kong. One of his most famous books is The Legend of the Condor Heroes, whose main character, Guo Jing, grows up in Mongolia under the care of Genghis Khan. He studies martial arts from his seven masters, the so-called “Seven Freaks of Jiangnan” who came from Southern China.

Guo is not terribly talented, but he is a determined young man. He would often practice whatever he is taught for a thousand times until he can do it perfectly.

His masters know how hard Guo works. They also worry that his forever refusal to be defeated would one day get him killed. So they get Guo to sit down and tell him a four-word motto: “Can’t beat them, run!” This is similar to the common Chinese saying, “As long as you keep a mountain intact, you can always have wood to burn in your stove.”

But it turns out that throughout Guo’s life, all he knows is a five-word motto: “Can’t beat them? Try harder!” He never gives up on his studies of martial arts and eventually becomes a well respected hero.

So I would like to dedicate this five-word motto to all those who ever feel frustrated about life but who never give up pursuing their goal. I think of this motto often these days, and it gives me courage and hope.

Image thanks to: A blogger from Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site who I recently complained about.

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