Xia (Simplified Chinese: 俠) is literally means "honorable" or "chivalrous". A martial art fighter or pugilist in Jiang Hu (江湖) who follows the code of Xia is often referred to as a Xiake (俠客, lit: "follower of Xia") or Yóuxiá (游俠, "wandering Xia"). In some translated works of Wuxia (武侠), the pugilist is sometimes termed as a "swordsman" although he or she may not necessarily wield a sword. Other variety of translations of the word Xia include hero, adventurer, soldier of fortune, warrior, or knight-errant.
The hero or heroine keeps his or her honor by upholding social justice and helping the poor. He or she typically has profound martial arts abilities that are used not just for personal gain, but exerted to achieve the greater good. They don't hesitate to use their martial art skills in the defense of their beliefs. Building up a reputation for remarkable deeds usually linked to a descriptive nickname for the hero or heroine. What set Xia apart from other hero or heroine with fighting skills had to do with their ideology and code of conduct.
The virtues in the code of Xia are composed of Yi (義), which means "righteousness", and Xin (信), which means "honor". The code also emphasizes the importance of repaying benefactors after having received deeds of grace (恩) or favor from others, as well as seeking vengeance (仇) to bring villains to justice. Unvarying adherence of the hero or heroine's words follow Xia tradition of antiquity, it's inviolable. His or her reputation is more important than life itself. The heroes and heroines have strong ties to friends, associates, and often reinforced by oaths of brotherhood. The closest ties, those between martial arts master and disciple, and between fellow students of the same school or sect, were explicitly likened to those between parent and child, and between siblings.
8 common attributes of Xia:
- Disregard for wealth
- Disregard desire for glory
The attribute of individualism and the heroes or heroines' willingness to use force to achieve their aims set apart the code of Xia from the society. The individualism of the Xia manifested itself as non-conformity with respect to certain traditional conventions. The code placed personal loyalty above family loyalty. Often, an oath sworn to a stranger was considered more important than the unspoken obligation between family members. Those who were ostensibly their social superiors were often treated with open contempt, while those of humble status were shown great courtesy.