The Six Confrontation Strategies

"From the 36 Strategies of China"

7. Create something from nothing

You use the same feint twice. Having reacted to the first and often the second feint as well, the enemy will be hesitant to react to a third feint. Therefore the third feint is the actual attack catching your enemy with his guard down.

8. Sneak through the passage of Chencang

Attack the enemy with two convergent forces. The first is the direct attack, one that is obvious and for which the enemy prepares his defense.

The second is the indirect, the attack sinister, that the enemy does not expect and which causes him to divide his forces at the last minute leading to confusion and disaster.

This (confrontation strategies) proverb is literally translated as "openly repair the gallery roads, but sneak through the passage of Chencang".

The phrase originated from the Chu-Han contention, where Liu Bang retreated to the lands of Sichuan to prepare for a confrontation with Xiang Yu.

Once he was fully prepared, Liu Bang sent men to openly repair the gallery roads he had destroyed earlier, while secretly moving his troops towards Guanzhong through the small town of Chencang instead.

When Xiang Yu received news of Liu Bang repairing the gallery roads, he dismissed the threat since he knew the repairs would take years to complete.

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.

9. Watch the fires burning across the river

Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves. Then go in full strength and pick up the pieces.

10. Hide a knife behind a smile

Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. When you have gained his trust, you move against him in secret.

11. Sacrifices the plum tree to preserve the peach tree

There are circumstances in which you must sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal. This is the scapegoat strategy whereby someone else suffers the consequences so that the rest do not.

Cao Cao of the Three Kingdoms Period demonstrated this strategy. During a siege, Cao supplies ran low so he called in the supply captain and told him to dilute the rice with water to save grains.

When the soldiers started to complain, Cao ordered for the captain to be killed. He would explain to his troops that the captain has been selling supplies to the enemy.

This raises the army morale and they were victorious in a few more days.

12. Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat

While carrying out your plans be flexible enough to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, however small, and avail yourself of any profit, however slight.

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