The 36 Strategies

Trick Your Enemy To Attack Surprisely


Create Something Out Of Nothing

Means that you have to trick your enemy by 'making something of nothing'. After two times being tricked, the enemy will believe the third time is also a trick. Then you can actually attacking for real on the third time to surprise your enemy and that leads the victory.

You use the same feint twice. Having reacted to the first and often the second feint as well, the enemy will be hesitant to react to a third feint. Therefore the third feint is the actual attack catching your enemy with his guard down.

Design a counterfeit front to put the enemy off-guard. When the trick works, the front is changes into something real so that the enemy will be thrown into a atate of double confusion. In short, deceptive appearances often conceal some forthcoming dangers.


Tang Dynasty China

During the An Lushan rebellion in 756 AD the Tang general Chang Shun was under siege by the forces of general Linghu Chao.

Outnumbered twenty to one, the defending Tang forces soon ran out of arrows. To remedy this general Chang ordered his men to make straw dummies and to dress them in black uniforms. That night the dummies were lowered over the city walls by ropes, accompanied to the beat of war drums and gongs. General Linghu thought the enemy was launching a surprise night offensive and ordered his archers to shower the figures descending the walls with arrows. Once the dummies where riddled with arrows the Tang soldiers pulled them back up the walls and thus restored their supply of arrows.

The next day general Linghu realized he had been tricked and attacked the walls in revenge for being humiliated. That night the Tang again lowered the dummies but General Linghu ordered his men to ignore them believing it was the same trick to get more arrows. When general Chang saw that no one was firing at the straw dummies, he ordered that five hundred of his best troops be lowered instead. They made a lightning raid on the encamped soldiers who were caught completely by surprise. The siege was lifted and general Linghu's army fled the field.


In the year AD 756 of the Tang dynasty (The An Lushan rebellion), General Linghu Chao led 40,000 rebel troops to besiege the city of Yongqiu.

Yongqiu was defended by Tang general Zhang Xun, who had only 2,000 soldiers. The Tang troops used arrows to stop the rebels' advance, but their arrows soon ran out.

Zhang Xun ordered his men to make a thousand straw men dressed in black. Later at night, Zhang Xun's troops made battle cries and lowered the straw men down the city walls.

Linghu Chao thought the enemy was making a sneak attack. He ordered his men to shoot arrows to finish the enemy. The arrows struck the straw men. At sunrise, the Tang troops shouted their thanks to Linghu Chao for giving them the arrows.

The next night, Tang made battle cries and agained lowered the straw men. Once bitten twice shy, Linghu Chao ignored the battle cries.

Seeing that his enemy was no longer shooting arrows at him, Zhang Xun sent 500 of his best soldiers to make a sneak attack. Linghu Chao's troops were routed.


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