Chapter: The Nine Situations



The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Chung mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.


When a force is connected, all parts know what is happening with all other parts and can come to the rescue as needed. Or maybe one part can deliberately occupy the enemy whilst the other attacks the flanks.

Such coordination and connection depends either on careful timing or, better, on excellent communications.

Businesses can become so split up and with each unit so self-focused that competitors can win by picking off the units one by one. It is better to see the big picture and compete with coordinated action. A single attack can then be warded off by diverting resources from other units.