The Annotated Art of War (Parts 5.16-18: Apparent Disorder)
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Annotated Art of War > Parts 5.16-18: Apparent Disorder
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|Sun Tzu said:
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
|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
|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.