(For all 36 stratagems, click here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/thirtysix/?order=asc)
Proximate Stratagems are tactics that utilise something even more fearful than the enemy outside: the enemy inside.
Stratagem 25: Replace the beams with rotten timbers
If you slowly remove the pillars of foundation beneath the enemy one by one, they will naturally fall. More specifically, if you buy off the enemy’s officials and subjects, you can make the country into a useless shell even before starting a war.
Stratagem 26: Point at the mulberry tree while cursing the locust tree
This is a method where you publicly criticise someone’s actions while intending for someone else to indirectly get the message. If you criticise an ally or a subordinate, you run the risk of being betrayed. Thus, it is far more effective to indirectly criticise someone else in a way that the other person understands what you think.
Stratagem 27: Feign madness but keep your balance
It is far better to act like a fool and refrain from misconducting than talking out loudly and committing a rash act. A true leader hides his ingenuity, meaning he may appear as a fool to others. This is the ideal look of a leader. Furthermore, if you keep up an act of foolishness while meticulously planning on the inside, the enemy will drop his guard.
Stratagem 28: Lure the enemy to the roof then remove the ladderMake your army look weak and defenceless to lure the enemy into a trap, then surround and destroy them. On the other hand, this can also mean to intentionally trap your forces to boost their ferocity.
Stratagem 29: Deck the tree with false blossoms
Bluff to suppress the enemy psychologically. For example, if you make it look like your forces are far greater in number than they actually are, the enemy will be hesitant in attacking and you will have the lead. This is very effective when you are outnumbered.
Stratagem 30: Make the guest act as if he was the host
This is the survival strategy cuckoos use where they push the original babies out of a nest and hog the food that the mother brings. It is a strategy where you patiently wait for the right moment when you can sneak in and seize the authority, taking someone else’s resources for your own. An example of this stratagem would be when the reinforcement that is supposed to protect the allied country turn into an invading an army to take over the country.