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36 Stratagems-Secret Art of War

War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left".
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Throughout time we've seen changes in economic history, society and morale but the universal laws that are outlined by Eastern schools of thought have stood still. These have weighed in on Chinese military tactics and abroad. Since this period in time, the military now relies heavily on technical trends which give them direction for new strategies. We can see the ways in which these have been implemented in corporate management and then the military respectively.

In the US, Eastern philosophy has been applied to monopoly markets and competition as a business practice. We rarely see enough on how this can also cue us in on the human thought processes (changes, actions or functions) as it applies to everyday life ie on the job, at home, relationships etc. Without proper balance and understanding how to prioritize, the quality of living can easily become constrained. Sometimes these areas of personal life can become a battlefield that is equal to any war or any "enterprise" collectively.

Some of these principles may also be helpful in terms of preventing crisis before it arises or even serve as a delightful afterthought. This essay opens up the lines of inquiry, as well as, to offer new considerations for this Mid-Atlantic scholarship that is roughly 300 old. This is known as the Secret Art of War; originally designed to preface or detail not only politics and war but civil affairs.

Thanks to a Chinese scholar who worked to compile 36 military stratagems, which is to be differentiated from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, we are presented with greater insight into the human nature under adverse conditions. They are as follows:

•Stratagems when in a superior position
•Stratagems for confrontation
•Stratagems for attack
•Stratagems for confused situations
•Stratagems for gaining ground
•Stratagems for desperate situation

Stratagems when in a superior position

1. Sneak across the ocean in broad daylight. (Cross the sea under camouflage)
This means to create a front that eventually becomes imbued with an atmosphere or impression of familiarity, within which the strategist may maneuver unseen while all eyes are trained to see obvious familiarities.
2. Surround one state to save another.
When a strong group is about to take over a weaker group, a third part can "have its cake and eat it too," gaining a good reputation by attacking the aggressor in apparent behalf of the defender, and also eventually absorb the weakened defender to boot, without incurring the same opprobrium that would be leveled at outright aggression.
3. Borrow a sword to attack another.
When one side in a conflict is weakening, it may draw its own friends into battle, thus delivering a blow to its enemy while conserving its own strength.
4. Face the weary in a condition of ease. (Wait at ease for the fatigued enemy)
You force others to expend energy while you preserve yours. You tire opponents out by sending them on wild goose chases, or by making them come to you from far away while you stand your ground.
5. Plunge into a fire to pull off a robbery. (Loot the burning house)
You use others' troubles as opportunities to gain something for yourself.
6. Feint east, strike west.
You spread misleading information about your intentions, or make false suggestions, in order to induce the opponent to concentrate his defenses on one front and thereby leave another front vulnerable to attack.

Stratagems for confrontation

7. Make something from nothing
You create a false idea in the mind of the opponent, and fix it in his mind as a reality. In particular, this means that you convey the impression that you have what you do not, to the end that you may appear formidable and thus actually obtain a security that you had not enjoyed before.
8. Cross the pass in the dark. (Advance to Chencang by a hidden path)
You set up a false front, then penetrate the opponent's territory on other fronts while they are distracted by your false front.
9. Watch the fire from the opposite bank of the river.
You calmly look on when adversaries experience internal troubles, waiting for them to destroy themselves.
10. Hide a sword in a smile
You ingratiate yourself with enemies, inducing them to trust you. When you have their confidence, you can move against them in secret.
11. One tree falls for another (Sacrifice a plum for a peach)
Individual sacrifices may have to made to achieve a greater goal.
12. Take the sheep in hand as you go along. (Lead away a goat in passing)
You take advantage of any opportunity, however small, and avail yourself of any profit, however slight. This comes from the story of a destitute traveler walking on a road. As he went along, he came across a flock of sheep; making his way through them, when he emerged from their midst he had a sheep with him. He behaved so calmly and naturally, as it he had been leading his own sheep to market all along, that the shepherd never noticed him.

Strategems for Attack

13. Beat the grass to startle the snakes.
When opponents are reserved and unfathomable, you create some sort of stir to see how they will react. Yagyfi mentions this, and also notes that it is used in Zen. Certain Zen sayings and stories are used primarily to test people and find out what they are like.
14. Borrow a corpse to bring back a spirit (Raise a corpse from the dead)
You don't use what everyone else is using, but use what others aren't using. This can mean reviving something that has dropped out of use through neglect, or finding uses for things that had hitherto been ignored or considered useless.
15. Train a tiger to leave the mountains (Lure the tiger from the mountain)
You don't go into the fastness of powerful opponents' territory, but induce them to come out of their stronghold.
16. Let the enemy off in order to snare him.
When you want to take captives, leave them on the loose for a while. (Let the enemy off so to snare them) Fleeing enemies may turn again and strike desperately if pursued too hotly. If they are given room to run, on the other hand, they scatter and lose their energy. Then they can be taken captive without further violence.
17. Toss out a glazed tile to draw a jade. (Cast a brick to attract a gem)
You present something of superficial or apparent worth to induce another party to produce something of real worth.
18. To capture the brigands (rebels), capture their king.
When confronted with a massive opposition, you take aim at its central leadership.

Stratagems for confused situations

19. Take the firewood out from under the pot.
When you cannot handle an adversary in a head-on confrontation, you can still win by undermining the enemy's resources and morale.
20. Stir up the waters to catch fish (Fish in troubled waters)
You use confusion to your advantage, to take what you want. It may specifically mean taking advantage of a general or particular loss of direction in order to gather followers from among the uncommitted or disenfranchised.
21. The gold cicada molts its shell.
This means leaving behind false appearances created for strategic purposes. Like the cicada shell, the facade remains intact, but the real action is now elsewhere.
22. Lock the gates to catch the bandits. (Bolt the door to catch the thief)
You catch invading predators by not letting them get away. You don't let them get back to their homelands with what they can get from you. If they escape, you don't chase them, because you will thereby fall prey to the enemy's plot to wear you down.
23. Make allies at a distance, attack nearby.
When you are more vulnerable to those close by than you are to those far away, you can defend yourself by keeping those around you off balance, in the meantime cutting of their field of maneuver by securing a broader ring of alliances surrounding them.
24. Borrow the right of way to attack the neighbor. (Borrow a route to conquer Guo)
You secure the temporary use of another party's facilities in order to move against a mutual enemy. After having used these facilities to prevail over the enemy, you then turn and use them against the party from whom you borrowed them.

Stratagems for gaining ground

25 Steal a beam to replace a pillar. (Replace the beams and pillars with rotten timber)
You try to recruit top talent from among allies, inducing them to join your concern.
26. Point at one to scold another (Point at the mulberry only to curse the locust)
You criticize indirectly, getting your point across without confrontation.
27. Feign ignorance without going crazy. (Feign foolishness)
You pretend to be stupid and ignorant, but avoid talking loosely.
28. Let them climb the roof, then take away the ladder.
(Remove the ladder after the ascent) You maneuver enemies into a point of no return by baiting them with what look like advantages and opportunities.
29. Make flowers bloom on a tree.
You dazzle and deceive the eyes of opponents by showy displays.
30. Turn the guest into the host.
This is when a business is taken over by one of its own clients or consultants.

Stratagems for desperate situations

31 Scheme with beauties. (Beauty Trap)
This refers to using the charms of women to influence key figures in an adversary organization.
32 Scheme with an empty castle.(Empty castle ploy)
You appear weaker than you really are, so that opponents may defeat themselves by one of three reactions to your supposed weakness: they may become conceited and complacent, leading to their downfall; they may become arrogant and aggressive, leading to their destruction; or they may assume you are setting up an ambush, leading them to flee of their own accord.
33. Scheme with double agents. (Sow discord in the enemy’s camp)
You compromise insiders of other organizations to get them to work for you.
34. Scheme with self-inflicted wounds
(Inflict minor injury on oneself to gain the enemy’s trust) This a technique particularly for undercover agents: you make yourself look like a victim of your own people, in order to win the sympathy and confidence of enemies.
35. Scheme in continuous circles (Interlocking stratagems)
When facing a more powerful enemy, you don't oppose by force, and don't concentrate all your resources on only one avenue of strategy; you keep different plans operating simultaneously in an overall scheme.
36. Know when It is best to run (When retreat is the best option) When overwhelmed, you don't fight; you surrender, compromise, or flee. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, flight is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you have another chance to win.

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