The 36 Strategies

Create An Illusion To Escape In Confusion


Shed Your Skin Like The Golden Cicada

Means that when you are being defeated and you only can escape, then you have to create an illusion to distract your enemy. While their are distracted and confused, you can escape secretly.

When you are in danger of being defeated, and your only chance is to escape and regroup, then create an illusion. While the enemy's attention is focused on this artifice, secretly remove your men leaving behind only the facade of your presence.

Make your front array appear as if you are still holding your position so that the allied forces will not suspect your intention and the enemy troops will not dare to attack rashly. Then withdraw your main forces secretly.


Three Kingdoms Period China

The warlord Cao Cao of Wei, was pursuing the fleeing army and population of Shu led by the heroes of the Peach Grove, Liu Pei and Chang Fei.

The retreating column came upon the Changpan bridge over the Wei river with the enemy army only hours behind. On the opposite side of the river there was heavy forest. Chang Fei turned to his general Liu Pei and said: "This bridge is the only crossing point for miles and provides us with an advantage. You take the army and people across while I hold off the Wei army to give you as much of a lead as possible."

After the Shu army had crossed over, Chang Fei sent his small group of cavalrymen across the bridge into the forest where they tied branches to their horses tails and rode around in circles. Chang Fei remained sitting on his charger in the middle of the bridge. When the pursuing army of Wei came upon the sight of Chang Fei alone on the bridge they stopped. Cao Cao noticed the huge dust cloud in the distance behind the woods and suspected a trap. Chang Fei roared out a challenge to the Wei army but Cao Cao, now convinced this was a ruse, turned his men around to retreat. Chang Fei seeing the Wei army turn about spurred his charger towards the Wei as though to attack them single handedly. This so unnerved the Wei forces that they made a mad scramble to escape the area convinced a trap was closing around them. This trick bought Lui Pei and Chang Fei enough time to escape with their men and regroup at Chianling.


During the reign of emperor Ning Zong of the Southern Song Dynasty, the Jin tribal army attacked China. A capable general, Bi Daibi, beat off the Jin attack. But the determined Jin sent tens of thousands of cavalry soldiers to besiege the Song camp.

The Song forces were very worried. They had only a few thousand soldiers. But Bi Daibi thought of a brilliant plan.

Seeing that the Song forces did not react, the Jin troops were wary, but returned to their camp first. That night, the sounds of war drums rang out and the Song flags were raised. The Jin troops scrambled, ready to fight the enemy.

The beating of the drums went on but no troops emerged to fight. It went on for three days. The Jin thought that the Song forces were trying to keep them alert. Having no rest, the Jin troops returned to their camps.

Only when the sound of the war drums became faint did the Jin troops dare to enter the Song camp. The Jin found many goats with their hind legs tied to a tree and a drum placed underneath the fore legs. The beating of the drums came from the trembling fore legs of the goats. The Song forces have retreated three dys ago.


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