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Warfare in Ancient China

Warfare in ancient China is a pivotal study for the writing of my Wuxia novels. I finally finished the first draft of the next novel.  Finished it off with a tense battle sequence where my main character and his two thousand men attacked the bad guy with fifty thousand men, and won.  Of course it involved plenty of deceit and foresight, but most importantly, the scene is fundamentally Asian warfare.  Battles in ancient China never made the history books if they simply involved more people or better gadgets.  They were glorified for their use of strategy and deceit.  Sun Tzu’s Art of War, a book that I used to cut class in high school to read, was one of many great military classics from ancient China, and it was one of the less interesting ones.

So warfare in Wuxia novels has no choice but to involve complex strategies.  Asian strategy and Western strategy is different in many ways.  Western strategy often involves collecting information and making decisions based on the probability of something happening.  Asian strategy almost always involves the use of deceit and manipulation.  Not until Charles Martell did western generals retreat to lure his enemies into a trap, something that Asian generals have done as a general routine for thousands of years.  When writing fiction, I find it much more fun writing about my main character suckering the enemy into doing something that he has already planned against, instead of winning out of sheer strength and courage.  How many Hollywood films I’ve seen where the good guy beats an impossibly tough enemy at the end with sheer will and luck and because he tried harder, the film ruined for me perhaps because I myself never got to beat up a tough opponent just by trying extra hard.  The opponent was also trying extra hard.  So in fiction, I give my heroes courage and will to stack up with the villain’s courage and will, but victory must come from foresight and strategy.  It made the fight scenes so much more enjoyable to write.

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