SUN ZI'S ART OF WAR:
DEADLY ORIENTAL STRATEGIES for SUCCESS, CAREER & BUSINESS

from GUI *WORLD OF CULTURE*

HOMEPAGE:
GUI WORLD OF CULTURE
AMAZING SCIENTIFIC
WORLD OF FENG SHUI
CULTURE SYMBOLISM
ORIENTAL STRATEGY
SUN TZU ART OF WAR
ARTICLES in Strategy
SUN TZU ART OF WAR COURSES
YI JING
CONFUCIUS

Article
THE ANCIENT STRATEGISTS OF CHINA

Dr. Chong Kuang-Yin. 29th January 1999

Sun Zi Art of War,
the world oldest military strategy manual


top

One Early Strategist in China --- Gao Dao

In the history of China, one of the first strategists was Gao Dao who was helping the imperial court during the early period of Xia Dynasty. The story of Gao Dao appears in the book of Shang Shu, which is considered a book of political science for the period from Emperor Yao to Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Both Yu and Gao Dao were the immediate assistants to Emperor Shun. Gao Dao gave much strategic advice to the administration of Emperor Shun. The main contents of his proposals to Emperor Shun are:

  • to cultivate virtue and to establish the foundation, for once the foundation is established, the Dao ["Way"] will breed;
  • to judge a person and to know how to choose the right person for the right job, the priority being to bring peace and stability to the people;
  • to use virtue to review behavior and to use events to examine words;
  • to assign a person according to his competency, the priority must consider his virtue;
  • to refrain from indulging in pleasure and to prevent from engaging redundant officers;
  • to follow the virtue of the heaven and to show example to the people;
  • to understand the needs of the people and to create an environment in favor of the people.

The Outstanding Strategist of the Shang Dynasty --- Yi Yin

Yi Yin was the chief strategist to the leader Tang. He helped Tang to overthrow the Xia Dynasty and established the Shang Dynasty. Tang became the Emperor Tang.


The Outstanding Strategist of the Zhou Dynasty --- Jiang Zi Ya

Jiang Zi Ya is the father of strategy in China.He lived in the later part of the Shang Danasty about one thousand years before the century. When he was one of the officers in the imperial court of the Shang Dynasty, he found King Zhou was the fatuous and self-indulgent ruler. He gave up his post and became a hermit. He spent most of his time doing fishing at the River Ban of Wei Shui. One day, the head of the dukes Xi Bo for the west territory invited him to be his advisor. He prepared a strategic plan to overthrow King Zhou and finally with the support from the people, he helped Xi Bo and his successor to establish the Dynasty of Zhou.

Jiang Zi Ya was the chief strategist to the leader Xi Bo. He helped Xi Bo to overthrow the Shang Dynasty and formed the Zhou Dynasty. Xi Bo became the Emperor Zhou Wen Wang.

Jiang Zi Ya @ Tai Gong or commonly called Jiang Tai Gong. He died in 1073 B.C.. He was the great thinker, statesman, military man and strategist. He was a high ranking officer in the imperil court of Shang Dynasty. As he saw the Emperor Zhou of Shang Dynasty was the fatuous and self-indulgent ruler, he abandoned his position in the imperial court and became a recluse. When the unrest occurred in Shang Dynasty, Xi Bo of the Kingdom Zhou was appointed by the Shang Dynasty to be the head of all dukes. Xi Bo was a brilliant person, he respected his subordinates and followers. He went round the country to look for able and virtuous persons. One day, he encountered a man who was fishing near a stream and discovered his fishing line without hook and lure. It seems that it was the arrangement of the heaven, both of them met and talked very freely and sincerely. Finally, Xi Bo invited Jiang Zi Ya to be his aide-de-camp. Xi Bo followed the Ten Years Master Plans of Jiang Zi Ya. At last, Wu-Wang, the son of Xi Bo, defeated the tyrannical ruler of the Shang Dynasty and formed the Dynasty of Zhou. Jiang Zi Ya was recognized as Tai Gong after the formation of the administration of Zhou Dynasty.

There is a book of recording the dialogue between Zhou Wen Wang or King Wen and Tai Gong called Liu Tao or "The Six Strategies and Tactics".


The Outstanding Strategist of the Spring and Autumn Period--- Sun Zi

Sun Zi is the alias name of Sun Wu, he was born in the Period of Spring and Autumn in the Kingdom Ji at Le An county (To-day: Shang Dong Province, Hui Min). Due to the internal affair of the Kingdom Ji, Sun Zi ran away from Shang Dong Province to the south and joined the Kingdom Wu. He was called by King He Lu, who was impressed with his thirteen chapters on military strategy. He was finally appointed as one of the military generals and the immediate aide to the king.

Due to the weakening of the Zhou administration in China, the families of the power groups bred during the Zhou Dynasty and emerged to be the territorial autonomous commanders and finally they formed their own kingdoms. This was the period of Spring and Autumn in the history of China. During this period, many thinkers and philosophers surfaced to talk and teach about their thoughts and philosophies to the people. The kingdom Lu had the great philosopher and teacher Confucius and the kingdom Qi had a great military strategist called Sun Zi. If we consider Confucius as the sage of letters of China, then we must consider Sun Zi as the sage of strategy of China.


Common Heritage of Universal Strategies

An ancient document, Appendix 3: Yellow Emperor Attacks Red Emperor, was dug up along with other Sun Zi documents from the Han tombs, which records this interesting passage:

  • Sun Tzu said... [The Yellow Emperor attacked the Red Emperor in the south. He reached]... The battle occurred on the Banshan plain. He positioned to the right of the lowlands, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated and conquered the enemy. Over... [years] relieved the people from public labor... developed agriculture, and pardoned prisoners.
    Then he attacked the ... [Green] Emperor in the east. He arrived at Xiangping. They fought at Bing... [He positioned to the right of the lowland, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated ... [and conquered the enemy]. Over... years he relieved the people from public labor, developed agriculture, and pardoned prisoners.
    Then he attacked the Black Emperor in the north. He arrived in Wusui... [They fought at].... [He positioned to the right of the lowlands, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated and conquered the enemy. Over... [years] relieved the people from public labor... developed agriculture, and pardoned prisoners].
    [Then he] attacked the White Emperor in the west. He arrived at Wugang. They fought at .... [He positioned to the right of the lowlands, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated and conquered the enemy]...
    ... [He] had defeated four emperors and had conquered all of China. The tyrants... brought progress to China, and all of China obeyed him in every land.
    Tang [the Emperor of the Shang] attacked Jie [the King of Hsia] ... [He arrived in].. They fought at Botian. He positioned to the right of the lowlands, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated and conquered the enemy.
    Wu Wang [of the Chou] attacked Zhou the King of the Shang]. He arrived at Chinsui. They fought on the field of Mu... [He positioned] to the right of the lowlands, had perpendicular arrays, and had a main route to his back. He annihilated and conquered the enemy. This one emperor and the two emperors all knew [how to] take advantage of the way of Heaven.. of... and the people's needs, therefore...

The above Appendix 3 shows that it was not only Sun Zi who used the kind of strategies found in Sun Zi's Art of War. For according to this appendix text, the strategies of Sun Zi's Art of War were also successfully used by Tang (and his famous strategist Yi Yin) to establish the Shang dynasty and Wu-Wang (and his famous strategist Jiang Zi Ya) to establish the Zhou dynasty. It appears that the ancient strategists shared a common heritage of rather powerful effective strategies, much of which were recorded in Sun Zi's Art of War.

top