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Ancient Military Strategy Eight Advance Secretly by Way of Chencang

Make a false move to tie up the main force of the enemy. It is of benefit to set forth in conformity to the situation.

The idiom refers to the strategy used by Liu Bang, founder of the Han Dynasty, when he embarked on a campaign against his rival contender for the empire, Xiang Yu. He feigned preparation to advance along the normal path but in the meantime dispatched his army to proceed secretly by a roundabout route at Chencang, thus taking the enemy by surprise and seizing large territory at a relatively small cost.

The strategy puts stress on the application of a false move, usually a frontal attack, to conceal convert maneuvers undertaken to outflank the enemy. This basically conforms to Sun Zi’s strategy of engaging the enemy by the normal force and defeating it by the extraordinary force, only in this case the enemy is contained not with the presence of the main force but with a feigned gesture, which nevertheless requires some concrete actions to establish its credibility.

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