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Jing Ke the Under Cover Assassin   
Jing Ke was a famous swordsman who made a name for himself around 200 BC when he died in his attempt to kill the oppressive Qin Emperor (reigned 221-210 BC) in the palace audience chambers. Jing Ke was considered a hero by the Chinese and is mentioned in one old manuscript of Mantis Boxing.

The preface to 'Eight Hard' makes an analogy of comparing the hardness of mantis strikes with the hardness of different blades. In applying hard, unyielding techniques the hardest of the hard will prevail. Unfortunately for Jing Ke, this turns out not to be his dagger.

'What if I am hard and he is also hard, who will be victorious?' He doesn’t know that my only fear is lacking hardness for hardness will always be victorious.

It is like the hardness of fine jade; though there is Bei Gong’s Shuang Feng Saber one will fear that it is useless.

Even if it is Jing Ke’s dagger one will worry that it is difficult to use.

This is what we call extremely hard.

Qin Shi as depicted during the Ming Dynasty.

Jing Ke's failed attempt to assassinate Qin Shi Huangdi 'The First August Emperor' was recorded about one hundred years after the passing of Emperor Qin by Grand Historian Sima Qian in his Historical Records. Qin Shi was known as a tyrant, his troops took no prisoners, preferring to slaughter them instead and filling his enemies with dread. Jing Ke, under the guise of bringing valuable gifts as a token of submission, the severed head of a Qin renegade and a map of the state of Yen, gained audience with the emperor and his unarmed attendants.

Yen's Prince Dan, fearing Emperor Qin would push an invasion upon his country, asked Jing Ke to assassinate Emperor Qin. Jing Ke approached Emperor Qin with his offer of the head of [the Qin renegade] Fan Yuqi and a map of Yen, but his plot was immediately seen through by the emperor. Jing Ke attempted to stab the emperor with his dagger, chasing the emperor around the chamber. The emperor managed to hit Jing Ke with his sword and break his hip. Jing Ke realized that he had failed at his mission. He leaned against a column reprimanding and castigating the emperor until he was killed by the emperor's men.

From Records of the Historian -Jing Ke's Biography circa 100 BC.

Jing Ke throws his dagger in desperation. The head of the renegade lies in an open box on the floor. Outline of a rubbing of the Wu family shrines circa 200 BC.

Jing Ke dedicate himself to a task worthy of his own life, preserving the sanctity and culture of the Yen State. How often do we manage to focus our energy on a task worthy of a life's dedication? 

For the complete preface to 'Eight Hard' read Hard Can Defeat Soft

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