Jiang Taigong (first known as Lü Shang of Lù-shi clan) was later known as Jiang Shang, then Jiang Ziya and Jiang Taigongwang).
As Lu Shang, he served King Zhouwang, the last ruler of the Shang dynasty (16th to 11th century BC) as an expert in military strategic affairs. The Shang ruler was a tyrannical and corrupted ruler who spent his days carousing with his favorite concubine Daji and mercilessly executing or punishing honorable officials and all others who objected to his ways.
Meeting King Wen
After his wife left him, Lu Shang went to Wei-shui River (near today’s Xi'an) to fish, knowing that the future Zhou ruler Wenwang (located in central Shaanxi) would come along one day and meet him. The opportunity occurred one day, when King Wen decided to go hunting in the area near the river, where he saw Lu Shang sitting on the grass, fishing with a bamboo pole that had a barbless hook attached to it. (Some claimed that there was no hook on the line.) The hook was then positioned a few feet above the surface of the water.
Trivia (mainly rumors) related to Jiang Taigong:
- It has been said that Fan Li, Zhang Liang, and Zhuge Liang were also readers of the Jiang Taigong’s book for the ideas on the myriad approaches of prevailing over their rivals with great resources
- Wang Xu (also known as the Master of Ghost Valley) who started the first academy of military studies during the Warring states, taught the concepts of Jiang Taigong writings to his students. His top students were Sun Bin, Sui Chang and Zhang Yi
- Sun Bin also received this book first and later received the Sunzi text from his teacher Wang Xu
- In the river near Xi'an there is a big stone with an indentation that said this was the spot that Jiang Taigong resided in his act of fishing
- Rumors have stated that the following strategic classics were also attributed to Tai Gong: Huang Shi Gong Ji (Huang Shi Gong's Records) [later Sui Dynasty]; Huang Shi Gong San Lüe (Huang Shi Gong's Three Schemes); and Yin Fu (Concealed Symbols)
- Many legends on Jiang Taigong were collected in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and can be found in a fictional work Fengshen Yanyi (Tales of Gods and Heroes)
- There are various parts of China and Asia that honor the achievements of Jiang Tai Gong
Six Secret Strategic Teachings (Six Secret Strategies of Conflict)
These six chapters guided the readers in the art and science of effective strategy and leadership from a top to bottom mode.
- The Civil Strategic Secret: The first chapter stresses the importance of recruiting talent, managing the organization, and valuing developing a proper relationship within your client and your own organization. Once the bond of absolute trust is established, they will do almost anything for you.
- The Military Strategic Secret: The second chapter accentuates the importance of how to prevail over the opposition and how to build a territorial domain by the following actions: Cultivating yourself and organizing your own group in order to govern your external settings and pacify the world. The concept of "conquering without a single tactical battle" is also greatly emphasized. (It is similar to Sunzi's concept of "winning a war without a battle.")
- The Dragon Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on how to lead wisely through various situations by understanding the developmental stage of the operational command, the organizational order, and the liaison.
- The Tiger Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on the tactical essentials, including matters related to proper logistics.
# Side note: Logistics is the prevailing factor that wins the grand war not the tactics.
- The Leopard Strategic Secret: This chapter focuses on the tactical specifics for identifying the critical path toward the completion of one's objective
- The Dog Strategic Secret: This final chapter focuses on the tactical specifics for trapping the target (i.e., encircling and intercepting). There are also good pointers on selecting and training the desired professionals for a team and coordinating the personnel's and resources toward the target.
It delineates the art of "suggesting ideas and perspectives" to people. These two chapters also outline what unique points to observe for. Those who are in the consulting business, might find these points to be quite useful.
Side Note (New update: 10.26.14)
Click here on a modern day version of Jiang Tai Gong with a different twist.