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Make a Feint to the East While Attacking in the West

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The 36 Stratagems > Make a Feint to the East While Attacking in the West

Stratagem | History | Discussion | See also

This stratagem number: 6

This group: Stratagems When Commanding Superiority
Previous stratagem | Next stratagem

 

Stratagem

Action

Use directional deception make the enemy misinterpret your movements.

A simple approach is zig-zag lateral dodging while always moving forward. This is easily seen on any football field. You can also send more subtle signals, such as sending scouts in one direction or communicating with allies in the wrong place. Fake signals that you know will be intercepted may also work.

Speed can play a part in this. If you move quickly, you force the enemy to also move rapidly in order to respond in time. A quick move one way can hence tell you whether the enemy is (a) alert, and (b) responding in the way you want them to.

More broadly, you can seek any form of surprise that puts the enemy off their guard and opens an avenue of attack for you.

Number

This is the sixth stratagem of thirty-six.

Group name

Stratagems When Commanding Superiority

Alternative names

Feint to the East While Attacking the West

Make A Sound In The East, Then Strike In The West

Feign An Attack In The East And Attack In The West

Clamor in the East, Attack in the West

Or even:

Duck, Dodge and Weave

Create Diversions

Keep Them Off Balance

History

When besieging Yuan city, Zhu Jun attacked the western wall. Once he knew Yuans were all rushing to defend this point, he launched a successful attack from the northeast.

In an apocryphal Chinese tale, a person is told a shop will be robbed in broad daylight. They tarry and watch in fascinated anticipation. When they return to their lodgings, their room has been robbed.

In 1798, Napoleon gave an order to attack Ireland and let the British learn this. The British responded by blocking the Gibraltar Straits, thus giving Napoleon a clear route through to Egypt, which was his real target.

In hand-to-hand fighting, feints are often used to distract and open up a target area. Two quick one-two strikes have a similar effect as the first forces the other person to defend and the second does the most damage.

One tactic in martial arts is to stamp or slap to make a noise that acts as a distraction.

Latterly, this strategy is used by companies that offer early benefits to woo in customers and then later make them pay dearly (credit cards, for example).

Discussion

If the enemy knows where you are going, then they can prepare ambushes or otherwise use this knowledge. It is hence common in warfare to try both to conceal one's directional intent while making the enemy think you are going where you are not.

Diversionary tactics that are too obvious can backfire as the enemy realizes the move and uses it to advantage. The Stratagem is so well known that most commanders will be immediately suspicious of unusual moves by their enemies.

See also

Feint, Contrast principle, Distraction principle

 

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