Dugu Qiubai -- the name itself invokes the image of a proud but mysterious man. Who is this master swordsman whose name is spoken with great awe through three dynasties in the Jin Yong canon?
Real name: Dugu Qiubai
Aliases: Demonic Swordsman
Ethnicity: Presumably Hun (Xiongnu)
Skills: Dugu Nine Swords, Heavy Ironsword
Divine Eagle, Gallant Knight (Return of the Condor Heroes) Chapters 23, 26, 32
Smiling Proud Wanderer (State of Divinity) Chapters 10, 17, 20
The Deer and the Cauldron (The Duke of Mount Deer) Chapter 23
Not much is known about the master swordsman Dugu Qiubai. His surname, Dugu, implies that his ancestors were Huns from the barbarian wastelands who migrated to the Central Plains around 500 AD.
After Yang Guo met the Divine Condor near the city of Xiangyang, the latter led Yang to a remote mountain cave. There, Yang Guo found the tomb of Dugu. On the cave wall was written:
"Having roamed the martial arts world for more than thirty years, I have killed all my villainous foes and defeated all heroic champions, Under Heaven there's no one who can be my equal. Without any other choice, I could only retreat and live in seclusion in this deep valley, with a condor as my companion. Alas, throughout my life I searched for a good adversary but in vain, I am truly lonely and saddened. DEMONIC SWORDSMAN DUGU QIUBAI"
During the times of Yang Guo, no one seemed to know of Dugu Qiubai. Yang Guo therefore deduced that Dugu died more than 70 years ago.
After Yang Guo lost his right arm, he met the Condor again. This time, the Condor led him to Dugu's Sword Tomb. From the location and construction of the Sword Tomb, Yang Guo concluded that the ambitious Dugu must have been well-versed in both martial as literary arts. At the tomb, it was written:
"The Demonic Swordsman Dugu Qiubai has become the invincible and unchallenged warrior under Heaven, he therefore buried his swords here. Alas, the heroes of the realm bowed down before me, now my long sword is of no use anymore... the agony!"
"Fierce and aggressive, able to penetrate every obstacle. With it, I competed with the heroes of the Northern Plains during my teenage years."
"The Violet Flexible Sword, used it prior to the age of thirty. I accidentally wounded a righteous man with it, it turned out to be a Weapon of Doom. I felt great remorse and abandoned the sword in a deep valley."
"The Heavy, Blunt Sword, complexity is useless. Before I reached the age of forty, I used it to roam the entire Empire under Heaven."
"After the age of forty, I no longer relied on weaponry. Trees, bamboo and rock can all be my swords. From then on, the essence of my cultivation slowly reached the level of overcoming the sword without a sword."
Every weapon used by Dugu, except for the Violet Sword, was buried in the Sword Tomb. Dugu trained his Heavy Ironsword technique below a waterfall, fighting against the waves and repelling the falling rocks. He also ate the bladders of a very rare kind of serpent to enhance his internal strength. Dugu acquired great power through this training, and he later refined this power by training in the ocean with his wooden sword.
Apart from the Heavy Ironsword, Dugu Qiubai also created Dugu Nine Swords at some point in his life. This art was eventually passed on to Feng Qingyang, who in turn taught it to Linghu Chong. The system of Dugu Nine Swords is based on offensive techniques only, for Dugu Qiubai has reached a level in swordsmanship in which he does not need to defend anymore. If someone was able to make him block an attack, Dugu would have been overjoyed. It is stated that Dugu would be happy to meet an opponent like Ren Woxing.
In the Qing Dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi, Shaolin monk Chengguan remembered Dugu Qiubai as one of two persons in history famed for their ability of "overcoming technique without technique" and being invincible during their era. The other person was Linghu Chong.