The Six Winning Strategies

"From the 36 Strategies of China"

1. Deceive the sky to cross the ocean

Moving about in the darkness and shadows, occupying isolated places, or hiding behind screens will only attract suspicious attention.

To lower an enemy's guard you must act in the open and hide your true intentions under the guise of common every day activities.

2. Besiege Wèi to rescue Zhào

When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, then attack something he holds dear. Know that in all things he cannot be superior. Somewhere there is a gap in the armour, a weakness that can be attacked instead.

The origins of this proverb is from the Warring States Period. The state of Wèi attacked Zhao and laid siege to its capital Handan.

Zhào turned to Qí for help, but the Qí general Sun Bin determined it would be unwise to meet the army of Wèi head on, so he instead attacked their capital at Daliang.

The army of Wèi retreated in haste, and they were ambushed and defeated at the Battle of Guiling, with the Wèi general Pang Juan slain on the field.

3. Kill with a borrowed knife

Attack using the strength of another (in a situation where using one's own strength is not favourable).

Trick an ally into attacking him, bribe an official to turn traitor, or use the enemy's own strength against him.

4. Substitute leisure for labour

It is an advantage to choose the time and place for battle. In this way you know when and where the battle will take place, while your enemy does not.

Encourage your enemy to expend his energy in futile quests while you conserve your strength. When he is exhausted and confused, you attack with energy and purpose.

5. Loot a house on fire

When a country is beset by internal conflicts, when disease and famine ravage the population, when corruption and crime are rampant, then it will be unable to deal with an outside threat.

This is the time to attack.

6. Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west

In any battle the element of surprise can provide an overwhelming advantage. Even when face to face with an enemy, surprise can still be employed by attacking where he least expects it.

To do this you must create an expectation in the enemy's mind through the use of a feint.

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