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The 36 Stratagems of War
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Table of Contents

1 -- Stratagems for the Stronger Force 2 -- Stratagems for Two Equal Forces 3 -- Stratagems for Direct Attack 4 -- Stratagems to Confuse the Enemy 5 -- Stratgems to Gain Ground 6 -- Stratagems Before the Last Stand

All Warfare is Based on Deception. --Sun Tzu

1. Stratagems for the Stronger Force

Editor's Note: The 36 stratagems were divided into six categories, depending on situation. This division was always fluid and flexible, for the Chinese view of war is that the situation continually changes In modern times, the divisions are, perhaps, even less applicable. Rather than viewing the first six stratagems as being most applicable for a stronger force to use, perhaps it will be better to apply a descriptor to them. These stratagems advocate ways to mis-direct the energy of others and to seize the advantage of misdirected energy.

01. Deceive the sky to cross the sea Conceal your preparations by being completely open and public. The police of a town were looking for a cat burglar that continually struck in a certain wealthy neighborhood. Finally, after failing to catch him after weeks of trying, they set up a watch on either end of every street. The officers were ordered to note the arrival and departure of every person, so that all could be questioned. And yet, the burglaries continued for several days, until one observant policeman realized that a postman was making rounds on a postal holiday. The "postman" was finally nabbed. Yet he had succeeded for so long because he had made himself an acceptable part of the scenery while in the act of committing burglaries. Another form of deceiving the sky to cross the sea is to make open preparations for war without ever actually going to war---until the enemy no longer takes you seriously. 02. Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao To draw off the energy of an attack against an ally, let the enemy fully commit himself against his prey, and then---instead of rushing to the rescue---attack the enemy's dearest possessions. When the small kingdom of Zhao was attacked by the mighty Wei forces, the kingdom of Zhao fortified itself and became a city under seige. It managed to get a few messengers out to ask for help from its allies. But the Wei forces had come prepared to lay a long seige, and so they dug in around Zhao and fortified themselves against both front and rear attacks. The Wei military force encamped against Zhao was huge, so Zhao's allies decided not to confront the Wei army in the field. Instead, the allies marched boldly to the Wei capital, which had been left with a very light guardian force while the main body of troops was beseiging Zhao. Panicked recall messages were sent to the Wei troops, and these were allowed to get through. The Wei attack force quickly broke camp and tried a forced march back to their capital to defend it. As soon as they embarked on their hasty retreat, the Zhao gates opened, and the small Zhao army pursued and harried their former attackers. Meanwhile, the allies of Zhao laid ambushes against the returning Wei forces and raided them on the open roads. And then the allies who had attacked the Wei capital met the Wei forces head on, while the Zhao army attacked from the rear. Thus the Wei army was decimated and harried back to its capital, rendering it unable to carry out another massive seige.

"Laying Plans. Keep evading him and force him to spend himself up to reach you. divided terrain so that you force the pursuer to break up his army. Thus. massive charge. give him no rest. to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling.03. so that he's decimated by somebody else's weaponry while you conserve your resources. An opponent who must destroy you to get his reward will come after you where ever you go. But if speed is not your gift. So the rulers would order all their own best generals beheaded for treason. Lead him through awkward and expensive situations. Wait at ease for the enemy Sun Tzu wrote these three maxims:    If he is taking his ease. he can harass him. separate them. Another way to use this strategy is to cause discord between your enemy and another party. he can force him to move. if well supplied with food." AOW) If the enemy is taking his ease. to be well-fed while the enemy is famished:--this is the art of husbanding one's strength. Kill with a borrowed knife Convince others to fight your battles for you. "Weak Points and Strong. and he loses the advantage of being able to fight you with a single. he can starve him out. so cover hard ground that is unfamiliar to him." AOW) It's always an advantage to be one step ahead of your opponent. if quietly encamped. Your enemy exhausts himself and spends up his resources. and it's a benefit for you get to the site of battle ahead of him. Thus the enemy did to himself what would have taken months or years to accomplish on the battlefield. The commentators on Sun Tzu recommend that if you have a small force and your enemy a strong force. you can also simply force or entice him to come to you. (from Section Six. The enlightened fighter lets somebody else do the fighting for him and can either watch the battle to its conclusion or else enter at the end and win. 05. (from Section Seven. where ever you are. The most masterful strategists of the past have used deception to convince enemy kings that their best generals were about to betray them. If his forces are united." AOW) To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it. you create confusion in his troops. encamp your men in rocky. "Manuevering. (from Section One. Loot a burning house . 04.

one should modify one's plans. These new purchases are often made at a much higher rate of interest than is available via the "transfer checks".Sun Tzu wrote. When his attention is divided and his spirits low. If your opponent suffers an adversity not related to your battle. Credit card companies or loan companies promise low interest on "transfer checks" that enable you to pay off other credit accounts." (from Section One. or else new purchases come with "finance charges" that are incredibly high. or form new and innovative plans. apart from the standard military diversions of the battle field: force him to camp in a swamp so that his troops get sick. Later stratagems advise that you actually create any diversion possible to divide your opponent's focus. Stratagems for Two Equal Forces Editor's Note: These stratagems focus on immediate options that you have on hand. But if you know that your opponent is information hungry and has a healthy fear of what you might do. [Return to Table of Contents] 2. Use the misery and distress of your opponent to bring him to terms. energy. many credit card companies keep the rate of debt high by other methods. But they make their money when you start charging new purchases on their card." AOW). you can force him to compromise and make peace. Make a feint to the east while attacking in the west The pre-requisite for this stratagem is that your opponent must have no real insight on what you are about to do. alert his ruler about the debt of his army. 06. The best example of this tactic is the low-interest loan tactics so widely available today. "While heading the profit of my counsel. you can use the diversion of his attention. make new weapons. warn local officials about his shady dealings. "Laying Plans. Using what you already have or what exists in your environment. create illusions. These stratagems . the situation is ripe for creating a diversion. According as circumstances are favorable. avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules. and resources to further weaken him. So by making consumers believe that they are fighting off debt by one method. then be wary of trying to fool an enemy who has already succeeded in out thinking you and correctly guessing your plans. If you have been predictable in the past.

The rough seas and long. So he took on the persona of a carefree playboy and befriended a wealthy young German officer who had an easy assignment driving a German commander around and maintaining his staff car. the D-Day invasion was expected. exposed stretch of Omaha Beach. Before Hitler invaded France. The British agent. The officer said he could get any amount of money required. The young officer got the amount for him. but the French people wouldn't do business with Germans. was well financed to begin his espionage work." They made their preparations for Hitler elsewhere. He used their military theory to further this illusion. He drove it back to the young German officer.require that you look at your own situation with fresh eyes and that you understand how your opponent looks at your environment and arsenal. so that you can create convincing illusions or put old items to new uses. who was grateful for the favor and never knew that he had bought back his own car. the French knew he was building up his military. in a panic. applied to certain terrains. Somebody had stolen the staff car. and he would have to act as go-between. suggest certain obvious attacks. Military tactics. fronting . and he would be punished for being drunk on duty. But Hitler used a lightning fast attack force never yet seen. 07. but the Germans assumed it would occur at or near Calais. which was a place more hospitable to a large force trying to land quickly. Create something out of nothing Get what you need by trickery or illusion. Use a well-known path to advance by a hidden path Use the commonly expected strategy to hide the real strategy. He could buy a replacement. and so the British agent asked for twice the amount of the value of the car. the young German officer came to his British friend and begged him for help. 08. and he had to get the car replaced before it was missed. but they supposed that no army could penetrate their famous "Maginot Line. Similarly. called panzer units. The British agent told the young officer that it would probably be possible to get a car of the same make and model from the black market. and the Brit went back to the French man and paid him exactly the same amount for which he'd sold it. The next day. They burst through the antiquated defenses of the Maginot line. but it would be expensive. having received twice the cash value of a luxury car. They stripped it of its military decoration that night. and sold it to a sympathetic French car mechanic. The British agent stole the car one night when the young man was drunk. A British agent planted in Vichy France had to procure his own funds.

recognizing that one cannot have his cake and eat it too forces us to choose our priorities. then time is on your side. Generals have been called upon to sacrifice one band of men to save another. and your smile will be respected thereafter. because everybody will know there is a dagger behind it. Westerners tend to under-value delay in their conflicts. Disassociate yourself from your ego and strike hard because you know it is time to strike. Especially if you have an egotistical opponent or somebody who tries to advance by abusing others. was considered unlikely because it offered so little advantage. and open hostility serve no good purpose. Steal any passing goat . The kindly person who suddenly and decisively reveals the dagger sheathed in his belt is going to be taken more seriously than the fool who brandishes a dagger on any provocation. If things work out. In everyday life. not because your anger is gratified in striking. Farmers would decimate the blight by removing the plum trees. but it also has an honorable side. Watch the fire burning across the river Use delay if it enhances in-fighting within the enemy alliances. The person who knows that he must engage in struggle sets up a hierarchy of goals so that he knows ahead of time what he can sacrifice and what he cannot. no matter what your goal. cruel. 12. thus allowing the peach trees to get all the benefits of the nutrients in the soil. The main invasion force came in here. So it was lightly guarded. sarcasm.onto miles of confusing "lanes" that could mislead invading soldiers. Threats. 11. sacrifice the lesser for the benefit of the greater. Do this once in front of others. the in-fighting that a manipulative. and they show a hastiness in revealing motives. The wise fighter waits to let a foolishly aggressive or egotistical opponent alienate those around him and creates problems within his own administration. Concealing a dagger with a smile may be taken as advice to be treacherous. They show weakness. and never express sarcasm. The saying comes from the problem of blight infesting fruit tree groves. Cut down the plum tree to save the peach tree When you cannot avoid losses. or controlling leader creates will eat up his energy and resources and increase the wise opponent's advantage over him. 09. Conceal a dagger in a smile Never express anger. 10. You can be powerful and dangerous---and polite.

and direct attacks succeed if you know how your opponent thinks. Instead. You should note that making threats will probably undo you. Note where he makes trouble for himself or where he has blinded himself. a credit card company sends a collection agency against a man who has actually paid his bills. straightforward demeanor in discussions helps a person's word to be more believable. the enlightened fighter has to make the enemy feel threatened without stooping to make threats. "Waging War." for it shows that battle takes place in the mind." AOW) and we can do this by eating his scraps but also by hoarding the information that he might carelessly provide. The section is well named as "direct attack. Two of them focus on intimidation. and two of them focus on the enemy's premises. the credit company reveal their level of . assumptions. After faxing copies of the checks that prove he's up to date. two of them focus on tempting the enemy's greed. Take inventory of what irritates him and what frightens him. A calm."(Section Two. especially against an opponent who is stronger or more ruthless than you. Instead of speaking threats. letting them know their legal danger. the man is still being harassed. 13. simply calls the police. thus startling the stalker by her decisive action and letting the authority of the law frighten him. At this mark of serious consequences to their own negligence in record keeping. or morality. Due to mismanagement of their own records. Instead of threatening to get a lawyer. Beat the grass to startle the snake Frighten or startle the enemy to see how he will react.Make use of everything you get from the other side. A woman who is being stalked. he asks a lawyer to write a letter to both companies. She watches his reaction and learns how committed he is to continue this behavior. [Return to Table of Contents] 3. Look at how an opponent treats others. STRATAGEMS FOR DIRECT ATTACK Editor's Note: These are the stratagems of "mind games". What the opponent views as inconsequential and the things he lets slip can provide you with valuable material for managing your side of the conflict. the wise fighter arranges circumstances or performs actions that create the threat. instead of threatening to call the police. Sun Tzu advises us to "forage on the enemy.

But if you spare the general and win him over. If your opponent is of choleric temper. The opportunity to be magnanimous shows the opponent that you are not the devil he assumed you to be. The ineffectual figurehead provides the credibility or the justification for the military coup. The Japanese Shoguns used this principle for centuries to justify their efforts to "protect the emperor" and thus rule Japan. and when the tiger appeared in that wide open place. because if you win their loyalties. (After all. then you increase your own fighting force with very little expenditure. and crush him. And after being defeated. so you still have an enemy to fight. . 16. Pretend to be weak. seek to irritate him. Citing "family values" or "love of democracy" is a means of gaining credibility and justification for power plays. a proud fighter may be much more approachable and agreeable when treated with dignity and respect." (from Section One "Laying Plans. So they would tether a lamb out in a field. as it turned out). If he is in superior strength. then his lieutenant becomes general in his stead. Preliminary actions that don't commit you to a single course of behavior can still startle an opponent into revealing his mindset and goals. you gain an ally." AOW) Farmers of ancient China who had the problem of a tiger raiding their sheep weren't eager to hunt him down in his own territory.) Sun Tzu repeatedly urges that those who are defeated be treated humanely. 14. Calling upon a slogan that doesn't really mean anything is another means of raising a corpse from the dead. Lure the tiger out of the mountain Bring the opponent out from a situation that favors him to a situation that favors you. The admonition can be taken quite literally in that---in a situation in which you defeat your enemy---you can sometimes more effectively snare the opponent by releasing him or forgiving him. evade him. The Chinese generals who wrote extensive commentaries on Sun Tzu have observed that feeding and clothing prisoners means you are really feeding and clothing recruits. Raise a corpse from the dead Putting a "puppet" ruler on the throne is a means of raising a corpse from the dead.commitment to harassing him (not very committed. "Hold out baits to entice the enemy. be prepared for him. Let the enemy off in order to snare him This stratagem has two possible applications. they would rise up from the grasses and kill him. if you execute an enemy general. Feign disorder. that he may grow arrogant. Sun Tzu writes. 15. If he is secure at all points.

One German prisoner wrote that they all knew they would understand their real conditions only when they arrived at the prison barracks. and thus you can direct him into a trap or harry his troops as they try to flee. Hold out a brick to attract a gem In the great Drugstore Wars of the 1980's. Do not press a desperate foe too hard" (from Section Seven. "Mauevering. a toothbrush. On the other hand. a razor." AOW). Sun Tzu warns that trapped soldiers---your own or the other general's---will fight at their best if they think there is no hope. you suffer fewer losses. and the Constitution of the United States. they were allowed to work off site. 17. after a fashion. There then followed several days of travel by bus. under guard. by bringing German POWs back to the USA for interment during WWII. But when he entered the barracks and saw a row of neat bunks. but it turned casual customers into consistent customers. By the end of the war. and the incredibly long journey across a vast ocean had made them all feel cut off and isolated. and toothpaste. It's better to get the other person to run for cover or run for escape. soap. each with a mattress. and have their blood pressure taken for free. And this way. he was overcome with both gratitude and humility. and clean sheets. and they were required to attend classes on law. He realized that his captors were not cruel. with the exception of three hold outs. sit at the machine with their arm in the automated cuff. relying on the loyalty of a former enemy can be dangerous to the point of disastrous. and a small kit bag stocked with shaving cream. But the competition was equal across the board. no charge for the service. so the great general writes. The second application of this stratagem is more pragmatic and quite efficient: Make the enemy believe that a means of escape is open to him. No hassle. Thousands . They will resolve to take as many of the enemy with them as possible. so that all of the young men felt that they were powerless to escape or return. all of the men in his section of the camp were willing to see Constitutional government with equal rights for all instituted in Germany. Each machine was placed back in the pharmacy section so the customers walked the length of the store to get to the machine. leave an outlet free. you can still effectively destroy his army. One chain of stores broke the deadlock by offering blood pressure machines in their stores. no pressure to buy anything. Eventually. and---rather than fight whole heartedly---he will turn his energies to get away. for ranchers in the area. "When you surround an army. ethics.The USA accomplished this. Equipping each store with an automated blood pressure machine required an investment. Customers could wander in. Prisoners were not beaten nor humiliated. They were frightened and dispirited. Provided you arrange the situation so that you know which way he will run. entrepreneurs built up inventory and services.

Hirohito dressed in fine Western clothes. and the threat of violence was never far away during the early days of the occupation. If the old fervent patriotism took hold of the people again. Though he had been something of a plodder on the battle fields of the Pacific. They could pick up what they needed and check their blood pressure. and the young American soldiers. the drug store chain hauled in a lot of profit in return. no matter what drugstore you're in. When MacArthur met Hirohito. and the handy. seeing children who had gone hungry and giving them food. a general not known for military brilliance. made them appreciate the humanity of their former enemies. with maintenance of a few hundred dollars every year. a man reputed to be descended from the gods. MacArthur spoke politely but briefly with the emperor and then had their picture . It surely worked. the outlay of a few thousand dollars per store. To catch rebels. Japan's military tradition had been one of "Death or Victory. chances are good that you'll find a blood pressure machine along a back wall. So he arranged to have a public audience with Japan's emperor. catastrophe could ensue. free reading prompted them to use this certain drug store chain whenever they needed any of the items stocked there. proved himself the man for the job in the occupation of post WWII Japan. returned thousands of dollars more in revenue and profit. But there were nationalistic hold outs. MacArthur could not police an entire nation to that extent. MacArthur respected the Asian point of view and had studied it more than his other West Point peers. As GIs passed out food to a starving people. And what prejudice could stand at the sight of children hungrily eating and remembering their manners long enough to say "Thank you" and bow with respect. He didn't even have a tie on." and there were leftover right-wing elements in Japan that were ready to riot. bring down their leader first Douglas MacArthur. by tossing out a bait that cost relatively little. he distinguished himself in humanely and efficiently running an occupation that began with both conquerors and conquered highly antagonistic towards each other and misinformed. 18. and vice versa. and a man who had never been photographed for public view. MacArthur ordered restraint and food. because these days. Thus. the American general wore his daily army uniform. Certainly. So. the Japanese lost their initial distrust of the American military.and thousands of people suffer from high blood pressure. The US occupation of Japan is remarkable for how thoroughly the transformation of attitude took place on both sides as enmity gave way to profound friendships and new understanding. the Japanese had been portrayed as devils to American service men. For this problem.

[Return to Table of Contents] 4. MacArthur had provided perfect. what the enemy has. If you cannot starve him. even when he presented himself at his finest.taken together. a mere man dwarfed by the American General and unable to forbid the photograph. This was their mighty emperor. and what the enemy will require in order to advance. etc. No matter how strong the enemy's supplies. and the hardcore nationalists found that the outcry to protect a divine emperor had lost a lot of its majestic ring. If you cannot exhaust his supplies you may be able to send him down the wrong path. Thus if you cannot outgun the enemy. and not all that impressive of a man. If his weapons are more powerful. and his skills superior to yours. two of the stratagems advocate waiting for the enemy's flaws to catch up to him. towering over the short and wilted looking Hirohito. 19. The Japanese common man lost that reverential edge. and it appeared the very next day. STRATAGEMS TO CONFUSE THE ENEMY Editor's Note: If you want to confuse the other guy. Japanese advisors urged against having the photograph published. then steal the wood for the cauldrons. and the enemy will starve. etc. you may be able to starve him. unarguable proof that the emperor was merely a man. then you must operate with proper and thorough method. the commander may see where the enemy has damaged himself. saw a photograph of the laconic MacArthur. any tactic that works is a military tactic. you may be able to defeat him with non-military tactics. The Japanese people. In this section. Take away the fire from under the cauldron If your enemy lives on rice. put another way. his army more powerful. If you cannot defeat your enemy by military tactics. He ordered the picture published on the front page of the newspapers. look for the non-military ways to defeat him. but MacArthur over rode them. Star Trek: Next Generation fans highly prize the two-part story in which the .. who had never even been allowed to look directly at their divine ruler. you may be able to exhaust his other supplies. Adroitly. Or. by attending to a systematic and thorough knowledge of the enemy. These six stratagems all rise up from the commander's complete knowledge of what he has on hand.

organized. This stratgey again plays on the expectations of your opponent. You can make gains during troubled times if you have command of your composure and your communication skills. and articulate. so that the shell looks like a real cicada. George Washington used this plan effectively when he pulled his men back under the eyes of the British army. 20. the Borg could absorb all Federation knowledge and warcraft. so the Borg were always superior to the Federation. While George Bush was being whisked around the country to be protected. when they realized they could not outgun their deadly enemy. Meanwhile. be sure to take advantage of disarray in the other camp. outnumbered generals or those who were targets for assassination created false impersonations of themselves to escape danger. The entire Borg force temporarily shut down. overpowered by non-military means. Whether or not you throw your opponent's resources into confusion. By swiftly taking advantage of troubled situations to provide guidance and solutions. Washington ordered all the fires lit and he ordered the pipers to play folk songs and favorite melodies. Yet the crew of the Enterprise.Enterprise and the Federation had to fight the Borg. As night fell. system-wide maintenance interval. Ultimately. Rudy Guilliani was declining in power and prestige as mayor of New York when the attack on the World Trade Center took place on 9/11. and the brief minutes of helplessness allowed enough time for the Enterprise to defeat them. courageous. generous. broadcast a low-security level command to the Borg to signal a brief. He instantly became the man on the scene: compassionate. New leaders emerge (and old leaders lose credibility) during times of upheaval and uncontrolled change. Rudolph Guilliani showed himself to be an able and popular leader whose decision and command of the situation prompted others to compare him to Winston Churchill during the bombing of Britain. Anythng you do to interfere with the day to day operation or well being of the enemy may be enough to win the war for you. 21. you can create the illusion that you are where he expects you to be. and Dick Cheney was no where to be found. If he expects you to be in a certain place or supposes you will try a certain tactic. Fish in troubled waters Sometimes waters become troubled by storms you haven't created. as was usually done . Similarly. you can gain prestige and influence. you can put your energies into your real plans. The cicada sheds its skin The cicada sheds its skin intact.

leaving behind a few coats propped up with muskets to pose as guards and sentries. ----"The Fire Book".in camp at night. "In the world. if we think of "becoming the enemy". less apparent application of this stratagem is that your route of . He who is shut inside is a pheasant. if you have two battles to fight. harmful person fears and dreads. This strategy is not a power move or something that requires great exertion. You must appreciate this. people tend to think of a robber trapped in a house as a fortified enemy [and thus are afraid to approach the house---Editor]. But to do this. "Bolting the Door" often requires patience in that the enlightened fighter has to let a person's harmful behavior build up so that very little action is required to trap him. Catching a person in a web of lies that he has been broadcasting is a means of shutting the door. for his own lies are ready to trap him. The most effective way to "Bolt the door" is to understand what an overly aggressive. you must try to gain at least a temporary peace with the less emergent battle. it's wiser first to fight the one that is near at hand. Then in small groups his men slipped away into the dark forest. we feel that the whole world is against us and that there is no escape. The second. However. and all that is necessary is that you shut the door. Avoid a twofront war by making peace with everybody else before you go to war against an opponent. He who enters to arrest is a hawk. 22. Book of Five Rings Sometimes a person gets himself into a trap. Rather. Additionally. bolting the door to catch the thief is a natural strategy in which the enlightened fighter follows out a person's harmful activities and acts in harmony with the situation so that accumulated misdeeds come home to him. Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbour This stratagem has two applications: the first is the more obvious. The enlightened general only needs to pick the proper time and have the proper words (and evidence) ready. In any situtation where a general "bolts the door. One writer observes that a parent with a teen age son who eats junk food and drives too fast will first allow the junk food in order to focus on the battle of building responsibility in the boy's driving practices. Bring his fears home to him. and he will collapse. 23." it must be clear who is the thief and who is the good guy. The enlightened fighter also must practice iron composure so that he doesn't get dragged into the trap with the opponent. Bolt the door to catch the thief Miyamoto Musashi made an oblique reference to this idea when he wrote.

the US has stationed troops in other countries as part of NATO agreements and has thus persuaded weaker allies to send their best and brightest to US schools.advance must be organized. by borrowing a route to defend Europe and America from Russian Communism. winning one battle makes the next battle easier to win. As Sun Tzu has noted. The order of operation can make your battles easier. it can be used to allow for mutual benefit. Again. One benefit is that a "middleman" gets the heat. more aggressive opponent first. Borrow a route to conquer Guo This stratagem advises using an ally's strategic location as a launch point for your own troops. And a third benefit is that if your battle is successful. the lone defender keeps moving so that the less aggressive of two attackers stays between the defender and the more aggressive attacker. The strategy has also given our own young men and women the opportunity to see other cultures and get a better picture of the vastness of the world in which we live. Any time you persuade or hire . agents. gaining benefit from others outside the fray is another means of preserving your resources. but---as Sun Tzu wrote---it's usually wisest to husband your energy and resources while making your opponents spend up their energy and resources. to trade ideas with us. the ideal situation is one in which you conserve your own energy while forcing the opponent to use up his energy. though a superficial glance shows that this stratagem opens the way for treachery and takeover. They hire others to take on the responsibilities and pressures of a given conflict. Hiring lawyers. the defender can whittle away one opponent. Without attempting outright conquest. and to become more open to the products that we market. Another benefit is that your forces can be stationed longterm on friendly turf so that problems of supply line management are limited in severity. you now have your troops stationed in somebody else's kingdom. Thus. the US also helped defuse radical fascism and present lawful democracy to the world as a successful form of government. and the weaker attacker can do him serious harm. This tactic wears out the aggressor in the middle and exposes him to deliberate kicks and punches from the defender and accidental kicks and punches from his ally. Situation and ability will often determine the best order of operation in a battle. and personal representatives are all ways in which people today borrow a route in order to conquer. While US policy overseas has not been perfect. spokespeople. 24. and your own homeland can be saved from becoming a battlefield. In two-on-one fighting in taekwon do. then the defender gets tied up in earnest fighting. by economical manuevering. Thus. Sometimes. Husbanding your strength is the principle on which this stratagem rests. the defender can then concentrate on a single opponent. When the "man in the middle" gives up or goes down. But if the defender focuses on the stronger.

STRATAGEMS TO GAIN GROUND Editor's Note: Trickery and deception are the key words for this section. In this way. One way of making for the enemy's weak points is to give the enemy weaknesses that he does not recognize. None of us onlookers were prepared for the fine demonstration of boxing that our famous leg man gave us." AOW). As mentioned previously. the Russians replaced their own beams and pillars with rotten timber. and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack" (Ibid). the fighter must jam him up and force him to use his fists. 25. and he pummeled his opponent and was never touched either by kick or punch. buffering yourself as you pursue your campaign. if the opponent has great kicks. Thus the primary weapons are the "rotten timbers" of the less adept punches instead of the beams and pillars of the strong legs. He never kicked once. I . "You may advance and be absolutely irresistible. In taekwon do. and three of the stratagems are about deceiving the enemy about your own forces and position. Infiltration of your own picked personnel to take key roles in the enemy's forces is one way of following this stratagem. Replace the beams and pillars with rotten timber Replace the enemy's strength with weakness. you have borrowed a route to conquer Guo. you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy" (from Section Six. [Return to Table of Contents] 5. Sun Tzu wrote. Another application is to confuse the opponent about how to prepare for you. Three of the stratagems are about deceiving the enemy about his own forces and position. Thus the Russian high command arrested and executed its best people and filled their slots with inexperienced commanders. if you make for the enemy's weak points. I once watched a fight where a young man famous for his incredible kicks faced a man who had prepared for him accordingly. But it's less costly and less risky to cause the opponent to switch out his own best people. the Nazis used false broadcast information and forged correspondence to make the paranoid Russian administration believe that Russia's best generals were traitors.somebody to act as your middleman or representative. "That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend. "Weak Points and Strong.

Most of us have probably read accounts of soft drink companies who drag a lunch counter operator to court for trademark violation because the small businessman had signs for Coca Cola or a similar drink in the store window but did not actually serve Coca Cola (or the advertised drink). the strategy can backfire. It's not fun . Point at the mulberry only to curse the locust To the person who can carry it off. Of course. he let it be known to McD's and all others that his family insignia was two golden balls. but the effect is to subdue other. This is an example of the use of pointing at the mulbery to curse the locust strategy. "Weak Points and Strong. His opponent's hand skills had lost their edge. as was illustrated when McDonald's started writing letters and notifications to small food services in Europe. and an early writer of the I Ching were all men who survived danger by pretending to be insane or mentally deficient. through you inaudible. and he had never let on that he was taking boxing lessons on the side. (from Section Six. They told one lunch counter with the McDonald's name to lose the name. and then on the night of the fight. Further. clearly telling an opponent his strategic mistakes and promising to exploit them and defeat the opponent is one way to win. Clear and forceful guarantees that the choice to go to war with you will be costly and painful for the other side can work." AOW). Odysseus. he switched to fists. Claudius. 26.had been training with him every week for the previous three months. the American McDonald's did not reply. would-be trademark violators. He notified McDonald's that he would be gracious enough not to sue them for using his name without permission (and his claim to having had the name first was certainly easily verifiable by generations of the McDonald clan). Thus. We're amazed at the trouble they take to haul such a minor moneymaker to court. he forced his opponent to hurriedly train in fighting a leg man. 27. The golden arches company suffered a setback when the head of the McDonald clan in Scotland opened a sham restaurant with his name on it. As far as I know. Some leaders take this stratagem a step further and "make an example" of a front man from the other side. Feigning foolishness King David. but mere threatening and storming will not work. and he lost decisively. and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands. even though it was the name of the person who owned the business. From Sun Tzu: O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible. nor did they sue him.

Putting fake blossoms on the tree All warfare is based on deception. Her decisive. When his big fight came. As I wrote above. Fighters often cultivate the opponent's opinion of them. and she gave the police his description. 29. choleric person is prone to say too much. when using our forces. thus enabling you to harass them from two sides. we must seem unable. Once they commit to an attack. but it is safer than to be reckoned intelligent and therefore dangerous. and phoned the police. we must seem inactive. he defeated his opponent strictly by boxing with him at close range. Remove the ladder after the ascent Create an opening into a precarious place and draw the opponent into a trap. and so the best way to handle such a person is by patience and quietness at the start and then firmness and immoveable resolution at the end. he was caught and be thought of as stupid. She slammed a shin kick across his liver and midsection. when able to attack. lightweight woman kickboxer was attacked by a serial rapist. paralyzing him for a moment with pain and loss of breath. locked herself in.) 28. a well known "leg man" in the martial arts cultivated the opinion of others that--because he was so good at kicks---he was poor at using his punches in a fight. when we are near. half your forces rush their flank or rear. One application of this stratagem advocated by the Chinese commentators on Sun Tzu was to lure the enemy army into attacking what appears to be your own weakened front line. An impatient. or tricking a boaster into making a claim in front of witnesses that he cannot back up. And then you will not be ruled by what other people think of you. and she was five foot one. overly sensitive. aggressive kick exploited his opinion that she was a "mere girl" (and a small one at that). She ran up to her apartment. (She was also the first of his prey who got a good look at him. A small. The war about other people's opinions is one that has to be fought in your own mind. . you can free yourself up to answer only to God and your own integrity. Once you're clear that there will always be other people who dislike you or have a low opinion of you. Luring an antagonistic person into saying too much in front of others. He was over six feet tall. Eventually. we must make the enemy believe we are far away. or getting a commitment from an adversary to do things your way are all methods of removing the ladder after the enemy has ascended your walls. Hence.

of course. She still found him to be dreadful. After a few months of weekly communication with me on these ideas. She realized that he would never be sorry for the pain he had caused her. speech. was what he dreaded most. and up to that point had met his ridicule with stony and dignified silence. then it is also true that when you are weak. we must make him believe we are near. wealthy woman whose husband had publically humiliated her after having admitted to an affair to her.when far away. she was afraid even to sit across a table from him and speak to him face to face. she softly turned everything he said to support her actions and decisions until he lost his temper and started yelling at her. I used Miyamoto Musashi's excellent treatise. she had to meet him again in a legal setting. when he accused her of this or that or tried to ridicule her. "I'm the great and ferocious Tiger. she smelled like food. When I first wrote to her. she would simply say things like. nor had he ever genuinely loved her. and you are my next meal!" And then he called her a lot of names that I won't type. Now this goat was golden-fleeced and had huge blue eyes and very winning ways. And though inwardly she dreaded it. After she made the decision to divorce him. and she never felt at ease when she had to face him. -. And this." AOW If the above quotation is true. in his presence. But by hanging the blossoms of the truths she had learned thus far on the branches of her demeanor. I accept that you have this opinion of me." No matter how outrageous his remarks. and carriage. when a great fierce tiger jumped out onto the path before her. and that was all he cared about. you must appear strong to the opponent. (Tigers also berate their prey. The Book of Five Rings in conjunction with Sun Tzu to teach her how to relax in front of her husband and thus unnerve him by her sudden courage. she thwarted him and made him feel that he was losing control of her. Insults are like appetizers to them. she had practiced the art of accepting his bad behavior without acquiescing to it or trying to force him to change it. "Well. So he opened his mouth wide and yelled (since tigers have to boast about every single thing they do). but to the tiger. frustrated because he could no longer control her emotions. "Laying Plans. he harassed her and stalked her and continued to do things in public to embarass her. She had a lot of inner resolve though. Thus. from Section One.Sun Tzu.) . and it's okay because it demonstrates that I need to divorce you. As I wrote in Letters to a Great Lady I had the opportunity to explain the concepts of warfare to a very refined. A beautiful golden goat of the fabled species was contentedly wandering through the semi-wild glens near her home pastures. But she stopped fighting these things and simply accepted them.

This. or I'll eat your ears right off your head!" Once again. So she trotted ahead of him by only two paces. This checked him." she told him. (Tigers are self-absorbed." she said. even the foxes! Took one look at her and raced out of her way. and you're food that's fit to eat!" "But if you harm me. Do you know anybody like that?) "How do I know this isn't a trick?" he asked. all of the other animals---the squirrels. Every single creature scattered and hid as she approached. "Speak up or I'll bite off your leg!" "I am a goat very treasured by the gods. and he felt that he'd made a dreadful mistake. you can follow closely. show me what happens when you walk up the path!" he growled. rabbits. He began to be frightened.The beautiful goat said. "Don't you see how lovely I am? The gods have set their mark on me. vain. the little goat thought quickly. But he supposed she was crying out of genuine concern for him and what the gods might do to him. "What do you mean?" he asked. brash. just a pace or two behind. "There's only food that's fit to eat and food that's not fit to eat. diving for cover. The forest became very silent and still. just follow me up the path and see what happens. and she was sweating and trembling the whole way. loud. fierce tiger! Don't eat me! Spare me! Spare yourself!" she said on sudden inspiration." she said. She was really crying from fear for herself. and he kept his eye fixed right on her to make sure she didn't run away." "Lovely Shmovely!" he shouted at her. "If I let you go up the path. "No. for she didn't think she could convince him not to eat her. "Oh mighty Tiger. you'll run away!" he snapped." she told him. as beautiful goat was walking up the path. with a remarkable insight that showed she had more enlightenment than she gave herself credit for. And she shed many tears from her beautful blue eyes. "Speak up. And he realized that everything with eyes was staring at her from under cover. birds. making things up as she went along. the gods will punish you dreadfully. "Oh please. "All right. made her smell more like food to him than ever. if you want to see how the gods have set their mark on me. . and always driven by appetite. But then he realized that. of course.

30. The gods must have their mark on you. Some commentators apply it to swallowing up an ally. In business. In a negative sense. The British actively hooked the Chinese people on opium. Host and guest reversed This stratagem applies to taking over without violence. Now. [Return to Table of Contents] 6. in a much more respectful voice. becoming an authority on your boss's job (or the job of any higher person) so that you cause that person to come to you for advice is a means of role reversal. and *he* told everybody. But a rat watched the whole thing." And he raced away before the gods could strike him down for all the nasty things he'd said to her at first. it was used by the British to snare Chinese trade in the 1800's. rather than an enemy. . So beautiful goat was left in peace. But it didn't occur to gentle goat to brag about her cleverness. and ultimately the role sticks. thus giving them a need to trade with Britain. The person who has climbed the ladder either takes on the coveted role officially or is otherwise promoted in order to keep his or her expertise available. it relies on role reversal with the other side. and the more curious had dared to stare at the awful sight of Tiger only one or two paces behind his prey. STRATAGEMS BEFORE THE LAST STAND Editor's Note: The final set of stratagems are the riskiest of the entire group.At last he stopped her and said. You make the other person dependent on you and give that person reasons to stay dependent. "You're right. These are reserved for the high stakes gamble and can be used successfuly only by experienced commanders. the animals had fled at sight of Tiger right behind goat. and they require finesse and skill. Either way. The adroit ladder climber starts by offering free advice and giving guidance. making them dependent on Britain. of course. She just wanted to get to her fragrant and soft clover and visit her flowers. and she ambled back to her safe pastures. for goat loves beauty and peace.

and your resources are exhausted or depleted. and even while employing this strategy. Taking the stratagem negatively. The French Resistance in WWII. 32. Even in France. In a few such situations in the past. Sex. It is a "last stand" measure. it was used by a people whose army had already been defeated. They employed prostitutes loyal to France who were willing to sleep with Nazi commanders. drug him. Allegedly.31. All the prostitutes in the world could not reassemble the French army and throw the Nazis out of Paris. the French had to be saved by their allies. riches. we can see that Sun Tzu had a reason to insist that the commander must be a man of integrity and moral uprightness. "Weak Points and Strong. or get information from him. even sympathy and flattery. Many Chinese generals made it a point of honor to eat exactly what their men ate while in the field. when surrounded by Indians. used this ploy with great success. called the FFI. do anything they wanted. They did not enjoy luxuries until they were home again. But there's a reason to note that this strategy comes towards the end of the list. drugs. The commander who does not commit adultery will be immune to this stratagem. gambling. Empty city ploy From Sun Tzu: If we do not wish to fight. The prostitutes passed this information on to their FFI comrades. -. This standard of behavior not only wins over the hearts of the foot soldiers. cash. something to use when all else fails. had the men open the gates and sweep the entryway to the stockade. Beauty trap The "Beauty Trap" is the oldest stratagem in the book: use prostitutes to distract the military commander. the Indians were so puzzled by this behavior that they decided not to attack. and the war was over. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way." AOW If all is lost. inviting the enemy to come and attack. try the unexpected. Moral integrity and a realistic moral inventory of one's own weaknesses help to keep a person on-track in any struggle. we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. Legend has it that one such outnumbered leader of a cavalry stockade. . commanders threw open the gates of their fortress.from Section Six. are "beauty traps" that will break the will of a leader. It may be startling to realize that such an immoral trade would be so successful. and thus gain information during pillow talk. it also ensures that the commander will not be trapped by luxury.

and I told her they revealed that he was afraid of being old. In explaining the wisdom of Musashi and Sun Tzu to the woman I mentioned previously.Perhaps a better way to read the stratagem is to say that if attack seems inevitible and unwinnable." so that after the enemy assures himself that he has won. I consulted his words as his spies. and he openly advocates bribing the enemy's spies in order to win them over. Disputes and discord will arise as the divided spies advise their masters of the situation. This tactic can be enormously successful. Once won over. They believed that they had nothing left to fear. Remember that people tend to believe what they fear and dread the most. but it is stowed away in the last section of the stratagems because creating double agents and sowing believable rabbit trails in the mind of the opponent require time and a great deal of finesse. these spies will deceive their former comrades with false information and act against them in the enemy camp. Well. the Greeks created an "empty city" appearance that was so convincing that the men of Troy opened their gates and pulled the great horse within their city walls. When the British attacked the next morning. cause the enemy to believe that you have retreated or deserted the battle field. but you have to be observant to catch the message. and they will actualyl say what they fear the most. that she was too old to leave him. that he was actually revealing that he feared that the consequences of his actions---coming this late in his life---marked a sad end that he could not remedy. We know the story of George Washington secretly pulling his men into the dark forest at night and retreating through the woods. Thus. One aspect of the deception is to give every sign of the front line being "empty. this was the ploy of the Greeks in the final attack on Troy. leaving only the great Trojan horse as a parting offering. you attack. The Greeks convinced the Trojan army that they had withdrawn. From this we concluded that he was perpetually haunted by a fear of being impotent (in every sense of the word) and unable to . Perhaps this tactic should be used only in situation in which the enemy has demonstrated an upper hand all along and believes himself to be the sure victor. muskets firing? In a sense. they found an empty camp. I noticed that her antagonistic and emotionally abusive husband continually made public comments that he and she were too old to divorce. Use the enemy's spies to sow discord in the enemy's camp In the final chapter of The Art of War. 33. Sun Tzu advocates the use of spies. A person's own mouth will act as the spy that reveals his heart and mind. what if---after the Brits had scrounged through everything and were standing around figuring out how to track Washington---the minutemen had suddenly rushed back through the trees.

or branded. And when you know your opponent's thoughts. Sun Tzu advises that if you have only a small force. The planted person could soon gather abundant information to return to his own superiors and hasten the end of those who were plotting an overthrow or coup. Interlocking stratagems From Sun Tzu: Walk in the path defined by rule. The ploy was believable because the suffering of the "injured" person was so convincing. Inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy's trust A strategy that has worked when a leader absolutely had to find out what his foes were thinking was to create an open disruption between himself and a trusted assistant. use all the rules and strategies to whittle down the opponent. and then banished or tossed into prison. who was in on the deception. would quickly trust a person who had seemingly suffered a similar injury. The enemy. Or he might even seek out the enemies of his leader and offer to help them bring down the person who had treated him so unjustly." AOW If your own forces are exhausted and depleted. but actually this foolish man had betrayed himself! There's no end of tale bearing among groups of people. would be whipped. A slightly different tactic would be for the trusted assistant to be deliberately overlooked for a promotion or reward that everybody had assumed he would get. . After several weeks of suffering. remember to listen to what your opponent says. "The Nine Situations. His or her words will reveal the thinking and the heart's deception behind them.from Section Eleven. or beaten. She told me I was wise.control his own life. Fine places easy to defend and force him to make charges that cannot succeed. Or a general would openly accuse a lieutenant of insubordination or incompetence. already nursing a grievance. But even when you have no access to "spies" as such. -. The innocent accused. then the time is not right to launch a decisive battle. As events continued to unfold. 34. and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle. she came to agree with me. Rather. you must retreat to rocky and broken terrain to prevent the opponent from making a concerted charge against you. 35. the "injured" person would likely be approached by anybody fomenting takeover plans or an assassination attempt. A king would openly accuse a general of treason. then you can disrupt and discredit his thinking. Divide the enemy forces so that you can take them on a little at a time.

but it conveys the meaning. Return when the time is right. and their wisdom predates Sun Tzu. And there are many generals who wanted to win so much that they retreated when they could not win. A more complete and detailed discussion of the 36 stratagems has been published. By means of patiently forcing the enemy to come after you and spend up his resources and energy. The English translation fails to catch the flavor of this ancient and wise language. You can check Bibliofind for copies of Lure the Tiger out of the Mountains: The 36 Stratagems of Ancient China by Gao Yuan. the stratagems can also be viewed as proverbs of wisdom: observations of the way life runs whether we are at war or not at peace.Create illusions that he strikes at with no success. and harass him. Therefore. you open up opportunities for yourself and create more equal conditions. but I believe it is now out of print. 36. some stratagists find links between the 36 stratagems and the ancient I-Ching. Westerners who have grown up on Hollywood's version of courage may be surprised ot see that the Chinese generals include running away as an acceptable option. 1991. The 36 stratagems are laid out in Chinese as brief. and dying will not solve any military justice. Then they figured out new strategies and came fresh to the attack and won. Annoy him. then losing is no solution. Simon & Schuster. [Return to Table of Contents] End Notes: The stratagems do not have a single author. flee. Indeed. irritate him. More than just advice on how to win. He Who Runs Away Today Lives to Fight Another Day If you cannot win. WIKI +PEDI A ARTCILE . But there are a lot of dead brave men who accomplished nothing because they chose to die in a hopeless battle. pithy proverbs.

or other symbols instead of Chinese characters. damage and harm. They were first published in the western world[citation needed] by Harro von Senger from Switzerland after he heard the Chinese proverb "If all else fails. As "ruse" is normally associated with deception.1 Preface o 3. often through unorthodox or deceptive means. the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Thirty-Six Strategies) Jump to: navigation.6 Chapter 5: Proximate Stratagems o 3.Thirty-Six Stratagems From Wikipedia. The Stratagems are often misnamed as strategies.4 Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems o 3. retreat" at Taipei University.7 Chapter 6: Defeat Stratagems 4 Literature 5 References 6 External links [edit] The term "Stratagem" "Stratagem" is a rather ancient word for a ruse. stratagem (synonymous with ruse) has nothing to do with strategy (being a long-term plan or outline). Senger used .3 Chapter 2: Enemy Dealing Stratagems o 3. war. Without proper rendering support. boxes. you may see question marks. search This article contains Chinese text. Harro von Senger used the word "stratagem" in his translation of the 36 stratagems to differentiate them from the negative connotation of "ruse". pinyin: Sānshíliù Jì) was originally a Chinese essay used to illustrate a series of stratagems used in politics. Contents [hide]       1 The term "Stratagem" o 1. as well as in civil interaction. simplified Chinese: 三十六计.1 Stratagem categories 2 Origin 3 The Thirty-Six Stratagems o 3.2 Chapter 1: Winning Stratagems o 3. The Thirty-Six Stratagems (traditional Chinese: 三十六計. however.5 Chapter 4: Chaos Stratagems o 3.

The Stratagems of Defending. 5. supports the traditional six groups of classification of these stratagems in the book of Thirty-six Stratagems (The Secret of War): 1. 23. Harro von Senger divided the stratagems into six different. 17. where six is the number of Yin that shared many characteristics with the dark schemes involved in military strategy. 34 Information or Disclosure: 13. On the other hand. The Stratagems of Losing. 19. 6. retreat was his best. had escaped in haste after learning of the rebellion. 27. 5. 18. 29. The Stratagems of Winning. it therefore acted as a metaphor for numerous strategies. Dissimulation or Feint: 7. which can be translated literally as "of the thirty-six stratagems of Lord Tán. 15. 26. 21.[2] It should be noted that the number thirty-six was used by Wáng as a figure of speech in this context. 11. The Stratagems of Merging. Wáng's choice of this term was in reference to the I Ching. 4. mostly by hiding one's intent and doing the unexpected. he commented that "檀公三十六策,走是上計,汝父子唯應急走 耳"."stratagem" as a more neutral word to clarify that the intended meaning is to reach a goal in an unorthodox way. [edit] Stratagem categories Cungen GE. 8. non-traditional categories: 1. 5. The Stratagems of Scuffling. and Wáng mentioned his name in contempt as an example of cowardice. a Chinese researcher of 36 Stratagems from the perspective of modern business competition.[1] Wáng was a general who had served Southern Qi since the first Emperor Gao of the dynasty. 2. 36 [edit] Origin The name of the collection comes from the Book of Qi. Wáng believed that he would be targeted next and rebelled. 3. As Wáng received news that Xiao Baojuan. you father and son should run for sure". son and crown prince of Emperor Ming. 3. 33 Linking more than one stratagem: 35 Flight Stratagems: 9. 28. 20. 6. Exploiting. The Stratagems of Attacking. 2. Simulation or Masking: 1. the thirty-six proverbs and their . 4. 24. As thirty-six is the square of six. and is meant to denote numerous stratagems instead of any specific number. 6. who was forced to retreat after his failed attack on Northern Wei. 3. 31. 16.[2] Since Wáng was not referring to any thirty-six specific stratagems however. 14. Lord Tán here refers to general Tan Daoji of the Liu Song Dynasty. taking Advantage: 2. 25. 22. 12. 4. Biography of Wáng Jìngzé (王敬則傳). 32. 30. 10. in its seventh biographical volume. When Emperor Ming came to power and executed many members of the court and royal family for fear that they would threaten his reign.

These 36 Chinese proverbs are related to 36 battle scenarios in Chinese history and folklore. [edit] Preface "六六三十六,數中有術,術中有數。陰陽變理,機在其中。機不可設,設則不中。" [edit] Chapter 1: Winning Stratagems 1. it began to shake . the prevailing view is that the Thirty-Six Stratagems may have originated in both written and oral history. six chapters containing six stratagems each. Harro von Senger notes in the German-Language "Die List" that to grasp the full meaning. with the collection only borrowing its name from Wáng's saying. His General brought him the invitation of a wealthy peasant to supper. or Zhuge Liang of the Three Kingdoms period. predominantly of the Warring States Period and the Three Kingdoms Period. with many different versions compiled by different authors throughout Chinese history. 1961. Instead. As the emperor entered this house. of an unknown date and author. .[3] The original hand-copied paperback that is the basis of the current version was believed to have been discovered in China's Shaanxi province. This stratagem means that you mask your real goals. 150 years after Sun Wu's death. simplified Chinese: 瞒天过海. that explains how said proverb is applicable to military tactics.connection to military strategies and tactics are likely to have been created after the fact.[3] The Thirty-Six Stratagems have variably been attributed to Sun Tzu from the Spring and Autumn Period of China. It was subsequently reprinted and distributed with growing popularity. no longer than a sentence or two.the General had deceivedly lured the emperor onto a ship! Upon discovering this. Each proverb is accompanied by a short comment. thus deceiving even the emperor / heavens itself with a fake goal. and put into print by a local publisher in 1941. Some stratagems reference occurrences in the time of Sun Bin. The first three chapters generally describe tactics for use in advantageous situations. approx. until they are confronted with finished facts. pinyin: Mán tiān guò hǎi) The stratagem references an episode when Tang emperor Tang Gaozong balked from crossing the sea to a campaign against Koguryo. The original text of the Thirty-Six Stratagems has a laconic style that is common to Classical Chinese.[3] [edit] The Thirty-Six Stratagems The Thirty-Six Stratagems are divided into a preface. the emperor decided to carry on and later finished the successful campaign. it would be something like "to deceive the holy virgin Mary" in the western hemisphere. and an afterword that was incomplete with missing text. whereas the last three chapters contain stratagems that are more suitable for disadvantageous situations. The Thirty-Six Stratagems only came to the public's attention after a review of it was published in the Chinese Communist Party's Guangming Daily (光明日报) newspaper on September 16. but neither are regarded as the true author by historians. Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean (traditional Chinese: 瞞天過海.

Note that this campaign is also described explicitly in the Art of War of Master Sun Bin the younger. and eventually France and England grew used to the false information. but later delayed the date. the Allies' Operation Quicksilver created a phantom army in Kent complete with faked radio chatter which divided German attentions regarding the actual Allied armies and their intended objective of the Normandy landings. Germany invaded France with lightning speed. and instead strike at his weakness elsewhere. 2. it is the best moment to carry out one's previously hidden true objective.Usage This stratagem made use of the human weakness that people eventually become unaware of common everyday activities. and the tired troops were ambushed and defeated at the Battle of Guiling. When this happens. with the Wèi general Pang Juan slain on the field. Usage The idea here is to avoid a head on battle with a strong enemy. o o In the Second World War. pinyin: Jiè dāo shā rén) . Know that he cannot be superior in all things. so he instead attacked their capital at Daliang. The army of Wèi retreated in haste. and regarded all Germany planned invasions as hoaxes. Zhào turned to Qí for help. Eventually. simplified Chinese: 借刀杀人. Hitler spread misinformation about a planned date for the Invasion of France. pinyin: Wéi Wèi jiù Zhào) When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly. simplified Chinese: 围魏救赵. a weakness that can be attacked instead. This will force the strong enemy to retreat in order to support his weakness. Somewhere there is a gap in the armour. The state of Wèi attacked Zhao and laid siege to its capital Handan. Besiege Wèi to rescue Zhào (traditional Chinese: 圍魏救趙. Battling against the now tired and low-morale enemy will give a much higher chance of success. conquering France. This was repeated many times. then attack something he holds dear. o In the Second Punic War at the Battle of Zama Scipio Africanus was able to defeat Hannibal's army in Italy not by facing him in the field but by destroying his power base in Spain and menacing his home city of Carthage 3. In the Second World War. The origin of this proverb is from the Warring States Period. or events that keep repeating themselves. but the Qí general Sun Bin determined it would be unwise to meet the army of Wèi head on. Kill with a borrowed knife (traditional Chinese: 借刀殺人.

4. and created an underground report regarding them selling Russian information to Germany. you attack with energy and purpose. bribe an official to turn traitor. This caused great hatred between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. of which you will get to select the time and place. while your enemy does not. allowing the Kingdom of Wei (Cao Cao) to conquer China and unify it under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei (Cao Cao). Cao Cao sent an advisor to Sun Quan to encourage him to attack and capture Jing Province. in the same time that the enemy is rushing to fight against you. The battle was really one sided due to this difference. was engaged in the Battle of Fancheng against Cao Cao. while the Wei forces were tired from the speedy march. attacked Guan Yu's army at Jiangling. During his retreat. Sun Bin ordered his Qi troops to retreat. The end result was that the Qi forces were well prepared and well located for an ambush. the Kingdom of Wu (Sun Quan). Stalin began to second guess his most trusted advisors and generals. Substitute leisure for labour (traditional Chinese: 以逸待勞. This will give your troops a huge advantage in the upcoming battle. Hitler made a list of the most dangerous generals within Russia. forcing Guan Yu to lift the siege on Fancheng and retreat. o In the Battle of Maling. Sun Quan. 8 generals were immediately imprisoned. In 1936. Guan Yu. Usage The idea here is to cause damage to the enemy by getting a 3rd party to do the deed.Attack using the strength of another (in a situation where using one's own strength is not favourable). and all were executed within 12 hours. or use the enemy's own strength against him. a previous ally of the Kingdom of Shu. one of the head generals of the Kingdom of Shu. all of the generals were judged guilty of treason. Russia had to fight without some of its best generals. while encouraging the Wei troops to pursue them with haste. Although Cao Cao did not live to see it. Usage The idea is to have your troops well-prepared for battle. When Germany and Russia engaged in combat later on. pinyin: Yǐ yì dài láo) It is an advantage to choose the time and place for battle. simplified Chinese: 以逸待劳. . Russian spies got hold of this detailed list of the Russian generals and the mails they had allegedly sent to Germany. Wei had both the number and morale advantage over the Qi troops. surprised and defeated the Shu forces there. After a 30 minute trial. and eventually the hatred led to many battles between the two states. these conflicts eventually allowed the Kingdom of Wei (Cao Cao) to conquer the Kingdom of Shu Liu Bei and the Kingdom of Wu Sun Quan. o o During the Three Kingdoms era. In this way you know when and where the battle will take place. which had secretly allied itself with the Kingdom Wei (Cao Cao). Several weeks thereafter. Cao Cao promised that all lands south of Yangtze River will be Sun Quan's after this act. Many false mails between them were also made. When he is exhausted and confused. Trick an ally into attacking him. Guan Yu was captured by Sun Quan's forces and was executed. Encourage your enemy to expend his energy in futile quests while you conserve your strength.

This is the time to attack. As a result of this news. If the enemy is currently in its weakest state ever. 6. . After a peace treaty. Even within Chu. o Before the Battle of Gaixia. Liu Bang gave the order to attack Xiang Yu. in order to block the French fleet from moving up north. pinyin: Shēng dōng jí xī) In any battle the element of surprise can provide an overwhelming advantage. attack it without mercy and totally destroy it to prevent future troubles. If we let Xiang Yu escape. he would have to get through the powerful British Navy. simplified Chinese: 声东击西. and eventually ended Chu. Even when face to face with an enemy.5. Usage Keep gathering internal information about an enemy. pinyin: Chèn huǒ dǎ jié) When a country is beset by internal conflicts. both Chu and Han forces were tired from a long lasting siege. The Chu troops are currently tired and face serious food stortages. since a defeat here would cost many lives. about three weeks had passed and a large French army had gathered in Egypt. Usage The idea here is to get the enemy to focus his forces in a location. Napoleon was able to conquer Egypt with his ground troops. To do this you must create an expectation in the enemy's mind through the use of a feint. By the time Horatio discovered Napoleon's plans. and attack Ireland. Make a sound in the east. Horatio Nelson stationed his fleet in the west of the Mediterranean. Napoleon then quickly ordered his Mediterranean fleet to transport ground troops into Egypt. but in order for his ground troops to be transported into Egypt. Napoleon informed his Mediterranean fleet that they were to join up with the fleet in the north. and then attack elsewhere which would be weakly defended. and will not give Xiang Yu support unless forced to. when disease and famine ravage the population. then it will be unable to deal with an outside threat. We must strike now and end this threat. Napoleon Bonaparte had planned an invasion of Egypt. then strike in the west (traditional Chinese: 聲東擊西. when corruption and crime are rampant. Han Xin and Zhang Liang both advised to Liu Bang :"We already control half of the empire." After some thinking. surprise can still be employed by attacking where he least expects it. Napoleon decided to avoid a direct confrontation during the transportation. o In 1798. the tired Chu troops began retreating out of Han territory. The heavens have decided to end Xiang Yu 's power. it will be like keeping a tiger alive only to kill its owner later. many governors favour us being the ruler. Loot a burning house (Chinese: 趁火打劫. Although the French Mediterranean fleet was eventually destroyed in the Battle of the Nile.

The phrase originated from the Chu-Han contention. Jin attacked Former Qin forces early and formed wide formations. 8. since they thought they were Tang soldiers. but sneak through the passage of Chencang (traditional Chinese: 暗渡陳倉. But these dark figures were real Tang soldiers. Usage One method of using this strategy is to create an illusion of something's existence. who quickly attacked the sleeping Yan ranks. Former Qin had an overwhelming manpower over Jin. Fu Jiān began planning his moves in fear. giving an illusion that Jin had the manpower to match Former Qin's forces. During the Battles of Yongqiu and Suiyang. Once he was fully prepared. simplified Chinese: 暗渡陈仓. soldiers put their own armor onto the scarecrows. Create something from nothing (traditional Chinese: 無中生有. pinyin: Wú zhōng shēng yǒu) A plain lie. he will miss you sneaking up to him. o o o During the Battle of Fei River. while it does.000 arrows. [edit] Chapter 2: Enemy Dealing Stratagems 7. Make somebody believe there was something when there is in fact nothing.000 scarecrows to be made. By the time the Yan forces found out what happened. simplified Chinese: 无中生 有. pinyin: Àn dù chén cāng) Deceive the enemy with an obvious approach that will take a very long time. Openly repair the gallery roads. while secretly moving his troops towards Guanzhong through the small town of Chencang instead. The low morale Former Qin troops went into chaos. But instead of backing down to defend. When this happened again later. Liu Bang sent men to openly repair the gallery roads he had destroyed earlier. As the enemy concentrates on the decoy. where Liu Bang retreated to the lands of Sichuan to prepare for a confrontation with Xiang Yu. and Jin came out of the battle victorious. the Tang soldiers in Yongqiu were running out of arrows. When Xiang Yu received news of Liu Bang repairing the . the Tang troops had already received about 200. Yan forces saw this and shot many arrows at the scarecrows. Zhang Xun ordered about 1. and hung them down from the Castle walls. Yan soldiers did not shoot one single arrow at them. while it does not exist. victims are lured by making them believe there was a large amount of money waiting for them ("Something") while there is in fact "Nothing". while surprising him by taking a shortcut and sneak up to him. In advance fee frauds. Another method is to create an illusion that something does not exist. The vast Yan forces were forced to retreat from their position.o In the 1991 Gulf War the coalition through Military deception was able to convince the Iraqis that the coalition intended an amphibious attack into Kuwait and was able to fix Iraqi forces in positions that could play no effective part when the real attack came. and later on ordered his vast forces to back out from the river banks. At night.

and Jiang Wei retreated for a short distance before making camp. the Allies wanted to draw the Axis attention away from Normandy. Usage This tactic is an extension of the "Make a sound in the east. Deng Ai sensed that Jiang Wei's main forces had gone around the river to take the fortress directly. 9. Deng Ai order his troops to set up defences along a river. pinyin: Xiào lǐ cáng dāo) . he dismissed the threat since he knew the repairs would take years to complete. so he ordered all forces to retreat back to the fortress to defend.S. to ensure that they draw the enemy's attention. physical baits are used to increase the enemy's certainty on the misinformation. the baits must act as if what they meant to do what they were falsely doing. Prior to the Battle of Normandy. trucks. Dummy tanks. Army Group ("FUSAG"). At the same time. They were placed in an area which led Germany to believe that the actual large scale invasion would take place in Pas de Calais. planes and camps were made. 10. But instead of simply spreading misinformation to draw the enemy's attention. because his forces at the river did not draw enough enemy attention to cause them to stay at the river. then strike in the west" tactic. Jiang Wei's forces did indeed return. since the nearby Jiang Wei forces would certainly return. Jiang Wei's goal was to take one of the Wei roads. The air defense in this area was at a minimum. This led the German defense forces into disorder. and allowed the Normandy operation to be carried out with "relative" ease. Dummy paratroopers were also used to create further uncertainty on the Germany side regarding the actual location of the invasion. These baits must be easily seen by the enemy. to allow Luftwaffe to photograph them easily. and due to his prior preparations. pinyin: Gé àn guān huǒ) Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves. and onwards. was created for this purpose. o o In 263 during the Three Kingdoms era. Jiang Wei had used the tactic wrongly. Deng Ai was facing off against Jiang Wei in one of the many battles between the two. Hide a knife behind a smile (traditional Chinese: 笑裏藏刀. to avoid drawing the enemy's suspicion. simplified Chinese: 笑里藏刀. This has been US foreign policy when it comes to dealing with complex international conflicts. simplified Chinese: 隔岸观火. This allowed Liu Bang to retake Guanzhong by surprise. and eventually led to his victory over Xiang Yu and the birth of the Han Dynasty. Allied naval bombardment was focused on Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. But they simply camped and did not prepare to cross the river. since at least the First World War. After 3 days. Everything was just as Deng Ai had predicted. Jiang Wei's siege at the fortress ended in a failure. Watch the fires burning across the river (traditional Chinese: 隔岸觀火. Then go in at full strength and pick up the pieces. Deng Ai engaged Jiang Wei's forces and was able to win a few early battles. An entirely fictitious First U.

Do something unusual. 12. Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose or bring to life old ideas. personal body armour fell out of fashion for field infantry. Cao Cao of the Three Kingdoms Period demonstrated this strategy. When the soldiers started to complain. pinyin: Jiè shī huán hún) Take an institution. customs. During a siege. [edit] Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems 13. Sacrifice the plum tree to preserve the peach tree (Chinese: 李代桃僵. An imprudent act will give your position or intentions away to the enemy. or just taunt him. however slight. The . and avail yourself of any profit. He would explain to his troops that the captain had been selling supplies to the enemy. Cao's supplies ran low so he called in the supply captain and told him to dilute the rice with water to save grains. 11. When you have gained his trust. At the end of the Medieval period when nation-states would field conscripted armies armed with firearms. Cao ordered for the captain to be killed. This is the scapegoat strategy whereby someone else suffers the consequences so that the rest do not. thereby giving away his plans or position. More widely used as "[Do not] startle the snake by hitting the grass". simplified Chinese: 打草惊蛇. Borrow a corpse to resurrect the soul (traditional Chinese: 借屍還魂. or traditions and reinterpret them to fit your purposes. simplified Chinese: 借 尸还魂. but spectacular ("hitting the grass") to provoke a response of the enemy ("startle the snake"). move against him in secret. and unexpected as this will arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt his thinking. Startle the snake by hitting the grass around it (traditional Chinese: 打草驚蛇. pinyin: Shùn shǒu qiān yáng) While carrying out your plans be flexible enough to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. 14. strange. however small. pinyin: Dá cǎo jīng shé) Do something unaimed. This raised the army's morale and they were victorious in a few more days. Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat (traditional Chinese: 順手牽羊. pinyin: Lǐ dài táo jiāng) There are circumstances in which you must sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal. or a method that has been forgotten or discarded and appropriate it for your own purpose. a technology. simplified Chinese: 顺 手牵羊.Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy.

If the commander falls the rest of the army will disperse or . Instead lure him away from his position thus separating him from his source of strength. His will to fight is thus dampened by his desire to escape. While Chang Jian was traveling in Suzhou. pinyin: Qín zéi qín wáng) o If the enemy's army is strong but is allied to the commander only by money or threats. pinyin: Diào hǔ lí shān) Never directly attack an opponent whose advantage is derived from its position. 16. then take aim at the leader.1800s saw the early development of the ballistic vest but it did not become standard issue for modern armies until the 1990s. Entice the tiger to leave its mountain lair (traditional Chinese: 調虎離山. then wrote a poem on the temple walls with only two of the four lines completed. however by feigning retreat they were able to entice some of the Saxons to break ranks and opened a gap that allowed them to scatter the Saxon army. Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem (traditional Chinese: 拋磚引玉. This proverb is based on a story involving two famous poets of the Tang Dynasty. he heard news that Zhao Gu would be visiting a temple in the area. 7). To prevent this you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom. simplified Chinese: 调虎离山. and from this story came the proverb. simplified Chinese: 抛 砖引玉. but first must make down payments ("toss a brick"). pinyin: Yù qín gū zòng) Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack. 15. simplified Chinese: 擒贼擒王. simplified Chinese: 欲擒故纵. At the Battle of Hastings the Normans were initially unable to break the Saxon shield wall placed at the top of a hill. hoping Zhao Gu would see it and finish the poem. the victims lose their payments. 17. pinyin: Pāo zhuān yǐn yù) Bait someone by making him believe he gains something or just make him react to it ("toss out a brick") and obtain something valuable from him in return ("get a jade gem"). When in the end the freedom is proven a falsehood the enemy's morale will be defeated and he will surrender without a fight. so he devised a plan and went to the temple in advance. Chang Jian wished to learn from the master poet. As the initiators did "Create something from Nothing" (strategem no. In order to capture. Zhao Gu acted as Chang Jian foresaw. Advance fee fraud targets this belief in the victims: They are made believe they will make sizable gains ("get a jade gem"). There was a great poet named Zhao Gu (趙嘏) and another lesser poet by the name of Chang Jian (常建). 18. one must let loose (traditional Chinese: 欲擒故縱. Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief (traditional Chinese: 擒賊擒王.

20. To allow your enemy to escape plants the seeds for future conflict. 23. Either leave flamboyant traits behind. "steal someone's thunder". When you are the strongest in one field. But if they succeed in escaping. Gideon in the Book of Judges. Shut the door to catch the thief (traditional Chinese: 關門捉賊.come over to your side. be wary of giving chase. In the Biblical story of the judge. pinyin: Yuǎn jiāo jìn gōng) It is known that nations that border each other become enemies while nations separated by distance and obstacles make better allies. 21. . pinyin: Fǔ dǐ chōu xīn) Take out the leading argument or asset of someone. simplified Chinese: 远交近攻. they are allied to the leader through loyalty then beware. simplified Chinese: 混水摸鱼. Slough off the cicada's golden shell (traditional Chinese: 金蟬脱殼. Otto von Bismarck made the League of the Three Emperors and treaties with the British Empire and Italy in order to isolate France. thus going incognito. led by Gideon. pinyin: Guān mén zhōu zéi) If you have the chance to completely capture the enemy then you should do so thereby bringing the battle or war to a quick and lasting conclusion. simplified Chinese: 金蝉 脱壳. the army can continue to fight on after his death out of vengeance. the smaller Israelite army. Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbour (traditional Chinese: 遠交近攻. [edit] Chapter 4: Chaos Stratagems 19. your greatest threat is from the second strongest in your field. Catch a fish while the water is disturbed (traditional Chinese: 混水摸魚. was able to defeat the larger Midianite army by first carrying torches and trumpets. not the strongest from another field. pinyin: Hún shuǐ mō yú) Create confusion and use this confusion to further your own goals. thus appearing as the torch bearers of a much larger force that had surrounded the Midianite encampment. 22. from which he feared an attack. however. simplified Chinese: 关门捉 贼. With the Battle of Gallipoli evacuation the British and Anzac forces were able to retreat without being routed by creating the illusion that their trenches remained occupied. Remove the firewood under the cooking pot (Chinese: 釜底抽薪. or just masquerade yourself and create an illusion to fit your goals and distract others. If. pinyin: Jīn chán tuō qiào) Mask yourself.

pinyin: Shàng wū chōu tī) With baits and deceptions. those accused cannot retaliate without revealing their complicity. 27. he drops his guard. Then cut off his lines of communication and avenue of escape. and the Russian army. a scorched earth strategy. They waited over a year and when the opponent let his guard down. The Grande Armee was destroyed in the 1812 invasion of Russia by a combination of the Russian winter. simplified Chinese: 假 痴不癫. 26. overconfident. change the rules in which they are used to follow. pinyin: Zhǐ sāng mà huái) To discipline. [edit] Chapter 5: Proximate Stratagems 25. they took their revenge. go contrary to their standard training. Lucius Junius Brutus feigned idiocy for many years while he secretly prepared to depose Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. In this way you remove the supporting pillar. lure your enemy into treacherous terrain. Point at the mulberry tree while cursing the locust tree (traditional Chinese: 指桑罵槐. use analogy and innuendo. or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until. he must fight both your own forces and the elements of nature. pinyin: Jiǎ dào fá Guó) Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. The Peninsular War started when Napoleon attempted to conquer Spain by stealth. use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them in the first place. a drunk. or warn others whose status or position excludes them from direct confrontation. simplified Chinese: 指桑骂槐. control. under the guise of friendship and forming an alliance against Britain and Portugal. Napoleon had been spurred on by the prize of capturing Moscow and with it the defeat of Russia. Remove the ladder when the enemy has ascended to the roof (Chinese: 上屋抽梯. Then you may attack. pinyin: Tōu liáng huàn zhù) Disrupt the enemy's formations. Replace the beams with rotten timbers (traditional Chinese: 偷梁換柱. Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo (Chinese: 假道伐虢. 28. interfere with their methods of operations. the last King of Rome. Feign madness but keep your balance (traditional Chinese: 假痴不癲.24. Once the enemy is defeated. The Forty-seven Ronin used this strategy to take revenge for their master. To save himself. . simplified Chinese: 偷梁换柱. Without directly naming names. pinyin: Jiǎ chī bù diān) Hide behind the mask of a fool. the common link that makes a group of men an effective fighting force.

The empty fort strategy (traditional Chinese: 空城計. then drop all presence of military preparedness. simplified Chinese: 反客为主. This strategy can work on three levels. pinyin: Fǎn jiàn jì) . Use this against people who are really smart[4]. of no threat appear dangerous. other males at court will begin to display aggressive behaviour that inflames minor differences hindering co-operation and destroying morale. the ruler becomes so enamoured with the beauty that he neglects his duties and allows his vigilance to wane. pinyin: Fǎn kè wéi zhǔ) Usurp leadership in a situation where you are normally subordinate. pinyin: Shù shàng kāi huā) Tying silk blossoms on a dead tree gives the illusion that the tree is healthy.however. pretend to be a guest to be accepted. simplified Chinese: 空城计. simplified Chinese: 树上 开花. motivated by jealousy and envy. Through the use of artifice and disguise. [edit] Chapter 6: Defeat Stratagems 31. Deck the tree with false blossoms (traditional Chinese: 樹上開花. 29. Infiltrate your target. Make the host and the guest exchange roles (traditional Chinese: 反客為主. Third. pinyin: Měi rén jì) Send your enemy beautiful women to cause discord within his camp. make something of no value appear valuable. 30. This is the same stratagem as Potemkin villages. 32. perhaps the most famous historical example is Xi Shi who was sent to the State of Wu during the Spring and Autumn Period. Let the enemy's own spy sow discord in the enemy camp (traditional Chinese: 反間計. First. The beauty trap (honey trap) (traditional Chinese: 美人計. Initially. simplified Chinese: 美人计. other females at court. pinyin: Kōng chéng jì) When the enemy is superior in numbers and your situation is such that you expect to be overrun at any moment. begin to plot intrigues further exacerbating the situation. act calmly and appear disrespect of the enemy. all he found was a burnt out and empty city and his forces cut off in hostile terrain and weather with no supplies. of no use appear useful. This has to be used when in most of the cases. but develop from inside and become the owner later. 33. you do have huge power hidden under the disguise and you only play the real empty rarely. so that the enemy will think you have hidden huge power and you want to trap them into the fort with your calm and easiness. simplified Chinese: 反间计. Even though this has been done many times. Second.

After his defeat by King Fuchai of Wu. and population. in this manner if any one strategy fails. This strategy was perhaps best demonstrated during the Spring and Autumn Period. In the first.sānshí liù jì. family. Guo Jian was allow back to Yue. compromise. There he strengthened his military and in 482 BC while Fuchai was trying to gain hegemony. Chain stratagems (traditional Chinese: 連環計. fleeing is best. soldiers. simplified Chinese: 连环计. pinyin: Kǔ ròu jì) Pretending to be injured has two possible applications. however. During the Second World War the German intelligence agency the Abwehr under Wilhelm Canaris actively colluded with the Allies to undermine the Nazi regime.Undermine your enemy's ability to fight by secretly causing discord between him and his friends. Surrender is complete defeat. then retreat and regroup. immortalized in the form of a Chinese idiom: "Of the Thirty-Six Stratagems. you still have a chance. simplified Chinese: 苦肉计. or escape. King Goujian of Yue pretended to go to Wu to become a servant of Fuchai. advisors. pinyin: Zǒu wéi shàng) If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat. If everything else fails. This is the most famous of the stratagems. his ability to attack or defend. When your side is losing. Some years later in 478 BC. compromise is half defeat. While he is preoccupied settling internal disputes. allies. 35. The second is a way of ingratiating yourself to your enemy by pretending the injury was caused by a mutual enemy. but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated. he attacked and conquered the capital. he annexed Wu and forced Fuchai to commit suicide. 36. Inflict injury on one's self to win the enemy's trust (traditional Chinese: 苦肉計. After gaining Fuchai's trust. zǒu wèi shàng cè) . Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme. one should use several stratagems applied simultaneously after another as in a chain of stratagems. the enemy is lulled into relaxing his guard since he no longer considers you to be an immediate threat. is compromised. 34." (三十六計,走為上策 . commanders. retreat (traditional Chinese: 走為上. pinyin: Lián huán jì) In important matters. then the chain breaks and the whole scheme fails. simplified Chinese: 走为上. there are only three choices remaining: surrender.

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