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Thirty-six Stratagems

The Thirty-Six Stratagems is a Chinese essay used to illustrate a series of stratagems used in politics, war, and civil interaction.

Broadly, the first three chapters dealing with situations of advantage, whilst the last three chapters deal with situations of disadvantage.

  1. Chapter 1: Winning Stratagems
    1. Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean
    2. Besiege Wèi to rescue Zhào
    3. Kill with a borrowed sword
    4. Wait at leisure while the enemy labors
    5. Loot a burning house
    6. Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west
  2. Chapter 2: Enemy Dealing Stratagems
    1. Create something from nothing
    2. Openly repair the gallery roads, but sneak through the passage of Chencang
    3. Watch the fires burning across the river
    4. Hide a knife behind a smile
    5. Sacrifice the plum tree to preserve the peach tree
    6. Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat
  3. Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems
    1. Stomp the grass to scare the snake
    2. Borrow a corpse to resurrect the soul
    3. Entice the tiger to leave its mountain lair
    4. In order to capture, one must let loose
    5. Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem
    6. Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief
  4. Chapter 4: Chaos Stratagems
    1. Remove the firewood from under the pot
    2. Disturb the water and catch a fish
    3. Slough off the cicada’s golden shell
    4. Shut the door to catch the thief
    5. Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor
    6. Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo
  5. Chapter 5: Proximate Stratagems
    1. Replace the beams with rotten timbers
    2. Point at the mulberry tree while cursing the locust tree
    3. Feign madness but keep your balance
    4. Remove the ladder when the enemy has ascended to the roof
    5. Deck the tree with false blossoms
    6. Make the host and the guest exchange roles
  6. Chapter 6: Desperate Stratagems
    1. The beauty trap (Honeypot)
    2. The empty fort strategy
    3. Let the enemy’s own spy sow discord in the enemy camp
    4. Inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy’s trust
    5. Chain stratagems
    6. If all else fails, retreat

More information, including expanded descriptions for each chapter entry, can be found on WikiPedia.

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