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12 Levels to fluency. Levels progressively get cheaper as you go!
Level 1 | 0 - 250 字
hún shuǐ mō yú
fish in murky water
Cáorén (曹仁) was a common general who served under Cáocāo. During a time of chaos when the surrounding generals were fighting he was able to take over a powerful city just south of the province the adjacent generals were fighting over. The generals were blind as he silently gathered troops and marched south. In the midst of their fighting his conquest went relatively unnoticed or was thought to be ignorant as the prized land was what all the fighting was over; yet he was able to pull a fish out of murky water as he easily took control of the southern land; Cáorén was able to get something good out of a chaotic situation.
Level 2 | 251 - 500 字
guò wǔ guān zhǎn liù jiàng
over 5 hurdles and 6 gurads
Guānyǔ (关羽) was a famous high level general. When he was capture by Cáocāo word spread quickly and the peasants grew uneasy as they knew Cáocāo was now in full control. But Cáocāo could not keep Guānyǔ detained for very long. Guānyǔ broke through five checkpoints and killed six of Cáocāo's generals on his escape journey. When the peasants heard about Guānyǔ’s escape they were relieved and from that point forward referred to achievements such as moving from one point or class to another as Guānyǔ's journey from bondage: Over 5 hurdles and 6 guards.
Level 3 | 501 - 750 字
xiào róng kě jū
all smiles can dismiss
Sī Mǎyì (司马懿) was famous and a successful general known for his creative tactics, however, he was stumped during one of his invasions by Zhū Gé Liàng. When Sī Mǎyì reached the large gate to the province he was planning to take over, he was greeted by Zhū Gé Liàng playing a musical instrument smiling such as he was recommending Sī Mǎyì to continue his journey. Sī Mǎyì immediately thought an ambush was in place, stopped his army and retreated home. Truth was Zhū Gé Liàng stood in front of a city guarded by no soldiers. Sī Mǎyì was dismissed by all smiles.
Level 4 | 751 - 1000 字
Sūn Shàng Xiāng
pé ile fū rén yòu zhé bīng
pay the cost of your partner to soliders
Sūn Shàng Xiāng (孙尚香) was a beautiful schemer most noted for her famous foiled takeover. With her brother she planed to marry the neighboring king and take over his land. The king agreed to marry Sūn Shàng Xiāng. Sūn Shàng Xiāng planned to seduce the king on her side as her brother took over the other side. The king was informed about the plot but continued to take Sūn Shàng Xiāng and use her to negotiate taking over her brothers land. In the end Sūn Shàng Xiāng and her brother lost half their land and failed to take anything form the neighboring king.
Level 5 | 1001 - 1250 字
sǐ bù míng mù
die without closing ones eyes
Sūn Jiān (孙坚) was a common peasant until he helped the peasants unite against one of the most repulsive leaders in all of China's history: Dong Zhuo. He inspired the the anti-Dong-Zhuo uprising to fight and remove their power. His fame and success came from his famous belief that if they failed they would die without closing their eyes. In other words the peasants of the uprising would die without finishing what they sought out to achieve and would never have peace.
Level 6 | 1251 - 1500 字
xià hóu dūn
bá shǐ dàn jing
pull out and eat ones eyeball
Xiàhóu Dūn (夏侯惇) was a fearless warrior. During one of his battles he was struck in the eye with an arrow. He pulled the arrow out to keep fighting but was halted when his eyeball came out with the arrow. He starred at his eyeball stuck on the end of the arrow. He could not throw it away as it was what his mother and father gave him. He bit off his eyeball from the arrow, ate it, and then used the arrow to kill his next victim. The soldiers were shocked that he continued fighting. Xiàhóu Dūn become known as The One Eyed Solider.
Level 7 | 1501 - 1750 字
cū zhōng yǒu xì
careless appearance yet detailed manner
Zhāng Fēi (张飞) was originally a butcher. The peasants thought poorly of him because of his appearance. He wore ragged blood stained clothes and usually smelled of alcohol. Despite his appearance he was selected by an officer that frequently visited his meat shop. The general noticed the quality and detail of his work and asked Zhāng Fēi to join his army not as a butcher but as a small general and planner. Zhāng Fēi rose through the ranks and become a famous general because he was meticulous and brilliant despite his careless manner.
Level 8 | 1751 - 2000 字
wànshì jù bèi zhǐ qiàn dōng fēng
ten-thousand things but the east wind.
Zhōu Yú (周瑜) was one of the few leaders to stop Cáocāo. Zhōu Yú devised an attack that was designed to use massive amounts of fire to scorch Cáocāo’s army, but it depended on the east wind which had not come. All the pieces were in place but Zhōu Yú was afraid to attack because the east wind had not come. The strategist Zhū Gé Liàng got word of the secret attack and sent a letter to Zhōu Yú with the famous phrase - Ten-thousand things but the east wind. The letter shocked Zhōu Yú but he knew it was a sign to move forward. He started the attack, the east wind came, and he stopped Cáocāo.
Level 9 | 2001 - 2250 字
zhū gé liàng
shén jī miào suàn
stratigies from the devine
Zhū Gé Liàng (诸葛亮) acted as a chancellor in what is present day Sichuan. Known for his divine strategies, the emperor was afraid of him and ordered his execution unless he could come up with 100,000 arrows in 10 days. He replied to the impossible act that he could compete it in three. During a foggy night he rounded up fishing boats and stocked them with straw figures. He directed a small team to sail the boats near the adjacent army and beat drums loudly simulating an attack. The army was surprised and fired more than 100,000 arrows at the boats which Zhū Gé Liàng collected and returned to the emperor.
Level 10 | 2251 - 2500 字
yì bù róng cí
one cannot refuse responsibility
Sūn Quán (孙权) was born to a military family and climbed the ranks following his brother. When Cáocāo led an army to take over the entire south which would have united the whole of China, Sūn Quán stood up and was able to stop the conquest (in the famous Battle of Red Cliffs) by uniting the region with a simple but true philosophy; one cannot refuse responsibility. His philosophy made nearby rulers stand up to Cáocāo as they should have but had never before and as a result stopped Cáocāo's conquest which would have devoured all of their land.
Level 11 | 2501 - 2750 字
sān gù máo lú
three trips to the thatched cottage
Liú Bèi (刘备) was born poor. His father died young so he had to work right away to help support his family. He worked with his mother making straw sandals and mats. Liú Bèi joined the military at an early age. Years later he went on to ask his commander to become his military advisor. Liú Bèi made the long journey to his commander’s thatched cottage but he was not answered. On his second journey Liú Bèi was greeted by the commander's wife but again he got no reply. Word about Liú Bèi got around and on his third journey the commander granted his request to become his military advisor.
Level 12 | 2751 - 3000 字
wàng méi zhǐ kě
the hope for plums ends thirst
Cáocāo (曹操 ) led a nearly endless march proving his leadership when all lower levels of command failed. During a long stretch of desert everyone ran out of water. There was no water around and the soldiers were dying of thirst. All levels of command failed to find watter and keep the troops going, but Cáocāo inspired the soldiers by convincing them up ahead was an orchard filled with sweet and sour plums. The delusional soldiers came back to life as their mouths salivated and marched on to eventually find water and the saying became famous there after.
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