(For all 36 stratagems, click here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/thirtysix/?order=asc)
The Thirty-Six Stratagems is a book from ancient China that outlines 36 stratagems (a ruse to change the flow of battle or aide a victory). The author and the time of writing are unclear, but it incorporates much wisdom from The Art of War and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Regardless of who wrote it, the Thirty-Six Stratagems is a must-read text as it outlines tactics that are very useful in war (especially the harsh battlefield of life) in a way that is easy for anyone to understand and learn. The thirty-six stratagems are divided into six categories: Winning Stratagems, Enemy Dealing Stratagems, Attacking Stratagems, Chaos Stratagems, Proximate Stratagems and Desperate Stratagems. Let’s learn them chapter by chapter.
Winning Stratagems are tactics that you can employ when you have all the conditions for a victory. They are tactics that utilise meticulous planning and deception to confuse the enemy and make victory certain.
Stratagem 1: Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean
People are not suspicious of things they have seen repeatedly. This is a perfect opportunity to seize. Give the enemy false reassurance through repeating a common act and strike when they are off guard.
Stratagem 2: Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao
Instead of facing the enemy head on, detour around them to strike their main base. It is a tactic where you capture something the enemy holds dear and using it to control the enemy as you wish.
Stratagem 3: Kill with a borrowed knife
Hide yourself while using a third party to bring harm to the enemy.
Stratagem 4: Leisurely await for the laboured
If you camp and rest at a strategic spot and strike the enemy after they have tired from a long march, you can raise the chance of winning. Also, laying siege to the enemy when they are short of food and tiring them out is another way to bring victory.
Stratagem 5: Loot a burning house
This means that you should strike when the enemy is in chaos when their base is on fire. In other words, take the opportunity when the enemy is in a tough spot and attack.
Stratagem 6: Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west
Distract the enemy’s attention to a different place and attack from a completely unpredicted location so that the enemy is unprepared.