Friday, 27 May 2016

Gokan- The 5 Types of Spies (Shinobi)


   Go (Jap.) means 'five', kan (Chin.) means 'spy' -Gokan: five (types of) spies, also called Tókan or Wujián. These are the five types of spies discussed by Sun Tzu in the 13th Chapter of his book Bingfa- Art of War and are supposedly defined so since the time of Huángdi -Yellow Emperor of China. Master Natori Masatake also describes these five types of spies in his book Shoninki.

   Sun Tzu says, "What enables the enlightened rulers and good generals to conquer the enemy at every move and achieve extraordinary success is foreknowledge. Foreknowledge cannot be elicited from ghosts and spirits; it cannot be inferred from comparison of previous events, or from the calculations of the heavens, but must be obtained from people who have knowledge of the enemy's situation. Thus there are five kinds of spies:
1. Local Spies
2. Internal Spies
3. Converted Spies
4. Dead/Doomed Spies
5. Surviving Spies".

1. Local Spies: In local spies, we use the enemy's people by offering them with good rewards. Generally, you train the local people of the country/region and then use them to collect information and/or to sabotage or create mischief. Local people can be easily manipulated through various methods and thus this is a quick and easy approach however local people do not have much power and they can not enter the most strategic areas of the enemy. For that comes the inward spies.

2. Internal Spies: For internal spies, we use the enemy's officials. They have to be secretly approached and bribed or may be sometimes threatened. Once they are trapped, they can then be used to collect information about the important internal affairs. They can then also be used to spot the enemy spies in your own positions. Internal Spies tend to be clever and they carry out the missions with more precision and accuracy. However, this can turn against on us anytime and hence internal spies should be used with utmost care and for as short period of time as possible. They can feed you with misinformation and so the information should be properly analyzed by comparing with other sources. A good way is to increase the number of sources to increase the success rate and level of information but this may give away your position sometimes.

3. Converted Spies: Generally, we may not be the only ones getting the use of spies; enemy too may have put strongholds in our lines by the use of spies. These should be searched for but when you find about an enemy spy, do not execute them rather treat them well and in most cases you should pretend that you don't know if he/she is an enemy spy thus feeding them with wrong information. They can also be used to collect information back from the enemy and thus they are also called Double Spies. You can execute them later or set them free once you no longer feel their need or suspect them of deceiving you.

4. Dead/Doomed Spies: These are agents used to spread misinformation in the enemy lines. You don't have to pay them often and most of the time they remain inactive in their respective fields hence so called the dead spies. As the need arises, they spread misinformation or arise doom within an agency with a fire no one sees but believes. They may also be used to hire internal or local spies.

5. Surviving Spies: These are the agents which secretly infiltrates the enemy lines and bring about information. These are highly skilled and trained spies. They are hired on a long term basis and return with good results. The problem is the time and expense used in training these spies and even worst thing is if an enemy spy gets the information of the training institute or methods. Mostly Shinobi would be used as surviving spies who were very skilled at it. However, a good shinobi is master at all types of spying.

Comments:  Though the world has seen so much advancement of knowledge and technology and now there are  more types of spying functions such as the internet surveillance, the basic types of spies described by Sun Tzu still hold credit to this day. The converted spies are now often called double spies, while the dead/doomed spies are now often called sleeping/sleeper spies and/or confusion spies. Remember that Sun Tzu lived almost 2500 years ago. This proves that whether be there any much advancement of knowledge and technology, the basic principles of strategy still remain the same as another example I had earlier given in a post: Sun Tzu says, "Those skilled in defense conceal themselves in the lowest depths of the Earth. Those skilled in attack move in the highest reaches of the Heavens. Therefore, they are able to protect themselves and achieve complete victory".

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