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Home History and Culture Thirty-Six Strategies 5-8
Thirty-Six Strategies 5-8
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

5. Loot a Burning House

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.

Originally this stratagem means: When someone's house is on fire, take advantage of the chaos and steal his valuables.

In the year 499 BC, the state of Yue was conquered by the state of Wu. The king of Yue, Gou Jian, became a slave of Wu. He tended the stables for three years before he was allowed to return to his state.

After seven years of rebuilding, Yue gradually became strong again. All the while, Gou Jian never forgot his humiliation.

Gou Jian bribed Wu's minister Bo Pi with eight beautiful women and a thousand ounces of gold. Wu's counsellor Wu Zixu had false charges pressed against him and he committed suicide.

Additionally, Wu was hit by a severe drought. Meanwhile, Wu's king Fu Chai wasted his resources on buildings for his pleasure. Instead of meeting the people's needs, Fu Chai led his army to the north to preside over a meeting of principalities.

Yue took advantage of Wu's natural disaster, popular unrest and weak defence to launch an attack. Fu Chai was given the choice of execution or suicide. He chose suicide.

6. Clamor in the East, Attack 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.

In AD 200, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao fought a decisive battle. Yuan Shao, with the advantage of terrain and troop strength, wanted to block the enemy's route of retreat (Battle of Guandu).

Yuan Shao ordered general Yan Liang to lead 10,000 soldiers to occupy the enemy's strategic Baima city.

Cao Cao was told of the enemy's plan. He summoned his aides to help think of a solution. One of his aides, Xun You said, "Let's show as if we're crossing the river to attack Ye city. Yuan Shao will send some troops westwards. In the meantime, we can surround Baima and attack the remaining Yuan Shao troops."

Falling for the ruse, Yuan Shao led some troops to reinforce Ye city. Yan Liang surrounded Baima and believing that Cao Cao's army was attacking Yanjin and Ye, thought that Cao Cao will surrender in a few days time. Meanwhile, Cao Cao made his troops travel day and night to Baima.

Yuan Shao reached Yanjin and found nobody there. Cao Cao managed to kill Yan Liang and thus the siege was lifted.

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.

This stratagem took place towards the end of the Qin dynasty. There were rebellions everywhere and the most powerful of the rebel leaders was Xiang Yu, warlord of Western Chu.

Xiang Yu appointed Liu Bang as king of Hanzhong, effectively making him leave China. To further ensure that Liu Bang does not return to China from the East, Xiang Yu divided Guanzhong into three principilities and put three people in charge, informing them to be alert against Liu Bang.

Liu Bang's aide Zhang Liang said, "In order to placate Xiang Yu and the three kings, we must destroy the mountain plank road to show that we've no intention of returning to China."
Once Liu Bang arrived in Hanzhong, he made Han Xin commander of his army. After nine years of preparations, Liu Bang's army became powerful and was ready to march eastwards.
On Han Xin's suggestion, Liu Bang ordered his generals Fan Hui and Zhou Bo to take 10,000 men and horses and repair the plank road within three months. The scale of the job was large, they repaired only a few li* in three months, which was too slow.

Liu Bang recalled Fan Hui and Zhou Bo and placed others in charge of the task. Meanwhile, his enemies were greatly perturbed. One of the kings even led his forces to block the plank road exit.

Han Xin then led Fan Hui, Zhou Bo and several thousand troops to overrun Guanzhong by the old roundabout route through Chencang.

三十六计故事 5-8

第五计 趁火打劫


春秋时期,吴国和越国相互争霸,战事频仍。经过长期战争,越国终因不敌吴国,只得俯首称臣。越王勾践被扣在吴国,失去行动自由。勾践立志复国,十年生 聚,十年教训,卧薪尝胆。表面上对吴王夫差百般逢迎,终于骗得夫差的信任,被放回越国。 回国之后,勾践依然臣服吴国,年年进献财室,麻痹夫差。而在国内则 采取了一系列富国强民的措施。越国几年后实力大大 加强,人丁兴旺,物资丰足,人心稳定。吴王夫差却被胜利冲昏了头脑,被勾践的假象迷惑,不把越国放在眼里。 他骄纵 凶残,拒绝纳谏,杀了一代名将忠臣伍子胥,重用奸臣,堵塞言路。生活淫 糜奢侈,大兴土木,搞得民穷财尽。公元前473 年,吴国颗粒难收,民怨沸腾。 越 王勾践选中吴王夫差北上和中原诸候在黄池会盟的时机,大举进兵吴国,吴国国内空虚,无力还击,很快就被越国击破灭亡。

第六计 声东击西


第七计 无中生有

唐朝安史之乱时,许多地方官吏纷纷投靠安禄山、史思明。唐将张巡忠于唐室,不肯投敌。他率领二三千人的军队 守孤城雍丘城( 今河南 杞县)。安禄山派降将令狐潮率四万人马围攻雍丘城。敌众我寡, 张巡虽取得几次 突击出城袭击的 小胜,但无奈城中箭只越来越少,赶造不及。无有箭只,很难抵挡 敌军攻城。张巡想起三国时诸葛亮草船借箭的故事,心生 一计。急命军中搜集秸草, 扎成千余个草人,将草人披上黑衣,夜晚用绳子慢慢往城下吊。夜幕之中,令狐潮以为张巡又要乘夜出兵偷袭,急命部队万箭齐发,急如骤雨。张巡轻而易举获敌箭 数十万支。令狐潮天明后,知已中计,气急败坏,后 悔不迭。第二夜晚,张巡又从城上往下吊草人。贼众见状,哈哈大笑。张巡见敌人已被麻痹,就迅速吊下五百名勇士,敌兵仍不在意。五百勇士在夜幕掩护下,迅速潜入敌营,打得令狐潮措手不 及,营中大乱。张巡乘此机会率部冲出城来,杀得令狐潮大败而逃,损兵折将,只得退守陈留(今开封东南)。张巡巧用无中生有之计保住了雍丘城。

第八计 暗渡陈仓

意思是采取正面佯攻,当敌军被我牵制而集结固守时,我军悄悄派 出一支部队迂回到敌后,乘虚而入,进行决定性的突袭。 此计与声东击西计有相似之处,都有迷惑人、隐蔽进攻的作用。二者的不同处是:声东击西,隐蔽的是攻击点;暗渡陈仓,隐蔽的是攻击路线。 后多比喻暗中进行某种活动(多指男女私通达)

此计是汉大将军韩信创造。“明修栈道,暗渡陈仓”是古代战争史上的著名成 功战例。 秦韩末年,政治腐败,群雄并起,纷纷反秦。刘邦的部队首先进入关中,攻进咸阳。势力强大的项羽进入关 中后,逼迫刘邦退出关中。鸿门宴上,刘邦险些丧命。 刘邦此次脱险后,只得率部退驻汉中。为了麻痹项羽,刘邦退走时,将汉中通往关中的栈道全部烧毁,表示不再返回关中。其实刘邦一天也没有忘记一定要击败项羽, 争夺天下。公元前206 年,已逐步强大起来的刘邦,派大将军韩信出兵东征。 出征之前,韩信派了许多士兵去修复已被烧毁的栈道,摆出要从原路杀回的架势。关中守军闻讯,密切注视修复栈道的进展情况,并派主力部队在这条路线各个关口要塞 加紧防范,阻拦汉 军进攻。韩信“明修栈道”的行动,果然奏效,由于吸引了敌军注意力,把敌军的主力 引诱到了栈道一线,韩信立即派大 军绕道到陈仓(今陕西宝鸡县东)发动突然袭击,一举打败章邯,平定三秦,为刘邦统一中原迈出了决定性的一步。

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