Xūzhú (simplified: 虚竹, traditional: 虚竹) is one of the three male protagonists in Jin Yong’s Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils . He uses the secular name Xuzhuzi when he left the monastic life.

Xuzhu was an unknown young monk in the Shaolin Order with a simple and honest personality. He was known for his excellent memory.

He had thick brows, big eyes, upturned nostrils, ears that stuck out, and thick lips. To top it off, he lacked eloquence and was poor at expressing himself. Despite his unattractive appearance, his personality was quite the opposite. He was a loyal and kind person who treated others sincerely. 

About Xuzhu

Name: Xuzhuzi

Monastic name: Xuzhu

Nickname: Mister Xuzhu


  • Shaolin Order
  • Zhangmen of Xiaoyao Order
  • Master of Lingjiu Palace
  • Prince Consort of Western Xia


  • Huilun
  • Wuyazi

Disciple: None


  • Xuanci (Biological father)
  • Ye Erniang (Biological mother)
  • Xiao Feng (Sworn elder brother)
  • Duan Yu (Sworn younger brother)
  • Li Qinglu (Wife)

Martial arts


  • Xiaoyao Order Neigong
  • Lesser Formless Power
  • Beiming Vital Qi


  • Xiaoyao Order Qinggong


  • Shaolin Order
    • Arhat Fist
    • Veda Palms
  • Xiaoyao Order
    • Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand
    • Tianshan Six Yang Palms
    • Mark of Life and Death
  • Beggar’s Guild
    • Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms
    • Dog-beating Staff Technique

Weapon: None

Xuzhu entered the monastic life at a young age. He left the mountains with his shifu to distribute invitations. He inadvertently solved Su Xinghe’s impossible weiqi formation and became the secret disciple of Wuyazi and eventually succeeded him as the head of the Xiaoyao Order.

His adventures led him to rescue the Tianshan Child Granny of the Heavenly Eagle Sect, and she repaid him by forcing him to break his vegetarian and chastity vows.

Xuzhu was caught up in the battle between the Tianshan Child Granny and Li Qiushui. They imparted him with their inner cultivation and skills, and he later became the master of Lingjiu Palace but was expelled from Shaolin for breaking the Order’s rules.

After encountering Xiao Feng and Duan Yu, he became sworn brothers with them. Xuzhu’s strange encounters gave him martial art abilities that made him one of the most powerful martial artists ever.


Xuzhu became a monk at Shaolin Temple as a child and grew up a devote Buddhist. He started his martial arts training at the age of twenty-two.

Entering the jianghu

When he was twenty-four, he accompanied his shifu down the mountains to distribute invitations to heroes in the jianghu to attend the Hero’s Meet on Shaolin’s Mount Song.

Xuzhu was captured along with a group of senior Shaolin monks by the Xingxiu Sect. He saved Duan Yanqing from certain death, and the latter taught him a skill that allowed him to transmit messages through sound.

Becoming Wuyazi’s successor

He unwittingly solved Su Xinghe’s Zhenlong weiqi array set up by the latter’s shifu. Wuyazi, head of the Xiaoyao Order, set up the Zhenlong1珍珑 – zhēnlóng. A weiqi terminology that refers to a clever and ingenious strategy or formation in weiqi. weiqi game to search for a successor. Thus, Wuyazi took Xuzhu in as a secret disciple. First, Wuyazi removed Xuzhu’s Shaolin martial arts training. Then, he imparted Xuzhu with the his seventy years of Xiaoyao neigong cultivation and made him the third zhangmen of Xiaoyao Order.

Meeting Tianshan Child Granny

Xuzhu stumbled upon the leaders Thirty-Six Clans and Seventy-Two Islands who plotted against Tianshan Child Granny of the Heavenly Eagle Sect. He bravely intervened to rescue her. To escape the pursuit of her mortal enemy Li Qiushui, they decided to hide in the Western Xia and sought shelter in the ice cellar of Li Qiushui’s stronghold. During their journey to Western Xia, Child Granny taught Xuzhu the Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand.

During their time in hiding, Tianshan Child Granny continuously pressured Xuzhu to learn martial arts and forced him to join the Xiaoyao Order and to severe his ties with Shaolin. First, she coerced Xuzhu to break his celibacy, but he refused. So, she placed a young and naked woman named Menggu beside Xuzhu during the night, and he finally succumbed and became intimate with her.

Tianshan Child Granny decided to teach Xuzhu the TianShan Six Yang Palms to deal with Li Qiushui. However, Xuzhu was unwilling to assist in killing, so she planted the Mark of Life and Death in him and taught him how to counter it. She also imparted the Tianshan Six Yang Palms to him.

Leap in his inner energy cultivation

When Li Qiushui barged into the ice cellar and wanted to kill Tianshan Child Granny, Xuzhu unwittingly used the second move, Yang Spring Snow, the seventh move, Three Layers of Yang Pass, and the Heavenly Tune of Yang Song against Li Qiushui. When Tianshan Child Granny fought Li Qiushui in a battle of inner energy, Xuzhu inadvertently got between the two of them and absorbed their inner energy. This resulted in him having a hundred over years of immense inner energy from three Xiaoyao Order experts.

Tianshan Child Granny also passed the position of head of Lingjiu Palace to him. In the palace, he became sworn brothers with Xiao Feng, the Liao Empire’s King of the Southern Region, and Duan Yu, Prince of the Dali Kingdom.

Besides martial arts, Xuzhu also learned basic medical skills from Tianshan Child Granny and later mastered medical techniques from the Lingjiu Palace’s medical books. Prior to that, he had learned medical skills from his shixiong Su Xinghe. Thus he became a highly skilled healer.

Expulsion from Shaolin Order

After dealing with the matters in Lingjiu Palace, Xuzhu decided to return to Shaolin Temple where he encountered the Wisdom King2明王 – Míngwang. A Wisdom King or Vidyārājas. Jiumozhi’s nickname was Mahācakra (大轮明王 – Dàlún Míngwáng) after one of the Eight Great Wisdom Kings. See Wikipedia. Jiumozhi from the Tubo3吐蕃 – Tǔbō. The best-known medieval Chinese name for Tibet. See Wikipedia.[/foot] Dalun Temple.4大伦寺 – Dàlún sì. challenging the Shaolin monks. Xu Zhu rose to the challenge. Jiumozhi used the Prajñā Palms5般若掌 – Bānruòzhǎng. Prajñā is a Buddhist term that means the understanding of the true nature of phenomena. See Wikipedia. and Xuzhu dispelled the power of the attack using Xiaoyao Order’s Tianshan Six Yang Palms and the Temple Gate Defence move6山门护法 – Shānmén hùfǎ. Shanmen is used to refer to a Buddhist temple or Buddhism itself. Hufa refers to protecting Buddhism. from the Veda Palms. Jiumozhi struck with the Qiankun Mendicant Palms7托钵掌 – Tuōbōzhǎng. Tuobo meanings relying on alms to survive. See Wikipedia. and Xuzhu dodged. Jiumozhi had anticipated where he would dodge to and hit Xuzhu’s shoulder with his Greater Vajra Palms8大金刚拳 – Dàjīngāng quán. Dajinggang refers to vajra, the ritualistic weapon and tool used in Hinduism and Buddhism. See Wikipedia.. He did not expect that Xuzhu was protected by Beiming Vital Qi.9北冥真气 – Beǐmíng zhēnqì.Beiming true energy.

Jiumozhi used seven Shaolin epic feats in a row, Haunting Shadow Legs,10如影随形腿 – Rúyǐngsuíxíngtuǐ.  Literally legs with shape that flows like shadow. Pattra Finger Technique,11多罗指法 – Duōluó zhífǎ. Duoluo or beiduoluo (贝多罗) is the Chinese translation for pattra. Pattra are palmyra leaves used to write on and were often used for Buddhist scripture writing, thus Buddhist scriptures are also often called pattra. Literally Duoluo finger technique Firebrand Dao Technique,12燃木刀法 – Ránmù dāofǎ. Literally wood-burning dao technique. Formless Supreme Wisdom finger,13大智无定指 – Dàzhìwúdìng zhǐ. Literally formless finger of supreme wisdom. Worry Cleansing Finger,14去烦恼指 – Qùfánnǎo zhǐ.  Literally finger that gets rid of worries. and Nirvana Claws,15寂灭爪 – Jìmiè zhuǎ. Jimie is used in Buddhism to refer to Nirvana. See Wikipedia. and Indra Claws.16因陀罗爪 – Yīntuóluó zhuǎ. Yintuoluo or Indra is the king of Devas. See Wikipedia. Xuzhu was unable to ward off the blows. He could not even use the Veda Palms but used the Black Tiger Heart Snatcher17黑虎偷心 – Hēihǔ toūxīn. Literally black tiger snatching heart. move from Arhat Fists. He only used this single move, but the power in the move kept increasing.

Jiumozhi used the Dragon Claw Technique18龙爪功 – Lóngzhuǎ gōng. Literally dragon claw technique. to capture Xuzhu, but Xuzhu used Xiaoyao Order’s Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand to seize his wrist instead. Jiumozhi’s kept striking with Flame Blade using his right hand, but Xuzhu countered with the Tianshan Six Yang Palms. Suddenly, Jiumozhi unsheathed a dagger and swung it so fast that even the Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand could not seize it. The dagger stabbed Xuzhu and the Four Blades of Lingjiu Palace, Mei,19梅 – Méi. Plum. Lan,20兰 – Lán. Orchid. Ju,21菊 – Jú. Chrysanthemum. and Zhu22竹 – Zhú. Bamboo. suddenly appeared to lend a hand. Xuzhu had used Shaolin martial arts to battle for a long time before finally defeating Jiumozhi with a Xiaoyao Order move, and thus defended Shaolin’s reputation. However, he had learnt martial arts from another faction without permission, and was expelled from Shaolin as punishment. He took the name Xuzhuzi as his secular name.

The Shaolin Gathering

During the Shaolin Gathering on Mount Shaoshi, Xiao Feng was besieged by Murong Clan leader Murong Fu, Xingxiu Sect founder Ding Chunqiu, and the Beggars’ Guild leader Zhuang Juxian.

Xuzhu lured Ding Chunqiu away and engaged in a fierce battle with him using the Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand and the Tianshan Six Yang Palms. The two fought fiercely, and it was difficult to tell who had the upper hand.

After a long battle, Xuzhu subdued Ding Chunqiu with the Mark of Life and Death and the latter was then sent to Shaolin Order’s Discipline Hall to undergo reform.

The Xingxiu Sect then submitted to Lingjiu Palace, a fitting vengeance for the murder of their former zhangmen, Wuyazi.

Western Xia wedding

When the King of Western Xia seeking a royal consort for the Princess of Yinchuan, Duan Yu was under his father’s command to marry the princess. Xuzhu accompanied but discovered that the princess was Menggu, the lady whom he shared an intimate moment with in the ice cellar. Thus, they got married.

Rescue in the Liao Empire

When Xiao Feng was imprisoned in the Liao Empire, Xuzhu led his disciples of the Lingjiu Palace to travel to reduce his sworn brother with Duan Yu.

Xuzhu later inherited the martial arts of the Beggars’ Guild from Xiao Feng, who entrusted him with the responsibility of passing on these techniques to the next leader of the Beggars’ Guild once the Guild had chosen the candidate.

Xuzhu returned to Lingjiu Palace with his companions after returning from Liao.

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Personality & traits

Xuzhu was innocent and naive. He was deeply influenced by the monks in Shaolin Temple since childhood. A devout Buddhist, he adhered to all religious rules and regulations, displaying a gentle and considerate nature. 

However, he remained steadfast in his principles and rejected any actions that went against his beliefs. Even when deceived by Child Granny into breaking the three precepts of Buddhism, his true nature remains unchanged.

Martial arts abilities

As a Shaolin disciple, Xuzhu trained in the Arhat Fist and Veda Palms for self-defence.

However, after he inadvertently solved the weiqi array set up by Wuyazi, he acquired the latter’s profound Xiaoyao Order neigong skills, Beiming Power and Tiny Unseen Power. Wuyazi then imparted his seventy years of Xiaoyao neigong cultivation, resulting in a leap in Xuzhu’s inner energy.

His adventures led to him helping the Tianshan Child Granny, who taught him Xiaoyao Order martial arts to protect them. These included the powerful martial arts Tianshan Plum-plucking Hand and Tianshan Six Yang Palms, and the fearsome skill Mark of Life and Death.

When Li Qiushui and the Tianshan Child Granny were locked in a battle of inner energy, Xuzhu accidentally got in the way and absorbed their inner energy. This resulted in Xuzhu having an immense amount of inner energy accumulated over a hundred over years by three Xiaoyao Order experts.

Xuzhu discovered numerous exquisite martial arts depictions on the wall at the back of Lingjiu Palace after he became the head of the Palace. These contained advanced Xiaoyao Order skills that Xuzhu started learning.

After he was rescued from the Liao Empire, Xiao Feng entrusted Xuzhu with the task of passing on the Beggars’ Guild martial arts to the next leader of the Beggars’ Guild once the Guild had chosen the candidate. He passed Xuzhu the Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms and Dog-beating Staff techniques.

Tiny Unseen Power

Originally a Daoist practice, the Tiny Unseen Power23小无相功 – Xiǎo wúxiàng gōng. Literally small, formless or traceless skill. was a Xiaoyao Order neigong technique known for its tremendous power. It emphasised tranquility and inaction to allow one’s spirit to roam in the void. This was different from the colourless and formless teachings of the Buddhist martial arts. Although both have names with similar meanings, they have distinct differences.

The Tiny Unseen Power gets its name from being inconspicuous and leaving no trace. It was unseen because it was tiny, hence the name. Like the Duan Clan’s Spirit Blade of Six Meridians, the Tiny Unseen Power also involved blood and qi circulation within the body, primarily focusing on training the small finger and the heart meridian of the Lesser Yin system. 

It was challenging to distinguish between the Spirit Blade of Six Meridians and the Tiny Unseen Power based on their appearances.

The Tiny Unseen Power was extremely powerful when mastered to the pinnacle. However, the word “tiny” in its name implied that it was just a lower level of Daoist neigong. While it was an effective Daoist technique, it did not unleash the full potential of Daoist martial Artis.

Li Qiushui learnt this skill from her shifu Xiaoyaozi. She later passed it on to Wuyazi, who then imparted it to Xuzhu.

Mark of Life and Death

The Mark of Life and Death24生死符 – Shēngsǐfú. Literally the life and death symbol. was one of the top sneak attacks. By reversing the flow of true qi with alcohol or water, the protagonist can turn the vigorous yang energy into cold yin energy. This causes the true qi emitted from the palms to be colder than ice, naturally solidifying any liquid held in the hand.

Those who had been marked with this technique were said to be unable to live or die as they became controlled by the one who marked them. The mark was formidable. The marked person must take itch relief pills regularly to alleviate the unbearable pain and itchiness.

Without the pills, the symptoms would worsen each day. Taking the pills would cause them to subside after about 81 days, only to increase again after that period. The only way to remove the mark was through the use of Tianshan Six Yang Palms and following the medical scriptures of Lingjiu Palace to understand the concepts of yin, yang, emptiness, and solidness.

Thus, the Mark of Life and Death was considered one of the top sneak attacks in the world and anyone marked by it was forced to submit to the Tianshan Child Granny or suffered an excruciating death.

Tianshan Plum-plucking Hands

The Tianshan Plum-plucking Hands25天山折梅手 – Tiānshān shémeí shoǔ. Literally plum grasping hand of Tianshan. one of the top Xiaoyao Order feats. Despite only consisting of six sets of moves, three palm strikes and three grappling techniques, it encompassed the essence of the Xiaoyao Order’s martial arts. The moves had numerous variations, included ultimate techniques for swords, knives, whips, spears, claws, grappling, axes, and other weapons.

Although each moves only consisted of twelve seven-word sentences, the eighty-four words were tongue twisters. Every seven level tones26平 – píng. Level tone. See Wikipedia. were followed by seven oblique tones.27仄 – zè. Oblique tone. See Wikipedia. The wording and phonetic patterns of the mnemonic contradicted with the principles of breathing and rhyming. It was actually a technique that required balancing true qi.

After Xuzhu became the head of Lingjiu Palace, he used the formidable Tianshan Plum-plucking Hands to twice and displayed how extraordinary a skill it was.

Another remarkable aspect of Tianshan Plum-plucking Hands was its ability help the user escape from adverse situations despite staggering odds.

The feat required a strong neili28内力 – neìlì. Inner power. The exertion or power of one’s inner qi. as foundation, and its effectiveness increased as one’s neigong29内功 – neìgōng. Inner cultivation. One’s ability to control and manipulate one’s own internal qi flow. See Wikipedia. grew.

In terms of power, the Tianshan Plum-plucking Hands was on par with the formidable Eighteen Palms of Dragon-subduing. In terms of ingenuity of palm techniques, the Hands was unparalleled.

Tianshan Six Yang Palms

The Tianshan Six Yang Palms30天山六阳掌 – tiānshān liùyáng zhǎng. Literally six yang palm of Tianshan. was a powerful palm technique and one of the most profound Xiaoyao Order martial art. It is unknown how many moves it had, but the Tianshan Child Granny taught Xuzhu nine moves.

The technique was carved on the wall at the back of Lingjiu Palace where more moves could have been recorded. However, Xuzhu did not learn more than what the Tianshan Child Granny imparted to him, but only enhanced his understanding of the moves he knew.

The movements of technique were light and graceful. Despite appearing elegant and refined, each move was vicious and struck at the enemy’s vital points. Such was its power that it could easily lift heavy objects. Yet, the moves were fluid and flowed freely.

The Tianshan Six Yang Palms were used to remove the Mark of Life and Death. Xuzhu unwittingly learnt these moves when the Tianshan Child Granny taught him how to use the mark. Since Xuzhu refused to learn the technique when she offered, she secretly taught him the moves when she imparted him the Mark of Life and Death. She painstakingly broke down the moves and explained every subtle changes and ingenuity when she did so.

Known moves include the second move White Snow in Sunny Spring31阳春白雪 – yángchūn báixǔe. the seventh move Three Folds of Yang Pass32阳关三叠 – Yangguan Sandie. Yang Pass, literally Sun Gate, is a mountain pass near Dunhuang, Gansu. See Wikipedia. , and Cheerful Songs in Heaven.33阳歌天钧 – yánggē tiānjūn. Tianjun is where the Heavenly Emperor resided in ancient mythology.

Arhat Fists

The Arhat Fists34罗汉拳 – luóhàn quán. Luohan refers to the Arhats, those who have achieved enlightenment in Buddhism. See Wikipedia. was the first technique Shaolin disciples learnt. The skill was inspired by the poses that eighteen Arhats took, hence the name.

The moves included blocking, pressing, charging, evading, pointing, lifting, pressing down, hooking, scooping, and throwing. Leg techniques focused on leaping, rolling, sweeping, and bouncing.

The Arhat Fists required coordination between the upper and lower body, with footwork adapting to hand movements. The body moved with flexibility and many changes. When striking, it was important to seizing and protecting the core, balancing between strength and pliancy.

A key mantra in Arhat Fists was, “Excellence in the Arhat Fists is found within the three rights.”

These were the right hand positions, the right body posture, and the right horse stance. The three rights were vital to maintaining stability and a key fundamental to martial arts training.

Skanda Palms

The Skanda Palms35韦陀掌 – weītuó zhǎng. Weituo refers to Skanda, a guardian of Buddhist monasteries. See Wikipedia. was the second technique Shaolin disciples learnt. Like the Arhat Fists, it was the most basic Shaolin Order martial art that set solid foundations.

Eighteen Palms of Dragon-subduing

Xiao Feng imparted Xuzhu feats reserved for the Beggars’ Guild leadership with the instructions to pass it on to the next Beggars’ Guild chief after a successor had been selected.

When Xiao Feng taught Xuzhu the Twenty-Eight Palms of Dragon-subduing, they agreed that the last ten moves were overly complicated. Thus, they refined technique and merged the essence of these ten moves into the eighteen moves, the Eighteen Palms of Dragon-Subduing.36降龙十八掌 – xiánglóng shíbā zhǎng.

Dog-beating Staff

The Dog-beating Staff37打狗棒法 – dágoǔ bàng fǎ. was a technique passed down through generations of beggars in the Beggars’ Guild. It was a light and agile, with subtle changes and exquisite moves. The wielded staff’s elegance like a graceful, dancing dragon belied its stunning speed.

The technique had eight sets of moves, including tripping, cleaving, entangling, jabbing, thrusting, leading, sealing, and rotating.

Behind the scenes

The Chinese name of Demi-Gods and Demi-Devils literally means the Eight Legions, a group of Buddhist deities whose duties is to protect the Dharma, cosmic law and order. Xuzhu is said to represent Yaksa in the Eight Legions, though there are some who suggest that he represents Mahoraga.

Compelling characters fill the captivating world of this epic tale and their destines intertwine in a mesmerising dance of love, betrayal, and martial arts prowess…