The 36 Strategies

Attack The Power Source And Victory Is Yours


Steal The Firewood From Under The Pot

Means that when you have to fight a too powerful enemy, you first must weaken your enemy by detecting and taking out your enemy's source of power. Their power source will greatly decrease and that leads to your victory.

When faced with an enemy too powerful to engage directly you must first weaken him by undermining his foundation and attacking his source of power.

When confronted with a powerful enemy, do not fight them head-on but try to find their weakest spot to initiate their collapse. This is the weak overcoming the strong.


Legendary Era Japan

Japan's ancient hero Yamato Takeru was one of the eighty children of emperor Keiko. One day he was sent to kill a notorious outlaw who was such an expert swordsman that all who had gotten in his way were killed.

Yamato Takeru did not intend to duel with the bandit and pretended to be ignorant of the man's reputation in order to befriend him. They became such good friends that they even went swimming together on a regular basis. When Yamato Takeru was assured the bandit harbored no suspicions he was ready to act.

One day when they went swimming he brought with him a wooden sword that he hid in his travel kit. They were in the habit of racing each other around a small island but this time while they were racing Takeru let the bandit take the lead and, once he was out of sight behind the island, Takeru swam back to shore and quickly replaced the bandit's sword with the wooden one.

After they had gotten dressed Takeru turned to the bandit and revealed his true purpose. The bandit immediately went for his sword, but the wooden sword had become wedged in the scabbard. While he was struggling to draw the wooden sword, Takeru took the bandit's head off in a single stroke.


During the reign of Han emperor Jing Di in the year 154 BC, the prince of Wu, Liu Bi, and the prince of Chu, Liu Wu, joined forces with seven other states to stage a rebellion. They first attacked the state of Liang.

Han Marshal Zhou Yafu felt that the Wu and Chu forces were formidable and could not be easily beaten in a clash. But if their supplies were cut off, they could be defeated and the siege of Liang would be lifted.

Zhou Yafu made a detour around the enemy and managed to arrive at Yingyang before the enemy supplies did.

Zhou Yafu himself withdrew to set up camp at Maoyi to sieze the enemy's provisioons and to seal off their supply route. He ordered his men to fix crossbows around Daying and to hold their ground when the enemy attacked.

Just as the princes of Wu and Chu were fiercely attacking Liang's capital, they recieved bad news, "Zhou Yafu had sealed off their food supply route and siezed their provisions." The rebels panicked and had to give up attacking Liang. They attacked Maoyi but failed to take it and their supplies ran out. Morale was low.

The troops were unwilling to fight and within three months, the rebellion collapsed.


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