Right before the Nanman rebellion, the kingdom of Shu was in a bitter conflict with their rivals, the kingdom of Wei. Seeing this as an opportunity, Meng Huo declares his land independent from the kingdom of Shu. The warload of Shu, Zhuge Liang, knew Shu would be forced into a dangerous position if they were caught between the Wei and Nanman forces. When the fighting with Wei settled down, Zhuge Liang went south with a huge army.
Zhuge Liang could have destroyed the Nanman forces with pure might very easily. However, Zhuge Liang had a different idea. He decided to win back the hearts and minds of the Nanman people. Meng Huo was a simple-minded man, compared to Zhuge Liang being a genius among geniuses. Meng Huo fought the Shu forces in his first battle, but was easily defeated. After Meng Huo was captured, Zhuge Liang let Meng Huo go, and told him to try again. The second time around, Meng Huo again was easily defeated. Zhuge Liang let him go and told him once again to try again. This repeated five more times. Meng Huo was extremely embaressed and demoralized. However, Meng Huo was impressed with Zhuge Liang's tactics and had huge respect for his enemy for sparing his life several times. Meng Huo gladly surrendered, and became a vassal of Shu. Zhuge Liang let him keep his title Great King as a token of friendship.