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Wojijing 握奇經

Nov 19, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Wojijing (sic!) 握奇經 "Classic of controlling by the unexpected [movements of the formations]" is a military treatise traditionally attributed to Feng Hou 風后, a minister of the mythological Yellow Emperor 黃帝. It is said that Jiang Shang 姜尚 (i.e. Qi Taigong 齊太公), a counsellor to King Wu of Zhou 周武王 (ca. 1050 BCE), extended the book. There is also an integral commentary embedded written by the Former Han-period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) strategist Gongsun Hong 公孫弘 (200-121 BCE).

The book first appears in the imperial bibliography of the official dynastic history Songshi 宋史. Another hint for its late composition is the statement that it was written by Li Quan 李筌 xxx from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). The book is also known under the names Wojijing 握機經 "Classic of controlling through flexibility" or Wojijing 幄機經 "Classic of the flexibility of the [commander's] tent". It is only one short juan-long.

The Wojijing mainly deals with arrangement and movements of formations during battle. There are eight battle arrays (ba zhen 八陣), the regular (zheng 正) formations of Heaven, Earth, Wind and Clouds, and the flexible or "unexpected" ( [sic!] 奇) formations of the Dragon, the Tiger, the Bird and the Snake. The commander-in-chief is placed in the middle of these formations from where he moves the platoons and companies. His own body of troops is called yuji 餘奇 "reserve unit". During the building up of the the arrays light cavalry troops (youjun 游軍) advance to keep a close watch on the movements of the enemy. The light cavalry is then drawn back to the rear. During battle, when the formations advance, the light cavalry again comes to the front to protect the own phalanxes and to harass those of the enemy.

About the arrangement of the eight arrays and their movement, virtually nothing is said in the main text. These points are explained in commentaries, as far as possible.

The earliest surviving prints are from the Jiguge Hall 汲古閣 and the Hongxing shangfang Studio 紅杏山房.

Sources:
Chen Yaru 陈亚如 (1995). "Wojijing yi yu bazhen yuanli《握奇经》义与八阵原理", Shanghai Shifan Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban 上海师范大学学报(哲学社会科学版), 1995 (1): 65-71.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1618.
Liu Qing 劉慶 (1996). "Wojijing 握奇經", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, ed. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 413.
Pan Chao 潘超 (2012). "Dunhuang wenxian P.4837A Bazhen ni ji xiangguan wenti yanjiu 敦煌文献P .4837A《八阵》( 拟) 及相关问题研究", Dunhuang yanjiu 敦煌研究, 2012 (6): 88-96.
Yao Zhenwen 姚振文 (2018). "Wojijing yu Sunzi bingxue lilun 《握奇经》与孙子兵学理论", Binzhou Xueyuan xuebao 滨州学院学报, 2018 (1): 26-31.
Zhang Lie 张烈 (1989). "Wojijing 握奇經", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Junshi 軍事 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1067.