Hi guys, welcome back to Office Hours with the Brofessor: the Show Where I Say Things. Today's episode: Badass Historical Chinese Bros, Part III: Guan Yu.
The year is 189 AD. The realm is in turmoil as the Han dynasty collapses. Warlords rise and fall against a backdrop of chaos and intrigue. Out of the mayhem emerges one man mighter than all the rest, a hero in battle and a loyal friend in peace. This man’s name is Guan Yu. He is the second of three sworn brothers. The oldest is the forgotten heir to the imperial throne. Against all odds, the three do battle to restore the dynasty and unite all under heaven! Guan Yu has pledged his honor and life to his big brother’s cause.
As both a friend and a warrior, Guan Yu was without peer. Before we get into Guan Yu’s accomplishments, let’s first get a feel for what the dude looked like. According to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan Yu was nine feet tall, with a face that was red as a jujube. He had thick eyebrows, like nesting silkworms, and a three-foot-long beard. So impressive was this particular feature that he even came to be known as “The Lord of the Magnificent Beard”.
In battle he wielded a long spear called the Green Dragon Crescent Blade, which is perhaps the most video-gamesque name ever given to an item that was not actually in a video game. It was also called the “frost-fair blade”, since when he fought in the snow the blood of his enemies would freeze on the blade, forming a layer of frost. The weapon weighed a hundred pounds, but he could swing it around like he was the seventh-grade me in my backyard with a dowel rod.
Of course he didn’t actually look like that, or even actually do the things he’s best known for, but this is how we remember him. In a way I would argue that the legendary character of Guan Yu is in its own way quite real, perhaps as real as the historical figure no one really cares about. Guan Yu may not actually have been a nine-foot-tall red dude with an unrealistically heavy spear, but he may as well have been.
Guan Yu--or the legendary version of him--is my hero because, first and foremost, he was a good friend. He never betrayed his two brothers, no matter what was offered him. One time a rival warlord wanted Guan Yu to defect to his side, so he gave Guan a super fast horse. Guan Yu was like, “Cool thanks, now I can go home and see my bros.” It was pretty much the complete opposite of what the warlord wanted.
There was only one problem: Guan Yu was deep behind enemy lines, with five fortified passes between him and his bros. Did that stop him? Nope. Guan Yu wrecked some fools in each pass that he came to. He didn’t even slow down when a dude shot him with an arrow. Such was his loyalty to his friends.
Another time Guan Yu got a poisoned wound in battle. The poison got into the bone and would have to be scraped out surgically. When he got the news, Guan was in the middle of drinking with his homeboys and playing go. It was a really good game, so he didn’t feel like stopping for something stupid like lifesaving surgery. So he told the doc to just go ahead and do it then and there. He was awake, talking, drinking and playing go the whole time. Dude didn’t even flinch.
So Guan Yu has gone down in history for his steadfast loyalty and for being a tough-as-nails sumbitch who didn’t screw around and took the Bro Code seriously. It is for these qualities that he is my third da-ge. The world would be a better place if we all learned from his example.
So, that’s my big bro Guan Yu. Up next: Badass Historical Chinese Bros, Part IV: Sun Yat-Sen.