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The Six Secret Teachings on the Way of Strategy: A Manual from Ancient China Paperback – 1 Mar 1997

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A military classic from Ancient China, this text presents a range of insights and strategy in every arena of human activity, attributed to T'ai Kung, honoured throughout Chinese history as the first great military ruler and the father of strategic studies.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Six Secret Teachings: The 1st Chinese Strategic Essay written by the Supreme Strategist. 30 Sept. 2005
By CARDINAL009 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Like to refer this book (六韬) as the ["Six Secret Strategies of Conflict"].

This classic is considered to be the 1st strategic essay written during Ancient China.

Not to confuse the viewer. Will refer the writer as Jiang Tai Gong (姜太公) (pin yin romanization) not as Chiang Tai Kung's (Wales romanization).

Jiang Tai Gong, the writer of this essay was a predecessor of Sun Zi during the Western Zhou era.

Quick Note on Jiang Tai Gong: Jiang Tiao Gong, a famous strategist, lived in the 11th century B.C., became advisor to King Wen and his son King Wu, founders of the Zhou dynasty (1122-771 BC). He was supposedly instrumental in aiding the fall of the Shang Dynasty (approximately 1700 BCE - 1045 BCE) and in establishing the Zhou (1045 BCE - 221 BCE). He was the prime minister for the first Zhou emperor and his loyalty and farsightedness in governing spread his fame throughout China. The legend of Jiang Taigong captured popular imagination. Jiang Taigong is honored throughout Chinese history as the first great military advisor and the father of strategic studies. After his wife left him, Jing Tai Gong, went to Wei-shui River (near today's Xi'an) to fish, knowing that the future Zhou ruler Wenwang (located in central Shaanxi) would come along one day and meet him. The opportunity occurred one day, when King Wen decided to go hunting in the area near the river, where he saw Lu Shang sitting on the grass, fishing with a bamboo pole that had a barbless hook attached to it. (Some claimed that there was no hook on the line.) The hook was then positioned a few feet above the surface of the water. This unique act of fishing is based on Jiang's theory that the fish would come to him of their own volition when they were ready. This action requires the fisherman to be patient and devise the philosophy of "if one waits long enough, things will come their way."

The story of Jiang Taigong has been used on many levels in China. At its simplest it may be said to be an example of patience or the philosophy that if you wait long enough things will come your way.

A more sophisticated message applicable in military and political strategy is: Wait until circumstances ripen.

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This book is a great book for "newbies" who are interested in strategic consulting and advising. It consists of six chapters that guide the readers in the art and science of effective strategy and leadership from a top-down mode.

Will describe some of Jiang's concepts in a contemporary sense.

The first two "chapters" deal with the duties of the organization and the natural transition of power to the principal rival if the organization fails. This scenario can be described as a "respective" interplay of "yin and yang."

1. The Civil Strategic Secret: The first chapter stresses the importance of recruiting talent, managing the organization, and valuing developing a proper relationship within your client and your own organization. Once the bond of absolute trust is established, they will do almost anything for you.

2. The Military Strategic Secret: The second chapter accentuates the importance of how to prevail over the opposition and how to build a territorial domain by the following actions: Cultivating yourself and organizing your own group in order to govern your external settings and pacify the world. The concept of "conquering without a single tactical battle" is also greatly emphasized. (It is similar to Sunzi's concept of "winning a war without a battle.")

3. The Dragon Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on how to lead wisely through various situations by understanding and development operational command, order, and liaison.

4. The Tiger Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on the tactical essentials, including matters related to proper group-maneuvering procedures for certain scenarios.

5. The Leopard Strategic Secret: This chapter focuses on the tactical specifics for finding the critical path toward completing the objective

6. The Dog Strategic Secret: This final chapter focuses on the tactical specifics of trapping the target (i.e., encircling and intercepting). There are also good points on selecting and training the desired professionals and coordinating the personnel's and resources toward the target.

Understanding and mastering the content from Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (civil secret teachings and martial secret teachings) is the key to being a good consultant

The first stage of any good consultant is to gain the client's trust by knowing the various ways of "suggesting" ideas and perspectives to the principal client.

Like to describe the concepts behind Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 are similar to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, but with a Dao-conceptualized viewpoint. If you want to start an uprising in your competitive arena, carefully study those two chapters.

Another lesson that was learned from reading Jiang's essay was the importance of "thinking big" in your own aspiration. It helps to have read the Jiang's biography.

[ One more note from Although the Art of War remains the only book known in the West, the Wuzi and Six Secret Teachings proved to be highly important sources for military wisdom over the centuries, and the latter continues to be held in higher esteem among contemporary PRC military professionals. ]

If the reader can afford it, this reader recommend the purchase of ["The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, (Hardcover)"] It includes the ["Six Secret Teachings and Sunzi's (or Sun Tzu) The Art of War"].

Another good book is Ralph Sawyer's ["The Essence of War: Leadership and Strategy from the Chinese Military Classics"].
A summation of different pov from the [Seven Military Classics of Ancient China plus one (Sun Bin's AoW).

Good luck in your reading and strategic endeavor!
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