Strategies for the Human Realm: Crux of the T'ai-pai Yin-chingby Ralph D. Sawyer
Composed by Li Ch'üan (Li Quan), a provincial military official who served in the middle T'ang dynasty, the T'ai-pai Yin-ching revitalized the theoretical study of warfare in China. Remarkably comprehensive, it first focuses upon the human realm, devoting a quarter of its hundred chapters to the grand issues of government, warfare, human society, ethical values, and man's orientation within the universe while pondering the more concrete problems of the nature of command, methods for evaluating men, the role of rewards and punishments, and the implementation of subversive measures. Instead of conquering through combat or achieving the fabled hundred victories in a hundred clashes, Li's aim was victory without combat so as to preserve the state rather than debilitate it in warfare. The remaining seventy-five chapters, not translated here, briefly discuss important battle equipment and techniques before unfolding extensive material on sacrifices and arcane prognosticatory methods. Highly regarded thereafter, the T'ai-pai Yin-ching stands at the beginning of the later military tradition in China and numerous chapters appear in the military compendia produced over the next thousand years. It also continues to be the subject of conscious study as the PRC strives to develop "military science with unique Chinese characteristics."
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Dr. Sawyer’s translation of the Li Quan's essay is superb in terms of the intensive amount of information that is connected to it. This book is for the serious readers who think, drink and eat strategy in a 24-hour mode. This concise 25 chapters book is for hardcore strategic thinkers who are operating strategically within a volatile terrain. It is loaded with a grand abundance of tactical insights. This super text is an assimilation of concepts and principles from the Dao De Jing, the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, the Sun Bin’s Military Methods, and other arcane strategic essays of the Chinese strategic culture. In the world of Chinese strategies, those formerly mentioned books are held in esteem by the military professionals. From my reading of Sawyer’s translation of Tao of War, Wang Chen’s preached that constant conflict will evidently erode one’s own foundation and that the demise of every dynasty originates from a conflict. Li Quan's decided to pursue the approach of comprehending the opposition by targeting its foundation. The first stage toward a total victory is the pinpointing of the path of least destruction while understanding whether he or she has the strategic power to pursue it. The comprehension of the opposition’s foundation allows the strategic thinker to learn some of the following points: * the principle and the judgment of the commanding chief * the management of strategic decisions; * the planning process of their strategy; * the contemplation of the factors behind the strategy; * the possible tactics for approaching their goal with orthodox and orthodox influences * the inner conception of their grand terrain; and * the seasonal cycles of the various gaps and the opportunities that lies within the boundaries of one's own grand terrain. The quality of that information usually allows the strategic thinker to trace and target the easiest path to a total victory. In our information-driven terrain, information transparency is a near fantasy. The competitive strategic thinker cannot compete properly when deception and duplicity are subtly embedded into our global terrain. The utilization of this modus will enable the strategic thinker to grasp the reality of their terrain. Doing it in a Shanghai moment is a different story. This essence of this essay emphasized the concept of “proper assessment prevents poor planning and preparation.” Regardless of the myriad of competitive realms, mastering that very concept is considered the pinnacle level of the strategy game. This book begins by introducing the technical overview of one’s terrain, the tendencies of human behavior, the foundation of strategic power, etc. With the appropriate experience, the strategic thinker is able to connect the order of the terrain, the cyclical stage of the terrain, the transitional stage of the terrain, the effectiveness of the leadership and the efficacy of their logistics into one grand picture. Knowing the specifics behind those five grand factors connecting those five grand factors will lead to the full comprehension of one’s competition. Proper execution of this modus will prevent duplicity and will lead to a swift and effective victory. “In planning, never a useless move. In strategy, no step is in vain. - Chen Hao “Proper assessment prevents poor planning and preparation” is the strategy rule for the day. The proper assessment of the target’s foundation usually leads the strategic thinker toward the path of total victory. Many thanks to Dr. Sawyer for writing such a concepts-intense book. Not only is the precise translation is concise, his comments on each chapter are enlightening to budding strategic thinkers I think this book will enlighten strategic thinkers who are in need of a method for understanding their challengers.