UNIVERSITI TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN FACULTY OF BUSINESS & FINANCE (FBF

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UBMM1011 Sun Zi’s Art of War & Business Strategies NOTES
(Including Translation according to Professor Wee Chow-Hou, 2003) Compiled by: Dr. Wong Kee Luen EdD

UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies

Introduction
Sun Zi’s Art of War is the oldest known military classic in Chinese literature. It is also the most revered and well-known Chinese military text outside of China. While its exact origin and authorship have been debated, military historians are unanimous that the book existed and was probably written in 400-320 B. C., about 100 years after the birth of Confucius and Lao Tzu, two well-known Chinese philosophers. Thus the book is over 2,400 years old today. It is amazing to note that its contents have continued to intrigue modern scholars and writers. The significance and importance of Sun Zi’s Art of War in influencing military thought and political thinking has seldom been questioned. All the top military academies of the world would vouch to have copies of the book in their libraries. Many of them have also included Sun Zi’s Art of War as part of the curricula for the training of top military commanders. It may surprise readers that Sun Zi Art of War is a short book. It contains about only 6,200 words written in classical Chinese. The book has 13 chapters, with each chapter barely a page long. The longest chapter is Chapter 11 on the Nine Battlegrounds and has less than 1,100 words. The shortest chapter is Chapter 8 on Variations and Adaptability has less than 250 characters. It is remarkable that so much thought and wisdom can be contained in such a short piece of work. As the original work was written in classical Chinese, there have been many problems with capturing the full meaning and implication of Sun Zi’s thought. This is largely attributed to the complexity of Chinese language, writing and culture. To understand the exact meaning and implication of the work, one has to be familiar with the circumstances prevailing at that time. Sun Zi’s Art of War is a book on military philosophy and not a book on military science. He proposed principles, concepts and approaches that targeted more on winning the “heart” of the enemy; he preferred the holistic approach in dealing with military conflicts. For example, he favoured capturing the whole intact instead of destroying it and would advocate winning without using a single soldier. A close study and examination of Sun Zi Bingfa will reveal that Sun Zi was never an advocate of war. From his opening chapter and in many parts of his other chapters, Sun Zi recognized the high costs of going to war. The costs were not restricted to financial burdens on the state. It included heavy taxes on the people, depletion of national resources, sufferings of the people, etc. As such war was to be a measure of last resort to be used only after exhausting all other alternatives. In other words, it should be avoided at all cost.

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UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies

Chapter 1 Detailed Assessment and Planning
1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 Sun Zi said: The conduct of war is a matter of vital importance to the nation. It determines the survival or death of the country. It is a matter of life and death (of the people and their ruler). It must be studied and examined thoroughly. Thus, analyze and study the five factors carefully. Compare them against (those of the enemy) so as to understand the changing conditions and circumstances (of war) and to assess the chances of victory. These five factors are moral influence, the weather, terrain, generalship, and doctrine and law. Moral influence refers to measures and policies that align the people with the sovereign so as to be in complete agreement and harmony with each other. In this way, the people will be prepared to co-exist with as well as die for the sovereign without any fear of dangers. Weather refers to the contrasting changes of night and day, the coldness of winter and the heat of summer, and seasonal changes. Terrain refers to whether the route to be taken is long or short, whether the ground is treacherous or safe, wide or narrow with regard to ease of movement, and whether the ground will determine the death or survival (of an army). The generalship of a commander refers to his qualities of wisdom, trustworthiness, benevolence, courage and discipline. Doctrine and law refer to organization and control, management systems and procedures, and the command and control structure for the deployment of resources. Every general must know these five factors. Those who can master them will win. Those who do not understand them will not win. Thus, in planning, there are (seven) dimensions which a general must analyze and compare with those of the enemy so as to understand the changing conditions and situations during war and assess the chances of victory. Thus, which ruler has greater moral influence? Which general is more able and has greater abilities and skills? Which side (army) is able to better exploit the weather and terrain? Which side (army)is able to execute and implement law and order more effectively? Which side (army) has more and stronger troops? Which side (army) has better trained officers and men? Which side (army) is more enlightened in the administration of rewards and punishments? From these (seven) dimensions, I will be able to diagnose and predict victory and defeat.

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When you are able to deploy your forces.32 1. feign that you are incapable. All warfare is based on the principle of deception. I can predict victory and defeat. use methods to tire him. encourage his arrogance even more.28 1. it is best to avoid him. appear and strike at areas where the enemy least expects you. Attack the enemy when he is not prepared.30 1. use schemes to divide him (and his troops). When the enemy is far superior and highly ferocious.39 1. 4 .40 1. With less thorough or detailed planning. when you are capable. Move. feign that you are near. When the enemy is strong and effective.38 1.29 1.46 1. launch an attack and capture him.31 1. and when you are far away from the objective.49 1. Thus.37 1. feign that you are far away. When the enemy is in a state of chaos and disorder. Creating situations demands that one (the general) must act advantageously so as to control the balance of power. Besides adopting the effective proposed plans and strategies.41 1. When the enemy is easily angered. How much more certain is defeat when one does not plan at all! By observing how planning is done.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 1.33 1.26 1. With thorough and detailed planning.48 1.36 1. Thus. the general must create and take advantage of situations that are beyond the normal rules of military engagement. they cannot be discussed. those who carry out planning in the temple prior to the outbreak of war will win if the plans are thorough and detailed.42 1.50 1. he should be removed. seek ways to provoke and irritate him. one can win. feign that you are unable to do so.35 1. be well-prepared and ready to confront him. When the enemy is greedy for small advantages. one cannot win.51 The general who adopts my strategies and plans will win when he is deployed (for battle). When the enemy is well rested. decided nor divulged beforehand. he should be retained. The general who does not adopt my strategies and plans will be defeated when he is deployed (for battle). These are the secrets and principles for winning wars.43 1.45 1. When the enemy has a low opinion of you. When the enemy is in harmony and united.27 1.47 1. However. Those who carry out planning in the temple prior to the outbreak of war will not win if the plans are neither thorough nor detailed. offer baits to lure him. When you are near the objective.44 1.34 1.

20 Where the army is located.000 miles. 2. generals who do not thoroughly comprehend the inherent dangers of deploying troops are unlikely to understand the advantages of using troops. 2.2 Food and supplies will have to be transported for 1. when they attack cities (surrounded by high walls). even if there are capable and wise strategists (and advisors). 2. 2. 2. the army very exhausted and supplies of the state are depleted.000 speedy four-horse chariots. 2. 5 .4 The expenses incurred will amount to 1.000 pieces of gold daily.17 In this way.1 Sun Zi said: As a general rule. the army will have ample supplies of food and provisions.000 can only be raised when such an amount is available. the neighbouring warlords will capitalize on such misfortunes and vulnerabilities by launching attacks (against you). one has yet to witness a skilful military operation where there are long delays. chariots and troops. 2. 2. they would be greatly exhausted.14 Therefore. 2.000 heavy wagons. the wealth of the ordinary people will be eroded. 2. one would need 1. 2. 2. 2. and for maintaining the armament. 2.11 Thus.19 Transportation (of food and supplies) over long distances will impoverish the people.18 A nation (involved in a military campaign) may be poor because it tries to transport all its provisions over long distances. for a military campaign. for the entertaining of guests. for procuring of materials and supplies such as glue and paint.8 Thus.21 When prices are high. 2. 2. the morale of the troops is low.9 When an army is engaged in and exposed to protracted military campaigns.000 fully equipped and combatready soldiers.6 The purpose of raising such a large army is to achieve swift and decisive victories.16 Military weapons and equipment should be obtained from the home country while food and provisions should be obtained from the enemy.3 There is a need to provide for expenses incurred at home and at the battlefront. the resources of the nation will be insufficient to support the effort. 2. 2.15 He (the general) who is adept in warfare does not require additional conscription of soldiers nor multiple replenishments of food and supplies. 2. weapons will be blunt and the morale (and motivation) of the troops will be adversely affected. 1.12 While the blunders are known to occur when military operations are conducted swiftly. visitors. they will not be able to deal with the inevitable consequences. and 100. advisors and emissaries.7 When victory is long overdue. 2.10 When military weapons are blunt.13 There has never been a case where a nation has gained from protracted military operations.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies Chapter 2 Waging War 2. the prices (of food and supplies) in that area will rise.5 An army of 100.

25 2. When the strength (of the army) is exhausted and wealth (of the state) is depleted. These losses will amount to sixty percent of public assets.35 2.26 2. For the troops to plunder the resources of the enemy. the first person who succeeds in capturing ten chariots in a chariot battle should be rewarded. protective mantles. horses.33 2. The state could incur expenses for loss of equipment and livestock: chariots. they must be motivated by material rewards.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 2. Similarly.31 2.23 2. the wise general would ensure that his troops commandeer the food and supplies of the enemy. Thus. 6 .37 When wealth is eroded. Treat the captured soldiers well (so that they can be used).28 2.22 2. Therefore. remove and replace the banner of the enemy with yours and use the captured chariots together with yours. spears and shields. Subsequently. the general who is knowledgeable in military matters is the controller of the fate of the people and the guardian of peace or advocate of crisis for the nation. The income of the ordinary people would be reduced by seventy percent. breastplates and helmets.34 2. consuming one picul of the enemy’s fodder is tantamount to twenty piculs of your own.27 2. Hence.24 2.36 2. oxen and heavy wagons.29 2. In war. each household within the state will also be emptied of provisions. bows and arrows.32 2. it is better to go for swift victories rather than engage in prolonged military campaigns. Consuming one cartload of provisions of the enemy is tantamount to twenty cartloads of your own. the troops must hate him. harsher tolls and taxes will be imposed on the people. In order to kill the enemy.30 2. This is what is meant by conquering the enemy and becoming stronger in the process.

26 When outnumbering the enemy two to one. 3. 3.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies Chapter 3 Strategic Attacks 3. 3. attacking wagons. it is possible to engage him. to fight a hundred battles and to win a hundred victories is not a reflection of the most supreme strategy.1 Sun Zi said: In general. 7 . 3. the principle for the deployment of troops is as follows: When outnumbering the enemy ten to one. 3. destroying it is a weaker option. 3. 3. 3.21 He (the adept in warfare) will focus on using effective policies and strategies to keep all his resources intact and yet be able to contest for world supremacy against the other states. surround him.22 Thus. 3. the adept in warfare is able to subdue the army of the enemy without having to resort to battles.16 Thus. 3.5 Capturing an entire section intact is a better strategy.18 Thus. is the art of strategic attacks. his troops are not worn out and his victories and gains are complete. capturing a whole nation intact is a better strategy. 3. 3.19 He (the adept in warfare) is able to capture the cities of others without having to launch assaults.24 Thus. 3.20 He (the adept in warfare) is able to destroy and damage the states of others without waging protracted campaigns.27 When comparable in numbers to those of the enemy. 3.3 Capturing a whole battalion intact is a better strategy. 3. 3.2 Capturing a whole division intact is a better strategy. in essence. 3. 3. 3.13 The preparation of large shields. destroying it is a weaker option.9 The next best strategy is to attack his relationships and alliances with other nations.12 Attack walled cities when there are no other alternatives.14 The building of observation ramps would take an additional three months. 3.4 Capturing an entire company intact is a better strategy.23 This. when waging war. the general in-charge may lose his cool and be unable to control his patience.8 Thus. 3.25 When outnumbering the enemy five to one.15 (Under such a situation). 3. attack him.11 The worst strategy of all is to attack walled cities. 3. to shatter and ruin it is a weaker option. 3. even if he (the general) orders his troops to assault the walls like ants.6 Thus. onethird of them will be killed and the city will still not be conquered. destroying it is a weaker option. 3. and various other assault equipment and weapons will need at least three months to complete.7 The ability to subdue the enemy without any battle is the ultimate reflection of the most supreme strategy. the most supreme strategy is to attack the plans and strategies of the enemy.17 This is the disastrous consequence of embarking on such an attack. divide him. 3. destroying it is a weaker option.10 The next best strategy is to attack his army.

35 3. If the guardian is a thoughtful and detailed person.36 3.28 3. No matter how stubborn.46 3. the nation will be strong and mighty.42 3.37 3. Now. He who does not know the other side (the enemy) and himself is bound to be defeated in every battle.34 3. This causes the officers and men to be confused and perplexed.38 3.45 3. there are five ways to predict victory. be capable of escaping.39 3. This is tantamount to interference with military command and movement. to order a retreat. When not knowing that the army should not advance. He who does not know the other side (the enemy) but knows himself will have an even chance of victory or defeat.43 3.51 3. He who understands how deploy large and small forces (according to the battle situation) will win. When not knowing that the army should not retreat.44 3. When ignorant of the affairs of the enemy to participate and interfere with the army’s administration. to interfere in the execution of responsibilities. These five factors provide the key and the rationale for predicting and understanding victory. Thus there are three ways in which the ruler can create disasters for his army. He (the general) who is capable and does not have to contend with interference by the ruler will win. He who knows when he can engage in battle and when not to do so will win.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 3. the warlords of neighbouring states will surely create trouble. He who is proactive and well-prepared and awaits his unprepared enemy will win.33 3.50 3. the general is like the guardian of the nation. the nation will be weak and vulnerable. be capable of avoiding him.52 3.41 3. When greatly inferior in numbers to those of the enemy. Thus. Chapter 4 Disposition of the Army 8 .47 3. If the army is confused and perplexed as well as apprehensive and skeptical.30 3.29 3. This causes apprehension and skepticism in the minds of officers and men.40 3. When ignorant of matters pertaining to the exercise of military authority.31 3.53 When lesser in numbers to the enemy.49 3. resilient and determined a smaller and weaker force is. He who is able to unite himself with his officers and men as one mind.48 3. If the guardian is full of character flaw. Thus it is said: He who knows the other side (the enemy) and knows himself will not be defeated in a hundred battles. it will eventually become captive to a larger and stronger force. spirit and purpose will win. This is like the saying: A confused and chaotic army provides victory for the enemy. to order an advance.32 3.

13 To win a hard-fought battle that is praised by the masses is also not the hallmark of a guru of warfare. 4. 4. second.7 Defend when forces and resources are inadequate. while the opportunity for victory depends on the enemy. 4.11 As such. 4.26 In this way. 4. those who were skilful in warfare ensued that they would not be defeated and then waited for opportunities to defeat the enemy.8 Attack when forces and resources are more than abundant. estimating the degree of difficulty.25 The person adept in warfare not only cultivates his moral code but maintains law and order.16 To be able to hear the roar of the thunder is no indication of sharp hearing. a victorious army ensures that it will win before going into battle. but is able to secure the most complete victory (against the enemy). the person adept at warfare wins without being known for his wisdom and reputation nor for his courage and merit.4 As such.21 He wins because he chooses to engage an enemy that is already in a position of defeat. the person adept at warfare places himself in a position where defeat is impossible.10 The adept person at offence is able to deploy his troops in ways that are beyond the imagination of anyone. 4. he is able to develop policies that determine victory and defeat in war.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 4. 4. it is said that one may be able to foretell victory. third.18 Thus. but will not be able to ensure victory over the enemy. 4. and he does not miss any opportunity to defeat the enemy.19 Thus.1 Sun Zi said: In ancient times. assessing the scope of operation.17 What the ancient sages meant by an adept person at warfare was someone who excelled in securing victories by choosing those enemies who could easily be conquered. 4. 4. 4. 4. 4. 4.14 This is like lifting a hair in autumn – it is no indication of great strength.20 He does not make mistakes because he adopts measures.2 The ability to prevent defeat depends on oneself. 4. 4. 4. 4. 4.23 As such. calculation of own 9 . but may not necessary be able to achieve it. 4.15 To be able to see the sun and the moon is no indication of clear vision.22 Therefore.9 The adept in defence is able to conceal his forces in the most secretive ways and places on earth.6 Those who are able to win must attack. those who are skilful in warfare can ensure that they will not be defeated by the enemy.12 To predict a victory that cannot surpass what can be known by any ordinary person is not the hallmark of a great military strategist. 4.27 Now in warfare. 4. he wins battles with confidence and without making mistakes.3 Thus. 4. 4. 4. evaluation must be made as follows: First. 4. he is not only able to ensure the greatest security for himself.5 Those who are not able to win must defend.24 A defeated army engages in battle first and then looks for victory. policies and strategies that are certain to lead to victory.

Based on the assessment of the scope of operation. the scope of operation (for military movement) is assessed. a victorious army is like a super-heavyweight matched against a microweight.31 4. Chapter 5 Forces 5.30 4. the chances for victory can then be established. the degree of difficulty (for the military campaign) is estimated. Based on the estimation of the degree of difficulty. The person adept at warfare is able to command and direct his troops to fight like the accumulated gush of water that plunges down mercilessly from thousands of feet high.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 4. comparison of forces. the calculation of one’s own forces (to be committed to the military campaign) is made.33 4. Thus. 10 .32 4. Based on the calculation of own forces. A defeated army is like a microweight matched against a super-heavyweight. Based on the characteristics of the terrain. Such is the disposition of a powerful and victorious army.28 4.29 4. Based on the comparison of forces from both sides. and fifth.34 4. fourth. comparisons are evaluated against those of the enemy.35 forces. establishing the chances for victory.1 Sun Zi said: To manage a large force is similar to managing a small force.

25 5.16 5. The fact that the whole army can withstand the attacks of the enemy without suffering any defeats is due to the use of the direct and indirect strategies. When the ferocious strike of an eagle breaks the body of its prey. changes and manoeuvres between the direct and the indirect (approaches and forces) are limitless and beyond comprehension. strategies and troops in such infinite ways like the ever-changing forces and elements of nature and the ceaseless flowing water of rivers and streams.20 5. It is a matter of formations. In the midst of confusion and chaos in fighting. one must possess strict discipline. His stance and (potential) force is like that of a fully-stretched crossbow. To direct and control a large force is similar to directing and controlling a small force. Their interactions and combinations are like two never-ending interlocking rings where the possibilities of their beginnings and endings can never be determined.13 5. There are only five basic musical notes but their combinations and permutations produce music scores so varied that it is impossible to hear all of them. it must be like solid stones hurled against eggs.10 5.22 5.17 5. the possible combinations.19 5. it is because of the force created by its momentum. the force and momentum of the adept in warfare are so overwhelming and ferocious. To feign cowardice (before the enemy).14 5. there are only the direct and indirect approaches and forces. Thus. use the direct force to engage the enemy.23 5. and his timing of engagement highly precise and swift. they must remain orderly and in control. To feign disorder (to the enemy in battle). In battle. it is because of the exact moment and timing of its engagement. while the troops have to fight under chaotic situations. 11 . forces. communication and signals. one (the general) must still be able to marshal the troops from all directions and deploy them such that they cannot be defeated. Thus.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 5.11 5.2 5. This is applying the principle of using strengths to strike weaknesses.15 5.7 5.12 5. They end and begin again like the ever-changing roles of the sun and moon. There are only five basic flavours but their blends and mixtures produce so many tastes that it is impossible to savour all of them.21 5.6 5. one must possess great courage. In the midst of disorders and turmoil in war. They perish and resurrect just like the changes of the four seasons.5 5. The direct and indirect (approaches and forces) mutually support and reinforce each other.4 5. However. and his timing is exact like that of the release of the trigger (of the crossbow).24 5.9 5. and approaches. In any battle situation and condition. When gushing torrential water tosses stones and pushes boulders. and the indirect force to win.3 5.18 5.26 It is a matter of organization and structure. When forces are concentrated to attack the enemy. There are only five primary colours but their mixes and matches produce so many visuals that it is impossible to view all of them.8 5. the person adept at warfare is able to use indirect approaches.

12 .31 5. if they are round. Courage or cowardice depends on postures and circumstances.35 5. Thus.39 To feign weakness and vulnerability (before the enemy). Order or disorder depends on organization and structure.1 Sun Zi said: Those who arrive first at the battleground will have sufficient time to rest and prepare against the enemy.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 5.32 5.30 5. they cease to move. If they are square.34 5. Entice the enemy by giving away something that he would certainly want to have. Strengths or weaknesses depend on the formations and dispositions of the army. this is what is meant by the forces created by a well-commanded army.38 5.33 5.29 5. Thus the person adept at warfare seeks victory from the battle situations and conditions and does not rely solely on the efforts of his officers and men.28 5. Lure the enemy to move with benefits that he desires and then use concealed troops to await and ambush him. As such.36 5.27 5. postures and momentum that resemble rolling boulders falling from the great heights of mountains. he is able to select the right men (officers and soldiers) and trust them to exploit the battle situations and conditions. they move. one must have great superiority of forces.37 5. Chapter 6 Weaknesses and Strengths 6. the person adept at warfare creates situations. the person adept at warfare manipulates the movements of the enemy by creating circumstances and situations such that the enemy will conform accordingly. when they are on uneven and slopping terrain. Thus. they roll on. The characteristics of logs and boulders are such that when they are on level ground. they remain still. The person who knows how to exploit battle situations and conditions is able to command his troops in battle like rolling logs and boulders.

4 He can cause his enemy to arrive on his own accord by luring him with advantages. 6.25 Thus. 6. 6. despite being behind high walls and deep moats. provoke him to move.10 Move quickly along routes where the enemy least expects. 6. if I can uncover the dispositions of the enemy while remaining concealed myself.7 When he is well-stocked with food. 6.15 The expert in defence protects places where the enemy does not know how to attack.8 When he is well-encamped and comfortable. 6. 6. the person adept in warfare seeks to control and manipulate his enemy instead of being controlled and manipulated.13 To be certain to hold on to what you defend is to defend a place where the enemy does not have the courage to attack or where the defence is invulnerable to attacks. distress and tire him. he can be the one who determines the fate of the enemy. 6.16 Such is the intricacy and sublety of the expert in warfare that he appears to be invisible and without trace. starve him out.24 This is because I (use schemes and ploys that) contradict the normal rules of engagement and prevent him from reaching his desired destinations. 6. 6. even though I may be occupying any ground and not erecting any defences (like merely drawing a demarcated line on the ground to defend it).26 If I can concentrate and unite my entire troop at one place while those of the enemy are scattered at ten different places.6 Thus when the enemy is well rested. 6. 6. 6. then I can use my entire force against one-tenth of his.20 He is able to retreat without being pursued because he withdraws at much faster speed than that of the enemy.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 6. 6. 6. 6. will have no choice but to engage me. 6.18 Indeed.11 An army can travel for a thousand miles without being distressed and exhausted because it moves along places where there is no enemy. the expert in offence attacks places where the enemy does not know how to defend.22 This is because I choose to attack areas where he must rescue and protect.3 Thus. the enemy. 6. the enemy will still be unable to wage battle against me.23 When I desire not to fight. 6.5 He can deter his enemy from coming by creating (potential) dangers and harm. 6. 6. 6. 6.9 Attack places where the enemy must rush to rescue.17 Such is the mystery and myth of the expert in warfare that he is not heard nor detected. 6.12 To be certain to capture what you attack is to attack a place where the enemy does not defend or where his defence is weak. when I desire to go into battle.2 Those who arrive late at the battleground will have to rush into battle when they are already exhausted. and force those of the enemy to be divided and dispersed.14 Thus. 13 .19 He is able to advance without any resistance because he accelerates along areas (and routes) that are not defended by the enemy.21 Thus. I can keep my forces concentrated and united.

If he strengthens the front. the people of the kingdom of Yue may have a very large army. several miles apart. This problem is compounded even more considering that the farthest force may be tens of miles away. and the rear cannot relieve the front. The right forces will not be able to help the left forces (when they are in trouble).34 6.35 6. The enemy must not know the place (battleground) where I intend to attack. If you do not know the location of the battleground and exact date of the battle.51 6. he will be vulnerable everywhere. If he prepares to his left.29 6. Therefore. Uncover his dispositions so as to know the vulnerability of the ground (that he is occupying). Throw some contests against the enemy so as to know the areas of his strengths and weaknesses.37 6. his front will be fragile. If he defends the rear. Superiority or strength in numbers means that the enemy will have to prepare against you.43 6.45 6. but does this superiority in numbers necessarily mean that it will have the definite advantage in winning battles? Thus I say: Victories can be created by us.39 6. and the weaker is his force at any one point where I am attacking. the front forces cannot reinforce the rear. even the most infiltrated and observant spy will not be able to probe and comprehend.28 6. If he tries to defend everywhere. he will weaken the rear. and the wisest strategist will not be able to uncover your plans or plot against you.36 6. he can be prevented from engaging me. the more scattered are his forces. scheme to discover the plans and strategies of the enemy so as to know their likelihood of success (against us). I will be the numerically superior and stronger force and he will be the smaller and weaker force. The more places the enemy defends.46 6. According to my analysis and evaluation.47 6.40 6. If I can use a larger and stronger force to attack a smaller and inferior one.48 6.52 Thus.42 6. he must defend many places.41 6. Inferiority or weakness in numbers means that you have to be prepared against the enemy.27 6. and the nearer ones.33 6. 14 . Although the enemy may have a much larger and stronger force. If you know the place of the battleground and the exact date of engagement of battle. If he reinforces his right. The ultimate skill in the deployment of troops is to ensure that it has no fixed or constant formation and disposition.50 6.38 6. then the forces on your left flank cannot rescue the forces on the right flank (when they are in trouble). he will weaken his left.31 6.32 6. those enemies who engage in battles against me will surely be defeated easily.49 6. he will weaken his right. The victory gained as a result of adapting to the circumstances of the enemy will never be understood by the troops (even when it is witnesses by them).30 6. Provoke him so as to know his reasons and basis for movements and actions. Without ascertainable formations. your army can travel a thousand miles and still be ready for battle. If the enemy does not know where I intend to attack.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 6.44 6.

There are days which are short and days which are long.66 Everyone may know the formation that I used to secure victory.57 6.64 6. Therefore. Just as water controls its flows according to the characteristics of the terrain.61 6. In the same way. The principle underlying military deployment may be likened to water. methods.2 He then assembles the troops and mobilizes the citizens (people).1 Sun Zi said: In any military campaign.53 6.59 6.63 6. Rather. they (the strategies and tactics) vary according to the circumstances with countless possibilities. no one will know the ways. However.60 6. The person who gains victories by adapting to the changing conditions and situations of the enemy can be considered a legend in warfare. Chapter 7 Military Manoeuvres 7. There is no permanency for each of the four seasons. It is the inherent characteristics of flowing water to escape from high ground and hasten its movement downwards. the disposition and deployment of an army should be to avoid strengths and attack weaknesses.65 6. the general will first receive his orders from his rulers. there is no fixed situation and condition. just like water has no constant shape and configuration. an army should create its victory according to the situations of the enemy.54 6.62 6. So. 15 .UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 6. 7. the victory gained from each battle comes about because strategies and tactics are never repeated. There are changes in the shape of the moon throughout a month. Thus there is no guaranteed victory among the five elements of nature. and reasons behind how I went about creating that victory.55 6.58 6. in the conduct of war.56 6.

one should not be keen to enter into any alliances with them.30 Thus. 7. advance by using indirect routes. 7.18 In this case. 16 . the dangerous terrain of mountain paths.13 It can travel 100 miles to contend for advantages against the enemy. 7.14 However. 7.6 Thus. 7. only one-tenth of the troops will reach the destination.23 An army without sufficient stockpiles and reserves will not survive. war is based on applying deception to be successful. 7. 7.11 One who sends a lightly equipped army to go after advantages and gains is likely to suffer losses of stores and supplies (at the base camp).19 This is because only half the troops will arrive at the destination.9 Thus. be as swift and invisible as the wind. you will arrive earlier than him.27 Thus.25 Those who do not know the conditions of the forested mountains. 7. 7. in manoeuvring there are advantages to be gained and there are dangers and calamities as well. 7.16 As a result. then only two-thirds of the troops will arrive at the destination. 7.7 As such. while you may set off later than the enemy. 7. if the schemes and ploys of the neighbouring warlords are not known. 7.17 It can also travel 50 miles to contend for advantages against the enemy.29 Create changes in situations through the dispersion and concentration of forces.12 An army may bundle up and keep the armour wear of the soldiers (and replace it with light uniforms) in order to rush its movement forward through nights and days without rest so that double the distance can be covered. 7. the general of the vanguard will be humiliated and defeated. 7. and the treacherous nature of swamps and marshes will not be able to conduct the movement of troops. 7. none of these are more difficult than military manoeuvres (that are aimed at gaining victories against the enemy). 7.21 It follows that an army without heavy equipment and supplies will perish. when in movement.15 This is because the stronger and fitter man will be in front while the weaker and tired ones will be far behind. 7.26 Those who do not use local guides will not be able to gain the advantages of the terrain.3 He must harmonise (the interests of) these diverse groups and build their relationships and comradeships by encamping them together. and to turn disastrous circumstances into advantageous situations. 7.22 An army without sufficient food and grain will die. such an army is likely to risk having the generals of its three divisions captured. and lure the enemy by offering small gains as bait. 7. 7.20 If the army has to travel 30 miles to contend for advantages against the enemy. 7. 7.5 The difficulty about the art of manoeuvring is to convert difficult and torturous routes into direct accesses (to the enemy).10 One who attempts to mobilize a complete and fully equipped army so as to go after advantages and gains will be late in seizing them.24 Thus. 7.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 7.4 However. 7. 7.8 The one who knows how to do this understands the use of indirect and direct strategies. 7.28 Move when there are advantages to be gained.

Once the troops are united as a body.35 7. When looting and plundering villages. The cowardly ones will also not retreat by themselves. be as majestic as the forest. When raiding and plundering. Therefore.57 When in slow matches. as verbal communication cannot be heard clearly. Towards the tail-end of the campaign. Such is the art behind the manoeurvring of military forces. be as inscrutable as the darkness of night.51 7. According to the Book of Military Administration. be as overwhelming and merciless as the roar of thunder and the strike of lightning. thoughts of returning home (base camp) will set in.39 7.43 7. flags and banners) are designed to influence the senses and judgement of the enemy.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 7. Thus. When not in movement (as in encamping).45 7. “In battles.54 7. When occupying conquered territories. share the bounty with the troops. Those who can master beforehand the skill of using the indirect and direct approaches.50 7.40 7. Consider and deliberate (these matters) carefully before deciding on any action.53 7.33 7.31 7. As the campaign progresses. When in concealment (of forces and positions). they (the lighted torches and beating drums at night and the innumerable flags and banners during the day) serve to destroy the morale of the army (of the enemy).48 7.44 7.46 7. drums. As visual communication and eye contact are hampered. use more banners and flags. drums. be as ferocious as the fire.49 7. they (the lighted torches and beating drums at night and the innumerable flags and banners during the day) serve to rob them of their decisiveness. the courageous ones will not advance by themselves. This is the art of directing large forces in combat. be as steady as the mountains. banners and flags are used as signals. This is control of the morale factor. share the gains (with those generals who have contributed significantly to the campaign). He only attacks them when their spirits are sluggish and the soldiers homesick. These different means of communication (cymbals.47 7. When attacking and assaulting.52 7.56 7. the spirits of the forces become sluggish and lethargy creeps in. 17 .32 7. At the beginning of a military campaign. cymbals and drums are used as commands. Now the purpose of using cymbals. the person adept in warfare avoids engaging the forces of the enemy when their spirits are high.36 7.34 7. For battles at night. use more torches and drums.55 7. strategies and schemes will win. With regards to the generals of the enemy.38 7. For battles in the day.37 7. towns and cities. flags and banners is to draw the attention of the troops and focus them for combat under the direction of the commander. the spirits of the forces are high.42 7.41 7.

58 7. 8. Thus. always leave him an escape route.74 7.2 He then assembles the troops and mobilizes the citizens. 8.76 7. Use well-rested troops to counter tired and exhausted enemies.73 7.63 7.62 7. This is control of the physical factors. you must never encamp. you must not stay there.3 When on treacherous grounds. Use calmness and steadfastness to deal with noisiness and clamour. Never engage an approaching enemy who displays orderly flags and banners. the art of applying military manoeuvres includes the following: Do not advance against an enemy who is encamped on high grounds. Do not pursue a desperate enemy too relentlessly.1 Sun Zi said: In a military campaign.75 7.70 7.5 When on isolated ground.59 7. Do not fall for bait offered by the enemy.68 7.65 7.64 7.66 7. you must attempt to ally with neighbouring states.71 7. Chapter 8 Variations and Adaptability 8. This is control of the psychological factor. the general will first receive his orders from his ruler.77 Use orderliness and stability to confront chaos and disorder. These are the ways and art of manoeuvring and deploying troops. In surrounding an enemy.72 7. Do not intercept an enemy who is returning to his home country. Do not pursue an enemy who pretends to retreat in desperation. Use well-fed and nourished troops against enemies who are short of food and rations.69 7.61 7. 8. 8. Never attack an advancing enemy who shows an impressive and well-organized formation. This is control of the change factor. Use proximity (of troops) to the battlefield to counter enemies that come from afar.67 7. 18 .UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 7.60 7.4 When on focal ground. Do not attack the agile and highly motivated elite force of the enemy. Do not engage an enemy who is assaulting downwards from high ridges.

15 In military command.9 There are some armies and troops that must not be assaulted. 8. 8. he can be disturbed and harassed.32 They must be studied and examined thoroughly.16 Thus.28 If he is sensitive to honour. 8. the general who knows how to vary and adapt to changing situations so as to gain advantages is one who is skilful in applying the art of war. there are five dangers that will plague any general.26 If he is cowardly and desperate to live. disasters and crises can be averted. he can be killed.29 If he is overly compassionate to people.12 There are some military orders that need not be obeyed. 8. 8. 8.14 The general who is familiar with the terrain but does not know how to vary and adapt to changing situations will not be able to take advantage of what that terrain has to offer. 8. the wise strategist will always weigh and consider the favourable and unfavourable factors in his deliberations. 8.31 The destruction of an army and the deaths of generals are caused by these five dangers. 8. 8.24 Thus. the mission can be accomplished with confidence. 8.25 If he is reckless. 8. he can be insulted.13 Thus.23 One must not rely on the failure of the enemy to attack.6 When on constricted ground. in the conduct of war. 8.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 8. one must not rely on the failure of the enemy to come. you must fight relentlessly.27 If he is quick-tempered and easily angered. 8.10 There are some cities that must not be attacked.17 By factoring the favourable factors (within the unfavourable ones).20 Harass and wear down the neighbouring warlords through incessant creation of troubles and activities. succumb the neighbouring warlords through the use of intimidation and threats. 8. he can be captured.7 When on death ground. 8. 8. 8. 8.11 There are some grounds that must not be contested. 19 . but on the readiness of oneself to engage him.19 Thus.8 There are some routes and paths that must not be taken. 8.21 Hasten and direct the movements of the neighbouring warlords through the offer of benefits and baits. if the general cannot master the art of variations and adaptability. but on the ability of oneself to build an invincible defence.30 These five characteristics are the greatest pitfalls and mistakes of a general and the cause of disasters in any military operation. 8. 8. you must plan and strategize.22 Thus. 8. he can be provoked.18 By factoring the unfavourable factors 9within the favourable ones). 8. 8. he will not be able to deploy his troops to maximum advantage despite understanding the five strategic considerations. 8.

1 Sun Zi said: In the deployment of troops (for combat) and in the analysis and assessment of the enemy. 9. move and stay close to the valleys. occupy the high grounds. 20 .3 For a commanding view and to ensure better chances of survival (against the enemy). 9.4 When the enemy has occupied high grounds.2 After crossing the mountains. certain principles must be kept in mind. do not attempt an assault. 9.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies Chapter 9 Movement and Deployment of Troops 9.

get as far away from its bank as possible and move on.29 I will keep a far distance from them but will force the enemy near them. marshlands.11 Never move upstream to engage the enemy. natural traps and natural crevices. 9.13 When crossing salty swamps and marshes. let half of its force cross the river first.15 These are the principles for deploying troops in salty swamps and marshes. 9.19 By mastering the principles of the four different situations for deployment of troops. ponds covered with grasses and reeds.7 When an invading force of the enemy is crossing a river. 9. 9. you need to be cautious and alert by camping on the sunnier side and have the right flank and rear guard on higher ground. the danger is confined to the front as the rear is secured and safe. the troops will benefit because you are able to exploit the advantages of the terrain.28 Move quickly away when encountering them and never even be close to them.16 On level terrain.8 Rather.5 These are the principles for deploying troops in mountainous terrain.22 It prefers to nourish its troops by locating in areas where food and supplies are abundant. forested mountains and areas with thick undergrowth and vegetation. 9.20 In general. 9. the Yellow emperor was able to conquer the other warlords of the surrounding areas. 9. 9. 9. never engage it in the midst of the river itself.14 If you need to engage the enemy in salty swamps and marshes. 9. 21 . there are treacherous gullies. 9.21 It favours positions that are bright and sunny and detests places that are dark and unhygienic. 9. natural prisons.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 9. then attack it so that you can gain the advantage.27 In any terrain. move away quickly. 9. an army prefers to take up positions on high ground and detests occupying low ground. natural nets.26 When there is rain upstream and the river is foaming. never engage him at the point where he plans to cross a river. 9.25 In this way. 9. 9. 9.10 For a commanding view and to ensure better chances of survival (against the enemy). occupy positions that allow you ease of manoeuvres. 9. 9. occupy the high grounds.24 When in hilly areas. 9. natural wells.30 I will face them directly but will force the backs of the enemy towards them.31 The surrounding areas along the route that an army takes may have treacherous paths.9 If you are eager to attack an invading enemy. stay close to areas that are lush with grasses and have your rear to the forest.23 An army that does not suffer from disease and sickness is bound to win in all battles. 9. you must wait for the water to subside before trying to ford the river. 9.12 These are the principles for deploying troops in marine battles. 9. 9. never linger there.17 By ensuring that the right flank and support forces are on higher grounds. 9. 9.6 After crossing a river.18 These are the principles for deploying troops on level terrain.

When frightened animals rush out from the forest.55 9. the authority of the general is not respected. When the enemy attempts to provoke you into battle from a distance. When the army (of the enemy) is disorderly and chaotic.44 9.52 9. he is attempting to lure you. rushing to take positions. the infantry of the enemy is approaching.38 9.49 9. the main force of the enemy is at hand. the enemy is planning to attack. When the envoy (of the enemy) speaks very humbly and lowly while preparations are being intensified.43 9. When the envoy (of the enemy) asks for truce when there is no prior agreement nor understanding. they are in extreme thirst and lack water supplies.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 9. they are hungry and short of food. it must be vigilant and embark on detailed and thorough searches. When the light chariots leave the main force to take up positions on both flanks. the enemy is approaching.53 9. When the dust rises low and is widespread.34 9. they are in great fear. When there is much movement among the soldiers and chariots of the enemy. When half the troops (of the enemy) are advancing while the other half are withdrawing. the enemy is scheming. When the dust shows signs of scattering in different streaky directions. When the dust rises high and is concentrated.33 9.37 9. the enemy is gearing up formation for battle.46 9. he is relying on the strategic advantages conferred by the terrain. When birds suddenly rise in flight. When soldiers (of the enemy) lean against their weapons.39 9. the enemy chariots are arriving. he is trying to lure you forward to engage him. the enemy is sending troops to cut and gather firewood. 22 . As such areas are likely to have ambushes laid by the enemy or be where his spies are hidden. he is severely tired and exhausted.48 9.36 9.50 9. the enemy is setting up camp.35 9. his reinforcement troops from afar have arrived. When the dust rises and settles occasionally in small patches.42 9.40 9.47 9.41 9. When there are many obstacles of bundled grasses and hay along the way. there are likely ambushes nearby. When the enemy is nearby and yet is able to remain silent. there must be advantages and reasons for doing so. When the enemy camps on a level and accessible ground. When enemy soldiers scream and yell at night.45 9. When enemy soldiers who are assigned to collect water start to drink first.51 9. When forest trees show signs of movement. When birds gather around the camp of the enemy. When the envoy (of the enemy) speaks arrogantly and aggressively with threats to attack.32 9. When the enemy sees an obvious advantage but is unable to seize it. the side is already vacated.54 9.56 (In moving through such areas). the enemy is actually preparing to withdraw. the enemy is trying to arouse your suspicion.

it is because of the mutual trust and confidence between the commander and his men. When the loyalty of the men is secured.1 10. When the cooking utensils are hung away and the soldiers refuse to return to camp.75 9. they will be rebellious and disobedient. the general is lacking ideas. such troops cannot be used either. When orders are regularly enforced and used to train the soldiers.77 When the banners and flags (of the enemy) are shifted around frequently. When the enemy kills horses for food.58 9. When the junior officers (of the enemy) are short-tempered and easily angered.2 10.65 9.68 9. An area that is easily accessible to me and to the other side (the enemy) is considered as a communicative ground.61 9. entrapping ground and indifferent ground.60 9. When orders are regularly enforced. Thus.70 9.63 9. but punishments are not enforced. Chapter 10 Terrain 10.67 9. they will not be obedient. A general who behaves ruthlessly at the initial stage and then begins to fear his own troops subsequently is one who is neither intelligent nor capable. the general has lost their support. one must be very vigilant and study his behavior and motives carefully.66 9. such as: communicative ground. the general must be able to instruct his troops with civility and humanity and unite them with rigorous training and discipline so as to secure victories in battles. the enemy is in a desperate situation.72 9. Other types of terrain are constricted ground. 23 . they are signs that the enemy desires a truce. Do not advance compulsively based on having large forces. When orders are not regularly enforced nor used to train the soldiers. Concentrate the strengths of your forces sufficiently and judge the moves and motives of the enemy accurately so as to capture him. When the enemy arrives with much anger and ferocity and yet for a long time refuses to engage in battle or to withdraw.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 9. The strength of an army does not depend on superiority of numbers.57 9.69 9. When punishments are carried out excessively. they will be obedient. When the envoy of the enemy arrives with praises and gifts.74 9. When rewards are given out excessively. If disobedient and rebellious. He who lacks strategic foresight and insight and underestimates his enemy will definitely end up being captured.59 9.73 9. they are tired and detest their responsibilities.76 9.64 9. it is difficult to deploy them. When the men are punished before their loyalty is secured.71 9.62 9. When the officers and men gather in small groups to speak softly and in subdued tones. there are no provisions in his camp. key ground and distant ground. the troops are in confusion and disarray.3 Sun Zi said: There are different kinds of terrain. the general is in great distress.

advantages in battle are gained.21 10. if the enemy proves to be well prepared and the assault fails. A general’s greatest responsibility is to study and examine their characteristics thoroughly. When the senior officers are angry and insubordinate because of the general’s failure to recognize their capabilities. disorganization and rout. should the enemy throw out a bait. and is thus placed in a very disadvantageous position.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 10.10 10. One must not follow (to attack) him. in turn lure the enemy out. it is when advantageous to launch an attack.13 10. and they engage the enemy in a spirit of resentment and act out of their own will. the result will be insubordination. Instead.11 10. It may also suffer from ruin.17 10. In this way. nor launch an attack. The six calamities mentioned are not due to natural causes. the result will be collapse. When half of his troops have been drawn out.28 10.14 10. However.20 10. On a constricted ground. refrain from attacking him. if an army insists on attacking an enemy force ten times its size. one should pretend to retreat and. An army may suffer from flight. one should then fortify the strategic access points with one’s troops and await the arrival of the enemy. the result will be flight.9 10. one must never take it.7 10. if both forces are equally matched.15 10. On key ground.4 10.5 10. If the enemy occupies the constricted ground first and has already fortified the strategic access points. he has to be lured away. If the enemy occupies the key ground first. When the officers are strong and brave but the soldiers are weak and timid.26 10.29 On a communicative ground. Even when all other conditions and characteristics are comparable. The natural laws of terrain underlie these six types of ground.25 10. On an entrapping ground.24 10. one is hard put to beat a retreat. when the enemy is ill-prepared in defence. On distant ground.22 10. 24 .27 10.19 10. sunny ground to await the arrival of the enemy. When the soldiers are strong and courageous while the officers are weak and cowardly.8 10. one must be the first to occupy it.23 10.18 10.6 10. it be comes difficult for one to provoke the other into battle as there is no advantage to be gained in a direct battle.16 10. the priority is to occupy a high and sunny position that is convenient and beneficial for over-seeing the supply routes for food and rations. insubordination or collapse. the result will be ruin. first occupy it and then camp on higher. Only attack the strategic access points when they are weak and not fortified. one can launch attacks to capture it successfully. An area that is easy to enter but difficult to retreat from is called an entrapping ground. They are the faults of the general.12 10. An area that is not advantageous for occupation by either side is called an indifferent ground. On an indifferent ground.

10. 10. 10. they will be willing to follow him through the greatest threats and gravest dangers.54 Thus. 10. unable to assess the enemy’s character.45 He (such a general) is a precious talent favoured by the nation.35 (The general must be able) to assess the enemy so as to secure victories. 10. but I am unaware that my troops are incapable of the task. 10. 10. so excessively loved that it cannot be commanded and so disorderly that it cannot be disciplined. then the chance of victory is only half. when his officers and men do not have clear lines of responsibilities.43 He retreats without fear of punishment. then the chance of victory is only half. but do not know that the enemy cannot be attacked. I may know that the enemy is vulnerable to attack and my troops are capable of attacking.31 When the general.53 However. the result will be rout. 10. 10.55 When he mounts a military campaign. 10.44 His concerns are always on protecting the welfare of the people and the upholding of the interests of the ruler. 10. 10. when his orders and instructions are not enlightened. 10.52 (In war). he who is adept in warfare. the chance of victory is only half.47 When the general treats his troops liked beloved sons. they will be willing to support and die with him.50 If I know that my troops are capable of attacking the enemy.46 When the general regards his troops as infants.42 The (loyal) general is thus able to advance in battle without thought of seeking personal fame or glory. 10. and cannot be deployed. 10. he never runs out of strategies or plans.36 He must be able to determine the characteristics of a terrain to understand its dangers. is never confused or misguided.34 Advantages of terrain are exploited to complement the deployment of troops.48 An army may be so overly pampered (by the general) that it cannot be useful.41 If an assessment of the battle situation is one of definite defeat. 10.38 He who knows these factors and applies them in battle will win. 10.40 If an assessment of the battle situation is one of definite victory. pitting its weaknesses against the enemy’s strengths.32 The above six situations are definite causes for defeat.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 10. 10. 10. allows a smaller force to strike a larger one. when deploying his troops for battle.49 Such an army is like a bunch of spoilt brats. and having no elite troops at the front. scope and coverage in the use of battle. even though the ruler has issued orders to do so. if I do not know that the terrain is not favourable for the conduct of such an assault. the general must not engage in battle. 10.51 If the enemy is vulnerable to attack. 25 . 10. 10. 10.30 When the general is weak and lacks discipline.37 That is the moral responsibility of the supreme commander. and when the command structure and formations are confusing. 10. the general must engage even though the ruler has issued orders not to do so.33 It is the greatest responsibility of the general to study these situations thoroughly (in order to prevent such calamities from occurring). the result is disorganization.39 He who does not know these factors nor applies them will be defeated in battle. distance. 10.

serious ground. 10.57 Know the weather. know yourself. and your victories will be limitless.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 10. Chapter 11 The Nine Battlegrounds 11. and your victory will not be endangered. treacherous ground.2 Sun Zi said: In the deployment of troops. know the terrain. constricted ground and death ground. frontier ground. focal ground.56 Thus it is said: Know the other side (the enemy).1 11. There are also communicative ground. and key ground. 26 . there is dispersive ground.

An area in which one can only survive through fearless fighting and will definitely perish if one does not fight relentlessly is called death ground. is classified as constricted ground. do not launch assaults. They ensued that the larger and smaller forces of the enemy would not be able to support nor rely on one another.15 11.4 11. hurry the movement of the troops. They ensued that the commands and orders (of the enemy) from top to bottom would not be accepted nor obeyed.14 11. When on focal ground.26 11. and when its seizure by any of the other states is crucial to the determination of supremacy over the rest. When on communicative ground.24 11.19 11. they could never have a complete and orderly army. do not engage in battle.8 11. It is said that the skilful military strategists of the past were able to ensure that the front and rear troops of the enemy could not reinforce each other on time.22 11. the troops of the enemy would be scattered and unable to concentrate. it is considered to be on treacherous ground. When on frontier ground.9 11.25 11. fight relentlessly.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 11. When on treacherous ground. When the enemy is occupying key ground. when on dispersive ground. plan and strategize. it is considered to be on frontier ground. When an army has penetrated deep into the territory of the enemy. it is considered dispersive ground.29 When various warlords fight over the occupation of the same territory. Move only when there are advantages to be gained. When a force has just made a shallow penetration into the territory of the enemy. When a territory is surrounded by three other states.20 11.5 11. When on constricted ground.13 11.23 11. do not stop (the advancement of troops).21 11.11 11.17 11. When on serious ground. then it (the surrounded territory) is considered focal ground.27 11. dangerous mountain passes. forage on the supplies and resources of the enemy.7 11. leaving behind many hostile fortified cities and towns. When I am asked: What can be done to an approaching enemy that is superior in numbers. that allows retreat only through dangerous and crooked paths and where a small force of the enemy is sufficient to strike a larger force of yours. Cease when there are no advantages to be gained.12 11. you must attempt to befriend and ally with neighbouring states. A terrain that is equally advantageous for me and the other side to occupy is considered key ground. An area that can only be reached through narrow passes. marshlands. difficult paths and roads. ensure that your forces are not separated. Therefore. As a result. orderly and well-commanded? 27 .3 11.10 11. Even when they manage to gather together. They ensued that the officers and men (of the enemy) would not be able to rescue each other. When on death ground.28 11.18 11.6 11.16 11. swamps. When an army is moving along forested mountains. it is considered to be on serious ground. An area that is easily accessible to me and to the other side (the enemy) is considered communicative ground.

they will fight fearlessly.56 Thus.55 However. 11.48 No discipline is needed to gain their close rapport and support. use strategies and plans that are beyond the predictions of the enemy. 11. 11. 11.31 Speed is the essence in the use and deployment of troops in war. 11.50 Such an army forbids superstitious practices and casts away doubts and rumours. 11.37 Nourish and nurture the troops prudently and do not tire them unnecessarily. 11.57 The Shuai Ran is a snake found in the Chang Mountain. 11. 11. your forces must be highly focused and concentrated so that the enemy will not be able to overwhelm you.42 When the troops are trapped in dangerous and treacherous situations. 11. 11. both its head and tail will attack you. the army adept in warfare may be likened to the snake.38 Unite the spirit and morale of the troops and conserve and accumulate their combat prowess.59 When you strike its tail. the officers and men will give their utmost for battle. 11. they will be extra cautious in action.40 Place your troops in positions where they cannot escape and they will fight fearlessly unto death with no thought of fleeing. 28 . they will display the fearless courage of Zhuan Zhu and Cao Gui.60 When you strike its body.52 They do not fear for their lives not because they do not yearn for longevity. 11.44 When they have penetrated deep into the hostile territory.36 You must be able to forge and live off the resources of the enemy so that your troops will have adequate food and supplies. its tail will attack you.54 Those lying down will have their tears streaming down their cheeks. 11.47 The troops require no asking to do what is expected of them. 11.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 11. when thrown into positions of no escape.51 My officers and men do not have excess wealth. 11. thus enabling it to confront death without any fear.45 When there is no other choice left. its head will attack you. 11. they will be firm and resilient in their fighting spirit. they will lose their sense of fear. 11. 11. 11. the troops will weep.49 No orders are needed to obtain their trust and reliance. 11. Shuai Ran.30 I would suggest: be first to capture something that the enemy treasures most and he will accede to your demands.33 Travel by routes that he does not expect nor is concerned about.41 This is because when they are not afraid to die. but it is not because they detest the accumulation of material possessions.58 When you strike its (Shuai Ran) head.39 When it comes to the deployment of troops. 11.53 On the day when the orders for war are issued. such an army requires no instruction to be vigilant and alert to combat.34 Attack where the enemy least expects.46 Thus. 11.35 The principles governing an invading force are as follows: when you have penetrated deep into the territory of the enemy. 11. 11.43 When they have nowhere else to flee. 11. 11. those sitting down will have their tears and mucus wetting their garments. 11. 11. 11.32 Exploit the unpreparedness of the enemy.

it will be more focused and united in battle. it is on isolated ground. 11. the advantages pertaining to defensive and aggressive actions. if they were placed in the same boat facing strong and threatening winds. 11. 11. 11.61 When I am asked: Can the deployment of troops have the same capability as the Shuai Ran? My answer is: It is possible. it is not sufficient to rely on tying up the horses and burying the wheels of the chariots as a means to control the army. 11. it is focal ground. 11. 11.79 When an area is highly accessible and communicative to various parties. 11.69 He must be able to keep information away from the knowledge of his officers and men so that they will not know his plans. and the understanding of human nature are all important aspects that must be carefully studied. 11. at the most crucial moment. when it makes only a shallow penetration.65 To ensure that the troops are united as one body and courageous depends on the government and organization of the army.64 Thus. they would cooperate and help one another like a left hand and a right hand. this is inevitable. 11. its fighting spirit is likely to be threatened and diluted. 11. 11.63 However.74 He would lead the army like a flock of sheep.73 He would lead his army deep into the hostile territory of the enemy and then reveal his real intention (secrets) after burning the boats and breaking the cooking pots.66 The effective deployment of both the strong and weak forces depends on the understanding and exploitation of the terrain.75 To assemble all the divisions of the army and expose them to great danger is what a general is expected to do.76 The variations and changes of the various types of ground. and strict. 11.68 The art of generalship is to be calm and somber in thought. and then switching back to another without them understanding what he is trying to accomplish. just and fair in the management of military affairs. removes the ladder that leads them up. herding them in one direction. 11.77 The principle governing occupation of hostile territory is: When an army penetrates deep into hostile territory.72 The (shrewd and capable) general on a specific military mission is like someone who leads his men to scale great heights and. 29 . 11.70 He changes his methods of doing things and alters his strategies so that no one can see through his plans and schemes.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 11. 11. inscrutable and comprehensive in strategizing.62 It was said that the people and soldiers of the kingdoms of Wu and Yue hated one another tremendously.67 Thus the adept in warfare leads his army as if he was leading a single person.71 He changes his campsites and travels by unexpected routes so that no one can guess his motives. 11.78 When the army leaves its own country behind and crosses the border into another country for battle. 11.

86 When encountering key ground.101 He does not have to foster or cultivate the power of other states. 11. he is able to conquer cities and overthrows the states of his enemies. 11. if the schemes and ploys of the neighbouring warlords are not known.90 On treacherous ground. 11. the dangerous terrain of mountain paths and the treacherous nature of swamps and marshes will not be able to conduct the movement of troops.95 Those who do not know the conditions of forested mountains. 11.92 On death ground. the general must unite the determination of the army. the general must be vigilant in defence.82 When the area to the rear of the army is highly dangerous and the area before it is very narrow. 11. 11. 11. to fight until death when they do not have any alternative. 11.94 Thus. 11. the general must fight as if he does not wish to live. it is on serious ground. 11. he ensures that it is impossible for the enemy to assemble all his forces against him.106 Direct the various forces of the army as if instructing one person.96 Those who do not use local guides will not be able to gain the advantages of the terrain.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 11. but do not tell them the reason or intention.91 On constricted ground.83 An area from which there is no escape route is called death ground. the general must strengthen his alliances with neighbouring states. 11.99 He will overpower his enemy convincingly and overawe the other states so much that none of the allies (of his enemies) would dare unite against him.103 Thus. 11. 11. a general must seal the points of entry and exit.85 On frontier ground. the general must keep the forces in close contact. a general must push his forces quickly forward so as to pass it. 11.105 Implement orders that do not conform to customary law and regulations. the general must rush his forces forward to occupy it before the enemy does. a general must ensure a continuous supply of food and provisions. 11. it is on frontier ground.107 Order the officers and men to carry out tasks. one should not be keen to enter into any alliances with them.88 On focal ground. 30 .97 If one fails to understand and exploit even one of the nine types of ground. 11.89 On serious ground. 11.102 Rather.80 When an army penetrates deep into hostile territory.87 On communicative ground.98 When a supreme commander (emperor) attacks a large state.81 When an army makes only a shallow penetration into hostile territory. 11.93 It is the intuitive nature of the soldiers to resist when they are surrounded. he relies on his supreme ability to overpower the enemy to achieve his own agenda and goals. 11. 11. bestow rewards that do not adhere to conventions and norms. one cannot claim to be the supreme commander (emperor) of an all-conquering army. 11. he (the supreme emperor) does not have to contend with securing alliances with other states.84 On dispersive ground.100 Thus.104 (In a war situation). 11. 11. and to obey when they are in highly dangerous situations. 11. 11. 11. 11. it is on constricted ground.

11.121 Thus. The third way is to burn the heavy military equipment and supplies of the enemy. 11.108 Order them to go after advantages and gains. be as swift as an escaping hare so as to catch the unpreparedness of the enemy. 11. but do not divulge the dangers involved. when the date for war is decided upon.5 Sun Zi said: There are five ways to use fire for attacking the enemy. The first way is to burn the soldiers (of the enemy) in their camp.120 Military strategy must be adapted to the circumstances of the enemy so that actions and decisions can be determined accordingly.117 Finalize and oversee closely all final preparations. 11.119 Capture first what the enemy treasures most. be as coy as a virgin girl so as to lure the enemy into providing an opening. 11. The fourth way is to burn the armoury and warehouses of the enemy. 11. 31 . plans and strategies (for war) in the temple of the ancestors.113 Concentrate your forces on a single position of the enemy.112 Thus.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 11. and do not let the enemy know the date of the attack. they are capable of turning defeat into victory. cancel all travel permits and disallow the movement of emissaries from other states. 11. close all border exits.115 This is what is meant by the art of accomplishing tasks in a skilful and capable manner.122 As the battle progresses.109 Throw the officers and men on dangerous ground and they will attempt to survive. 11. 11.118 When the enemy provides an opening.116 Thus. 11.2 12. 11. move in swiftly to exploit it. 11. 11. even coming from a thousand miles. Chapter 12 Attacking with Fire 12. you can still kill the generals of the enemy. at the beginning of a battle.111 When the troops are thrown into situations of grave danger.3 12. 11.1 12.114 Thus. the art of warfare is to pretend to accommodate the motives and desires of the enemy.110 Place the troops on death ground and they will strive to be alive. The second way is to burn the provisions and stockpiles (of the enemy).4 12.

do not assault the leeward position.29 12.14 12. Now in warfare. The adept in warfare knows the five interchangeable methods of attacking with fire and would plan and prepare for their usage with vigilance. These four positions of the moon and stars among the constellations signal the days on which strong winds will arrive. When there are no opportunities to be gained and followed through.27 12. When the fire is burning ferociously with opportunities to be gained.17 12. Fight only when there are definite dangers.9 12.23 12. 32 . A general must not go into battle out of rage.33 12. but it cannot be used to destroy and deprive him of his equipment.13 12.25 12. one must possess the necessary factors. This is tantamount to a waste of time and resources. When fire is burning in the windward direction. Fire can be started from outside the camp of the enemy. There are opportunistic times for launching attacks by fire. Thus. A warlord must not embark on a military campaign simply out of anger.10 12. Fires can always be started (and used as a form of attack) at suitable times and occasions. When winds blow strongly and continuously in the day.19 12. Strike only when there are definite chances of success. those who use fire as a means to support attacks are wise and shrewd.34 12.18 12.21 12. There is no need to wait for the fire to start from within the camp of the enemy.16 12.22 12.20 12. those who are able to win battles and secure land and cities but are unable to exploit the gains swiftly and expediently will jeopardize their interests. they tend to cease in the night. To launch attacks by fire. Water can be used to cut off and isolate an enemy. prepare quickly to attack the enemy from the outside. Thus it is said that it is the enlightened leader who deliberates on the plan while the capable general implements it.24 12.12 12. When fire breaks out within the camp of the enemy. When fire breaks out within the camp of the enemy and there is no confusion nor commotion among the soldiers.15 12. cease immediately. Those who use water as a means to support attacks are powerful. Opportunistic times refer to periods of dry and hot weather.7 12.6 12.31 12.28 12.26 12. Suitability of the day refers to the location of the moon in relation to the four positions of the stars among the constellation.32 12. The materials and equipment for starting and using fire must be available at all times.11 12.8 12. Move only when there are advantages to be gained. one must use the five ways of attacking interchangeably. depending on the circumstances at hand. follow through quickly with your attacks. In assaults by fire.35 The fifth way is to burn the transportation trains of the enemy.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 12. wait patiently and do not be eager to attack. There are suitable days to start a fire.30 12. provisions and supplies.

an enlightened ruler must always be prudent in matters of war and a capable general must always be cautious and attentive.40 12. Chapter 13 Intelligence and Espionage 13. 33 . Anger can return to happiness.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 12.43 This is the way to ensure security for a nation and to preserve the strengths and entirety of the army.41 12.000 piece of gold.39 12.36 12. Rage can return to joy. 12. This. Thus. A dead person cannot be resurrected. A destroyed nation cannot be reinstated. Cease when there are no advantages to be gained.000 for a distant military campaign will impose severe strains on the incomes of the people.2 Sun Zi said: Raising an army of 100. together with the drain on the state treasury. will amount to a daily expenditure of 1.42 Move when there are advantages to be gained.38 12.37 12.1 13.

the enlightened ruler and the capable general are able to secure victories for their military campaigns and achieve successes that surpass those of many others. among all military relationships.4 13. money and gold (for espionage purposes) and remain ignorant of the situation of the enemy.3 13.7 13. Two opposing armies may be at war with each other for many years.14 13. Living agents are our spies who have returned safely from the territory of the enemy with information.5 13. seeking the ultimate day of victory. sharp and ingenious will be able to decipher the truth embedded in espionage reports. and can never be a master of victories.25 13.21 13. if one is reluctant to part with honour and ranks. double agents.26 13. Only those who are benevolent.17 13. 34 . However. Only those who are sagacious and wise will be able to use secret agents and spies. can never be a good assistant to the ruler.15 13.12 13.10 13.8 13.27 13. Thus.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 13. there are five kinds of secret agents or spies that can be used.11 13. Thus. jobs. and various professions will affect households. Neither can it be obtained from the study of astrology. The reason is because of foreknowledge. There can be no bigger rewards than those showered on spies and secret agents. Only those who are thorough. There can be no greater secretive operations than those pertaining to espionage.13 13.23 13.18 13. This foreknowledge cannot be obtained from the spirits nor from the gods.6 13. Inside agents are officials of the enemy who are recruited and employed by us.28 13. The disruption to work.29 13.22 13. Indeed. and people will be exhausted (from transporting military supplies) along supply routes. Such is the intricacy and sublety of espionage! Indeed. Thus. just and loyal will be able to deploy and use secret agents and spies. their complex modes of operation will be beyond comprehension (of the enemy).19 13. When these five types of agents are deployed simultaneously. It cannot be obtained by comparing with similar present nor past events and situations. caring.20 13. none can be more intimate than that maintained with spies and secret agents. Doomed agents refer to our own spies who are unable to keep secrets and are then deliberately fed with false information to leak to the spies of the enemy. This foreknowledge must be obtained from men (and women) who have knowledge of the situation of the enemy.16 13. there is no place where espionage cannot be used. Double agents are spies of the enemy who have been recruited to work for us. such a person can never be a general of men. They are like mythical and divine schemes that can be deemed the most precious treasures and weapons of the ruler.9 13. Local agents are ordinary people recruited from the homeland of the enemy and used as spies by us. he is extremely inhumane. doomed agents.24 13. There are local agents.30 There will be great commotion and disruption of peace at home and abroad. living agents. inside agents.

the rise of the Shang Dynasty over the Xia Dynasty was because its military advisor.40 13.39 13. cities that you wish to conquer. they can become double agents and be used and employed by us. 35 .33 13. and the various attendants. Lu Ya. The secret agents of the enemy who are spying among us must be actively sought out.32 13. the guards and patrols. to know the situation and condition of the enemy.31 13. guide and counsel them. then the agents concerned and those whom they are in contact with must be put to death.46 13. Your agents must be ordered to investigate these matters in great detail. and then pardon and release them.UBMM1011 Sun Zi Art of War and Business Strategies 13. the ruler (general) must depend on double agents.36 13. it is the enlightened ruler and the capable general who are able to use the most intelligent ones from within their ranks to be deployed as spies and secret agents so as to achieve the greatest victories in war. Secret operations and espionage activities form an integral part of any military campaign as the planning of strategies and the movement of troops depend heavily on them.47 When espionage activities and secret operations have been leaked before their implementation.35 13. However. and key people that you wish to assassinate. Thus. the visiting consultants.38 13. It is through information gained from double agents that the situation of the enemy can be known.34 13. Use incentives to bribe them.45 13.42 13. double agents must be treated most generously. The ruler (general) must know fully how to use and operate the five different kinds of spies and espionage activities. Similarly. It is through the intelligence gained from the double agents that we are able to use doomed agents to carry fabricated and false information to the enemy. his supporting officers.41 13. had served as an official in the kingdom of Yin.37 13. It is through the efforts of the double agents that our living agents are able to return as scheduled with needful reports on the enemy. For such cases. There may be armies that you wish to strike. the rise of the Zhou Dynasty over the Yin Dynasty was because its military advisor. Thus. there is a need to know beforehand detailed information on the identities of the garrison commander.43 13. and local and inside agents can be recruited and deployed as well.44 13. Thus. In ancient times. had served as an official in the kingdom of Xia. Yi Yin.

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