Ji Xiao Xin Shu

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The book Ji Xiao Xin Shu (紀效新書, aka. Chi-hsiao hsin-shu) was written by the Chinese general Qi Jiguang (戚继光) of the Ming Dynasty. The title can be translated as New Book Recording Effective Techniques.

In the book Qi Jiguang writes about strategy, armed and unarmed fighting and many other aspects of warfare. It also set certain standards for the forging of weapons, this is what he wrote about the forging of the short sword:

The following steps in the manufacturing process of the short sword are necessary:

  1. The material of iron used must be forged many times (that is heated, hammered and folded numerous times).
  2. The cutting edge must be made from the best steel, free of impurities.
  3. The entire part of the blade where the back or ridge of the blade joins the cutting edge must be filed so that they appear seamlessly joined together. This process is necessary to enable the sword to cut well.

It was also general Qi who promoted the training of unarmed techniques (quan fa). He didn't see much use in it on the battlefield, but thought it provided a good basic training for his soldiers.

Mandarin Duck Formation[edit]

In the Ji Xiao Xin Shu general Qi introduces the so-called 'Mandarin Duck Formation' (Yuan Yang Zhen, 鸳鸯阵). This formation consisted of a unit of eleven soldiers and one person for logistics.

  1. 1 squad leader (with the squad flag) (队长)
  2. 2 men with sabers and rattan shields (盾牌手)
  3. 2 men with multiple tip bamboo spears (狼筅手)
  4. 4 men with long spears (长枪手)
  5. 2 men with tridents or swords (短兵手)
  6. 1 cook/porter (logistical personnel) (负责伙食的火兵)

This squad was drilled in coordinated and mutually-supportive fighting with clearly defined roles for everyone. In a smallest fighting unit of 5 men (excluding the squad leader), there are the following roles:

  1. One multiple tip bamboo spearman attached to one saber-and-shield man to protect him by entangling the Japanese pirate and his weapon, should the saber-and-shield man become vulnerable during combat.....
  2. 2 spearmen to thrust at the enemy should the multiple tip bamboo spearman become vulnerable.
  3. The saber-and-shield man to protect the spearmen should they themselves become overextended and vulnerable.
  4. The trident man would act as a supportive backup.

If the squad leader was killed in battle, the whole squad would be put to death.


There are two editions of Ji Xiao Xin Shu. The first edition, written around 1560-1561, consists of 18 chapters, and is thus also known as the 18 chapter edition. The later edition, re-edited and also including some new material, had a total of 14 chapters, and was known as the 14 chapter edition. It was published in 1584 around the time of General Qi's retirement.


In the 16th century the Ji Xiao Xin Shu (14 chapter edition) served as an example for the Korean martial manual called Mu Ye Je Bo.

In Japan the book was published several times, both in the 14 and 18 chapter edition.

Some methods from the Ji Xiao Xin Shu are written in the Heiho Hidensho(Okugisho) a Japanese strategy book written by Yamamoto Kanasuke in the 16th century .

Further reading[edit]

  • Ray Huang, 1587, A Year of No Significance, the Ming Dynasty in Decline, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1981 ISBN 0-300-02518-1