Isn't Sun Jian Overrated?

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Isn't Sun Jian Overrated?

Unread postby Cao Dan » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:40 pm

I was told by many people outside this forum that Sun Jian is on of the finest and best comander of his time . :shock:

They even said he is more than a match of Zhang Liao .How can that be ?

So , what do you think of him ?
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Unread postby Zhao Yun '87 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:44 pm

Personally, I hold Sun Jian very highly. He had obvious personal courage and discipline shown from an early age, very rarely lost a battle, had exceptional personal fighting skill and amazing generalship, historically he didn't have the flaws that he did in the novel, and he knew the military laws. I think if he hadn't died in the battle against Liu Biao, he may have conquered all of Jing. Which would be interesting to see how he treated Yuan Shu afterwords.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:47 pm

I believe he was an excellent vanguard general, possibly the best of that kind in this era. I regard his death, however, as a major failure on his part. Like most frontline generals, he was reckless and he proved this when he pursued his enemy by night, a fatal flaw the best commanders would never have made. I would never regard him as a excellent commander, therefore, but rather a superb vanguard general.
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Unread postby Xiahou Mao » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:53 pm

I'd probably rank Sun Jian as a better general than Zhang Liao myself, but that's more a knock on Zhang Liao than anything. Zhang Liao pulled off one impressive feat while defending and didn't manage much else of note over his life. Sun Jian pulled off several impressive feats while attacking, before dying due to his own stupidity and recklessness. Attacking is much harder than defending, as I'm sure most would agree.

It's the same reason I'd rank Xiahou Yuan ahead of Cao Ren. Xiahou Yuan was skilled at attacking, Cao Ren was an expert defender. Attacking is harder, so Xiahou Yuan is better. ;)
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:28 pm

Xiahou Mao wrote:It's the same reason I'd rank Xiahou Yuan ahead of Cao Ren. Xiahou Yuan was skilled at attacking, Cao Ren was an expert defender. Attacking is harder, so Xiahou Yuan is better. ;)


That is a massive generalisation. Attacking is not always more difficult than defending. It depends on the terrain, the specific talents of the generals involved and size of the opposing armies. Xiahou Yuan showed courage through his offensive victories, but when he failed to protect Han Zhong he displayed arrogance, selfishness and recklessness. His offsensive victories showed less gifts than his defensive failure showed faults.
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:22 pm

I prefer the anagram of your title:

Sun Jian isn't over rated.

He really did accomplish a great deal. Dong Zhuo, who defeated many great generals made a point of stating that only Sun Jian could oppose him.
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Unread postby Xiahou Mao » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:35 pm

Elitemsh wrote:That is a massive generalisation. Attacking is not always more difficult than defending. It depends on the terrain, the specific talents of the generals involved and size of the opposing armies. Xiahou Yuan showed courage through his offensive victories, but when he failed to protect Han Zhong he displayed arrogance, selfishness and recklessness. His offsensive victories showed less gifts than his defensive failure showed faults.


Actually, his defensive failure showed that Zhang He failed against Zhang Fei, which compromised his defenses. And then, in the first skirmish against Shu, he got unlucky and was killed in the fighting. You can't lay the fault on Xiahou Yuan for that, as the actions of Zhang He were beyond his control. His being killed in a skirmish was just bad luck, that doesn't happen very often. Had he not died like he did, the Wei forces might have still stood strong against Shu, but when your commander is killed, morale tends to plummet. ;)
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:18 am

Sun Jian is the only member of the so-called coalition against Dong Zhuo to actually succeed against Dong Zhuo historically. Even Cao Cao was unable to overcome him and was dealt a swift defeat while serving alongside Zhang Miao.
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Unread postby Zhao Yun '87 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:58 am

Sun Jian accomplished a lot and most of it was impressive, that's why I hold him as one of the highest generals of the time.

Also, from what I've seen (mainly in the SGZ) Sun Jian's death wasn't due to recklessness but just bad luck.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:53 am

Xiahou Mao wrote:Actually, his defensive failure showed that Zhang He failed against Zhang Fei, which compromised his defenses. And then, in the first skirmish against Shu, he got unlucky and was killed in the fighting. You can't lay the fault on Xiahou Yuan for that, as the actions of Zhang He were beyond his control. His being killed in a skirmish was just bad luck, that doesn't happen very often. Had he not died like he did, the Wei forces might have still stood strong against Shu, but when your commander is killed, morale tends to plummet. ;)


Not so. Zhang He was ordered by Cao Cao to advance and take the three Ba commanderies and add their population into Han Zhong. Zhang He took two commenderies but when advanced to Danqu, he was defeated by Zhang Fei and forced to withdraw to Nan Zheng. Zhang He did not compromise the defences, in fact he actually strengthened them. That is why he was promoted afterwards even though he was driven back by Zhang Fei. He also held off Liu Bei during a later point. After Xiahou Yuan’s death, Zhang He restored morale and disciplined the troops. He was a very competent general and that is the reason he was feared by Liu Bei and Xiahou Yuan wasn’t.

Xiahou Yuan was not unlucky but rather outsmarted. Liu Bei managed to manoeuvre his army onto Dingjun mountain. Liu Bei attacked Zhang He using the natural advantage of his high position and set a fire near Xiahou Yuan’s encampment. Xiahou Yuan sent men to help Zhang He while also putting out the fire. That is when Fa Zheng signals Huang Zhong to attack Xiahou Yuan’s force. Xiahou Yuan lacked troops but continued to fight on. This was not bravery but rather arrogance. Had Xiahou Yuan retreated it would have been selfless because he would have punished by demotion but his men would have been spared. Instead of this, he sacrifices his men’s lives for the sake of his own pride. I would call this arrogant and selfish.

Zhao Yun '87 wrote:Also, from what I've seen (mainly in the SGZ) Sun Jian's death wasn't due to recklessness but just bad luck.


It wasn’t just bad luck. He pursued his enemy by night, that was truly foolish and reckless not brave. A commander cannot always be brave but needs to know when to be cautious. Cao Cao himself said this to Xiahou Yuan and the same applies to Sun Jian. The art of war mentions that a desperate enemy should not be pressed. It seems this principle was lost on Sun Jian.
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