CHINAKNOWLEDGE - a universal guide for China studies | HOME | About
Encoding: Unicode (UTF-8) [Location: HOME > Literature > Masters and philosophers > Military treatises > Xu wujing zongyao]

Chinese Literature
Xu wujing zongyao 續武經總要 "Supplement to the Compendium of Important Matters from the Military Classics"


The Xu wujing zongyao 續武經總要 "Supplement to the Compendium of important matters from the military classics" is a military treatise written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholars Zhao Benxue 趙本學 and Yu Dayou 俞大猷. The book is 8 juan "scrolls" long, the first seven are written by Zhao and have the separate title of Taoqian neiwai pian 韜鈐內外篇 "Inner and outer chaptres of the military secrets and the general's seal", the last chapter was written by Yu Daqiu and has the title of Taoqian xupian 韜鈐續篇 "Supplementary chapter to the military secrets and the general's seal". It was first printed in 1557 and again in the early 17th century. In structure and content it can not be compared to the Song period 宋 (960-1279) encyclopedia Wujing zongyao 武經總要, and the title is therefore not justifiable.
The main theme of the Xu wujing zongyao are battle arrays and tactics on the battlefield. These are treated in detail though history and are divided into two parts. The first 22 types of battle tactics, as described in the "inner chapters" (neipian 內篇, 4 juan) are those from the wars in antiquity (until the 3rd cent. BCE). In character the tactics of this age were targeted at gaining quick advantages in both attack and defense (gong shou bian li 攻守便利). 17 other tactics from the Han 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) to the Tang 唐 (618-907) periods are described in the "outer chapters" (waipian 外篇, 3 juan). The author stresses that the tactics of these ages were void and useless, often flowery and complex, but whithout real effects.
In the so-called supplementary chapter Yu Dayou - who is, by the way, also the author of a book on swords, the Jianjing 劍經 - explains the practice of battle arrays. Independent of the shape, it is important that the formations support each other and are mutually connected. All four sides of an army on the battle field act as one, their touching points being their heads. Fixed and moveable formations esteem each other, they divide and unify, so that all of them can profit from each other and are able to attack and to defend in the right way. A formation is by no means necessarily fixed and inelastic. It has to be adapted to the prevailing conditions of the battlefield and the numbers and movements of the enemy and the own army. Movement and flexibility are of very high importance.


Source: Wang Xianchen 王顯臣 (1989). "Xu wujing zongyao 續武經總要", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事, vol. 2, p. 1131. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

July 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail