Ass-kicking Athletes of Antiquity: Tianyuan
Shaolin monks enjoy a reputation as deadly warriors, the kind of men who could beat a brick wall in a game of badminton and kick a man hard enough in the testicle to make his future children be made of diamond. Countless films, comics and cartoons have shown that a single Shaolin monk can easily best dozens of armed combatants with little more than their own two hands. We’d like to inform you that, that scene is in no way fictional and to prove it we’d like to introduce you to Tianyuan, the guy who did exactly that, with other Shaolin monks!
If you’ve somehow lived your life without seeing at least one video of a Shaolin monk doing something absolutely amazing, here’s a video of one throwing a needle through a piece of glass, and here’s one of of a Shaolin monk slipping kicks from a master of Teakwondo like he’s made of ghost snakes. For the sake of your sanity, please don’t scroll down to the comment section of either of those videos, not unless you want to feel like a Shaolin monk dragon punched the intellectual part of your brain.
In short, Shaolin monks are boss at everything to do with using your hands as rudimentary stabbing weapons, they train from a young age and dedicate their lives to doing nothing but sweet elbow drops and meditating–usually meditating on sweet elbow drops. However, despite this fearsome reputation, it’s commonly accepted that Shaolin monks never use their vast wealth of martial arts skills to harm another human being and that they’re strictly nonviolent.
Well if anyone ever gains access to a time machine, we highly recommend you don’t travel back to China in 1550 and tell Tianyuan that. Not unless you want him to cave your skull in like it’s paper. Little is known about Tianyuan prior to this date, but it’s safe to say he was raised in the traditional Shaolin monk way, to be a straight pimpin’ badass with granite for hands.
By this point in history the monks of the Shaolin temple had already cemented their reputations as nigh-unkillable badasses and Tianyuan was regarded as one of the finest warrior monks the temple had at its disposal. When bands of roving pirates from the far corners of the orient began ransacking the crap out of China, stealing precious silks and metals. The government suddenly decided that hiring the hundreds of monks who’d literally spent their entire lives molding their bodies into living weapons to fight them was a good idea.
The only problem was the monks all hailed from different temples and disciplines, the Wutashian, the Funiu and the Shaolin respectively. Tianyuan immediately put himself forward to be the leader of all of the monastic forces, a move that earned him immediate disapproval from the less awesomely named temple monks.
Tianyuan then made a bold offer to those who didn’t think he should be in charge, standing atop a flight of stairs at a Chinese temple, Tianyuan screamed “I am real Shaolin!” then offered to fight the 18 people who’d gathered to question his command. Again, this wasn’t a movie, this actually happened. The dissenters talked amongst themselves for a few moments and before long chose eight battle-hardened warriors to stand in front of Tianyuan.
Tianyuan, drawing on the countless movies that would eventually rip off this exact moment, defiantly refused to move and tiger clawed every man who tried to climb the stairs to reach him. We’d be inclined to say this was an apt metaphor for the men not being on the same skill level as Tianyuan if it wasn’t for the fact these men then ran away like cowards and got their swords to even the odds. When you need even swords to battle one man, you should probably accept that that guy should be in charge.
The men then circled Tianyuan and charged at him with the renewed gusto that only armed men outnumbering a guy in orange robes can feel. Realizing that punching clean through swords would probably arouse suspicion, Tianyuan retreated to a nearby iron gate and removed the bar holding it in place, we’d like to point out that Shaolin monks were famed throughout the land for their skills with the staff. With that in mind, giving a monk a cast iron staff would be like giving Shaquille O’Neal a step-ladder and a taser when he played basketball.
Sadly the amount of broken limbs Tianyuan inflicted isn’t known, what is known though is that several seconds after picking up the iron bar, an entire unit was on their knees begging for forgiveness. And thus, leadership of the monastic forces were granted to Tianyuan.
If you’re in any doubt about how utterly bombastic this fighting force was, under Tianyuan’s command the warrior monks never lost a single battle. In one fight against more than a hundred pirates, armed with little more than staffs, Tianyuan’s monks beat every single one to death and lost only 4 of their own men. The monks were so vicious that they were noted to kill even fleeing, unarmed opponents. Why? Because their temples were rich and having a reputation as ruthless killing machines made them far less likely to be robbed. You may not agree with their methods, but god-damn you have to agree with their results.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl documented much less cheerworthy piracy-fighters in The Sleaziest Digital Rights Management Fiascoes and the only foe who could possibly defeat Tinyuan in The Guy in the Godzilla Suit Was a True Actor.