13.Beat The Grass To Startle The Snake
When you cannot detect the opponent's plans launch a direct, but brief, attack and observe your opponent reactions. His behavior will reveal his strategy.
Song Dynasty China
One day, in the county of Jian-zhou, there was a man who lost a precious object. The local magistrate Chen Shu-ku, was called in to investigate. He questioned several people, but no one could tell him who the thief was. So Magistrate Chen laid a trap for those he suspected. "I know of a temple," he told them, "whose bell has great spiritual power that can tell a thief from an honest man. Since my investigation is at a standstill we must employ the supernatural powers of the bell to solve the matter." The magistrate had the bell brought to the courthouse and displayed in the rear chamber. Then he had the suspects brought in to testify to their guilt or innocence. He explained to them that if an innocent man touched the bell it would remain silent, but, if a guilty man touched the bell it would ring out. After lighting incense and chanting prayers, the magistrate had curtains erected around the bell. Previously he had instructed one of his assistants to secretly smear ink on the bell after the curtains were closed. Each suspect was then told to place his hand through the curtain and touch the bell. As they withdrew their hands Chen would examine them. Everyone's hands were stained except those of one man, who confessed to the theft. He did not touch the bell for fear it would ring.
14. Borrow a Corpse to Raise the Spirit
Take an institution, a technology, or a method that has been forgotten or discarded and appropriate it for your own purpose. Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose or to reinterpret and bring to life old ideas, customs, and traditions.
Han Dynasty China
When the emperor Huidi died in 188 BC he left no heir. His mother, the empress Lu, bought a child several years before his death and had her daughter-in-law pretend that it was her own. To cover her tracks the empress had the boy's natural mother executed. After the emperor's death, the empress had this boy installed on the throne with herself as regent. However, within two years the boy, after learning that his true mother had been executed, was heard to say: "When I become emperor I will know what to do." When the empress's spies reported the words spoken by the young emperor she had him murdered and another puppet set in his place. The empress ruled a prosperous empire for eight years through the six successive child emperors that she installed on the throne before dying of a mysterious illness. Rumor said her death was the result of a curse from one of her late husband's concubines, who was horribly mutilated and tortured according to the empress's precise instructions. The empress Lu is remembered in Chinese history as one of three notorious `dragon ladies' who had seized the imperial throne.
15. Lure the Tiger Down the Mountain
Never directly attack a well-entrenched opponent. Instead lure him away from his stronghold and separate him from his source of strength.
Three Kingdoms Period China
In the year 199, Sun Ce had consolidated his newly conquered territories in the south and his next goal was the prosperous area of Lujiang to the north. However, Lujiang had a professional army and was well defended. In addition it also had the advantage of terrain, being accessible only through a couple of easily defended passes. Sun Ce's advisors cautioned against moving directly against such a well-entrenched and powerful state so they devised another scheme. Sun Ce sent an emissary laden with gifts and a letter to the king of Lujiang, Liu Xun. The letter praised the King's military skills and begged for his assistance. Sun Ce wrote: " For years the state of Shangliao has invaded my territory unhindered and carried away booty, yet we are too weak to launch a retaliatory raid. If Your Majesty would attack Shangliao we would give assistance and you could annex the state for yourself." Flattered and covetous of increasing his domains, The king of Lujiang disregarded the advice of his counselors and attacked the state of Shangliao. Several weeks later, while the king of Lujiang was busy laying siege to Shangliao's capital, Sun Ce attacked the almost undefended Lujiang and easily seized the capital. Without the expected support from Sun Ce, The king of Lujiang failed to take the capital of Shangliao and he returned only to find his own capital already in enemy hands. Sun Ce now had the advantage of the Lujiang terrain and the former king could do nothing but flee with his army.
16. To Catch Something, First Let It Go
Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack. To prevent this you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom. His will to fight is thus dampened by his desire to escape. When in the end the freedom is proven a falsehood the enemy's morale will be defeated and he will surrender without a fight.
Six Dynasties Period China
During the Southern Song period, general Tan Dao-Ji launched an attack against the north on behalf of the emperor. Throughout the campaign he seized cities and destroyed fortifications, taking more than four thousand prisoners. His advisors suggested that he should execute them all and erect a victory mound with the dead. Tan Dao-Ji replied: "At this time we have attacked the guilty and consoled the people. The army of a true king takes the upright as its position, so why is it necessary to slay the people?" He released all the prisoners and sent them back to their homes. These former prisoners told their kinsmen of their capture and release and of the fair treatment they received at the hands of general Tan. Thereupon the barbarians dwelling in the region were elated, and wherever general Tan, went a great many came forward to give their allegiance to the emperor.
17. Toss Out A Brick To Attract Jade
Prepare a trap then lure your enemy into the trap by using bait. In war the bait is the illusion of an opportunity for gain. In life the bait is the illusion of wealth, power, and sex.
Warring States Era China
The earl of Zhi was preparing to attack Lesser Wei. To prepare for his attack he presented the king of Wei with four hundred mustangs and a beautiful white jade Bi. The king was overjoyed and his ministers all offered their congratulations, but one minister, Nan-wen Ci looked distressed. The king seeing his demeanor asked: "The great state is very pleased with us! Why then do you look troubled?" The minister replied: "One must always examine thoroughly a reward given for no merit and deference shown where no force has been applied. Four hundred mustangs and a white jade Bi constitute the kind of gift a small state might give when serving a great one. But in this case the larger state makes the gift. Your majesty should ponder this." As a precaution, the king of Wei told his commander of the border guards what his minister had cautioned and ordered his troops to be on full alert. Shortly thereafter, as the minister intimated, the earl of Zhi arrived at the border at the head of a large army. But when the earl saw the border guards posted at full strength, he retired saying: "Alas, there are worthy men in Wei, for they have anticipated my plans."
18. To Catch the Bandits First Capture Their Leader
If the enemy's army is strong but is allied to the commander only by money or threats then, take aim at the leader. If the commander falls the rest of the army will disperse or come over to your side. If, however, they are allied to the leader through loyalty then beware, the army can continue to fight on after his death out of vengeance.
Spring and Autumn Period China
In 756 BC the rebel commander Yin Ziqi led an army to lay siege against the strategic city of Suiyang. The defending commander, Zhang Xun, noticed that Yin Ziqi oversaw the siege from well outside the range of the city's archers. He believed that if he could take out the leader the rebel's morale would sink and he would be able to launch a counter attack. He devised a plan with his best archers. The next time the rebels assailed the wall they were to shoot back using the branches of trees. When Yin Ziqi heard that the defenders were reduced to shooting with branches he felt certain the city was ready to be taken. Before the next assault he moved in closer to better oversee the final victory. Riding atop his horse he unknowingly came within range of the archers who had saved their arrows for just such a moment. One arrow hit Yin Ziqi in the left eye killing him instantly. The spectacle of their commander's death in front of almost the entire rebel army served to demoralize them to such an extent that they dispersed the field.