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Home History and Culture Thirty-Six Strategies 13-16
Thirty-Six Strategies 13-16
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

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.

During the Tang dynasty, there lived a corrupt county magistrate named Wang Lu. The people made an indirect attack on him by accusing his bookkeeper of embezzlement. Without thinking Wang wrote, "By merely beating the grass, you have startled the snake within".

In the year 627 BC, Qin general Meng Mingshi led his forces to attack the state of Zheng bordered by Jin. Before he set off, Qin's top advisor Qian Shu cautioned him, "Beware of enemy ambushes when you pass Mount Xiao in Jin."

The Qin troops arrived at Mount Xiao. He was about to order his troops to advance when his two assistant generals Xi Qi and Bai Yi warned him: "We are attacking Zheng after Hua. The overlord of state of Jin won't like this. Now that we are at Mount Xiao we should be careful." "Mount Xiao is a dangerous place. We should search out its paths to make sure it's safe."
Meng Mingshi did not think it was neccessary to take precautions. Upon seeing some Jin's troops, Meng Mingshi ordered his troops to charge to finish them off. The Jin troops disappeared and the mountain path was sealed off.

Meng Mingshi ordered the Jin flag to be brought down. As the flag fell, war cries broke out. Qin's troops were encircled by the Jin forces and slaughtered.

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.
Towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the allied forces of Liu Bei and Sun Quan defeated Cao Cao's army in the Battle of Chibi. Liu Bei seized part of the regions under the control of Jingzhou Prefecture.

Jingzhou was barren after many years of warfare. Liu Bei felt that he needed to expand his base. Cao Cao also decided to expand his base, he launched an attack on Hanzhong which was defended by Zhang Lu.

Yizhou administrator Liu Zhang whose state was bordered by Hanzhong became very worried. Liu Bei and Liu Zhang were scions of the Han dynasty and Cao Cao's enemy. Liu Zhang thought that it was best to seek Liu Bei's help.

Liu Zhang despatched Fa Zheng to seek Liu Bei's help. Fa Zheng told Liu Bei, "Liu Zhang is weak, incompetent and unpopular with many officials. I hope you'll take this chance to sieze Yizhou. Zhang Song and I will help you secretly.". Liu Bei was pleased.

Under the pretext of fighting Zhang Lu, Liu Bei entered Yizhou's territory and obtained much supplies and reinforcements. Liu Bei also took the opportunity to improve the people's lot and win their support.

Liu Bei's military advisor Pang Tong told him, "Pretend to return to Jingzhou then find a pretext to sieze Baisui Pass and use it as a base to attack Yizhou."
After two years of warfare, Liu Bei conquered the territory in today's Sichuan and built his power base.

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.

Press the enemy forces too hard and they will strike back fiercely. Let them go and their morale will sink. Follow then closely, but do not push them too hard. Tire them out and sap their morale; capture them when they are in panic and flee helter-skelter. In this way, victory is won without shedding blood. In short, careful delay in attack will help to bring destruction to the enemy.

三十六计故事 13-16

第十三计 打草惊蛇
打草惊蛇,语出段成式《酉阳杂俎》:唐代王鲁为当涂县令,搜刮民财,贪污受贿。有一次,县民控告他的部下主薄贪脏。他见到状子,十分惊骇,情不自禁地在状子上批了八个字:“汝虽打草,吾已惊蛇。” 打草惊蛇,作为谋略,是指敌方兵力没有暴露,行踪诡秘,意向不明时,切切不可轻敌冒进,应当查清敌方主力配置、运动状况再说。公元前627年,秦穆公发兵攻打郑国,他打算和安插在郑国的奸细里应外合,夺取郑国都城。大夫蹇叔以为秦国离郑国路途遥远,兴师动众长途跋涉,郑国肯定 会做好迎战准备。秦穆公不听,派孟明视等三帅率部出征。蹇叔在部队出发时,痛哭流涕地警告说,恐怕你们这次袭郑不成,反会遭到晋国的埋伏,只有到崤山去给 士兵收尸了。果然不出蹇叔所料,郑国得到了秦国袭郑的情报,逼走了秦国安插的 奸细,作好了迎敌准备。秦军见袭郑不成,只得回师,但部队长途跋涉,十分疲惫。 部队经过贿山时,仍然不作防备。他们以为秦国曾对晋国刚死不久的晋文公有恩,晋国不会攻打秦军。哪里知道,晋国早在崤山险峰峡谷中埋伏了重兵。一个炎热的中午,秦军发现晋军小般部队,孟明十分恼怒,下令追击。追到山隘险要处,晋军突然不见踪影。孟明一见此地山高路窄,草深林密,情知不妙。这里鼓声震天,杀声四起,晋军伏兵蜂涌而上,大败秦军,生擒孟明视等三帅。秦军不察敌情,轻举 妄动,“打草惊蛇”终于遭到惨败。当然,军事上有时也可故意“打草惊蛇”而诱敌暴露,从而取得战斗的胜利。

第十四计 借尸还魂

第十五计 调虎离山
【典故】 调虎离山,此计用在军事上,是一种调动敌人的谋略。它的核心在一“调”字。 虎,指敌方,山,指敌方占 据的有利地势。如果敌方占据了有利地势,并且兵力众多,防范严密,此时,我方不可硬攻。正确的方法是设计相诱,把敌人引出坚固的据点,或者,把敌人诱入对我军有利的地区,这样做才可以取胜。 东汉末年,军阀并起,各霸一方。孙坚之子孙策,年仅十七岁,年少有为,继承父志,势力逐渐强大。公元199年,孙策欲向北推进,准备夺取江北卢江郡。 卢江郡南有长江之险,北有淮水阻隔,易守难攻。占据卢江的军阀刘勋势力强大,野心勃勃。孙策知道,如果硬攻,取胜的机会很小。他和众将商议,定出了一条调虎离山的妙计。针对军阀刘勋,极其贪财的弱点,孙策派人给刘勋送去一份厚礼,并在信中把刘勋大肆吹捧一番。信中说刘勋功名远播,令人仰慕,并表示要与刘勋交好。孙策还以弱者的身份向刘勋求救。他说,上缭经常派兵侵扰我们,我们力弱, 不能远征,请求将军发兵降服上缭,我们感激不尽。刘勋见孙策极力讨好他,万分得意。上缭一带,十分富庶,刘勋早想夺取,今见孙策软弱无能,免去了后顾之忧, 决定发兵上缭。部将刘晔极力劝阻,刘勋哪里听得进去?他已经被孙策的厚礼、甜 言迷惑住了。孙策时刻监视刘勋的行动,见刘勋亲自率领几万兵马去攻上缭,城内空虚,心中大喜,说:“老虎已被我调出山了,我们赶快去占据它的老窝吧!”于 是立即率领人马,水陆并进,袭击卢江,几乎没遇到顽强的抵抗,就十分顺利地控 制了卢江。刘勋猛攻上缭,一直不能取胜。突然得报,孙策已取卢江,情知中计,后悔已经来不及了,只得灰溜溜地投奔曹操。

第十六计 欲擒故纵
【典故】诸葛亮七擒孟获,就是军事史上一个“欲擒故纵”的绝妙战例。 蜀汉建立 之后,定下北伐大计。当时西南夷酋长孟获率十万大军侵犯蜀国。诸葛亮为了解决北伐的后顾之忧,决定亲自率兵先平孟 获。蜀军主力到达泸水( 今金 沙江)附近,诱敌出战,事先在山谷中埋下伏兵,孟获被诱入伏击圈内,兵败被擒。 按说,擒拿敌军主帅的目的已经达到,敌军一时也不会有很强战斗力了,乘胜追击,自可大破敌军。但是诸葛亮考虑到孟获在西南夷 中威望很高,影响很大,如果让他心悦诚服,主动请降,就能使南方真正稳定。不然的话,南方夷各个部落仍不会停止侵扰,后方难以安定。诸葛亮决定对孟获采取“攻心”战,断然释放孟获。 孟获表示下次定能击败你,诸葛亮笑而不答。孟获 回营,拖走所有船只,据守泸水南岸,阻止蜀军渡河。诸葛亮乘敌不备,从敌人不设防的下流偷渡过河,并袭击了孟获的粮 仓。孟获暴怒,要严惩将士,激起将士的反抗,于是相约投降,趁孟获不 备,将孟获绑赴蜀营。诸葛亮见孟获仍不服,再次 释放。以后孟获又施了许多计策,都被诸葛亮识破,四次被擒,四次被释放。最后一次,诸葛亮火烧孟获的藤甲兵, 第七次生擒孟获。终于感动了孟获,他真诚地感谢诸葛亮七次不杀之恩,誓不再反。从此,蜀国西南安定,诸葛亮才得以举兵北伐。


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