The art of war – always keep one channel of communication open

August 22, 2017

Never ever cut off all communications with your enemy. Never! I cannot emphasise how dangerous it is to do this. As frequently the inability to communicate with your enemy is the leading cause for misunderstandings that is likely to escalate the hostilities beyond the point of control.

This is the dynamic of how a conflict gets from bad to worse.

If you cut off all communications. There is no scope for you to proof information or improvise and take full advantage of a situation to position yourself to win.


Always keep at least one reliable channel of communication open with your enemy.

This is known as ‘the bridge of hesitation’ strategy. Or in western parlance it is known as keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. Unfortunately the application of this strategy frequently misleads leaving one none the wiser as to its workings – the origins of this strategy has its roots in the martial discipline of Hon Kuen where in the hidden chapter of the vermillion veil it’s intent and purpose is spelled out clearly.

It is as follows….

The channel of communication or bridge would have to involve someone senior in the enemy camp. Otherwise it will not work. He would also need to be a decision maker and not just a messenger and most importantly enjoys the support and respect of those who belong to the enemy camp.

All conflicts will eventually settle into a state of either armistice or detente where each side is likely to ritualize war making into a formal set of behaviours, conventions and protocols to perpetuate the status quo. This is simply because war in any shape and form is frequently a costly and uncertain affair fraught with high risk for both sides.

By having this single channel of communication where you able sit down and trash out disputes in a congenial and seemingly friendly atmosphere this will prevent misunderstandings since only one person represents the official position. This will cut off extraneous noise that can frequently lead to unnecessary speculation of intent, misunderstandings that may percipitate a full blown war.

By having this single channel of communication with your adversary. You are also able to posture and parlay for advantage. It will also serve as a dead letter box where you have a platform to convey either information or intent to your adversary via a clear channel that can never be corrupted by rumors and those who may have designs to take your words out of context.

The guidelines for setting up a channel of communication with you adversary should be structured as follows –

(1) Choose a neutral zone or safe location where you can meet on a regular basis. This would I imagine involve some degree of haggling. As each side would naturally prefer to site it at their home ground for an obvious advantage. Once both camps have settled on their respective sitting positions and rituals. This is likely to remain unchanged for every other successive meeting.

(2) Remember how the game is played. Everyone knows a state of war exist. Everyone is just pretending they are good friends. But so long as you are in the four walls of the neutral zone and the set pieces to (1) remain unchanged. Both of you are on friendly terms. This means you will need to observe all the rules of decorum and remain impeachable both in speech and conduct during these meetings.

(3) The frequency of these meetings would I imagine vary depending on prevailing threats and opportunities.

(4) The exchange of seasonal gifts is usually customary. But they should be made to the emissary and not directly to clans.

(5) Always be mindful….a state of war exist!


‘I met up with the millers for breakfast on the first Monday of every month. As my car pulls up. Suddenly it hits me. The restaurant is usually empty for some strange reason whenever we have arranged to met for breakfast. For the life of me. I don’t ever seem to have any recollection of having seen other diners whenever we met up for chow. How very strange….I take my seat facing the east shaking off these frivolous thoughts.

To the south directly before me is the mill owner who likes to talk about stocks. He seems to be in full swing this morning and only raised up his hand momentarily to register my presence when I took my seat. To his immediate right is the immoderate owner of yet another mill who prefers to wax lyrical about his car collection. He seems to be in deep conversation with yet another landowner about how difficult it is these days to find a reliable mechanic. This other landowner always keeps quiet. He seems to have a very pleasant habit of only listening intently. I like him. As for me I much prefer to listen as well. I serve everyone tea. First I run my fingers along the edge of the cups to rotate them in a tray of boiling water. I do this slowly so as not to make too much noise. As it’s impolite. Then I arrange the tea cups in a semi circle and never in a straight line. As Chinese superstition believes evil can travel in straight lines….after that I pour a half measure of freshly brewed tea into the first cup as a sign of supplication to further warm them further only to pour it’s contents to the next cup and so on and so forth till only the last one remains. Then I will throw out its contents on to the floor making a splash like blood to the east for all to see.

This is a symbolic gesture that the tea is not oily and pure like my heart.

Only then do I pour the tea and serve the others. Always with both hands as a sign of utmost respect. This is what the man who sits on the chair facing the east is supposed to do. As he is the youngest on the table.

On one occasion. Some one asked me midway while I was pouring tea whether it would be a good idea for me to turn the fish over. The rest looked on pensively. I merely kept quite and smiled. Only to hold up a tea cup to this person and as his fingers wrapped around it suddenly it slipped and spilled the contents over this person. Of course I apologise profusely for my clumsiness. To which he responded in what I can only describe as a very perculiar expression…I understand why you will not join us* That was what he said.

How odd….how perculiar even….I don’t understand. Or maybe I do. Yes where was I…ah yes.

That at least is how I seem to spend the first Monday of every new month.

Having my friends FOR breakfast.

*2,000 years ago in China.

Kwai Loong the legendary swordsman had been brought before the warlord of Yuen who had asked him to renounce his vow of monkhood by turning and eating the fish. The weaponless monk took a step forward, picked up the chopsticks and turned the fish…thereafter he presented it to the warlord of Yuen who asked again. I would like you to eat the fish to renounce your allegiance to your robe and join me.

The monk merely replied. This fish has too many bones my lord. Maybe you should take a sip of tea first to help it go down better. The warlord of Yuen was so infuritated by the reply of the insolent monk that he asked one of his imperial guards to draw his sword and force the monk to eat the fish.

At that very moment Kwai Loong grabbed the sword and in a flash killed all twenty guards in the chamber. There after the great swordsman held the tip of the sword pointed at the heart of the warlord of Yuen. Who promptly gulped down his tea so fast he spilled most of it only to blurt out meekly…I understand why you will not join us.

That morning as the weaponless monk walked out of the Imperial chamber of Yuen and into the courtyard filled with the armies of Yuen. The generals would be heard shouting…kill him…kill him…but as the swordless monk walked thru the seventh gate to the east not a single man from entire army of Yuen would dare raise his sword against the monk who was once the greatest swordsman who ever lived….it was an unusually beautiful morning…as the sun was crimson red like a blood orange.’

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