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Secret Tallies

 

Disciplines > WarfareThe Six Secret Teachings > 3.7 Secret Tallies

Teaching set  | Observed lessons | Discussion | See also

 

Teaching set

Martial Secret Teachings 3.7 (24)

Observed lessons

  • Have ways to signal key messages that only those who understand the code can read.
  • Key messages, in order of preference include: victory gained, enemy general killed, town captured, enemy driven back, prepare to defend, request for resources, our general killed, we have surrendered.

Discussion

Communications in warfare are incredibly important, as is keeping them secret. History is full of examples where enemy communications were intercepted, leading to enormous advantage being gained. A war can be won or lost on one letter.

To keep messages secret, codes may be used that are known only to the very few. T'ai Kung suggests 'tallies' or sticks of differing length, each signifying a different message. This enables very short and simple messages to be sent that will not even be recognized as messages, even if the messenger is caught and searched.

See also

Communication

 

Sawyer, R.D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Basic Books

 

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