Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to defeat a giant

How would you go about defeating an incumbent adversary multiple times bigger than yourself without creating a mess or suffering any collateral damage?  Here’s a lesson taken from a page out of the past.

My dad used to scout around in the old rubber plantation on the other side of a ravine opposite our farm.  He was searching for dead or termite-infested rubber trees to cut down for firewood.  He was actually doing the plantation owner a favor in return for the free firewood.  Those old pre-war trees were seed-grown and rose to enormous heights and some measured more than a meter in diameter at the base of the trunk.  Left to rot on their own, these monstrosities would pose a danger to workers or other good latex-producing trees.

Dad was no lumberjack, but he'd probably picked up a trick or two during his younger days when he worked with loggers in the mainland opening up jungles for planting rubber.  Taking down rubber trees in a plantation required skilful maneuvering as there were other trees in close proximity.  You have to ensure the tree falls precisely where you want it to, to prevent or minimize damage to the good trees.

Dad would pick on a day when there was no wind.  Then he'd walk all round the tree of his choice, making an estimate of which direction the tree would most likely go in an uninfluenced fall.  Then he'd use an axe to cut a V-shape about 1/3 deep in the side of the trunk facing the direction he wanted the tree to go down.  After this we'd use a manual long-saw to cut into trunk from the other side opposite of the V-cut.  After the saw has gone in about 1/3 deep, steel wedges would be punched into the gap made by the saw.  Then we'd continue
sawing and punching on the wedges until the tree started falling in the preferred direction.  Timberrrrrrr!!!!

It used to be a thrill watching the huge thing beginning to go down in slow motion and then gather speed and finally... whoooosh!!! Crash!!!  After this, our real back-breaking work of cutting the thing into short pieces and transporting them back to our farm began.


  1. An entrapment strategy? Cut a false escape route for the enemy, push them down that path from behind and then ambush them when they are boxed in. Its also used in marketing.

  2. The basics exist everywhere in disguise or in simple form. The wise see their usefulness and utilize them to solve problems.

  3. The basics disguise themselves well to the point that our eyes don't see until it is too late. A mature person would keep a secret to prevent an immature enemy from a death sentence. The foolish one knowing the immature enemy will continue attacking and yet, the foolish one is the mature one left standing. It gets very tired.