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The One Who Retreats 50 Paces Mocks the One to Retreats 100 in Chinese / Japanese...

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The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100

The pot calls the kettle black
China wù shí bù xiào bǎi bù
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll

During the Warring States Period of what is now China (475 - 221 B.C.), the King of Wei was in love with war. He often fought with other kingdoms just for spite or fun.

One day, the King of Wei asked the philosopher Mencius, "I love my people, and all say I do the best for them. I move the people from famine-stricken areas to places of plenty, and transport grains from rich areas to the poor. Nobody goes hungry in my kingdom, and I treat my people far better than other kings. But why does the population of my kingdom not increase, and why does the population of other kingdoms not decrease?"

Mencius answered, "Since you love war, I will make this example: When going to war, and the drums beat to start the attack, some soldiers flee for their lives in fear. Some run 100 paces in retreat, and others run 50 steps. Then the ones who retreated 50 paces laugh and taunt those who retreated 100 paces, calling them cowards mortally afraid of death. Do you think this is reasonable?

The King of Wei answered, "Of course not! Those who run 50 paces are just as timid as those who run 100 paces."

Mencius then said, "You are a king who treats his subjects better than other kings treat their people but you are so fond of war, that your people suffer from great losses in battle. Therefore, your population does not grow. While other kings allow their people to starve to death, you send your people to die in war. Is there really any difference?"

This famous conversation led to the six-character proverb shown here. It serves as a warning to avoid hypocrisy. It goes hand-in-hand with the western phrase, "The pot calls the kettle black," or the Biblical phrase, "Before trying to remove a splinter from your neighbor's eye, first remove the plank from your own eye."

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The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll


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The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Portrait



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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersVarious forms of Romanized Chinese
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100五十步笑百步wù shí bù xiào bǎi bù
wu4 shi2 bu4 xiao4 bai3 bu4
wu shi bu xiao bai bu
wushibuxiaobaibu
wu shih pu hsiao pai pu
wushihpuhsiaopaipu



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