And if you have not become desperate yet, this is the last chance. The remaining six are the so-called Desperate Stratagems, to be used when everything else has failed. This was the long and distinguished list of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, together with our not-to-be-taken-too-seriously interpretations. Perhaps the best piece of advice we could give you is this: Every situation and every person is different, and there are no ready solutions.
On that, we are being serious. We think. Chris Angelis.
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Work with us Feedback. About Us Authors Work with us. Services Advertise with us. Contact Us Feedback Corrections. Though other Chinese military works of strategy have at least paid lip service to the Confucian notion of honour, the Thirty-Six Strategies make no pretense of being anything but ruthless.
For the western reader the Thirty-Six Strategies offers timeless insights into the workings of human nature under conditions of extreme stress. This was a time so infamous, that a later Emperor banned history books of that era on the grounds that they contained accounts of such a devious nature, they would morally corrupt all who read them.
By learning from the old masters of the art of deception, one is better able to spot the modern pretenders, for, though the players come and go, the game remains the same. I have yet to finish this book but I am so impressed with it, one reason is because my 13 year old daughter is now reading it and I have to constantly remove it from her room! Fun and very interesting find! The strategies are usually ruthless, almost always involving deception, using quite inventive ways to trick the opponent.
Most notable for the complete lack of ethics and win-at-all costs approach, and often for the subtleness of the strategies. 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. 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.
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This is the time to attack. 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.
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. Repair the highway to take the crude path. 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.
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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. 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.
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Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. Sacrifice the silver to keep the gold. 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. 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.
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. Raise a corpse from the dead.
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. Never directly attack an opponent whose advantage is derived from its position.
Instead lure him away from his position thus separating him from his source of strength. Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack.
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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. In war the bait is the illusion of an opportunity for gain. In life the bait is the illusion of wealth, power, and sex.