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Lure the Tiger Out of the Mountains


Disciplines > Warfare > The 36 Stratagems > Lure the Tiger Out of the Mountains

Stratagem | History | Discussion | See also

This stratagem number: 15

This group: Stratagems for Attack
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When the enemy is holding a high place, entice them out rather than trying to attack uphill.

More generally, avoid attacking them when they have an advantage where the cost of attack is high. In such cases find some way of getting them away from their advantage.

Two classic methods when an enemy is holed up in a defensible position are siege and baiting.

In a siege you cut off their supply lines, which forces them to eventually come out to meet you.

Baiting is using some way of getting them to come to you, typically in the belief that you are in a weak position. In a retreat, for example, you give the impression of running away, hoping that they come out to chase you.

Another way of baiting is taunting, typically by insulting their leader until they become so enraged they make the mistake of coming out to challenge you.

Feinting can be used as a part of a bait strategy, moving forward and then retreating before turning back on them.

Another variant on this stratagem is to lure the enemy into your mountains, bringing them to your place of strength. This is the basis of ambush.


This is the fifteenth stratagem of thirty-six.

Group name

Stratagems for Attack

Alternative names

Lure the Tiger Out of the Mountain

Lure the Tiger Down From the Mountain

Train a Tiger to Leave the Mountain

Entice the Tiger to Leave its Mountain Lair

Or even:

Don't Attack


Gen Yang wanted to defeat the powerful Fei brothers, so he besieged Fei Gan while also lying in wait for Fei Yi, who was killed as he came to his brother's rescue. Gen Yang then paraded Fei Yi's head on a pole, leading to Fei Gan and his people fleeing.

In 1066, at the Battle of Hastings, the Saxons held a hill securely. The Normans pretended to retreat. The Saxons, to their ultimate cost, chased them. And that was the last time Britain was conquered.

Mao Tse Tung set up his bases in remote areas, forcing Chiang Kai Shek to come to him, where Mao had the upper hand in territory and knowledge of the land.


Geography is always important in warfare and high places are classic strongholds, although castles have been built in stead of these in lower country.

With the advent of missiles, aeroplanes and bombs, high places lost much of their advantage, though they still cause problems for ground-based troops.

The historic importance of terrain is highlighted by the attention paid to this in Sun Tzu's classic Art of War.

In politics, the game of diplomacy is played with finesse and a home advantage for visiting other dignitaries can be used to subtle advantage.

See also

The Annotated Art of War (Terrain), Parts 11.1-10: Nine Varieties of Ground, Parts 11.11-14: Nine Ground Tactics


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