Xu Chu

Xu Chu

Three Kingdoms infobox
Name=Xu Chu

Caption=Xu Chu as depicted in Peking Opera "Battle of Wan"
Kingdom=Cao Wei
Pinyin=Xǔ Chǔ
Post=Marquis Zhuang (壯侯)
WG=Hsu Ch'u
Zi=Zhongkang (仲康)

*Tiger Fool (虎痴)

Xu Chu was a warrior living in the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era of China. He served as a bodyguard to the powerful warlord, Cao Cao. Gigantic and strong, yet simple-minded and honest, Xu Chu was referred to as "Tiger Fool" by his fellow men. He continued to serve under Cao Cao's successors, Cao Pi and Cao Rui, until his own death, upon which he was given the posthumous title of Marquis Zhuang (壯侯), literally meaning the robust marquis.


Xu Chu was born in the county of Qiao (modern day Bozhou, Anhui). According to the "Records of Three Kingdoms", he was over 8 "chi" tall (about 190-200cms) with a waist circumference of ten "wei" (approximately 52 inches or 132 centimeters).

Towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Xu Chu rallied thousands of clan members and constructed a fortress to fend off the Yellow Turban rebels.

An army of rebels from Runan (汝南), numbering more than ten thousand, once attacked Xu Chu's fortress. The defenders were outnumbered and worn out as the battle dragged on. When the arrows were used up, Xu Chu told all within the fortress to gather stones the size of chess pieces and place them in the four corners of the fortress. He then hurled the stones at the enemies, crushing the bones of all those who were hit into powder. The rebels then kept a distance away and dared not come close.

When the food stock was exhausted, Xu Chu negotiated a truce with the rebels as well as a deal to exchange ox for food. When the rebels came to collect the ox, the animal would always run back. Then Xu Chu, holding on to the ox's tail, pulled it along for more than a hundred steps. Seeing this, the startled rebels took off without the ox.

In 197, Xu Chu surrendered to Cao Cao. Seeing the strength of the man, Cao Cao exclaimed, "This is my Fan Kuai!" He then made Xu Chu a captain of his own personal bodyguards, who were known as Tiger Guards. During Cao Cao's campaign against Zhang Xiu, Xu Chu was at the forefront of the battle. He was then promoted to a deputy commander.

In 200, Xu Chu followed Cao Cao to the Battle of Guandu, during which Xu Ta and fellow conspirators plotted to assassinate Cao Cao. Fearing Xu Chu, they waited until he went back to rest before entering Cao Cao's tent with swords hidden in their robes. Xu Chu, however, felt uneasy and returned. Xu Ta and others, not expecting to find Xu Chu there, could not hide their astonishment. Xu Chu then discovered their intent and killed the would-be assassins. Following the incident, Cao Cao trusted him even more and would go nowhere without Xu Chu by his side.

After Cao Cao conquered Ye in 203, Xu Chu was conferred the title of Marquis of Guannei (關內侯) for his valor in the battlefield.

During the campaign against Ma Chao and Han Sui in 211, Cao Cao led his troops north across the Ji River (濟河) in an attempt to circle to the rear of the enemy. The bulk of Cao Cao's troops had already crossed the river, leaving Cao Cao and his Tiger Guards to bring up the rear, when Ma Chao leading ten thousand horsemen caught up with them.

As the enemies were approaching fast, Cao Cao's soldiers rushed to get onboard the ferry, which was on the verge of sinking under the weight. Holding up a saddle with his left hand to shield Cao Cao from the enemies' arrows, Xu Chu slashed those who were trying to clamber onto the vessel. By then the boatman was also shot dead. Still holding up the saddle, Xu Chu pushed the ferry away from shore and to safety with a bargepole.

Later, Cao Cao, bringing along no one but Xu Chu, met with Ma Chao and Han Sui for a negotiation. Ma Chao intended to nab Cao Cao but suspected that the man beside him was Xu Chu, whose name he had heard for long. Ma Chao then asked Cao Cao, "Where is your Marquis Tiger"? Cao Cao pointed at Xu Chu, who stared at Ma Chao. Fearing the mighty man, Ma Chao then gave up his idea.

The "Records of Three Kingdoms" describes Xu Chu as a cautious and loyal man with few words. It recorded an incident where Cao Ren, a cousin and much trusted general of Cao Cao, came from Jingzhou (荆州) to see Cao Cao. Running into Xu Chu outside the hall, Cao Ren called for him to go inside together for a talk. However, Xu Chu declined, saying, "The king will soon be out". This made Cao Ren very unhappy. When criticized for turning down the eminent man, Xu Chu replied, "Though Cao Ren is favored, he is an external official, whereas I am an internal official. We could talk among others. Why enter the hall and talk in private"? When Cao Cao heard of this, he began to favor Xu Chu even more and promoted him to Zhongjian General (中間將軍).

When Cao Cao died, Xu Chu was so overwhelmed with sorrow that he wailed and vomited blood. Cao Cao's successor Cao Pi also favored Xu Chu greatly and further promote him to Wuwei General and placed him in charge of the palace guards. When it came to Cao Rui's reign, Xu Chu was made the Marquis of Mouxiang. After his death, Xu Chu was conferred the posthumous title of Marquis Zhuang, literally meaning the robust marquis.

Xu Chu's son, Xu Yi (許儀), was ordered by Zhong Hui later to taking charge in road construction in Cao Wei's campaign against Shu Han in 263. However, the road was poorly built and as result, Zhong Hui had Xu Yi beheaded. By doing so, Zhong Hui built his authority and the road was rebuilt.

Xu Chu in Romance of the Three Kingdoms

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms", the historical novel by Luo Guanzhong, was a romanticization of the events that occurred before and during the Three Kingdoms era. To further pronounce the bravery and strength of Xu Chu, Luo Guanzhong added a fictional battle between Xu Chu and Ma Chao in Chapter 59 – "Xu Chu Strips for a Fight with Ma Chao".

During the confrontation between the armies of Cao Cao and Ma Chao, Xu Chu challenged the latter to a duel. Ma Chao took up the challenge and the pair rode forth to engage in a battle on horseback. Neither Xu Chu's sword nor Ma Chao's spear could get an upper hand after over a hundred bouts. By then, both of their steeds were spent, so each retired to their own lines to change a fresh mount before renewing the contest.

Hundred more bouts elapsed and still neither man could triumph over the other. Suddenly, Xu Chu galloped back to his own side, stripped off his heavy armor, and rode back to battle bare-chested. Thirty bouts later, Xu Chu plunged towards his foe with sword held high to strike. But Ma Chao evaded the strike and rode in with his spear pointing at Xu Chu's heart. Discarding his sword, Xu Chu clamped the spear firmly under his left arm.

A struggle for the spear then ensued. With his enormous strength, Xu Chu snapped the spearshaft into two such that each were holding on to one half. The duel then continued, with each man assailing the other with the splintered rod. Cao Cao, fearing for his champion warrior, ordered Xiahou Yuan and Cao Hong (曹洪) to flank the enemy. Seeing this, Ma Chao's aides also rushed out with their troops. In the chaos Xu Chu received two arrow wounds on the arm and Cao Cao's force retreated to its temporary fortress.

Modern references

*Xu Chu was one of the first characters to appear in the Koei video game series "Dynasty Warriors", alternatively named "Xu Zhu". He is portrayed as an overweight and simple-minded man with a kind heart and protective nature.

*He also appears in videogame "Warriors Orochi", he was with Huang Gai's resistance army until Cao Pi bribed him into joining Wei with food.


*cite book|author=Chen Shou|title=San Guo Zhi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=2002|id=ISBN 7-80665-198-5
*cite book|author=Luo Guanzhong|title=San Guo Yan Yi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=1986|id=ISBN 7-80520-013-0
*cite book|author=Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor|title=Romance of the Three Kingdoms|publisher=Tuttle Publishing|year=2002|id=ISBN 0-8048-3467-9

ee also

*Three Kingdoms
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*Records of Three Kingdoms
*Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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