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The Tattooed Monk (A Chinese Fable)

In the Northern Sung’s reign, there was a man from Hai Ch’ung by the name of Lu Ta. He was big, with large hands, broad hips, and strong legs. He had a face you wouldn’t normally think of for a Chinese man, with a round face, big nose, and full beard. He had his head shaved and a body covered with tattoos. When he took up a fighting stance, he looks like a giant boulder.

When he was young, Lu Ta trained at the Shaolin temple. He plunged six-foot-long wooden stakes deep into the earth while he was there. He then pulled up those stakes, eighty or more at a time. His master also taught him how to wield the monk’s spade.

Lu Ta left the temple while he was fairly new, but he started getting called as Sagacious Lu or the Tattooed Monk. He went on adventures, and ended up being one of the known outlaws of the area. He also went in and out of several other temples. In one of his terms as a priest, he had to deal with a bandit gang.

Shaolin Monks

The bandits were led by the Old Rat Chang San, and the Green Grass Snake Li Ssu. They spied on Lu Ta while he was practicing with his monk spade, and they decided not to fight him fairly. Instead, they pretended to be injured in front of him as he stood at the edge of the temple outhouse. When he came closer, Chang San grabbed one of Lu Ta’s legs, and Li Ssu grabbed the other. But, it was ineffective. Lu Ta laughed as they struggled to throw him down the toilet. He lifted his right leg, and shook the Old Rat down the latrine. He lifted his right leg, and did the same to the Green Grass Snake.

The next day, the bandits wanted to apologize. They brought several jars of wine and a roasted pig. During the feast, a murder of crows landed in the willow tree that looked over the table where Lu Ta and the bandits were eating. The birds were so noisy that Lu Ta got up and pulled up the tree. To him, it was just like another wooden stake.