36 Ji Introduction Table of content – Thirty-Six Strategies

A recently uncovered notebook of 36 proverbs commented as military tactics that helps dealing with conflicts. Tr. Verstappen (en), Doc Mac Jr (fr).

36ji IV. 21.

Shed Your Skin Like the Golden Cicada

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.

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.


« Le scarabée d'or opère sa mue »

Quand tu t'échappes, fais-le très secrètement, sans que cela se sache.
Construit un faux bastion afin de dissuader l'ennemi d'attaquer,
et retire-toi discrètement en laissant un nid vide.

Maintenir à l'intérieur la forme originelle et adopter au dehors une posture originale, ainsi les alliés n'auront pas de doutes et les ennemis ne bougeront pas. Soumission et instabilité mènent au déclin.*

A une certaine distance, la dépouille du scarabée ressemble au scarabée lui-même. Celui qui cherche à capturer un scarabée peut être distrait par la dépouille pendant que le scarabée s'enfuit. Ainsi cette maxime met en valeur une méthode d'évasion : maintenir l'apparence de l'inaction pendant que l'on agit en secret.

A la guerre, la retraite n'est pas plus aisée que l'avancée. Une armée qui fait retraite est exposée à une attaque sur ses arrières ; le repli peut se transformer en débandade si les forces supérieures de l'ennemi poursuivent leur offensive. Par conséquent, il faut mettre sur pieds une « retraite-surprise » en se repliant dans un mouvement brusque et en même temps maintenir l'apparence de l'inaction.

Dans un sens plus large cette stratégie requiert que vous fassiez usage de faux-semblants pour préserver le secret de vos manœuvres militaires.

Connexion avec la stratégie Trente-Six.

* Texte de l'hexagramme n°18 Gu (réparer/les fautes)... Pour enrayer le déclin et repartir de nouveau, il faut agir avec beaucoup de précautions. Ne pas foncer la tête la première et consacrer quelques temps à un réajustement interne.

Doc Mac Jr


Read up on it, the web page is correct, its just in a style that is not very common now, being replaced by Pinyin
Anon. – 2006/12/06
hiya, thanks for all these translations, but there are some errors in 36 ji, number 21..

In it, it was said that Liu Bei is Chang Fei's general, this is wrong, Liu Bei is ruler of Shu and Zhang Fei, the 3rd sworn brother of Liu Bei (Guan Yu is the 2nd), is a general of Shu.

During Zhang Fei's single handed face off with CaoCao's men at Chang Pan bridge, he shouted 3 challenges and Cao Cao's men did not respond to any of it. on the 3rd challenge, one of Cao Cao's men was shocked and fell off his horse and was killed instantly.

After CaoCao's retreat, Zhang Fei (sadly) torn down the bridge and went to regroup with Liu Bei. Cao Cao, after hearing that the bridge was torn down, knew he was tricked and continued chasing them, but they were already in Jiang Ling (not Chian Ling)

Nice site... really.. It's from the bottom of my heart :)
Andy Lai Chonghua – 2005/12/02
[Xref] Strategy 21 quotes I Ching hexagram 18
gbog – Yijing 18 – 2005/12/02
36 Ji IV. 21. (21) IntroductionTable of content
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AliasThirty-Six Strategies, Thirty-Six Stratagems, Secret Art of War, Les 36 stratagèmes, Les Trente-six stratégies

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