˘ Sun Tzu’s

The Art of War

˘ Sun Tzu’s

The Art of War
translated by Lionel Giles, M.A.

Pax Librorum Publishing House 2009

A. No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the Publisher. and can be purchased from the Amazon. as translated by Lionel Giles. II. please consider supporting the publisher by purchasing a copy. This edition has been corrected of transcription errors and typeset for modern printing equipment to maximize quality and readability. All rights reserved.com websites for $3. It is simultaneously published as a paperback book. If you enjoyed this free eBook. M.PaxLibrorum. 2009. First published in 1910.˘ The Art of War by Sun Tzu./1. Please note that the text presented herein is in the public domain and the publisher makes no copyright claims thereto.com . Non-profit digital distribution however is explicitly permitted and encouraged by the Publisher.com or BN. Editor: Aggott Hönsch István The paperback edition of this eBook is identified by ISBN 978-0-9811626-3-8 Published by Pax Librorum Publishing House www.99 USD.

in the hope that a work 2400 years old may yet contain lessons worth consideration by the soldier of to-day this translation is affectionately dedicated .To my brother Captain Valentine Giles. R.G.


. . . . . . . . . . 15 V. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . II. . . . . . Weak Points and Strong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 IV. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 vii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Attack by Fire . . . . . Manœuvring . . . . . 31 X. . . . . . . . . . . . Tactical Dispositions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Variation in Tactics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 7 III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 XIII. . I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 VIII. . . . . . . . Terrain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Army on the March . . . . . . . . . . . Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 XI. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . Laying Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 VI. . . . 41 XII. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 IX. . . . . . . . . . . The Nine Situations . . . . . . . . . . . . Attack by Stratagem . . . . . . The Use of Spies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 VII. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waging War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


and the soldiers nevertheless disobey. The words of command having been thus explained.” But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tz˘ : “If words of command are not clear and distinct. When I say ‘About turn.” whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. His Art of War brought u him to the notice of Ho Lu.” Sun Tz˘ went on: “When I say ‘Eyes front. Ho Lu said to him: “I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. King of Wu.” So he started drilling them again.Introduction Sun Tz˘ Wu was a native of the Ch‘i State. if orders u are not thoroughly understood.’ you must look straight u ahead. to the sound of drums.” u Ho Lu asked: “May the test be applied to women?” The answer was again in the affirmative. Sun Tz˘ divided them into u two companies. so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. When I say ‘Left turn. But if his orders are clear. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?” Sun Tz˘ replied: “You may. and this time gave the order “Left turn. then it is the 1 . then the general is to blame.’ you must face towards your right hand. he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill.” Again the girls assented. right hand and left hand?” The girls replied: “Yes. Sun Tz˘ said: “If words u of command are not clear and distinct. Then. and addressed them thus: “I presume you know the difference between front and back. he gave the order “Right turn. When I say ‘Right turn.’ you must face right round towards your back. He then bade them all take spears in their hands. the general is to blame. if orders are not thoroughly understood.’ you must face towards your left hand. and placed one of the King’s favourite concubines at the head of each.

acting in that capacity. In the west. u Sire.” After that. and ready for your majesty’s inspection. Now the King of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion. We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops. Sun Tz˘ u fault of their officers. to the north he put fear into the States of Ch‘i and Chin. I am unable to accept. Ho Lu saw that Sun Tz˘ was one who knew how to u handle an army. And Sun Tz˘ shared in the u might of the King. and finally appointed him general.The Art of War. and the girls went through all the evolutions. 145 BC – 86 BC) u 2 .” But the King replied: “Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. he defeated the Ch‘u State and forced his way into Ying. with perfect accuracy and precision. not venturing to utter a sound. and u cannot translate them into deeds.” So saying.” Accordingly. and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. When this had been done. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire. the drum was sounded for the drill once more. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded. Then Sun Tz˘ sent a messenger to the King saying: “Your soldiers. and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place. the capital. As for us.” Thereupon Sun Tz˘ said: “The King is only fond of words. he had the two leaders beheaded. marching ahead or wheeling back. our meat and drink will lose their savour. and when he saw that his favourite concubines were about to be executed. kneeling or standing. and they will not disobey. turning to the right or to the left. he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. If We are bereft of these two concubines. there are certain commands of His Majesty which. bid them go through fire and water. — Ss˘ -ma Ch‘ien (c. he was greatly alarmed and hurriedly sent down the following message: “We are now quite satisfied as to our general’s ability to handle troops. are now properly drilled and disciplined.” Sun Tz˘ replied: “Having once received His Majesty’s commission u to be the general of his forces.

a road either to safety or to ruin.I Laying Plans 1. 7. (4) the Commander. These are: (1) the Moral Law. the chances of life and death. The art of war. cold and heat. courage and strictness. sincerity. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler. undismayed by any danger. danger and security. Sun Tz˘ said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. times and seasons. 9. 8. (5) method and discipline. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom. when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. (3) Earth. Heaven signifies night and day. open ground and narrow passes. so that they will follow him regardless of their lives. u 2. 3. then. It is a matter of life and death. great and small. (2) Heaven. Earth comprises distances. to be taken into account in one’s deliberations. 3 . 4. benevolence. is governed by five constant factors. 6. 5.

in your deliberations. While heeding the profit of my counsel. let them be made the basis of a comparison. we must seem unable. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious. 11. Therefore. 12. when far away. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. when we are near. 19. 15. will conquer: — let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it. when seeking to determine the military conditions. avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules. Sun Tz˘ u 10. 4 . he who knows them not will fail. will suffer defeat: — let such a one be dismissed! 16. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions. Hence. the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army. when able to attack.The Art of War. in this wise: — 13. we must make him believe we are near. According as circumstances are favourable. one should modify one’s plans. we must make the enemy believe we are far away. the graduations of rank among the officers. when using our forces. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it. 18. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment? 14. we must seem inactive. 17. and the control of military expenditure. All warfare is based on deception.

These military devices. 5 . separate them. 23. Pretend to be weak.I. must not be divulged beforehand. If his forces are united. If he is secure at all points. If he is taking his ease. If he is in superior strength. Thus do many calculations lead to victory. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. and crush him. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. 21. 26. Attack him where he is unprepared. that he may grow arrogant. 24. appear where you are not expected. If your opponent is of choleric temper. Laying Plans 20. evade him. 25. 22. be prepared for him. and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. give him no rest. leading to victory. Feign disorder. seek to irritate him.


5. if victory is long in coming. with provisions enough to carry them a thousand Li. when your weapons are dulled. When you engage in actual fighting. the expenditure at home and at the front. your strength exhausted and your treasure spent. where there are in the u field a thousand swift chariots. 2. small items such as glue and paint. will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. as many heavy chariots. if the campaign is protracted. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. If you lay siege to a town. including entertainment of guests. Again. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100. then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be damped. other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity.II Waging War 1. and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers. will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. and sums spent on chariots and armour. Sun Tz˘ said: In the operations of war. though we have heard of stupid haste in war. Thus. 3. your ardour damped. you will exhaust your strength. 6. Now. however wise. Then no man.000 men. 4. the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. 7 .

Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy. breast-plates and helmets. but forage on the enemy. they must have their rewards. On the other hand. and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one’s own store. and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away. and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. Bring war material with you from home. When their substance is drained away. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished. while Government expenses for broken chariots. will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue. the homes of the people will be stripped bare. Therefore in chariot fighting. bows and arrows. 14. neither are his supply-waggons loaded more than twice. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. 8 . With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength.The Art of War. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on. spears and shields. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy. protective mantles. when ten or more chariots have been taken. 10. Now in order to kill the enemy. 15. 8. 11. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs. our men must be roused to anger. 16. 12. the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions. 13. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy. draught-oxen and heavy waggons. worn-out horses. 17. the proximity of an army causes prices to go up. those should be rewarded who took the first. Sun Tz˘ u 7. 9. and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated.

9 . not lengthy campaigns. let your great object be victory. 19. This is called. Waging War 18. the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.II. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate. In war. 20. then. using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.


a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them. 2. 3. not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. to shatter and destroy it is not so good. with the result that one-third of his men are slain. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting. it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it. and various implements of war. 4. and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more. Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy’s plans. Sun Tz˘ said: In the practical art of war. he captures their cities without laying siege to 11 . too. The preparation of mantlets. will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants. 5. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege. The rule is. 6. supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces. The general. movable shelters. the best thing of all is u to take the enemy’s country whole and intact.III Attack by Stratagem 1. the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field. to capture a regiment. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence. will take up three whole months. while the town still remains untaken. So. and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. unable to control his irritation.

to attack him. and thus. to surround him. being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat. This is the method of attacking by stratagem. he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. 14. without losing a man. It is the rule in war. we can offer battle. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers. we can flee from him. the State will be strong. 16. if quite unequal in every way. the State will be weak. and flinging victory away. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds. though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force. 12. we can avoid the enemy. 15. if twice as numerous. if the bulwark is defective. if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one. 9. if five to one. 11. 17. Sun Tz˘ u them. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army: — 13. But when the army is restless and distrustful. trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. his triumph will be complete. 8. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination. 7.The Art of War. If equally matched. Now the general is the bulwark of the State. 10. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army. Hence. through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This is called hobbling the army. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire. if the bulwark is complete at all points. in the end it must be captured by the larger force. to divide our army into two. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: 12 . if slightly inferior in numbers.

Attack by Stratagem (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. prepared himself. If you know yourself but not the enemy. for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself. waits to take the enemy unprepared. Victory lies in the knowledge of these five points.III. you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. (4) He will win who. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. 18. 13 . (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. you will succumb in every battle.


on the other. a superabundance of strength. Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat. 3. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength. 15 . Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands. Security against defeat implies defensive tactics. 8. 6. but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy. but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. attacking. 4. To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence. 5. Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it. ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven. Sun Tz˘ said: The good fighters of old first put themselves u beyond the possibility of defeat. The general who is skilled in defence hides in the most secret recesses of the earth. 2. and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. 7.IV Tactical Dispositions 1. a victory that is complete.

The Art of War, Sun Tz˘ u 9. Neither is it the acme of excellence if you fight and conquer and the whole Empire says, “Well done!” 10. To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear. 11. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. 12. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. 13. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. 14. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. 15. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory. 16. The consummate leader cultivates the Moral Law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success. 17. In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory. 18. Measurement owes its existence to Earth; Estimation of quantity to Measurement; Calculation to Estimation of quantity; Balancing of chances to Calculation; and Victory to Balancing of chances. 19. A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain. 20. The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep. So much for tactical dispositions.


1. Sun Tz˘ said: The control of a large force is the same in principle u as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. 2. Fighting with a large army under your command is nowise different from fighting with a small one: it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals. 3. To ensure that your whole host may withstand the brunt of the enemy’s attack and remain unshaken — this is effected by manœuvres direct and indirect. 4. That the impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg — this is effected by the science of weak points and strong. 5. In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory. 6. Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more. 7. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. 17

The Art of War, Sun Tz˘ u 8. There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. 9. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted. 10. In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack — the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of manœuvres. 11. The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle — you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination? 12. The onset of troops is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course. 13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. 14. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision. 15. Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger. 16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat. 17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength. 18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions. 19. Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it. 18

his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones.V. When he utilises combined energy. and does not require too much from individuals. The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy. to come to a standstill. By holding out baits. 22. 23. he keeps him on the march. to go rolling down. then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground. but if round-shaped. 19 . 21. and to move when on a slope. So much on the subject of energy. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and to utilise combined energy. if four-cornered. Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height. Energy 20.


Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend. By holding out advantages to him. 5. An army may march great distances without distress. he can force him to move. if well supplied with food. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend. he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near. will be fresh for the fight. march swiftly to places where you are not expected. or. Sun Tz˘ said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming u of the enemy. 6. 4. and he is skillful in defence whose opponent does not know what to attack. by inflicting damage. if it marches through country where the enemy is not.You can ensure the safety of your defence if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked. 2. If the enemy is taking his ease. if quietly encamped. he can harass him. but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him. 8.VI Weak Points and Strong 1. he can starve him out. he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord. 3. 7. You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted. 21 . Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy.

Sun Tz˘ u 9. 22 . and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands. you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy. The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known. through you inaudible. which means that we shall be many to the enemy’s few. he will weaken his right. should he strengthen his rear. 15. For should the enemy strengthen his van. he will weaken his van. You may advance and be absolutely irresistible.The Art of War. for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points. We can form a single united body. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way. should he strengthen his right. O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible. If we do not wish to fight. 11. he will everywhere be weak. the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few. 10. the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. while the enemy must split up into fractions. we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. If he sends reinforcements everywhere. If we wish to fight. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole. 16. 17. 12. 13. he will weaken his left. should he strengthen his left. By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves. our opponents will be in dire straits. All we need do is to attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve. And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one. while the enemy’s must be divided. 14. we can keep our forces concentrated. he will weaken his rear. and his forces being thus distributed in many directions. if you make for the enemy’s weak points.

22. Rouse him. numerical strength. 20. and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies. How much more so if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred Li apart. the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them. but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances. then the left wing will be impotent to succour the right. the van unable to relieve the rear. we may prevent him from fighting. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers. the right equally impotent to succour the left. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks. 26. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory. I say then that victory can be achieved. Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yüeh exceed our own in number. 27. 19. But if neither time nor place be known. 23 . that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. Weak Points and Strong 18. 25. conceal your dispositions.VI. but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us. 24. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics — that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. 23. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own. we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight. Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success. Force him to reveal himself. so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient. and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. or the rear to support the van. In making tactical dispositions. 28. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer. so as to find out his vulnerable spots. from the machinations of the wisest brains. and even the nearest are separated by several Li! 21.

There are short days and long. 24 . 33. 31. the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Military tactics are like unto water.The Art of War. may be called a heaven-born captain. Therefore. So in war. so in warfare there are no constant conditions. the moon has its periods of waning and waxing. just as water retains no constant shape. 34. The five elements are not always equally predominant. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning. Sun Tz˘ u 29. 30. 32. the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. the four seasons make way for each other in turn. for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.

to take a long and circuitous route. On the other hand. Manœuvring with an army is advantageous. comes tactical manœuvring. Thus. and misfortune into gain. he must blend and harmonise the different elements thereof before pitching his camp. covering 25 . After that. the chances are that you will be too late. Thus. to detach a flying column for the purpose involves the sacrifice of its baggage and stores. 6. 7. than which there is nothing more difficult. 5. and though starting after him. shows knowledge of the artifice of deviation. 3. Having collected an army and concentrated his forces. and make forced marches without halting day or night. Sun Tz˘ said: In war. after enticing the enemy out of the way. to contrive to reach the goal before him. 2. The difficulty of tactical manœuvring consists in turning the devious into the direct.VII Manœuvring 1. the general receives his commands from u the sovereign. most dangerous. with an undisciplined multitude. If you set a fully equipped army in march in order to snatch an advantage. if you order your men to roll up their buff-coats. 4.

the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into the hands of the enemy. We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost. If you march fifty Li in order to outmanœuvre the enemy. In war. We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbours. without provisions it is lost. 18. 13. 9. and you will succeed. 19. We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides. and when you move. your compactness that of the forest. 10. Sun Tz˘ u double the usual distance at a stretch. must be decided by circumstances. the jaded ones will fall behind. 16. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country — its mountains and forests. and only half your force will reach the goal. fall like a thunderbolt. in immovability like a mountain. its pitfalls and precipices.The Art of War. Let your rapidity be that of the wind. The stronger men will be in front. and on this plan only one-tenth of your army will reach its destination. 15. without bases of supply it is lost. In raiding and plundering be like fire. you will lose the leader of your first division. 26 . 17. Move only if there is a real advantage to be gained. its marshes and swamps. 8. If you march thirty Li with the same object. Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night. two-thirds of your army will arrive. 11. 12. doing a hundred Li in order to wrest an advantage. practise dissimulation. 14.

26. The Book of Army Management says: On the field of battle. 24. 29.VII. and in fighting by day. When you plunder a countryside. In night-fighting. 31. to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling. his mind is bent only on returning to camp. Disciplined and calm. of flags and banners. He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. A whole army may be robbed of its spirit. as a means of influencing the ears and eyes of your army. 30. or for the cowardly to retreat alone. it is impossible either for the brave to advance alone. To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it. to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: — this is the art of retaining self-possession. Ponder and deliberate before you make a move. let the spoil be divided amongst your men. avoids an army when its spirit is keen. Such is the art of manœuvring. banners and flags. 23. 22. Gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags. by noonday it has begun to flag. 25. but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. Now a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning. 21. and in the evening. A clever general. then. therefore. The host thus forming a single united body. a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind. Manœuvring 20. make much use of signal-fires and drums. the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. to be well-fed 27 . This is the art of handling large masses of men. This is the art of studying moods. when you capture new territory. are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point. 27. 28. cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery.

34.The Art of War. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. 36. to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array: — this is the art of studying circumstances. 32. To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order. It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy. When you surround an army. 35. Such is the art of warfare. Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight. Sun Tz˘ u while the enemy is famished: — this is the art of husbanding one’s strength. do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen. leave an outlet free. 28 . 33. 37. Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. nor to oppose him when he comes downhill.

the general receives his commands from u the sovereign. There are roads which must not be followed. may be well acquainted with the configuration of the country. you must fight. So. Hence in the wise leader’s plans. In hemmed-in situations. 7. 5. The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops. 6. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. In a desperate position. the student of war who is unversed in the art of varying his plans. 3. join hands with your allies. yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account. 4. even though he be acquainted with the Five Advantages. do not encamp. considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together. 29 . collects his army and concentrates his forces 2. commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.VIII Variation in Tactics 1. The general who does not understand these. armies which must not be attacked. towns which must not be besieged. you must resort to stratagem. will fail to make the best use of his men. Sun Tz˘ said: In war. positions which must not be contested. In country where high roads intersect. When in difficult country.

the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. which leads to capture. which exposes him to worry and trouble. There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness. 13. hold out specious allurements. but on our own readiness to receive him. ruinous to the conduct of war. 30 . we may succeed in accomplishing the essential part of our schemes. 9. which can be provoked by insults. which leads to destruction. (4) a delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame. we may extricate ourselves from misfortune. The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming. When an army is overthrown and its leader slain. If our expectation of advantage be tempered in this way. (5) over-solicitude for his men. not on the chance of his not attacking. but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage. 10. 11.The Art of War. 14. 12. Let them be a subject of meditation. make trouble for them. Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them. (2) cowardice. Sun Tz˘ u 8. on the other hand. These are the five besetting sins of a general. and make them rush to any given point. (3) a hasty temper. and keep them constantly engaged. If.

3. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march. Do not climb heights in order to fight. and keep in the neighbourhood of valleys. without any delay. Moor your craft higher up than the enemy. and observing signs of the enemy. 4. Sun Tz˘ said: We come now to the question of encamping the u army. 2. Do not move up-stream to meet the enemy. you should get far away from it. 7. facing the sun. and facing the sun. 31 . your sole concern should be to get over them quickly. and get your back to a clump of trees. 6. After crossing a river. Pass quickly over mountains. If you are anxious to fight. It will be best to let half the army get across. 5. So much for operations in salt-marshes. If forced to fight in a salt-marsh. In crossing salt-marshes. Camp in high places. you should have water and grass near you. So much for mountain warfare. do not advance to meet it in mid-stream. So much for river warfare. 8.IX The Army on the March 1. you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross. and then deliver your attack.

32 . Country in which there are precipitous cliffs with torrents running between. Sun Tz˘ u 9. with the slope on your right rear. ponds surrounded by aquatic grass.The Art of War. and camp on hard ground. take up an easily accessible position with rising ground to your right and on your rear. in consequence of heavy rains up-country. quagmires and crevasses. Thus you will at once act for the benefit of your soldiers and utilise the natural advantages of the ground. 10. 18. hollow basins filled with reeds. and this will spell victory. you must wait until it subsides. we should let the enemy have them on his rear. If in the neighbourhood of your camp there should be any hilly country. While we keep away from such places. they must be carefully routed out and searched. So much for campaigning in flat country. and safety lie behind. 15. 12. a river which you wish to ford is swollen and flecked with foam. 14. occupy the sunny side. These are the four useful branches of military knowledge which enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns. we should get the enemy to approach them. 13. deep natural hollows. while we face them. or woods with thick undergrowth. All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to dark. should be left with all possible speed and not approached. he is relying on the natural strength of his position. 11. When. When you come to a hill or a bank. 17. confined places. If you are careful of your men. 16. When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet. level country. for these are places where men in ambush or insidious spies are likely to be lurking. the army will be free from disease of every kind. so that the danger may be in front. tangled thickets. In dry.

28. he is anxious for the other side to advance. 29. 24. he is tendering a bait. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot. Movement amongst the trees of a forest shows that the enemy is advancing. it shows that parties have been sent to collect firewood. When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears. When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into rank. 26. 25. Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. When it branches out in different directions. 20. it is a sign that the enemy is forming for battle. when the dust is low. 27. The Army on the March 19. When there is dust rising in a high column. If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves. but spread over a wide area. it betokens the approach of infantry. The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambuscade. the army is suffering from thirst. it means that the critical moment has come. 22. it is a lure. A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify that the army is encamping. 33 . When the light chariots come out first and take up a position on the wings. 23. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming. it is the sign of chariots advancing. 21. If his place of encampment is easy of access. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.IX. 30. When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle. they are faint from want of food. When some are seen advancing and some retreating. The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious.

The Art of War. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources. 40. 37. the situation is one that demands great vigilance and circumspection. the soldiers are exhausted. it is unoccupied. it only means that no direct attack can be made. If birds gather on any spot. sedition is afoot. it means that the men are weary. Clamour by night betokens nervousness. showing that they will not return to their tents. If the banners and flags are shifted about. too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress. The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking in subdued tones points to disaffection amongst the rank and file. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths. keep a close watch on the enemy. the general’s authority is weak. 34 . but afterwards to take fright at the enemy’s numbers. and obtain reinforcements. If the enemy sees an advantage to be gained and makes no effort to secure it. 35. 39. If the enemy’s troops march up angrily and remain facing ours for a long time without either joining battle or taking themselves off again. it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce. What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength. 34. 33. If our troops are no more in number than the enemy. If the officers are angry. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them. 32. you may know that they are determined to fight to the death. and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots over the camp-fires. 36. 38. When an army feeds its horses with grain and kills its cattle for food. To begin by bluster. that is amply sufficient. shows a supreme lack of intelligence. 41. If there is disturbance in the camp. Sun Tz˘ u 31.

the army will be well-disciplined. 35 . If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed. The Army on the March 42. its discipline will be bad. they will not prove submissive. punishments are not enforced. when the soldiers have become attached to you. if not. they will still be useless. 45. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced. This is a certain road to victory. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity. 44. 43. they will be practically useless. but kept under control by means of iron discipline. If. If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you. unless submissive. the gain will be mutual. and.IX.


it will be advisable not to stir forth. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called accessible. 6. (2) entangling ground.X Terrain 1. Then you will be able to fight with advantage. 2. disaster will ensue. then. return being impossible. you may sally forth and defeat him. 4. 7. Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called entangling. even though the enemy should offer us an attractive bait. 3. (6) positions at a great distance from the enemy. if the enemy is unprepared. (4) narrow passes. to wit: u (1) Accessible ground. we may deliver our attack with advantage. (3) temporising ground. but rather to retreat. When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first move. 5. (5) precipitous heights. and carefully guard your line of supplies. it is called temporising ground. then. With regard to ground of this nature. be before the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny spots. and you fail to defeat him. From a position of this sort. But if the enemy is prepared for your coming. 37 . thus enticing the enemy in his turn. when part of his army has come out. In a position of this sort. Sun Tz˘ said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain.

the result is ruin. do not go after him if the pass is fully garrisoned. 16. if you can occupy them first. if one force is hurled against another ten times its size. These six are the principles connected with Earth. Sun Tz˘ u 8. before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or not he is in a position to fight. 17. (5) disorganization. 9. The general who has attained a responsible post must be careful to study them. and there wait for him to come up. do not follow him. (2) insubordination. let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy. Now an army is exposed to six several calamities. you should occupy the raised and sunny spots. not arising from natural causes. if you are beforehand with your adversary. 13. With regard to narrow passes. but retreat and try to entice him away. If the enemy has occupied them before you. With regard to precipitous heights. but only if it is weakly garrisoned. Should the enemy forestall you in occupying a pass. Other conditions being equal. When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate. but from faults for which the general is responsible. 38 . If you are situated at a great distance from the enemy. 15. and fighting will be to your disadvantage. (4) ruin. (6) rout. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak. 14. 10. the result is collapse. and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment. 11.The Art of War. and the strength of the two armies is equal. the result will be the flight of the former. it is not easy to provoke a battle. When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak. These are: (1) Flight. 12. the result is insubordination. (3) collapse.

He who knows these things. and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. and of shrewdly calculating difficulties. moreover. When a general. nor practises them. which must be carefully noted by the general who has attained a responsible post. He who knows them not. 39 . the result must be a rout. dangers and distances. the result is utter disorganization. and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank. allows an inferior force to engage a larger one. but unable to make your authority felt. The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace. if fighting will not result in victory. and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner. but a power of estimating the adversary. 20. then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding. and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice. they are useless for any practical purpose. when his orders are not clear and distinct. Terrain 18. These are six ways of courting defeat. 21. and they will stand by you even unto death. 25. you are indulgent. 19. 26. even though the ruler forbid it. If fighting is sure to result in victory. 24. but unable to enforce your commands. or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one. will surely be defeated.X. 23. then you must fight. of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children. constitutes the test of a great general. 22. of controlling the forces of victory. When the general is weak and without authority. kind-hearted. will win his battles. If. unable to estimate the enemy’s strength. however. and incapable. look upon them as your own beloved sons. The natural formation of the country is the soldier’s best ally. Regard your soldiers as your children. when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men. is the jewel of the kingdom. whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign.

he is never at a loss. If we know that the enemy is open to attack. If we know that the enemy is open to attack. 29. but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself. but are unaware that the nature of the ground makes fighting impracticable. 30. is never bewildered. we have still gone only halfway towards victory. once in motion. Sun Tz˘ u 27. 40 . if you know Heaven and know Earth. but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack. we have gone only halfway towards victory. once he has broken camp. If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack. you may make your victory complete. Hence the experienced soldier. we have gone only halfway towards victory. 28. 31. your victory will not stand in doubt.The Art of War. and also know that our men are in a condition to attack.

(2) facile ground. Mountain forests. (8) hemmed-in ground. When he has penetrated into hostile territory. 4. Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground. 6. it is facile ground. leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear. 41 . is contentious ground. Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states. 2. When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country. 5.XI The Nine Situations 1. it is dispersive ground. (9) desperate ground. Sun Tz˘ said: The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground: u (1) Dispersive ground. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory. is a ground of intersecting highways. (7) difficult ground. 3. marshes and fens — all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground. (4) open ground. rugged steeps. (3) contentious ground. (5) ground of intersecting highways. 7. but to no great distance. it is serious ground. Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side. (6) serious ground. so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command. 8.

they made a forward move. join hands with your allies. 10. I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear. they stopped still. On open ground. the officers from rallying their men. therefore. 13. they prevented them from concentrating. when otherwise. and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths. In difficult ground. to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad. On hemmed-in ground. fight not. Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy’s front and rear. Ground which is reached through narrow gorges. fight. On contentious ground. do not try to block the enemy’s way. resort to stratagem.” 19. to prevent cooperation between his large and small divisions. On the ground of intersecting highways. gather in plunder. When the enemy’s men were scattered. 12. On facile ground. When it was to their advantage. Sun Tz˘ u 9. Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay. make your way by unexpected routes. they managed to keep them in disorder. keep steadily on the march. 18. even when their forces were united. 16. then he will be amenable to your will. 42 . 15. Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness.The Art of War. is desperate ground. On serious ground. On dispersive ground. halt not. attack not. 14. 17. and attack unguarded spots. On desperate ground. If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack. so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground. 11.

until death itself comes. 28. If our soldiers are not overburdened with money. 27. they will do your will. Carefully study the well-being of your men. and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei. 21. But let them once be brought to bay. they will be faithful. it is not because they have a distaste for riches. 23. and those lying down letting the tears run down their cheeks. Then. without waiting to be marshaled. the soldiers will be constantly on the qui vive. without giving orders. 25. the greater will be the solidarity of your troops. those sitting up bedewing their garments. they can be trusted. The Nine Situations 20. If they will face death. no calamity need be feared. 43 . Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. Thus. they will show a stubborn front. they will fight hard. Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape. Keep your army continually on the move. 26. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. 24. without restrictions. 22. and thus the defenders will not prevail against you. Prohibit the taking of omens.XI. and devise unfathomable plans. On the day they are ordered out to battle. there is nothing they may not achieve. without waiting to be asked. If there is no place of refuge. If there is no help for it. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. and do not overtax them. If they are in hostile country. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food. it is not because they are disinclined to longevity. The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country. if their lives are not unduly long. and do away with superstitious doubts. and they will prefer death to flight. your soldiers may weep. they will stand firm.

It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy. yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm. strike at its middle. 31. Yes. I should answer. For the men of Wu and the men of Yüeh are enemies. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach. and you will be attacked by its tail. and thus keep them in total ignorance. 33. they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right. 44 . 36. he drives his men this way and that. 37. How to make the best of both strong and weak — that is a question involving the proper use of ground. 39.The Art of War. The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. At the critical moment. the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. and you will be attacked by its head. 35. 38. By altering his arrangements and changing his plans. Hence it is not enough to put one’s trust in the tethering of horses. Thus the skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes. He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots. He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand. upright and just. and nothing knows whither he is going. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch’ang mountains. He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances. he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan. 34. and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground 32. and you will be attacked by head and tail both. by the hand. he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge. and thus maintain order. 30. strike at its tail. like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep. Sun Tz˘ u 29. willy-nilly. Strike at its head.

it is hemmed-in ground. I would block any way of retreat. The different measures suited to the nine varieties of ground. you find yourself on critical ground. 44. and the fundamental laws of human nature: these are things that must most certainly be studied. Therefore. On contentious ground. the ground is one of intersecting highways. 42. 45 . When you leave your own country behind. On open ground. I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies. the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics. On desperate ground. When there are means of communication on all four sides. On ground of intersecting highways. and take your army across neighbourhood territory. that penetrating deeply brings cohesion. I would keep pushing on along the road. On hemmed-in ground. I would consolidate my alliances.XI. 45. it is facile ground. on dispersive ground. The Nine Situations 40. I would hurry up my rear. To muster his host and bring it into danger: — this may be termed the business of the general. 50. 41. 43. 49. I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives. When you have the enemy’s strongholds on your rear. I would keep a vigilant eye on my defences. it is desperate ground. 46. When you penetrate but a little way. I would see that there is close connection between all parts of my army. On facile ground. On serious ground. When invading hostile territory. and narrow passes in front. When you penetrate deeply into a country. the general principle is. On difficult ground. penetrating but a short way means dispersion. 48. it is serious ground. I would inspire my men with unity of purpose. When there is no place of refuge at all. 47.

59. 46 . bring it before their eyes. When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm’s way that is capable of striking a blow for victory. keeping his antagonists in awe. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country — its mountains and forests. and it will come off in safety. to fight hard when he cannot help himself. and to obey promptly when he has fallen into danger. nor does he foster the power of other states. By persistently hanging on the enemy’s flank. 57. 53. issue orders without regard to previous arrangements. its marshes and swamps.The Art of War. 55. and their allies are prevented from joining against him. To be ignorant of any one of the following four or five principles does not befit a warlike prince. 61. 56. 54. He overawes his opponents. its pitfalls and precipices. Sun Tz˘ u 51. 58. 52. and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man. Place your army in deadly peril. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides. but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy. He carries out his own secret designs. 60. When the outlook is bright. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry. Bestow rewards without regard to rule. We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. plunge it into desperate straits. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose. his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy’s forces. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms. Confront your soldiers with the deed itself. never let them know your design. For it is the soldier’s disposition to offer an obstinate resistance when surrounded. we shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief. and it will survive.

and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you. At first. afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare. exhibit the coyness of a maiden. On the day that you take up your command. Be stern in the council-chamber. until the enemy gives you an opening. 63. This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning. you must rush in. 47 . then. destroy the official tallies. If the enemy leaves a door open. and stop the passage of all emissaries. and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle. so that you may control the situation. 66. block the frontier passes.XI. 65. 68. 64. 67. and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground. The Nine Situations 62. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear. Walk in the path defined by rule.


7. for these four are all days of rising wind. The proper season is when the weather is very dry. 5.XII The Attack by Fire 1. 2. The u first is to burn soldiers in their camp. bide your time and do not attack. 3. the third is to burn baggage-trains. the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines. we must have means available. respond at once with an attack from without. the second is to burn stores. the Wing or the Cross-bar. one should be prepared to meet five possible developments: 6. the fifth is to hurl dropping fire amongst the enemy. 49 . (2) If there is an outbreak of fire. There is a proper season for making attacks with fire. In order to carry out an attack with fire. In attacking with fire. Sun Tz˘ said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. 4. and special days for starting a conflagration. The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness. the Wall. but the enemy’s soldiers remain quiet. (1) When fire breaks out inside the enemy’s camp. the special days are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve.

Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise. but deliver your attack at a favourable moment. if that is practicable. make a forward move. 18. an enemy may be intercepted. but not robbed of all his belongings. 17. if not. Sun Tz˘ u 8. (3) When the force of the flames has reached its height. if not. In every army. the five developments connected with fire must be known. use not your troops unless there is something to be gained. and a watch kept for the proper days. be to windward of it. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead. stay where you are. those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession of strength. Hence those who use fire as an aid to the attack show intelligence. 15. the good general cultivates his resources. No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen. stay where you are. for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Do not attack from the leeward. Anger may in time change to gladness. 10. 20. fight not unless the position is critical. do not wait for it to break out within. follow it up with an attack. 11. 13. but a night breeze soon falls. 19. (5) When you start a fire. vexation may be succeeded by content. 9. 12. no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. 50 . If it is to your advantage.The Art of War. 16. Move not unless you see an advantage. 14. (4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without. By means of water. the movements of the stars calculated. A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long.

nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.XII. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful. The Attack by Fire 21. 51 . 22. and the good general full of caution. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being.


no present help to his sovereign. 53 . There will be commotion at home and abroad. is foreknowledge. and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men. it cannot be obtained inductively from experience. 2. is the height of inhumanity. Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men. Thus. no master of victory. and men will drop down exhausted on the highways. 5. Hostile armies may face each other for years. One who acts thus is no leader of men. striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. 6. 4. Sun Tz˘ said: Raising a host of a hundred thousand men u and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the State.XIII The Use of Spies 1. nor by any deductive calculation. what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer. This being so. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits. As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labour. to remain in ignorance of the enemy’s condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honours and emoluments. 3.

and allowing our own spies to know of them and report them to the enemy. Sun Tz˘ u 7. are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp. 15. of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies. Surviving spies. 12. Hence it is that with none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies. When these five kinds of spy are all at work. 13. one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports. (4) doomed spies. making use of officials of the enemy. getting hold of the enemy’s spies and using them for our own purposes. If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe. 19. Having converted spies. (3) converted spies. This is called “divine manipulation of the threads”. 11. doing certain things openly for purposes of deception. none can discover the secret system. (2) inward spies. Having local spies means employing the services of the inhabitants of a district. 14. 8. None should be more liberally rewarded. 17. Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain intuitive sagacity. Having inward spies. Without subtle ingenuity of mind. 54 . In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved.The Art of War. 18. 10. Hence the use of spies. 9. Having doomed spies. finally. 16. Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of business. (5) surviving spies. They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straightforwardness. he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told. It is the sovereign’s most precious faculty.

21. the rise of the Chou dynasty was due to Lü Ya who had served under the Yin. tempted with bribes. 55 . to storm a city. 27. led away and comfortably housed. from the converted spy. Spies are a most important element in war. because on them depends an army’s ability to move. the aides-de-camp. 22. The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy. Lastly. the rise of the Yin dynasty was due to I Chih who had served under the Hsia. and thereby they achieve great results. 23.XIII. that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy. in the first instance. or to assassinate an individual. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service. 24. Likewise. It is owing to his information. The Use of Spies 20. and this knowledge can only be derived. it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions. it is always necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants. Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these. again. 26. Of old. the door-keepers and sentries of the general in command. The enemy’s spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality. 25. Whether the object be to crush an army. It is through the information brought by the converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies. Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying.

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