An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhenji 陣紀

Nov 19, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhenji 陣紀 "On battle arrays" is a military treatise written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by He Liangchen 何良臣 (c. 1510). It has a length of 4 juan and includes 23 chapters.

Although the title only speaks of battle arrays, the Zhenji also covers a lot of themes related to military formations and the preparation for war. Recruitment, assembling the units, exercise, reward and punishment, formations on the battlefield, orders and commands are dealt with, as well as aspects of how to wage battle with cavalry, infantry, with chariots, in different territories and at night and in bad weather. The topics of the book give a good overview of the traditional armies and their fighting techniques. Concretely analyzed, it can also be seen what the weaknesses of the Ming period armies were, and why they failed against rebel armies and the Manchus.

The troops obtained training for the five senses (eyes, ears, feet, hands, and heart) which then mutually supported each other. In the army it was also possible that different units could take over such tasks for the whole corps, like skilled units (jidui 技隊), brave units (danqi dui 膽氣隊), or units displaying defiance of death (gansi dui 敢死隊). During battle it was important that the troops used advantageous moments, in which the own strengths could be exhibited, before advancing with great flexibility and without offering the enemy a chance to attack. It was always important to move first and to attack the enemy before he had made his lines impenetrable. The enemy had to be blocked from retreat, a strong enemy had to be divided, a disturbed enemy had to be unsettled, a weak enemy must attacked directly, a hesitating enemy had to be coerced, a stable enemy had to be deprived of his foothold, and a dispersed enemy must be assailed. When retreating, the enemy must be left unclear about one's position, and when advancing the enemy must not known where one planned ot attack.

The Zhenji also provides information about the use of weapons, the arrangement of battle arrays and the movement of troops on the battleground and in different territories.

There was a printed version made during the late Ming period. The Zhenji is included in the series Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Zhucong bielu 珠叢別錄, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成.

Chen Bingcai 陳秉才 (1989). "Zhenji 陣紀", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 1282.
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), 297.
Ge Yewen 葛業文 (2015). "Zhenji chengshu shijian kao 《陣紀》成書時間考", Sunzi yanjiu 孫子研究, 2015 (5): 103-107.
Huang Shuihua 黃水華 (1997). "Chenji 陣紀", 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), 153.
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, 1627.
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. 2, 1664.
Liu Qing 劉慶 (1996). "Zhenji 陣紀", 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), 417.
Yang Qingwang 楊慶旺, Ha Hua 哈鏵, eds. (1987). Zhongguo junshi zhishi cidian 中國軍事知識辭典 (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe), 353.
Zheng Zhilin 鄭志林 (1989). "Zhenji yu tiyu 《陣紀》與體育", Zhejiang tiyu kexue 浙江體育科學, 1989 (1): 1-5.
Zheng Zhilin 鄭志林 (1988). "Zhenji yu tiyu 《陣紀》與體育", Tiyu wenhua daozhi 體育文化導刊, 1988 (5): 19-22.