10 Greatest Books on the Art of War
There are 10 great books on the art of war in Chinese history:
The Art of War (孙子兵法), by Sun Tzu, about 500BC;
Sun Bin’s Art of War (孙膑兵法), by Sun Bin, about 400BC;
Wuzi (吴子), by Wu Qi, about 500BC;
Six Secret Strategies (六韬), allegedly by Jiangshang (姜尙), about 1000BC;
Wei Liaozi (尉缭子), by Wei Liaozi (尉缭子), about 400BC;
The Strategies of the Sima (司马法), by Jiang Shang (姜尙), about 1000BC, the oldest book of war in china;
Plant Taibai’s (Venus) Secret Strategies (太白阴经), by Li Quan (李筌), about 700AD during the Tang Dynasty;
Tiger Seal’s Military Strategies (虎钤经), by Xu Dong (许洞), about 1000AB during the Song Dynasty;
Jixiao’s New Book (纪效新书), by Qi Jiguang (戚继光 1528-1588) during the Ming Dynasty;
Military Traning (练兵实纪), by Qi Jiguang (戚继光 1528-1588) during the Ming Dynasty.
Ming Dynasty General Qi Jiguang
Of the 10, two were produced by Ming General Qi Jiguang.
There are a total of 14 volumes in Jixiao New Book, covering topics from military personnel selection, training, disciplines to the use of weapons, creation of battle formations, set up of camps and fighting techniques.
One of General Qi Jiguang’s great military achievements was to purge the Japanese pirates, who were often led by Chinese criminals, that ravaged China’s east coastal areas.
General Qi Jiguang’s Three Strategies
In the late 16th century, Tartars from the north kept raiding Chinese villages and towns.
Qi Jiguang presented 3 options for the solution.
The least desirable: To strengthen the defense capability of the northern border, which is a task that can be accomplished with 30,000 troops;
The second-best option: To confront the enemies and destroy them, which can be done with 50,000 troops;
The best option: To drive the war to the enemies’ own territory and beyond to resolve the problem once and for all, but it will need a strong force of 100,000 men.
Pity, the emperor and the cabinet at the time were not in the mood for escalating the war, largely due to the tight financial situation, so General Qi Jiguang only got 30,000 soldiers to build a dozen of military posts along the northern frontier.
The peace resumed, but it didn’t last very long. In the middle 17th, the entire China lost to Manchus and other Tartar tribes.
Now it’s a lesson from history: DRIVE THE WAR TO THE WARMONGERS’ OWN LAND no matter how far it might be.
Classic Chinese Widsom on Three Strategies
To ride a trend is the best strategy;
To follow a trend is the second-best strategy;
To create a trend is the least desirable strategy.
Edited on 6 March 2022