Monday, November 10, 2008

II. Stratagems for confrontation

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.

Tang Dynasty China

During the An Lushan rebellion in 756 AD the Tang general Chang Shun was under siege by the forces of general Linghu Chao. Outnumbered twenty to one, the defending Tang forces soon ran out of arrows. To remedy this general Chang ordered his men to make straw dummies and to dress them in black uniforms. That night the dummies were lowered over the city walls by ropes, accompanied to the beat of war drums and gongs. General Linghu thought the enemy was launching a surprise night offensive and ordered his archers to shower the figures descending the walls with arrows. Once the dummies where riddled with arrows the Tang soldiers pulled them back up the walls and thus restored their supply of arrows.

The next day general Linghu realized he had been tricked and attacked the walls in revenge for being humiliated. That night the Tang again lowered the dummies but General Linghu ordered his men to ignore them believing it was the same trick to get more arrows. When general Chang saw that no one was firing at the straw dummies, he ordered that five hundred of his best troops be lowered instead. They made a lightning raid on the encamped soldiers who were caught completely by surprise. The siege was lifted and general Linghu's army fled the field.

8. Openly Repair The Walkway, Secretly March to 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.

Muromachi Period Japan

In 1560 one of Japan's greatest warlords, Oda Nobunaga, then still a minor commander, marched his force of 2,000 men to stop the incursion of a rival warlord Imagawa Yoshimoto. Even though Nobunaga was outnumbered twelve to one he set out humming a tune. Nobunaga's scouts reported that Imagawa was resting his troops at a village that was nestled near a narrow gorge that Nobunaga knew would be ideal for a surprise attack.

The scouts further reported that Imagawa's troops were celebrating and viewing the heads taken in a previous battle. Nobunaga devised the following ploy. He made camp some distance away from the village. He placed numerous flags and had straw dummies made to give the impression that a large host had arrived. Imagawa's forces thus expected an attack to come from the direction the enemy camp. Meanwhile Nobunaga's troops secretly made a forced march in a wide circle in order to come up from behind the Imagawa encampment. Weather favored Nobunaga's scheme for late in the day there was a heavy downpour. Taking advantage of the foul weather, Nobunaga's troops launched a sudden attack from the rear. So unexpected was this attack that Imagawa a first thought that a brawl had broken out among his own troops. Only when he saw two enemy Samurai charging towards him did he realize he was under attack. The realization came too late and Imagawa was beheaded and his troops scattered. The battle lasted only a few minutes but it made Oda Nobunaga's reputation and he quickly rouse in power until he became one of Japan's greatest warlords.

9. Observe the Fire on the Opposite Shore
Observe the Fire on the Opposite Shore

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.

Hojo Regency Japan

In 1583 the great general Toyotomi Hideyoshi was positioning his forces against Akechi Mitsuhide in what would be the battle of Yamazaki. Shortly after the battle had engaged, Tsetsui Junkeian, an ally of Mitsuhide arrived on the scene. Impressed by the superior forces of Hideyoshi, he refused to attack but instead ordered his men to line up in battle formation on a hill above the Hora-ga-toge pass where he could watch the battle before deciding which general to side with. Seeing Hideyoshi gaining the advantage he betrayed his ally and sent his troops over to Hideyoshi's side. This incident was never forgotten and henceforth the Japanese equivalent of `Watching the fire...' is known as `To wait at Hora-ga-toge.'

10. Hide Your Dagger Behind a Smile
Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. When you have gained his trust, you move against him in secret.

Warring States Era China

The king of Wei sent a beautiful courtesan to the king of Chu who took great delight in the new girl. His queen, Zheng Xiu, knowing how fond the king was of his new woman, treated the newcomer as a sister supplying her with gifts and treasures and whatever she needed. The king hearing of this summoned his queen and said: AA woman serves a man with her beauty and thus jealousy is a part of her very nature. Yet you, knowing how much the new woman pleases me, have treated her more kindly than I have myself. These actions are those of a child to her parents or a minister to his ruler, how unexpected it is to find this in a queen to her husband." The queen thus knew that her husband did not suspect her of jealousy. When she next met with the new girl the queen told her: "His majesty is much taken with your beauty but he dislikes the shape of your nose. When next you serve him be sure to cover it with your hand." Grateful for the advice, when she next served the king this is what she did.

The next day the king asked his queen: "The new woman covers her nose when she is with me. Do you know why?"

"I know." replied the queen.

"Well then no matter how unpleasant you must tell me the reason."

"It seems she does not like the way your majesty smells."

"The shrew!" cried the king.

In a rage the king ordered that the unfortunate girl's nose be cut off.

11. Sacrifice the Plum Tree In Place of the Peach
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.

Three Kingdoms Period China

On one of his campaigns Cao Cao was running short of food. He asked his supply sergeant what he could do. The sergeant suggested reducing the rations by secretly using a smaller cup to parcel out the rice. Cao Cao praised the sergeant and gave his consent to use the smaller measuring cup. After a few days the soldiers began to complain and accused their commander of cheating them. Cao Cao again called in the supply sergeant and told him the situation.

"I will do anything I can to help but what would you have me do?" asked the sergeant.

"I'm afraid I am going have to borrow your head." replied Cao Cao and he had the sergeant decapitated and his head stuck on a tall pole with a banner that read "Caught cheating on supplies by using a smaller measuring cup."

12. Seize the Opportunity To Lead a Sheep Away
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.

Yuan Dynasty China

During the final days of the Yuan dynasty, rebellion had broken out throughout the empire. Initially there were several contenders vying to be the first to found a new dynasty on the imminent fall of the house of Yuan, but the field was narrowed to two; Chu Yuan-Chang and Chen Yifu. The two armies met at Poyang Lake where a naval engagement was to take place. General Chen had the advantage of both troops and ships. His ships were large and sturdy and he had them lined up side to side across the entire expanse of the lake. He furthermore had the ships joined together with iron chains so as to create an impenetrable barrier. General Chu sent his ships to attack but they were defeated having failed to break through the cordon. Fortunately for Chu the next day a violent northwest gale began to blow. Since Chen's flotilla was situated downwind, Chu took advantage of the situation to launch fireboats against the barrier. Soon Chen's troops were in a frenzy to save their ships from both the rising storm and the fire, which was fanned into a blazing fierceness by the wind. Taking advantage of the panic and confusion that ensued, Chu launched his own fleet into the attack and they completely defeated Chen's forces. An arrow through his eye killed General Chen while general Chu became the founder of the Ming Dynasty.

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