走为上计

 
zǒu wèi shàng jì (zou wei shang ji)
if all else fails, retreat

If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat then retreat and regroup.

Usage

If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat then retreat and regroup. When your side is losing there are only three choices remaining: surrender, compromise, or escape. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance.

This is the most famous one of the 36th strategy, immortalized in the form of a Chinese idiom: "Of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, fleeing is best." (三十六計,走為上策 - sānshí liù jì, zǒu wèi shàng cè)

Ming Dynasty China

The Ming emperor Hwei Ti, had disposed of all his uncles except one who feigned madness. (See 假痴不颠) This very uncle, the prince of Yan, in 1403 led a huge army to the capital of Nanking to seize the throne. The city was surrounded and the emperor considered committing suicide when he was stopped by a eunuch who told him that his grandfather, the emperor Hong Wu, had left a chest in his care with orders that should any great crisis occur to threaten the dynasty then the reigning emperor should open the chest.

"Let us open it at once then," said the emperor, "and see what my father would do were he here now." When the lid was lifted the box was found to contain the robes of a Buddhist monk, a diploma, a razor, and ten ingots of silver. The emperor understood the meaning at once and with a handful of attendants fled the palace through a secret tunnel to a Buddhist temple. There he shaved his head and put on the robes. He made his way out of the city and all the way to Sichuan province where he lived in obscurity in a remote monastery.

Meanwhile the palace had burned down during the fighting and it was assumed that the emperor had died in the fire. Forty years later during the rein of emperor Ying Tsung (the fourth since Hwei Ti's time) an old Buddhist priest arrived at court and claimed to be the old emperor Hwei Ti. It turned out the man was an imposter but a rumor began that Hwei Ti was still alive. To quell the rumors and settle the issue, an official investigation was made which discovered that Hwei Ti was indeed still alive living as a Buddhist priest. The old emperor was invited back to the capital with great ceremony and he lived out his last days as a guest in the palace. However, he was kept under a watchful eye.

Northern and Southern Dynasties period

To avoid combat with a powerful enemy, the whole army should retreat and wait for the right time to advance again. This is not inconsistent with normal military priciples.

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period, Tan Daoji was the founding general of the Song Dynasty. King Wen Di put Tan in charge of a punitive expedition to the south.

In the year AD 431, Tan Daoji led troops to fight the state of Northern Wei. The Song army won more than thirty battles. The Song army advanced to Zhili city but was short of food.

The enemy had sent a spy to the Song camp. Realizing that the enemy's spy will know that they are short of food, Tan Daoji formulated a plan with the provisions officer.

That night, the provisions officer took stock of the food. The spy saw many sacks of food and found it strange, he had thought that the Song army had run out of food.

When the provisions officer finished taking stock and kept the sacks of food, the spy came out to inspect the ground, where the provisions officer had taken stock of the food. The spy found on the ground real grains that were presumably dropped from the sacks.

The spy reported back saying that the Song army had enough food and was unlikely to leave. By the time the Norhern Wei army realized they were tricked, the Song forces had safely pulled out.

Acutally, the grains were scattered on the ground and the rest were sacks of sand.

Meaning: 遇到强敌或陷于困境时,以离开回避为最好的策略。

Context: 《南齐书·王敬则传》:“檀公三十六策,走是上计。”

Synonyms: 走为上策

Grammar: 主谓式;作谓语、定语;含褒义

全师避敌①。左次无咎,未失常也②

【注释】

①全师避敌:全军退却,避开强敌。

②左次无咎,未失常也:语出《易经.师》卦(卦名解释见前二十六计注)。本卦六四.《象》辞:“左次无咎,未失常也。”是说军队在左边扎营,没有危险,(因为扎营或左边或右边,要依时情而定)并没有违背行军常道。

【按语】

敌势全胜,我不能战,则:必降;必和;必走。降则全败,和则半败,走则未败。未败者,胜之转机也。如宋毕再遇与金人对垒,度金兵至者日众,难与争锋。—夕拔营去,留旗帜于营,豫缚生羊悬之,置其前二足于鼓上,羊不堪悬,则足击鼓有声。金人不觉为空营,相持数日,乃觉,欲追之,则已远矣。(《战略考.南宋》)可谓善走者矣!

【解析】

敌方已占优势,我方不能战胜它,为了避免与敌人决战,只有三条出路:投降,讲和,撤退。三者相比,投降是彻底失败,讲和也是一半失败,而撤退不能算失败。撤退,可以转败为胜。当然,撤退决不是消极逃跑,撤退的目的是避免与敌主力决战。主动撤退还可以诱敌,调动敌人,制造有利的战机。总之退是为进。

何时走?怎样走?这里要随机应变,学问大得很。按语中讲的毕再通用缚羊击鼓蒙蔽金人,从容撤走的故事,就显出毕再遇运用“走为上计”的高超本领。

【探源】

走为上,指敌我力量悬殊的不利形势下,采取有计划的主动撤退,避开强敌,寻找战机,以退为进。这在谋略中也应是上策。这句话,出自《南齐书.王敬则传》:“檀公三十六策,走为上计。”其实,我国战争史上,早就有“走为上”计运用得十分精彩的例子。

春秋初期,楚国日益强盛,楚将子玉率师攻晋。楚国还胁迫陈、蔡、郑、许四个小国出兵,配合楚军作战。此时晋文公刚攻下依附楚国的曹国,明知晋楚之战迟早不可避免。

子玉率部浩浩荡荡向曹国进发,晋文公闻讯,分析了形势。他对这次战争的胜败没有把握,楚强晋弱,其势汹汹,他决定暂时后退,避其锋芒。对外假意说道:“当年我被迫逃亡,楚国先君对我以礼相待。我曾与他有约定,将来如我返回晋国,愿意两国修好。如果迫不得已,两国交兵,我定先退避三舍。现在,子玉伐我,我当实行诺言,先退三舍。(古时一舍为三十里。)”

他撤退九十里,已到晋国边界城濮,仗着临黄河,靠太行山,足以御敌。他已事先派人往秦国和齐国求助。

子玉率部追到城濮,晋文公早已严阵以待。晋文公已探知楚国左、中、右三军,以右军最薄弱,右军前头为陈、蔡士兵,他们本是被胁迫而来,并无斗志。子玉命令左右军先进,中军继之。楚右军直扑晋军,晋军忽然又撤退,陈、蔡军的将官以为晋军惧怕,又要逃跑,就紧追不舍。忽然晋军中杀出一支军队,驾车的马都蒙上老虎皮。陈、蔡军的战马以为是真虎,吓得乱蹦乱跳,转头就跑,骑兵哪里控制得住。楚右军大败。晋文公派士兵假扮陈、蔡军士,向子玉报捷:“右师已胜,元帅赶快进兵。”子玉登车一望,晋军后方烟尘蔽天,他大笑道:“晋军不堪一击。”其实,这是晋军诱敌之计,他们在马后绑上树枝,来往奔跑,故意弄得烟尘蔽日,制造假象。子玉急命左军并力前进。晋军上军故意打着帅旗,往后撤退。楚左军又陷于晋国伏击圈,又遭歼灭。等子玉率中军赶到,晋军三军合力,已把子玉团团围住。子玉这才发现,右军、左军都已被歼,自己已陷重围,急令突围。虽然他在猛将成大心的护卫下,逃得性命,但部队丧亡惨重,只得悻悻回国。

这个故事中晋文公的几次撤退,都不是消极逃跑,而是主动退却,寻找或制造战机。所以,“走”,是上策。

【故事】

再说一个城濮大战之前,楚国吞并周围小国日益强盛的故事。

楚庄王为了扩张势力,发兵攻打庸国。由于庸国奋力抵抗,楚军一时难以推进。庸国在一次战斗中还俘虏了楚将杨窗。但由于庸国疏忽,三天后,杨窗竟从庸国逃了回来。杨窗报告了庸国的情况,说道:“庸国人人奋战,如果我们不调集主力大军,恐怕难以取胜。”

楚将师叔建议用佯装败退之计,以骄庸军。于是师叔带兵进攻,开战不久,楚军佯装难以招架,败下阵来,向后撤退。象这样一连几次,楚军节节败退。庸军七战七捷,不由得骄傲起来,不把楚军放在眼里。军心麻痹,斗志渐渐松懈,戒备渐渐失去了。

这时,楚应王率领增援部队赶来,师叔说,“我军已七次佯装败退,庸人已十分骄傲,现在正是发动总攻的大好时机。”楚庄王下令兵分两路进攻庸国。庸国将士正陶醉在胜利之中,怎么也不会想到楚军突然杀回,仓促应战,抵挡不住。楚军一举消灭了庸国。师叔七次佯装败退,是为了制造战机,一举歼敌。

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