Xu Shu, born in Yingchuan, was described as being an expert swordsman. In his early days, he slayed a man to avenge a crime, but was apprehended yet refused to give up his name. Tied up to a cart, officials took him through a local market to see if anyone knew him, and none, even those who recognized him, would reveal his name. Soon after being rescued by friends, he took on the alias of Shan Fu, and changed himself into a scholar. Xu Shu met with many well-known teachers, even studying under Sima Hui. However, his father died when Xu Shu was young, as did his brother when he was older, leaving his mother with no one to take care of her.