Lessons from Chinese Idioms: "My Knees Are Made of Steel"

Yi Dou

PureInsight | May 16, 2005

[PureInsight.org] In the 10th year of the Zhizheng Period during the Yuan Dynasty (1351 AD), Li Qi was appointed to be Magistrate of Gaoyou Prefecture. In the 13th year of the Zhizheng Period (1354 AD), Zhang Shicheng from Tai Prefecture started a rebellion. The rebel army occupied Tai Prefecture and invaded Xinghua. The Emperor sent Li Qi as Ambassador to Zhang Shicheng to call for his surrender. Zhang Shicheng didn't follow the common courtesy between battling armies of not harming the messenger from the opposing army and incarcerated Li Qi. Soon after, the Emperor's army resumed its attack on Zhang's army of rebels. Zhang Shicheng was outraged. He took Li Qi out of the prison and ordered him to kneel down. Li Qi declared, "My knees are made of steel! They won't bend for any bandit!" Zhang Shicheng became all the more furious. He ordered his people to force Li Qi to kneel down, but no one was able to make Li Qi kneel down. Finally, Zhang had Li Qi's knees smashed and executed him.

This is the story that spawned the Chinese idiom: "My knees are made of steel." It is used to describe a man of noble spirit who will never yield to violence or terror.

Source: The History of Yuan Dynasty

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/5/6/32220.html

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