Law 22: Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power


When you are weak, never fight for honor’s sake; instead choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover, time to wait for his power to wane. Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you-surrender first. By turning the other cheek, you infuriate and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power.

8 Reasons to Surrender

1. When you are weak, there is nothing to gain by fighting a useless fight.
2. No one comes to help a weaker adversary; they will not put themselves in danger.
3. You are alone and must submit.
4. Fighting gives you nothing but martyrdom.
5. People who do not believe in your cause also die.
6. Never sacrifice time for recovering in exchange for honor in a battle that you cannot win.
7. Surrender conceals great power.
8. Lulling your enemy into complacency gives you time to recoup, undermine and revenge.

In 473 B.C., in ancient China, King Goujian of Yue suffered a horrible defeat from the ruler of Wu in the battle of Fujiao. Goujian wanted to flee, but he had an adviser who told him to surrender and to place himself in the service of the ruler of Wu, from which position he could study the man and plot his revenge. Deciding to follow this advice, Goujian gave the ruler all of his riches, and went to work in his conqueror's stables as the lowest ser­vant.

For three years he humbled himself before the ruler, who then, finally satisfied of his loyalty, allowed him to return home. Inwardly, however, Goujian had spent those three years gathering information and plotting re­venge. When a terrible drought struck Wu, and the kingdom was weak­ened by inner turmoil, he raised an army, invaded, and won with ease. That is the power behind surrender: It gives you the time and the flexibility to plot a devastating counter-blow. Had Goujian run away, he would have lost this chance.

What is the Point?

You use surrender to gain access to your enemy. You learn his ways, insinuate yourself with him slowly, outwardly conform to his customs, but inwardly maintain your own culture. You will emerge victorious, for while he con­siders you weak and inferior, and takes no precautions against you, you are using the time to catch up and surpass him. This soft, permeable form of in­vasion is often the best, for the enemy has nothing to react against, prepare for, or resist

The point of surrendering is to save your hide for a later date when you can reassert yourself. It is precisely to avoid martyrdom that one surren­ders, but there are times when the enemy will not relent, and martyrdom seems the only way out. Furthermore, if you are willing to the, others may gain power and inspiration from your example.

If you find yourself temporarily weakened, the surrender tactic is perfect for raising yourself up again—it disguises your ambition; it teaches you patience and self-control, key skills in the game; and it puts you in the best possible position for taking advantage of your op­pressor's sudden slide. If you run away or fight back, in the long run you cannot win. If you surrender, you will almost always emerge victorious.