The Shang are warriors skilled in weapons as well as hand-to-hand combat. Warriors start training at a very young age, which explains their proficiency in both unarmed and armed combat. Shang warriors are known for having a semi-nomadic lifestyle once they reach master status of Shang, and wander "from the day they leave Shang till the day they die." The Shang admit women into their ranks, and they are as legendary as the men, according to Sir Myles.
Education and life of the Shang
Those chosen to join the Shang are 4-7 years old. One exception is Kylaia al Jmaa, who was taken by the Shang Falcon when she was 13. The members of Shang do not usually have magic, because they are tempted to use their magic as a 'crutch', in the words of the Shang Dragon of the 430s HE, Liam Ironarm. He also said that those who follow Shang 'follow only Shang', and do not branch out into other fields or paths. Members are taught the uses of different herbs for use in healing themselves and others. The school for educating and training new Shang warriors is hidden in northern Maren. Students take their ordeal in their late teens.
Once they finish their ordeal, Shang warriors begin their travels and receive a combat name. All combat names are those of animals, but the best of the order receive titles of Immortals, such as Phoenix, Dragon, and Unicorn. The Dragon designates the highest rank of all Shang. Members of the Shang are notorious for being drifters, never staying tied down and seeking to see as much of the world as possible. When they get older some Shang settle down to an everyday life, return to the Shang school to teach others, or become judges.
Notable Shang warriors
- Liam Ironarm was the Shang Dragon until his death in 439 HE. He was the oldest Shang Dragon in 100 years, having lived to 34 years of age.
- Eda Bell was the Shang Wildcat, and older than Liam. She was his instructor in kick fighting at the school in Maren. She traveled a lot in her day and settled down after Liam's death in her homeland of Tortall. In Keladry of Mindelan's time at the palace, Eda Bell was one of the girl's instructors in unarmed combat.
- Hakuin Seastone was the Shang Horse. It is alluded to in First Test that Hakuin at least received some of his training in his birth country, the Yamani Islands, as he mentioned training with Nariko, the woman who taught the palace ladies defense. It also is likely that he went to Maren at a very young age, became a Shang warrior, and then went back to the Yamani Islands where he studied with Nariko. He helped Eda Bell in instructing the pages at the Royal Palace in Tortall, although it is unknown when he began.
- Kylaia al Jmaa was the Shang Unicorn. She was discovered by the Falcon when she was thirteen, and became the Shang Unicorn later. Liam Ironarm said that women rarely take the titles of Immortals as they are too flashy. When Alanna responded that the Shang thought that women weren't good enough, Liam mentioned Kylaia, which showed that he knew her or had met her in his travels. He described her as beautiful, all flashing knives.
- Joesh Valany was the Shang Falcon. He discovered and presumably taught the Shang Unicorn, Kylaia al Jmaa. He was also mentioned briefly in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man when he stayed briefly with George Cooper in Port Caynn.
- The Wolf arrived at the Tortallan Royal Palace after Alanna left for the desert. Prince Jonathan trained with him and used kicks and punches he learned from the Wolf to defeat Amman Kemail in single combat to join the Bloody Hawk.
- The Shang Bear, Phoenix, and Griffin were also mentioned in Lioness Rampant by Liam Ironarm.
The Shang system is based on Chinese and Japanese temples, where martial arts were taught.