Trick #7: 无中生有 (Wu Zhong Sheng You: Something out of nothing)
In Tang dynasty (唐朝), two warlords 安禄山 (An) and 史思明 (Shi) tried to topple the emperor. For a while, it appeared that they may be successful. During the war, they reached 雍丘 (YongQiu, in HeNan province) where General 张巡 (ZHANG Xun; 713~741) was defending. General Zhang commanded a troop of about 3,000 and Mr. Shi's commander, 令狐潮 (LING-HU Chao) had over 40,000. The siege was tight and General Zhang was running out of arrows. (Imagine Lord of the Rings movie.)
Zhang made few thousands mannequins with straws and lowered them off the wall during the night as if trying for a surprise attack. Ling-Hu's people noticed and showered those mannequins with ammunition. Zhang troops then harvested tens of thousands of arrows.
Few nights later, Zhang did the same. This time, General Ling-Hu would not bite.
Zhang did yet again. Ling-Hu simply laughed and went back to sleep. But this time, it was the real surprise attack. Zhang defeated Ling-Hu.
Each of the 36 tricks come with lessons.
The key point is to fool the enemy first and use the same trick to fool them again.
On the other side, complacency is the killer.
The story has a sad ending.
Few months later, General Ling-Hu came back again. General Zhang could not hold on and escaped to 睢阳 (ZhuiYang) where he fought until there were only 400 men left. When they ran out of food, they first killed all the animals and finally cannibalized. At the end, General Zhang's own wife was fed to the soldiers.
Eventually, Zhang was captured. Ling-Hu found he has no teeth left in the mouth. General Zhang said, "Whenever I thought of you traitors, I got so mad that each time I ground off few of my teeth." As he said that, blood came out of his mouth.
Ling-Hu tortured and killed General Zhang.
Eventually, An and Shi were defeated.