The 36 Strategies

Weaken Your Enemy, Strengthen Your Army


Await The Exhausted Enemy At Your Ease

Means that you first must weaken your enemy by exhausting them via several quests. Then also build up your strength to get ready for an attack with much energy that leads to victory.

When you do not have the means to attack your enemy directly, then attack using the strength of another. Trick an ally into attacking him, bribe an official to turn traitor, or use the enemy's own strength against him.

To weaken the enemy, it is not necessary to attack him directly. Tire him by carrying out an active defence, and in doing so, his strength will be reduced, and your side will gain the upper hand. This is weakening the strong to benefit the weak.


Chinese Folk Tale

The emperor Xuan of Zhou loved to gamble on cock fights and kept a stable of specially bred fighting roosters. Although they were strong and fierce they would nevertheless lose against the roosters trained by Ji Xing Ze. The emperor therefore hired Ji to train his roosters.

Ten days had passed when the emperor went to the stables to ask if they were ready to fight.

"No." said Ji, " They are far too fierce and proud of their strength. They rush to attack even the slightest noise."

After another ten days passed the emperor returned to enquire again.

"Not yet. They are still haughty and jump at everything that moves."

After another ten days the emperor again asked the question.

"No, still not yet. Although they no longer rush to attack, they still raise their hackles and stare fiercely at the slightest provocation."

After yet another ten days the emperor again asked if the roosters were ready.

"Yes, they are nearly ready. Although some still crow from time to time, none ever change their countenance. From a distance they appear as steady is if they were made of wood. Before them, their untrained opponents would not dare accept their challenge and could only turn back and run."


Towards the end of the Warring States period, the state of Qin attacked in succession Han, Zhao, Yan and Wei. It also despatched the young and inexperienced general Li Xing to attack the Chu state. But Li Xing was soundly beaten and returned in defeat.

In 221 BC, Qin sent its old general Wang Jian on a punitive expedition to Chu. Wang Jian built a stockade in Chu's border.

The Chu forces taunted Wang Jian, but Wang Jian abstained from fighting training his troops all the while.

The Chu forces grew sick of the taunting and withdrew. As they were withdrawing, Wang Jian attacked.

In the year 223 BC, the Qin soldiers smashed into Chu's capital Shouchun and captured its king Fu Chu.


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