An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法

Jan 15, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法 "One hundred marvelous battle tactics", also called Baizhuan qilüe 百戰奇略, 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 during the late Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Xie Fangde 謝枋得 (1226-1289). An edition from the early 18th century names an author called Liu Ji 劉基 (1311-1375) from the Ming period. The earliest surviving print from the Ming period has a length of 10 juan.

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 deep-going planning of campaigns was, 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 had 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 had to be followed by the correct actions, namely pursuing the enemy resp. withdrawing into defence. Attacking a stronger enemy made it necessary to concentrate the forces and to hit him in his weakest point, ideally before his battle array was completed. It such a case a weaker army could also wait until the attention of the enemy was distracted or his troops had lost their first strains.

During a siege, a hungry enemy had to be starved out slowly, while well-fed defenders had to be attacked quickly. Deception of the enemy was 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 had to be bluffed with subservience, and his forces had to be dispersed by tactical movements luring him into the wider space. If an inimical ruler was on good terms with his ministers, espionage was necessary. Feigned attacks on the opposite wing of the real attack were also an easy-to-use method in war. Weather and topography played an important part during campaigns. It was 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.

Chen Ying 陳瑛, Xu Qixian 許啟賢, eds. (1989). Zhongguo lunli da cidian 中國倫理大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 227.
Huang Shuihua 黃水華 (1997). "Baizhan qilüe 百戰奇法", in Men Kui 門巋, Zhang Yanjin 張燕瑾, eds. Zhonghua guocui da cidian 中華國粹大辭典 (Xianggang: Guoji wenhua chuban gongsi), 151.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1623.
Lin Chongde 林崇德, Yang Zhiliang 楊治良, Huang Xiting 黃希庭, eds. (2003). Xinlixue da cidian 心理學大辭典 (Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 23.
Liu Qing 劉慶 (1996). "Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 415.
Zhang Wencai 張文才 (1989). "Baizhan qifa 百戰奇法", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 32-33.