Examples throughout history could be found to illustrate this idea. One has only to look at the progress from Alexander the Great whose Empire was defeated by the Romans, (who did, by the way, take much of their culture from the Greeks nonetheless), whose Empire was defeated by the Goths and Visigoths. When one looks on an even larger scale to the many Dynasties of China one can easily see how such a theory would be seen to apply. Dynasties rise to power, settle and are deposed by more vigorous invading hordes.
Another example of the cycles is found in the method of battle fitting the situation. Large formations of troops are good in large open areas. They are not necessarily good in small areas. For example, the battle of Thermoplaye was an embarrassing of the Persian forces as a smaller Greek force engaged them in a narrow pass. The reduced size of the fighting area meant that the Persians could only deploy a force equal to the Greeks, a situation that gave great advantage to the defenders and resulted in the Greeks soundly defeating any force the Persians could send against them. This situation continued, despite the greater forces of the Persians, for a protracted period. The Persians finally won when Xerxes was given the route of another undefended pass, enabling him to move his vast army behind the defenders and engage the Greeks in a large plane instead. He then r outed the Greek army and destroyed Athens in 480bc. Where the situation fitted the large force was victorious.
Despite this seemingly clear lesson on where to deploy large forces, (where there is lots of room) and where not to, (small areas), Xerxes engaged the fleet of the Greek city states in what came to be called the battle of Salamis. In the Battle of Salamis the numerically superior Persian Navy was deployed in a small body of water. Each Persian ship dwarfed the smaller Greek boats. It seemed that the victory of the Persians was assured. Xerxes had a throne set on a hillside to view the destruction of the Greek navy. Quite to Xerses surprise, however, the battle of Salamis ended with the much larger and numerically superior navy of Xerxes being defeated by the smaller navy. Victory lie not in the superior firepower or numbers of the Persian fleet. Instead, it was the smaller Greek vessels, able to maneuver in the shallow waters and narrow straites, who left the cumbersome larger ships, burning hulks. Xerxes got an excellent vantage point from which to observe the lesson again as he sat on his throne overlooking the battle. Again, it was the appropriate response, (small forces in small areas), to the environment, not simply being the "first with the most" that ensured victory.
The Chinese tendency to look for systems of analogy to interpret events and to attempt to describe all events through these conceptual filters must be taken into account when reading any kind of text from them. In tactics, medicine or even martial art theories one will see attempts to classify techniques as matching the Ba Qua or the Yin /Yang or even the Five Elements theory to "prove" the correctness of the idea being presented. Though this is often a concise method of classification of technique, the student must read carefully the logic of the analogy. They are not to be accepted simply at face value.
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