3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:52 pm

Jordan wrote:I feel like this is becoming a semantics argument. Ok, you're basing your assessment of Zhuge Liang as a military genius on Clausewitz's definition of what a military genius is. That does not mean that Clausewitz's idea on what a military genius is constitutes the only way to define a military genius.

I don't even think Liang Jieming's article mentions Clausewitz. His suggestion that Zhuge Liang is a military genius is just rather generalized and is purely a matter of subjective interpretation. It is not based on a specific criteria for defining a military genius, as your Clausewitz definition is. At the start of the article, he just decided to praise Zhuge Liang as a military genius without really bothering to elaborate why he felt Zhuge Liang deserves that accolade.

He's entitled to his opinion and it is neither wrong nor right. It is just a personal sentiment which others can either agree or disagree with based on their own interpretations of what constitutes a military genius (using Clausewitz's criteria or whatever other criteria they choose).

I think the article in question is excellent and the author knows his history. Nonetheless, regardless how good somebody's ethos is, their ethos cannot really be used to decisively settle a debate that is a matter of personal opinion.



Of course not. But why must the definition of "military genius" only be limited to strategy and tactics, and not take into account other important aspects which relate to military competence? That is precisely why I am basing it off of Clausewitz's definition, because it is the most complete, and includes all aspects relating to the military instead of only limiting it to two factors.

When you take into account all of the people who are commonly labeled "military geniuses", there are few who can only be said to be good strategists and tacticians, but rather they were entirely skilled in all of the things in regards to the state making war. Whether that's Napoleon, or Gustavus Adolphus or Li Shimin or Murong Chui, etc. That is why I place Zhuge Liang among the likes of them as "military genius" utilizing Clausewitz's definition, because it ultimately also means we have fewer individuals who are "military geniuses". Only applying it to strategy and tactics makes the word basically useless, because there are numerous individuals who were simply skilled at that. The word should have meaning and only apply to those who include those two but also go beyond that limited scope of military competence.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:13 pm

Perhaps they could have. But I seemingly doubt it. Shu really only had two avenues of attack, and had to move their army and supplies through a treacherous mountain road. Wei could move its troops much faster, and they simply had to block two avenues of attack. Defending also requires much less skill than attacking, and is a lot less costly. I don't think there are any individuals in the period (Cao Cao, Zhou Yu, Liu Bei, etc.) who would have been able to effectively break through in regards to the way Zhuge had to launch his attacks.


Cao Cao I believe. The other two I agree with you on

Aaron.K wrote:Calligraphy and playing the zither is a strawman though. Military genius as defined by Clausewitz is someone who utilizes everything that they can for the purposes of the state to make war. And by that definition (seeing as how it's the most objective definition of "military genius", defined by a general), Zhuge Liang most certainly fits that description.


How does it work for generals in western democracies who could overcome great odds and cut a swathe across a continent (ok unlikely nowadays but in terms of ability) but even in WW3, are extremely unlikely to have the power of a PM?

Also what about the purpose of an army, to achieve it's objectives. Sometimes by careful manoeuvring managing it without fighting but generally by winning battles and wars? A man could show the great organizational skills, drive and so on but if he gets thrashed and his army annihilated, does he count as a miliatry genius? For me, no.

A general could have the organization skills of a child and need a chief of staff to handle it, a general could be a bit lazy. If he wins his battles, if he overcomes great odds and so on, that man is more of a miliatry genius then an organizer who can't win battles. Now those that have the drive and organizational abilities are potential signs of someone who could be a miliatry genius but having all the other skills doesn't automatically make one a miliatry genius, just like missing some of those rules one out of being one.

Even a greater commander probably could not pull off anything different from what Kongming did on the offensive. I think that the situation would not have changed much. Perhaps someone might get more fortunate in any one battle, but none of those battles were actually decisive in the long scheme of things, considering that something even worse could have happened after.


Fair enough on that and next two paragraphs.

Except that's not what I'm arguing at all. What I'm stating is that based on the definition of a military genius as defined by Clausewitz, Zhuge Liang embodies that definition quite well. It's the entire package of everything that has to be involved at waging war.


Again, it seems like the whole "winning" thing doesn't actually matter in your definition. I mean I can accept, I may disagree but I accept, that Zhuge Liang's record in battle and camapigns makes him a miliatry genius. That one can be a miliatry genius and not have a top notch war record I can't.

It's more in the vein of someone who is decently skilled at carpentry, plumbing, electrician, cement laying, etc. and then declaring that they are a very good home contractor (since I don't think there can be a "genius" contractor)


and are they good contractor in terms of results?

These are skills which are required for the job, and to be considered very good at it, you need to be competent in all of them. A genius is a person who possesses intelligence in many different avenues.


Some things you don't need to be competent in every aspect to be great but sure, I agree with the gist of this.

Why must a military genius only be defined as those who possess only some of the skills related to military matters? Why must those skills be weighted more heavily in favour, when they're not inherently more suitable as other skills that enable you to completely and utterly devote the state towards making war?


The same reason I define a director genius by his ability to direct rather then if he is a good organizer or charmer, a striker by scoring and setting up goals then if is a good tackler, an painter by his paintings rather then his ability to dissect other people's art.

The end result matters. A miliatry genius, for me, is about the person who can win the battles and camapigns others couldn't, the great directors are the ones who can make the best films, the painters the ones who can do the best paintings, the great strikers are the ones that score the goals and make the difference.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Jordan » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:40 pm

I dunno. I'd personally rate Tang Taizong and Murong Chui higher than Zhuge Liang, but that might just be me.

Using Clausewitz's criteria is fine. However, there is also an element of anachronism to it in my opinion. Wars were very different in his time than in Zhuge Liang's, and while some of the same rules still apply I guess*, I also feel like "total war" back then just wasn't the same as later on.

Zhuge Liang's LZD plan was brilliant but not without flaws. From Chen Shou's time until modern times, Chinese have been debating the merits of Zhuge Liang's strategy. For a time it raised Liu Bei from a position of landlessness to a position of great power, but the situation in Jing province quickly deteriorated and Zhuge Liang did not really plan that out too well. There were too many assumptions on his part that Wu would accept a status quo of fixed allied opposition against Wei. Arguably the failure of the LZD might have been due to Guan Yu, Liu Bei and others not really following his plan, but part of it was also because the plan itself was inflexible. Interestingly, in modern times Mao Zedong highly praised Guan Yu, Zhuge Liang and other Shu-Han heroes but even then found reason to critique Zhuge Liang's planning. In his own estimation, Mao Zedong equated the PRC to Shu-Han and compared the US to Wei and Soviet Union to Wu. However, Mao believed that Zhuge Liang should have seen opportunities to realign himself with Wei against Wu and thus manipulate the tripartite system more to his advantage. Mao Zedong believed that Zhuge Liang's virtual creation of a tripolar order was brilliant but that Zhuge Liang could have then manipulated the system better. This affected his own diplomacy toward the US and Soviet Union in modern times. There is a book about this called Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Mao's Global Order of Tripolarity which I personally found quite interesting. I also found Mao Zedong's assessment to be correct and similar to many Chinese scholarly assessments of Zhuge Liang through history: Zhuge Liang was clever but inflexible and the inflexibility hindered his tactical efficacy.

In terms of greater planning, there were some smart things that Zhuge Liang did such as generally avoiding large-scale conflict after the debacle of Yiling and storing up manpower and supplies for his later undertakings. But there were also huge mistakes that Zhuge Liang made which make it hard for me to accept the notion of him being a military genius. His first campaign started out successfully but there was also clearly erroneous decision-making with allowing Ma Su to spearhead the Shu-Han vanguard. In addition, Killigrew has argued that while much of the blame for the first campaign's failure is piled on Ma Su, Zhuge Liang also deserves some of the blame for not reinforcing Ma Su with proper alacrity. The vanguard under Ma Su was essentially overextended. Zhuge Liang's overall deployment in the first campaign was questionable as a whole. For example, he had Deng Zhi and Zhao Yun acting as decoys on a separate front which ultimately served no purpose and only exacerbated the first campaign's defeat. It would have made more sense to concentrate his forces in areas where they could more easily march to reinforce one another rather than sending out Deng Zhi/Zhao Yun on a totally different front and having an isolated vanguard. His own forces should have been quicker to reinforce and relieve Ma Su. While Ma Su had isolated himself and camped in a vulnerable position, part of the blame for the first campaign's failure rests on Zhuge Liang's shoulders both for his decision to appoint Ma Su to lead the campaign and for his overall troop deployments during the campaign.

Until the end of his life, Zhuge Liang also never really addressed the thorny logistics problems Shu-Han suffered. While he had competent officers like Yang Yi handling supplies, transporting provisions across Yi's difficult terrain was always problematic. Finally at the end of his life, he saw the need for long-term agricultural development for the purpose of procuring supplies for campaigns, but at that time it was a bit too late.

That all having been said, Zhuge Liang remains one of my favorite figures from this period and I do think he was highly competent in most respects. I do not tend to view him as a military genius but rather as an extraordinary individual who was not without flaws.

*-Sun Zi would have been in favor of that whole notion of total war based on the Art of War since he alludes to the idea that an invincible general wins wars without even fighting battles, insinuating that the pre-campaign planning/grand strategy aspects of war are highly important. The lords of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras also understood this and sought to strengthen their states/economies/whatever as a means toward war. Nonetheless, I wouldn't call somebody like Liu Bang a military genius vis-a-vis his rival Xiang Yu. Liu Bang specialized in diplomacy and was competent in that regard but I don't really see that as demonstrating military genius so much as political savvy.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:27 am

Just thought I'd post this page from Thomas Chen's excellent website about Chinese weaponry.

http://thomaschen.freewebspace.com/photo.html
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Lorenzo » Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:52 am

Hello sir good day. its my first time visiting this topic forum,, i was asking more details about 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics from this site, i want t learn more about this sir, thanks.
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:42 pm

Welcome Lorenzo. What specifically are you looking to know that isn't in this thread?
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:13 pm

I find the topic fascinating as well Lorenzo but sadly there isn't as much information about it as I'd like!
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Re: 3K Armour, Weapons and Battle Tactics

Unread postby Aaron.K » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:52 am

Just started doing a bit of study after reading Dian Wei's biography. His weapon is described thusly:

“In the camp there is a huge officer, he is Gentleman Dian. In his hands he holds a pair of crescent halberds that weigh eighty jin".

While the general translation is generally correct, the crescent halberd portion is wrong, since the Qinglong Ji or even the Fangtian Ji weren't invented until the Song dynasty. The Ji mentioned in his biography is the type of Ji that I mentioned in this post.

Another thing to note, the "pair" translation could also be a "double ji", as the text says shuang ji, which is also a specific type of ji which in the Three Kingdoms would be a Ji blade on top, with a lower ge blade further down the haft (essentially in the picture of that post, the second ge from the left, give it a spearpoint on top to turn it to a ji from a ge, and you have a shuang ji).

Anyways, doing a little bit more reading, the Han dynasty "jin" or catty, was equivalent to about 250 grams, and not 500 grams like the translator note in Dian Wei's biography states.

Therefore, Dian Wei's two ji ( if it was actually two, they would have probably been short handheld ones like the kind Taishi Ci had, able to be thrown as well) would translate to weighing 44 lbs/20 kg, and not 88 lbs/40 kg like in the translation note.

Now, I'm skeptical about this particular sentence being contemporary to Dian Wei as it starts with "The troops in the army commented thus:" (literally "Military Language says" in the Chinese). I think this might actually be a later addition or some kind of embellishment, namely because of the weight. Military weapons are not heavy, especially not 40 lbs, and it would be even more absurd for an 80 lb weapon. Even if the weight was combined, with each one weighing 20 lbs is ridiculous. All excavated weapons around the world are usually around 2 lbs or less, some being a bit heavier and closer to 3 lbs, and the heaviest handheld weapons (these are large 2 handed swords known as montante) that can go up 10 lbs, though 6-7 lbs are their average weight.
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