Wuzu, the Special Force of the Wei State

In 403 BC, Zhou Weilie-King (周威烈王), the supreme monarch of the Eastern Zhou Kingdom, recognized that the Wei (魏) State which separated from Jin (晋) State was a feudal state. The Jin State was the largest country in the Spring-Autumn Period, and the Wei State inherited excellent thoughts from Jin State. It became a strong country very fast.

Wei Wen-Hou (魏文侯), the first monarch of Wei State reigned from 445 BC to 396 BC He created a special force named “Wuzu”(武卒). The selection of the members for the Wuzu was very strict and even cruel. A warrior must wear a helmet and three layers of armor, and his weapons included a strong crossbow which needed the pulling force of 12 Dan (石). At that time, 1 Dan=30 kilograms, so 12 Dan=360 kilograms. He also would have to carry fifty strong arrows, a Ge (戈, a kind of weapon with a long handle and a transverse dagger), and a sword. If he could carry all of these weapons and the supplies for three days and then run the entire distance of 100 Li (里. At that time, 1 Li was equal to about 0.4 kilometers, so 100 Li was equal to about 40 kilometers) in half a day, he could then become a Wuzu. The government gave farmland and a house to a Wuzu, and his family was exempt from taxes.

Xunzi (荀子), a famous thinker, said, “The troops of Wuzu are very excellent, but they spend too much riches of a country.” Wei State was a rich country, and its metallurgical industry was very advanced. Because of this, they were able to support the troops of Wuzu. As a peerless force, Wuzu created illustrious exploits for the hegemony of the Wei State. In the early seventy years of the Warring-States Period, the army of the Wei State was invincible in the Huaxia States. However, in 342 BC, in the battle of Maling (马陵), the Wei State’s troops of one hundred thousand picked troops were completely annihilated by the Qi (齐) State’s army which was led by Sun Bin (孙膑) who was an excellent strategist. Taizi Shen (太子申, the heir of Wei Hui-King 魏惠王), the commander of the Wei State’s army, was killed. Pang Juan (庞涓), the excellent general of Wei’s army, ended up killing himself. The Qin (秦) State and the Chu (楚) State took the chance and captured many areas of the Wei State. Since then, the Wei State declined, along with the decline of Wuzu.

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