关门捉贼

 
guān mén zhōu zéi (guan men zhou zei)
shut the door to catch the thief

If you have the chance to completely capture the enemy then you should do so thereby bringing the battle or war to a quick and lasting conclusion. To allow your enemy to escape plants the seeds for future conflict. But if they succeed in escaping, be wary of giving chase.

Warring States Era China

In 449 BC the state of Wu had invaded the state of Yue and carried off its duke Guo Jian holding him prisoner for three years before releasing him back to his kingdom. When he returned Guo Jian planned his revenge. For seven years he ruled with benevolence and generosity making a reputation as a wise and virtuous ruler until he felt his loyal subjects were prepared to undergo any hardship for him. He accordingly assembled his forces and attacked Wu gaining a decisive victory.(See Chapter 5) The king of Wu had to flee but it would only be a matter of time before he was caught. He sent ambassadors to Guo Jian begging for mercy. They reminded him of how Wu, though she had him firmly in her grasp, had released him to return to his state. The king of Wu now asked to be granted the same favor. Guo Jian was contemplating granting this appeal when his prime minister Fan Li intervened and said: "When heaven gave the duke of Wu the grand opportunity for gaining power he did not take advantage of it and so he is a fugitive today. Should you fail to accept what fortune has now given you, you may be driven from your state, and then all the years of hardships you have bourn will have been endured in vain." The duke was swayed by the argument and sent the ambassador back with the message that he would not grant any mercy. When the king of Wu received the message he gave up all hope and committed suicide.

Zhao Kuo

In the year 260 BC, the armies of Qin and Zhao met in a decisive battle. Qin used the strategy of sowing discord among the enemy to cause the Zhao commander Lian Po, an experienced general, to be replaced by an armchair strategist, Zhao Kuo.

Qin general Bai Qi ordered, "Take our main forces to Changbi in Qin and be well-entrenched there. Block off all exits." "Take 3,000 soldiers to lure Zhao troops out."

Zhao Kuo did not know about the trap and when Qin deliberately let him win his first battle, he was extremely elated and cocky. He even ordered an all-out attack. Zhao's troops pursued all the way to Changbi.

Qin soldiers then cut off their route of retreat and supplies. The Zhao troops were unable to call for reinforcements as the Qin men have divided them making them unable to contact the rest of the army.

For 46 days, the Zhao soldiers were completely cut off from supplies and assistance. They could not break through the Qin encirclement. The Qin maintained the siege and refrained from fighting.

As a last ditched attempt, Zhao Kuo tried to break through the encirclement with a shock force of 5,000 men but he was killed. Zhao's troops troops surrenedered but Qin showed no mercy to them. The Zhao army was wiped out. The paper strategist caused 400,000 Zhao soldiers to lose their lives.

小敌困之①。剥,不利有攸往②。

【注释】

①小敌困之:对弱小或者数量较少的敌人,要设法去困围(或者说歼灭)他。

②剥,不利有攸往:语出《易经.剥》卦。剥,卦名。本卦异卦相叠(坤下艮上),上卦为艮为山,下卦为坤为地。意即广阔无边的大地在吞没山,故外名日“剥”。“剥”,落的意思。卦辞:“剥,不利有彼往”意为:剥卦说,有所往则不利。

此计引此卦辞,是说对小股敌人要即时围困消灭,而不利于去急追或者远袭。

【按语】

捉贼而必关门,非恐其逸也,恐其逸而为他人所得也;且逸者不可复追,恐其诱也。贼署,奇兵也,游兵也,所以劳我者也。吴子曰:“今使一死贼,伏于矿野,千人追之,莫不枭视狼顾。何者?恐其暴起而害己也。是以—人投命,足惧千夫。”追贼者,贼有脱逃之机,势必死斗;若断其去路,则成擒矣。故小敌必困之,不能,则放之可也。

【解析】

关门捉贼,不仅仅是恐怕敌人逃走,而且怕它逃走之后被他人所利用。如果门关不紧,让敌人脱逃,千万不可轻易追赶,防止中了敌人的诱兵之计。这个贼,指的是那些出没无常、偷袭我军的游击队伍。他们的企图,是使我军疲劳,以便实现他们的目的。兵书《吴子》中特别强调不可轻易追逐逃敌。他打了一个比方,一个亡命之徒隐藏在旷野里,你派一千个人去捉他,也会十分困难,这是为什么呢?主要是怕对方突然袭击而损害自己。所以说,一个人只要是玩命不怕死,就会让一千个人害怕。根据这个道理推测,敌军如能脱逃,势必拼命战斗,如果截断他的去路,敌军就易于歼灭了。所以,对弱敌必须围而歼之,如果不能围歼,暂时放它逃走也未尝不可,千万不可轻易追击。

如果指挥员能统观全局,因势用计,因情变通,捉到的也可能不是小贼,而是敌军的主力部队。所谓“关门打狗”,就是这种情况。

【探源】

关门捉贼,是指对弱小的敌军要采取四面包围、聚而歼之的谋略。如果让敌人得以脱逃,情况就会十分复杂。穷追不舍,一伯它拼命反扑,二怕中敌诱兵之计。这里所说的“贼”,是指那些善于偷袭的小部队,它的特点是行动诡秘,出没不定,行踪难测。它的数量不多,破坏性很大,常会乘我方不备,侵扰我军。所以,对这种 “贼”,不可放其逃跑,而要断他的后路,聚而歼之。当然,此计运用得好,决不只限于“小贼”,甚至可以围歼敌主力部队。

战国后期,秦国攻打赵国。秦军在长平(今山西高平北)受阻。长平守将是赵国名将廉颇,他见秦军势力强大,不能硬拼,便命令部队坚壁固守,不与秦军交战。两军相持四个多月,秦军仍拿不下饭长平。秦王采纳了范睢的建议,用离间法让赵王怀疑廉颇,赵王中计,调回廉颇,派赵括为将到长平与秦军作战。赵括到长平后,完全改变了廉颇坚守不战的策略,主张与秦军对面决战。秦将白起故意让赵括尝到一点甜头,使赵括的军队取得了几次小胜。赵括果然得意忘形,派人到秦营下战书。这下正中白起的下怀。他分兵几路,指挥形成对赵括军的包围圈。第二天,赵括亲率四十万大军,来与秦兵决战。秦军与赵军几次交战,都打输了。赵括志得意满,哪里知道敌人用的是诱敌之计。他率领大军追赶被打败了的秦军,一直追到秦壁。秦军坚守不出,赵括一连数日也攻克不了,只得退兵。这时突然得到消息:自己的后营已被秦军攻占,粮道也被秦军截断。秦军已把赵军全部包围起未。一连四十六天,赵军绝粮,士兵杀人相食,赵括只得拼命突围。白起已严密部署,多次击退企图突围的赵军,最后,赵括中箭身亡,赵军大乱。可惜四十万大军都被秦军杀戮。这个赵括,就是会“纸上谈兵”,在真正的战场上,一下子就中了敌军“关门捉贼”之计,损失四十万大军,使赵国从此一蹶不振。

【故事】

公元880年,黄巢率领起义军攻克唐朝都城长安。唐僖宗仓皇逃到四川成都,纠集残部,并请沙陀李克用出兵攻打黄巢的起义军。第二年,唐军部署已完成,出兵企图收复长安。凤翔一战,义军将领尚让中敌埋伏之计,被唐军击败。这时,唐军声势浩大,乘胜进兵,直逼长安。

黄巢见形势危急,召众将商议对策。众将分析了敌众我寡的形势,认为不宜硬拼。黄巢当即决定:部队全部退出长安,往东开拔。

唐朝大军抵达长安,不见黄巢迎战,好生奇怪。先锋程宗楚下令攻城,气势汹汹杀进长安城内,才发现黄巢的部队已全部撤走。唐军毫不费力地占领了长安,众将欣喜若狂,纵容士兵抢劫百姓财物。士兵们见起义军败退,纪律松驰,成天三五成群骚扰百姓。长安城内一片混乱。唐军将领也被胜利冲昏了头脑,成天饮酒作乐,欢庆胜利。

黄巢派人打听到城中情况,高兴地说:敌人已入瓮中。当天半夜时分,急令部队迅速回师长安。唐军沉浸在胜利的喜悦中呼呼大睡。突然,神兵天降,起义军以迅雷不及掩耳之势,冲进长安城内,只杀得毫无戒备的唐军尸横遍地。程宗楚从梦中醒来,只见起义军已冲杀进城,唐军大乱,无法指挥,最后他在乱军中被杀。黄巢用 “关门捉贼”之计,重新占据长安。

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