It must have been well over five years ago now that,
intrigued by the Chinese calligraphy within it, I borrowed
from a public library a small book entitled 'The 36 Stratagem'.
I regret to say that I remember not the name of the author,
or indeed anything else at all about that publication;
other than the fact that pronunciation of the calligraphy
and primary definition of each of the 36 (as follows when
you click on any of the categories below) comes also from
To produce this 'rework' for viewing on screen I have
reformatted here using Adobe Photoshop (a medium that
I had no knowledge of at all when I first borrowed the
book and copied by hand all that time ago) and thus been
able to alter and even at times rotate, squew and distort
those 'original copies' done at first really just for
my own entertainment!
For whatever reasons (education/entertainment) these stratagem
have stayed with me through various stages of personal
change and development, and anytime that some dilemma
large or small has inclined me to refer to these 'stratagem
notes' I have somehow always become just a little more
aware of my own attitude or the part that I inevitably
play in the whole saga ... or at least 'got an idea'.
Those squiggles got me thinking. I hope that they do the
same for you!
The 36 Stratagem are divided into
6 basic situation category and each are specific to
It is important that that the perceived
need, purpose, aims and application of any stratagem
be understood and fully committed to until the desired
result is attained. This is the ART of War. You should
know for yourself exactly what you are doing and why;
and ideally the enemy should be either confused by your
actions or not know that it is you that is causing their
own confusion or doubt. (The OE definition of "inscrutable"
is: 'That cannot be penetrated (fig.), wholly
mysterious ... "
In passing on these stratagem I do
not encourage you to go to war. On the contrary I urge
you to go in an awareness of your personal situation
and to strive eternally for peace. Included within the
pages that follow are a few quotes from Sun Zi's (transliterated,
spelt and pronounced in many different ways) The Art
of War. To conclude this introduction I quote the first
lines of that same Classic:
"The Art of War is preparing for
Peace. The Art of Peace is preparing for War".