Thirty Six (36) Chinese Strategies

Victory Stratagems (胜战计)

The "Winning stratagems" when one is in a superior position. The six stratagems in this category are:

  1. "Deceiving the heavens to cross the sea" (瞒天过海, 瞞天過海, mán tiān guò hǎi)
  2. "Besieging Wei to save Zhao" (围魏救赵, 圍魏救趙, wéi Wèi jiù Zhào)
  3. "Killing with a borrowed knife" (借刀杀人, 借刀殺人, jiè dāo shā rén)
  4. "Conserving energy while the enemy tires himself out" (以逸待劳, 以逸待勞, yǐ yì dài láo)
  5. "Looting a house on fire" (趁火打劫, chèn huǒ dǎ jié)
  6. "Making a feint to the east but hitting out in the west" (声东击西, 聲東擊西, shēng dōng jí xī)

Opportunistic stratagems (敌战计)

The stratagems for confrontation with an enemy are meant to exploit vulnerabilities in a situation.

  1. "Creating something out of nothing" (无中生有, 無中生有, wú zhōng shēng yǒu)
  2. "Secret escape through Chen Cang" (暗渡陈仓, 暗渡陳倉, àn dù chén cāng)
  3. "Observing the fire from the other side of the river" (隔岸观火, 隔岸觀火, gé àn guān huǒ)
  4. "A dagger sheathed in a smile" (笑里藏刀, 笑裏藏刀, xiào lǐ cáng dāo)
  5. "The plum dies in place of the peach" (李代桃僵, lǐ dài táo jiāng)
  6. "Stealing a goat along the way" (顺手牵羊, 順手牽羊, shùn shǒu qiān yáng)

Attack stratagems (攻战计)

The offensive stratagems are used to try and gain victory through direct attack.

  1. "Hitting the grass to startle the snake" (打草惊蛇, 打草驚蛇, dá cǎo jīng shé)
  2. "Borrowing a corpse to resurrect a soul" (借尸还魂, 借屍還魂, jiè shī huán hún)
  3. "Luring a tiger from its lair in the mountain" (调虎离山, 調虎離山, diào hǔ lí shān)
  4. "Releasing the enemy to recapture him later" (欲擒故纵, 欲擒姑縱, yù qín gū zòng)
  5. "Tossing out a brick to get a jade" (抛砖引玉, 拋磚引玉, pāo zhuān yǐn yù)
  6. "Disband the bandits by arresting their leader" (擒贼擒王, 擒賊擒王, qín zéi qín wáng)

Confusion stratagems (混战计)

The stratagems for chaotic situations aim to throw an opponent off his guard.

  1. "Pulling out the firewood from beneath the cauldron" (斧底抽薪, fǔ dǐ chōu xīn)
  2. "Catching a fish in troubled waters" (混水摸鱼, 混水摸魚, hún shuǐ mō yú)
  3. "Making an unnoticed escape like a golden cicada shedding its skin" (金蝉脱壳, 金蟬脱殼, jīn chán tuō qiào)
  4. "Shutting the doors to catch the thief" (关门捉贼, 關門捉賊, guān mén zhōu zéi)
  5. "Befriend the far and attack the near" (远交近攻, 遠交近攻, yuǎn jiāo jìn gōng)
  6. "Borrow a passage to attack Guo" (假途伐虢/假道伐虢, jia tu fa guo/jiǎ dào fá guó)

Deception stratagems (并战计)

Proximate stratagems for gaining ground aim to create advantages for oneself.

  1. "Replace superior beams and pillars with inferior ones" (偷梁换柱, 偷梁換柱, tōu liáng huàn zhù)
  2. "Pointing at the mulberry but scolding the locust tree" (指桑骂槐, 指桑罵槐, zhǐ sāng mà huái)
  3. "Pretending to be insane but remaining smart" (假痴不颠, 假痴不癲, jiǎ chī bù diān)
  4. "Remove the ladder after the enemy ascends to the roof" (上屋抽梯, shàng wū chōu tī)
  5. "Deck the tree with flowers" (树上开花, 樹上開花, shù shàng kāi huā)
  6. "The guest takes over as host" (反客为主, 反客為主, fǎn kè wéi zhǔ)

Desperate stratagems (败战计)

In a desperate situation, one may have to resort to unconventional and unorthodox methods and means. As such, some of these stratagems can be quite dramatic and "tragic". However, when used appropriately, such stratagems can be very effective. These include:

  1. "Beauty Scheme" (美人计, 美人計, měi rén jì)
  2. "Empty City Scheme" (空城计, 空城計, kōng chéng jì)
  3. "Double Agent Ploy" (反间计, 反間計, fǎn jiàn jì)
  4. "Self-injury scheme" (苦肉计, 苦肉計, kǔ ròu jì)
  5. "A series of interconnected ploys" (连环计, 連環計, lián huán jì)
  6. "Escape - the best scheme" (走为上, 走為上, zǒu wéi shàng)