Following up my postings last week on Bushido, and since tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States, I thought this week's postings should have a military focus.
Thus, this week I'm going to cover the 7 Military Classics...
From Wikipedia: The Seven Military Classics were seven important military texts of ancient China, which also included Sun-tzu's The Art of War. The texts were canonized under this name during the 11th century AD, and from the time of the Song Dynasty, were included in most military encyclopedias. For imperial officers, either some or all of the works were required reading to merit promotion, like the requirement for all bureaucrats to learn and know the work of Confucius. There were many anthologies with different notations and analyses by scholars throughout the centuries leading up to the present versions in Western publishing. The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty commented on the seven military classics, stating, "I have read all of the seven books, among them there are some materials that are not necessarily right, ... and there are superstitious stuff can be used by bad people." Members of the Communist Party of China also studied the texts during the Chinese Civil War as well as many European and American military minds. Emperor Shenzong (宋神宗), the sixth emperor of the Song Dynasty, determined which texts would compose this anthology in 1080.
According to Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-chün Sawyer, who created one of the latest translations, the Seven Military Classics include the following texts:
- Jiang Ziya (Taigong)'s Six Secret Teachings
- The Methods of the Ssu-ma (also known as Sima Rangju Art of War)
- Sun Tzu's The Art of War
- Wu Qi's Wuzi
- Wei Liaozi
- Three Strategies of Huang Shigong
- Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong
There are no other known variations of the Seven Military Classics anthology with alternating members but the constituent works themselves have had many multiple versions, especially the Art of War, which has had at least several dozen different translations to English in the 20th Century alone.
(1) Jiang Ziya (Taigong)'s - Six Secret Teachings
The Six Secret Teachings, is a treatise on civil and military strategy traditionally attributed to the legendary figure Jiāng Zǐyá, a confederate of King Wen of Zhou, founder of the Zhou Dynasty, at around the eleventh century BC. Modern historians nominally date its final composition to the Warring States period (c.475-221 BC), but some scholars believe that it preserves at least vestiges of ancient Qi political and military thought. Because it is written from the perspective of a statesman attempting to overthrow the ruling Shang dynasty, it is the only one of the Seven Military Classics explicitly written from a revolutionary perspective.
The Six Secret Teachings are the following:
1) The Civil Strategy - This strategy teaches commanders never to delight in small advantages, or that is all they will achieve. It teaches that the greatest gains result from benevolence and helping others achieve their aspirations for a better world.
2) The Military Strategy - This strategy teaches commanders to achieve victory via benevolence and wit, preferably without actually fighting. It teaches commanders to outwit opponents through diplomacy and manipulation.
3) The Dragon Strategy - This strategy explores the subtle and complex aspects of critical situations without losing control to advisors or becoming confused. It emphasizes that the government depends on a centralized and orderly overview which must be well informed in order to function effectively.
4) The Tiger Strategy - The Tiger Strategy discusses military equipment, tactical principles, and essential issues of command. Most of the section provides "tactics for extricating oneself from adverse battlefield situations. The solutions generally emphasize speed, maneuverability, unified action, decisive commitment, the employment of misdirection, the establishment of ambushes, and the appropriate use of different types of forces." It emphasizes that a commander must guard against laxity and act in accord with ever-changing conditions. A commander must observe and utilize the effects and interactions of variables such as weather, terrain, and human psychology in order to achieve success.
5) The Leopard Strategy - This section teaches commanders how to know their strengths, and how to direct those strengths against the weaknesses of their enemy.
6) The Dog Strategy - This strategy teaches never to attack an enemy when his morale is high, and to time a concentrated attack when the moment is right.
365 day challenge - day 146