The 36 Strategies

Take Out One Main Enemy To Take Out Your Whole Enemy


To Catch The Bandits First Capture Their Leader

Means that you first have to take out the leader of your strong enemy. After that; your whole enemy will lose the fighting spirit and will flee or surrender and will defect to your side and that leads to a great victory.

If the enemy's army is strong but is allied to the commander only by money or threats then, take aim at the leader. If the commander falls the rest of the army will disperse or come over to your side. If, however, they are allied to the leader through loyalty then beware, the army can continue to fight on after his death out of vengeance.

Destroy the enemy crack forces and capture their chief, and the enemy will collapse. His situation will be as desperate as a sea dragon fighting on land.


Spring and Autumn Period China

In 756 BC the rebel commander Yin Ziqi led an army to lay siege against the strategic city of Suiyang.

The defending commander, Zhang Xun, noticed that Yin Ziqi oversaw the siege from well outside the range of the city's archers. He believed that if he could take out the leader the rebel's morale would sink and he would be able to launch a counter attack.

He devised a plan with his best archers. The next time the rebels assailed the wall they were to shoot back using the branches of trees. When Yin Ziqi heard that the defenders were reduced to shooting with branches he felt certain the city was ready to be taken. Before the next assault he moved in closer to better oversee the final victory. Riding atop his horse he unknowingly came within range of the archers who had saved their arrows for just such a moment. One arrow hit Yin Ziqi in the left eye killing him instantly.

The spectacle of their commander's death in front of almost the entire rebel army served to demoralize them to such an extent that they dispersed the field.


In the year AD 756, rebel commander Yin Ziqi led 100,000 soldiers to besiege the strategic city of Suiyang.

Zhang Xun was in charge of its defence and had repelled the enemy attacks many times. Zhang Xun thought that the rebel forces must be exhausted. If he attack them tonight and nab Yin Ziqi first they'll be in disarray.

That night, the defenders charged out of Suiyang. The enemies were still asleep. Zhang Xun fought his way to the main rebel camp. He killed many of the rebel officers and men but couldn't find Yin Ziqi. Zhang Xun felt that he must think of a way to get rid of Yin Ziqi.

He ordered his troops to use wormwood branches as arrows. The rebels soon realised that the enemy was using wormwood instead of arrows. Yin Ziqi thought that Zhang Xun has run out of arrows and did not fear Zhang Xun.

Catching Yin Ziqi off-guard, Zhang Xun ordered his best archer to shoot an arrow at Yin Ziqi. The arrow struck Yin Ziqi in the left eye. Yin Ziqi ordered a retreat.


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