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Chinese Literature
Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法 "One Hundred Marvelous Battle Tactics"


The Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法 "One hundred marvelous battle tactics" is a military history written at the end of the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). According to the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) military treatise Taolüe shifa 韜略世法, it was compiled by the late Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) author Xie Fangde 謝枋得. An edition from the early 18th century names an author called Liu Ji 劉基 from the Ming period. The earliest surviving print from the Ming period is 10 juan "scrolls" long.
Based upon the Seven Military Classics (Wujing qishu 武經七書), the author selected the hundred most important examples of successful battles in history to demonstrate the principles and methods in the art of war. A deepgoing planning of campaigns is, as the author stresses, the most important preparation. During battle, a general must be flexible in the employment of the different corps of his army, and has to adapt his fighting techniques to the circumstances on the battlefield and immediately to respond to all activities of the enemy. Accordingly, victory and defeat have to be followed by the right actions, namely pursuing the enemy resp. withdrawing into defense. Attacking a stronger enemy makes it necessary to concentrate the own forces and to hit the enemy in his weakest point, ideally before his battle array has been completed. It such a case a weaker army can also wait until the attention of the enemy is distracted or his troops have lost their first strains. During a siege, a hungry enemy has to be starved out slowly, while well-fed defenders have to be attacked quickly. Deception of the enemy is always an important point, to leave him unclear about the own strength or the own plans, e.g. when crossing a river and exposing oneself to the danger of being attacked. A strong enemy has to be bluffed with subservience, and his forces have to be dispersed. If an inimical ruler is on good terms with his ministers, espionage is necessary. Feigned attacks on the opposite wing of the real attack are also an easily to use method in war. Weather and topography play an important part during campaigns. It is important to occupy always an elevated position during battle, and to encounter inimical infantry attacks in the plain with cavalry, and inimical cavalry attacks in hilly territory with infantry units.


Source: Zhang Wencai 張文才 (1989). "Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事, vol. 1, pp. 32-33. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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January 15, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail