打草惊蛇

 
dǎ cǎo jīng shé (da cao jing she)
beat the grass to startle the snake (act rashly and alert the enemy)

During the Tang dynasty, there lived a corrupt county magistrate named Wang Lu. The people made an indirect attack on him by accusing his bookkeeper of embezzlement. Without thinking Wang wrote, "By merely beating the grass, you have startled the snake within".

Conversely, describes the stratagem of launching a brief, direct attack to get the enemy to reveal their strategy.

When you cannot detect the opponent's plans launch a direct, but brief, attack and observe your opponent reactions. His behavior will reveal his strategy.

Usage

Do something unaimed, but spectacular ("hitting the grass") to provoke a response of the enemy ("startle the snake"), thereby giving away his plans or position, or just taunt him. Do something unusual, strange, and unexpected as this will arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt his thinking. More widely used as "[Do not] startle the snake by hitting the grass". An imprudent act will give your position or intentions away to the enemy.

Qin Dynasty

The notorious eunuch Zhao Gao is credited with helping to bring down the house of Qin ending China’s first and shortest imperial dynasty. After the first emperor died he conspired with the chief minister Li Si to dispose of the legitimate heir to the throne and install a weak and corrupt puppet emperor Huhei. (See Chapter 14) Having established his influence over the young emperor, Zhao Gao was nervous about possible opposition from the other ministers of state. So he devised a test to see which ones would be faithful to him. One day he brought a stag into the court and presented it to the emperor explaining that it was a horse.

"You’re mistaken, Prime Minister”, said the emperor, “You’ve called a stag a horse.”

Zhao Gao turned to the other ministers present and asked them whether it was a horse or stag. Some kept silent, others in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the true power behind the throne agreed it was a horse, and still others said it was a stag. The emperor was under Zhao Gao’s control to such a degree that he believed he was going insane and that the stag really was a horse. Meanwhile, one of Zhao Gao’s spies was recording the answers given by each of the ministers. Afterwards, Zhao Gao secretly framed charges against all those who had said it was a stag and had them executed.

Song Dynasty China

One day, in the county of Jian-zhou, there was a man who lost a precious object. The local magistrate Chen Shu-ku, was called in to investigate. He questioned several people, but no one could tell him who the thief was. So Magistrate Chen laid a trap for those he suspected. "I know of a temple," he told them, "whose bell has great spiritual power that can tell a thief from an honest man. Since my investigation is at a standstill we must employ the supernatural powers of the bell to solve the matter." The magistrate had the bell brought to the courthouse and displayed in the rear chamber. Then he had the suspects brought in to testify to their guilt or innocence. He explained to them that if an innocent man touched the bell it would remain silent, but, if a guilty man touched the bell it would ring out. After lighting incense and chanting prayers, the magistrate had curtains erected around the bell. Previously he had instructed one of his assistants to secretly smear ink on the bell after the curtains were closed. Each suspect was then told to place his hand through the curtain and touch the bell. As they withdrew their hands Chen would examine them. Everyone's hands were stained except those of one man, who confessed to the theft. He did not touch the bell for fear it would ring.

Tang Dynasty

In the year 627 BC, Qin general Meng Mingshi led his forces to attack the state of Zheng bordered by Jin. Before he set off, Qin's top advisor Qian Shu cautioned him, "Beware of enemy ambushes when you pass Mount Xiao in Jin."

The Qin troops arrived at Mount Xiao. He was about to order his troops to advance when his two assistant generals Xi Qi and Bai Yi warned him: "We are attacking Zheng after Hua. The overlord of state of Jin won't like this. Now that we are at Mount Xiao we should be careful." "Mount Xiao is a dangerous place. We should search out its paths to make sure it's safe."

Meng Mingshi did not think it was neccessary to take precautions. Upon seeing some Jin's troops, Meng Mingshi ordered his troops to charge to finish them off. The Jin troops disappeared and the mountain path was sealed off.

Meng Mingshi ordered the Jin flag to be brought down. As the flag fell, war cries broke out. Qin's troops were encircled by the Jin forces and slaughtered.

Meaning: 打草惊了草里的蛇。原比喻惩罚了甲而使乙有所警觉。后多比喻做法不谨慎,反使对方有所戒备。

Context: 宋·郑文宝《南唐近事》:“王鲁为当涂宰,颇以资产为务,会部民连状诉主簿贪贿于县尹。鲁乃判曰:‘汝虽打草,吾已惊蛇。’”

Example: 空自去“~”,倒吃他做了手脚,却是不好。 ◎明·施耐庵《水浒全传》第二十九回

Synonyms: 操之过急、因小失大

Antonyms: 欲擒故纵、引蛇出洞

Grammar: 连动式;作谓语、定语、宾语;含贬义,多用于否定句

疑以叩实①,察而后动; 复者,阴之媒也②。

【注释】

①疑以叩实:叩,问,查究。意为发现了疑点就应 当考实查究清楚。

②复者,阴之媒也:复者,反复去做,即反复去叩实而后动。阴,此指某些隐藏着的、暂时尚不明显或未暴露的事物、情况。媒,媒介。句意为反复叩实查究,而后采取相应的行动,实际是发现隐藏之敌的重要手段。

【按语】

敌力不露,阴谋深沉,未可轻进,应遍探其锋。兵书云:“军旁有险阻、潢井、葭苇、山林、翳荟者,必谨复索之,此伏奸所藏也。”

【解析】

兵法早已告诫指挥者,进军的路旁,如果遇到险要地势,坑地水洼,芦苇密林,野草遍地,—定不能麻痹大意,稍有不慎,就会“打草惊蛇”而被埋伏之敌所歼。可是,战场情况复杂变化多端,有时已方巧设伏兵,故意“打草惊蛇”,让敌军中计的战例也层出不穷。

打草惊蛇之计,一则指对于隐蔽的敌人,己方不得轻举妄动,以免敌方发现我军意图而采取主动;二则指用佯攻助攻等方法“打草”,引蛇出动,中我埋伏,聚而歼之。

【探源】

打草惊蛇,语出段成式《酉阳杂俎》:唐代王鲁为当涂县令,搜刮民财,贪污受贿。有一次,县民控告他的部下主薄贪脏。他见到状子,十分惊骇,情不自禁地在状子上批了八个字:“汝虽打草,吾已惊蛇。”

打草惊蛇,作为谋略,是指敌方兵力没有暴露,行踪诡秘,意向不明时,切切不可轻敌冒进,应当查清敌方主力配置、运动状况再说。

公元前627年,秦穆公发兵攻打郑国,他打算和安插在郑国的奸细里应外合,夺取郑国都城。大夫蹇叔以为秦国离郑国路途遥远,兴师动众长途跋涉,郑国肯定会作好迎战准备。秦穆公不听,派孟明视等三帅率部出征。蹇叔在部队出发时.痛哭流涕地警告说,恐怕你们这次袭郑不成,反会遭到晋国的埋伏,只有到崤山去给士兵收尸了。果然不出蹇叔所料,郑国得到了秦国袭郑的情报,逼走了秦国安插的奸细,作好了迎敌准备。秦军见袭郑不成,只得回师,但部队长途跋涉,十分疲惫。部队经过崤山时,仍然不作防备。他们以为秦国曾对晋国刚死不久的晋文公有恩,晋国不会攻打秦军。哪里知道,晋国早在崤山险蜂峡谷中埋伏了重兵。一个炎热的中午,秦军发现晋军小股部队,孟明十分恼怒,下令追击。追到山隘险要处.晋军突然不见踪影。孟明一见此地山高路窄,草深林密,情知不妙。这时鼓声震天,杀声四起,晋军伏兵蜂涌而上,大败秦军,生擒孟明视等三帅。秦军不察敌情,轻举妄动,“打草惊蛇”终于遭到惨败。当然,军事上有时也可故意“打草惊蛇”而诱敌暴露,从而取得战斗的胜利。

【故事】

公元1642年,李自成率部围困开封。崇祯皇帝连忙调集各路兵马,援救开封。李自成部已完成了对开封的包围部署。明军二十五万兵马和一万辆炮车增援开封,集中在离开封西南四十五里的朱仙镇。

李自成为了不让援军与开封守敌合为一股,在开封和朱仙镇分别布置了两个包围圈,把明军分割开来。又在南方交通线上挖一条长达百里、宽为一丈六尺的大壕沟,一断明军粮道,二断明军退路。明军各路兵马,貌合神离,心怀鬼胎,互不买帐。李自成兵分两路,一路突袭朱仙镇南部的虎大威的部队,造成“打草惊蛇”的作用,一路牵制力量最强的左良玉部队。击溃虎大威部后,左良玉果然因被围困得难以脱身,人马损失过半,拼命往西南突围。李自成故意放开一条路,让败军溃逃。哪知,左良玉退了几十里地又遇截击,面临李自成挖好的大壕沟,马过不去,士兵只得弃马渡沟,仓皇逃命。这时等在此地的伏兵迅速出击,明军人仰马翻,尸填沟堑,全军覆没。

Syndicate content