11. The Nine Situations

38

At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand.

Literally, "releases the spring" (see V. ss. 15), that is, takes some decisive step which makes it impossible for the army to return—like Hsiang Yu, who sunk his ships after crossing a river. Ch`en Hao, followed by Chia Lin, understands the words less well as "puts forth every artifice at his command."

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