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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 5.16-18: Apparent Disorder)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 5.16-18: Apparent Disorder

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V. Energy

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.

True disorder is when there is a loss of control. Apparent disorder is where patterns cannot be distinguished. In complex sequences of rapid movement, patterns can be hard to detect.

Control amidst the chaos of battle comes with skill, which comes from study, practice and preparation.

Businesses can seem chaotic, too, yet if you know why things are, you can stay in control as you weave success in complex marketplaces.

17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength. When your enemy thinks you have lost control, they will make mistakes. It takes discipline to dance perfectly through chaos.

Fear leads to disorder. There is risk in showing fear as it may spur the enemy on. It takes courage to overcome fears and courage to display them. It takes courage to put yourself ad a disadvantage. Yet by deceiving the enemy thus, you can lead them into mistakes.

Likewise it takes strength of character to appear weak, just as it takes an expert piano player to play reliably out of tune.

Simulating disorder requires the fine skill of the actor, who is a master deceiver.

18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions. When acting in a uniform way, you display control. To show disorder, each person must be acting differently.

Adding timidity is another action on top of the complexity of battle.

Showing apparent weakness requires careful positioning that appears weak whilst hiding strength.

Hiding can have a wider range of meaning and may also include keeping your main troops hidden whilst displaying a truly weaker, more timid force.

 

 

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