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UPDATED: December-21-2006 Web Exclusive
Harro von Senger and His 36 Stratagems


China's 36 stratagems

According to the treatise 36 Stratagems: The Secret Book of the Art of War (Sanshiliu Ji: Miben Bingfa) from circa AD 1500

1. Deceiving the emperor [by inviting him to a house by the sea that is really a disguised ship] and [thus cause him to] cross the sea

2. Besieging [the undefended capital of the country of] Wei to rescue Zhao [the country that has been attacked by the Wei forces]

3. Killing with a borrowed knife

4. Awaiting at one's ease the exhausted enemy

5. Taking advantage of a fire to commit robbery

6. Clamor in the east, attack in the west

7. Creating something out of nothing

8. Openly repairing the [burned wooden] walkway, in secret [before completing the repairs] marching to Chencang [to attack the enemy]

9. Observing the fire burning on the opposite shore [seemingly uninvolved]

10. Hiding the dagger behind a smile

11. Letting the plum tree wither in place of the preach tree

12. [Quick-wittedly] leading away the sheep [that unexpectedly crosses one's path]

13. Beating the grass to startle the snakes

14. Borrowing a corpse for the soul's return

15. Luring the tiger down from the mountain [onto the plain]

16. If one wishes to catch something, one has first to let it go

17. Tossing out a brick to attract jade

18 Catching the bandits by first catching the ringleader

19. Removing the firewood from under the cauldron

20. Clouding the water to catch the fish [robbed of their clear sight]

21. The cicada casts off its skin of gleaming gold

22. Shutting the door to capture the thief

23. Befriending a distant enemy to attack an enemy nearby

24. Borrowing a route [through the country of Yu] for an attack against [its neighboring country of] Guo [in order to capture Yu after the conquest of Guo]

25. Stealing the beams and replacing the pillars [change on the inside, while leaving the façade of the house unchanged]

26. Cursing the acacia, [while] pointing at the mulberry tree

27. Feigning madness without losing the balance

28. Removing the ladder after [the opponent] has climbed onto the roof

29. Decorating a [barren] tree with [artificial] flowers

30. Turning [the role of] the guest into [that of] the host

31. The stratagem of the beautiful man/woman

32. The stratagem of opening the gates [of a city that is unprepared for self-defense]

33. The special agent stratagem /The stratagem of sowing discord

34. The stratagem of the suffering flesh

35. The linking stratagem/Stratagem-linking

36. [When the situation is growing hopeless] running away [in good time] is the best stratagem

Translated by Harro von Senger, in The 36 Stratagems for Business, London 2006, p.3-4

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