Taking The Lóng Tiǎozhàn

The Lóng Tiǎozhàn was established very early on in the Dragon Order as a way of determining the worthiness of a Dragon Nestling to begin their training. Each temple can only accommodate 16 new nestlings per training season. However, most villages have a birth rate producing between 30-60 new children each year.

Serving as a Dragon and dedicating one’s life to the Order is considered the highest honor. In order to determine which children will be given that honor the original Dragons long ago established this tradition.

The Lóng Tiǎozhàn is not an easy test and requires years of practice and preparation. Typically children take the Lóng Tiǎozhàn when they turn eight years old.

Passing The Lóng Tiǎozhàn As A Blue Engrow

It is understood that new potential nestlings have not yet had any formal training. Thus, they are not expected to be proficient in the forms of the Dragon Order. Instead, they are being tested for traits or indicators that they will be able to succeed in their future training. These traits include the following:

  • Endurance
    A child determined to train as a Dragon must be able to ignore their own suffering, and focus on any task assigned to them, no matter the cost to themselves. This means setting aside pain, fatigue, frustration, and exhaustion, in order to accomplish an intended outcome. The Lóng Tiǎozhàn tests a Blue Engrow’s endurance by requiring all the children present to stand with their arms extended, while holding weighted balls. Children are scored in accordance with how long they are able to keep the balls above their waistline. If the balls fall below their waistline then the child’s score is recorded and they are sent to the side of the central floor to await the other children.
  • Strength
    This part of the Lóng Tiǎozhàn requires potential nestlings to haul large bags of wheat around the central floor. Each child is given sixteen bags of varying sizes and weights. They are scored based on how quickly they complete the task. To do this they must move all sixteen bags from one side of the central floor to the other. Moving more than one bag at a time gives children an advantage, but it can be very difficult to do so, given the weight and awkwardness of each bag.
  • Flexibility
    The flexibility of a child is tested through a series of acrobatic tests, requiring a child to do each of the following. They must be able to do a mid-air flip from a standing position, landing on their feet. They must be able to do a handstand on both hands, as well as on either hand independently. They must be able to extend either of their feet straight above their heads. They must be able to do several round off flips in succession. These are scored somewhat subjectively, based on perceived confidence and skill.
  • Speed
    When measuring the speed of a child, the observers are much less concerned with how quickly they move from one part of a room to another, asand much more concderned with how quickly they can react. Children are blindfolded, and observers repeatedly attack and bump them with a bamboo stick that has a pad attached to one end. A child is awarded points based on how effectively they block attacks.
  • Courage
    Testing a child’s courage is done by placing the child in the middle of the Central Floor and then performing mock attacks against them, while the child is expected to remain still and unblinking. These attacks include the use of weapons, which never touch a child, but which nevertheless are terrifying. The child is awarded points based on how still they remain.

Passing The Lóng Tiǎozhàn Means A Lifetime As A Dragon

After the test are completed, the Dǎoshī Instructs the village to remain silent while he decides who the highest performing children are. This is a moment of great anticipation for both the children and their families. Those children who are accepted into the temple will be given great honor, while those who are not will return to their mundane lives in the village.

Once the winners are selected, the Dǎoshī calls each child by shouting their names, in order to awaken the Wyvern Spirits. The village then repeats these shouts. This helps to provide the child with extra blessings and protection from the Dragons of the past.

Dragon nestlings remain in the Temple for 16 grueling years. When they turn 24 years old and leave the Temple as fully realized Dragons where they are allowed to live in the village in normal housing. Dragons marry, have children, and engage in other normal behavior. The only difference is that rather than having an occupation relating to farming, or manufacturing, they instead serve at the will of the Dǎoshī. Who often uses them for missions. When they are not on a mission, they are expected to spend their productive hours each day practicing with their Xué.

Why Did Apollo Have To Pass The Lóng Tiǎozhàn As An Orange Poppy?

Apollo had to do much more than just pass the tests outlined above. He had to demonstrate his knowledge of the entire spectrum of forms studied throughout a child’s four years as a Blue Engrow. Shi Ju-Long insisted on this, because he felt it was important to make sure that Apollo was worthy of being trained. The other children his age were ready to become Orange Poppies, and Apollo would be an unbearable burden if he were not also already. It takes a Xué sixteen full years to develop in unison. If they had taken Apollo and if he were not at there level, it would set them back, making their Xué a hindrance to the Order, rather than a strength.

Its worth noting that during the Cùxiāo jié festival, at the beginning of each training season, the other children also demonstrate these same forms that Apollo did at the end of his first year. However, they are not being tested for admission into the Temple, since these children have already been admitted into the order. Instead, they are being testest only to see who will serve as Qiān-lóng that year.