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Slough Off the Cicada's Shell

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The 36 Stratagems > Slough Off the Cicada's Shell

Stratagem | History | Discussion | See also

This stratagem number: 21

This group: Stratagems for Confused Situations
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Stratagem

Action

Make the appearance of doing one thing while doing another.

Appear to be doing nothing when you are actually taking serious action. Use camouflage, dummies, small forces or other means to create an illusion that captures attention while your real intent and actions lie hidden.

Have both a public face and a private face. Make what you show the world to be what you want them to see. Keep your true self hidden and protected.

Number

This is the twenty-first stratagem of thirty-six.

Group name

Stratagems for Confused Situations

Alternative names

The Cicada Sheds Its Shell

The Golden Cicada Sheds Its Shell

The Golden Cricket Sheds Its Shell

Slough Off the Cicada's Golden Shell

The Gold Cicada Casts Off its Shell

Or even:

Appear to Be Where You Are Not

Hide Behind an Illusion 

History

Lu Bu helped Yuan Shao put down an uprising, yet Yuan Shao suspected Lu Bu and sent soldiers to 'act as his guard' but actually to kill him while he slept. Lu Bu realized this and got a friend to play the zither he always played so he could escape.

Country leaders have often used body doubles to make it appear they are in one place when they are elsewhere. This has been used when the leader is sick, elderly or is afraid of being assassinated.

The use of alibis has been a common way for suspects to appear not to have been at the scene of a crime.

Discussion

When the cicada grows it sloughs off its outer shell so the soft inner insect can expand further. The old shell still looks like the cicada, but it is not the cidada.

Appearing to be elsewhere is a useful illusion both for armies and for individuals. Such illusions are complete when the person or army remains hidden. When the dummy and the real person are both seen, then this causes confusion. 

See also

Deception principle, Distraction principle

 

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