Defeated by A Surprise Attack
What can a surprise attack do? Here is a good example.
Today we'll learn a phrase meaning to ‘defeat one's opponent by a surprise attack'. In Chinese, it reads Chu Qi Zhi Sheng. Here is the interesting story behind it.
In the Warring States Period in ancient China, the Kingdom of Yan defeated the State of Qi and occupied all it's land except for two cities. One of these two cities was Ji Mo, in east China.
Tian Shan, a distant relation of the royal family of Qi, went to Ji Mo. As he was superbly skilled in the arts of war, he was appointed general of the army defending the city.
He had kept the city of Ji Mo safe for three years, but understood that it was impossible to totally defeat the enemy of Yan using military force alone: some clever deception was required. So Tian Shan then spread the rumor that the Yan general was plotting to overthrow the king of Yan. It worked: the king of Yan arrested the general and replaced him with a fellow who knew nothing about war. Furthermore, the new general was a savage, cruel man, and was soon despised by his troops. Needless to say, these troops lost their fighting spirit.
Aware of this situation, Tian Shan felt it was the right time to fight back. He hid all his best troops and sent the old and weak ones to guard the city gates. At the same time, he sent some people to the new Yan general with gold. They told him Ji Mo's defenses were weak, and bribed him to spare their lives if the Yan army took over the city. All this lulled the Yan general into a false sense of confidence.
Then Tian Shan bought 1,000 oxen. Each of the animals was painted in strange colors. Long, sharp knives were tied to their horns, and reeds soaked in oil to their tails. At midnight, Tian Shan's soldiers lit the reeds and drove all the oxen toward the Yan army campsite. The enemy was taken completely by surprise, and terrified by the strange beasts. They soon surrendered, and Tian Shan's victorious troops captured their general.
From this clever plan of Tian Shan, people drew the idiom Chu Qi Zhi Sheng, which means to defeat one's opponent by a surprise attack.