Wuxia (武俠, IPA: [ùɕi̯ǎ]), which literally means "martial hero", is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Although wuxia is traditionally a form of literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to diverse art forms such as Chinese opera, manhua, films, television series and video games. It forms part of popular culture in many Chinese-speaking communities around the world.
The word "wuxia" is a compound composed of the elements wu (lit. "martial", "military", or "armed") and xia (lit. "honourable", "chivalrous", or "hero"). A martial artist who follows the code of xia is often referred to as a xiake (lit. "follower of xia") or youxia (lit. "wandering xia"). In some translations, the martial artist is referred to as a "swordsman" or "swordswoman" even though he or she may not necessarily wield a sword.
The heroes in wuxia fiction typically do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They often originate from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society. A code of chivalry usually requires wuxia heroes to right and redress wrongs, fight for righteousness, remove oppressors, and bring retribution for past misdeeds. Chinese xia traditions can be compared to martial codes from other cultures such as the Japanese samurai's bushido tradition.