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The Art of War
˘ Sun Tzu’s
The Art of War
translated by Lionel Giles, M.A.
Pax Librorum Publishing House 2009
com or BN./1. Please note that the text presented herein is in the public domain and the publisher makes no copyright claims thereto. II.99 USD. as translated by Lionel Giles. This edition has been corrected of transcription errors and typeset for modern printing equipment to maximize quality and readability.com .com websites for $3. All rights reserved. 2009. and can be purchased from the Amazon. First published in 1910. 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. Non-proﬁt digital distribution however is explicitly permitted and encouraged by the Publisher. If you enjoyed this free eBook. It is simultaneously published as a paperback book.˘ The Art of War by Sun Tzu. M. No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the Publisher.PaxLibrorum. please consider supporting the publisher by purchasing a copy.A.
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 .G.To my brother Captain Valentine Giles. R.
The Attack by Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Army on the March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Variation in Tactics . . . . . . . . . . 25 VIII. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 XII. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Use of Spies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 7 III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Weak Points and Strong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 XI. . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 VI. . . 11 IV. . Manœuvring . . Tactical Dispositions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 IX. . . . . Terrain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 V. . . II. . . . . . . . The Nine Situations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Contents Introduction . . Energy . . . . . 53 vii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waging War . . . . . Attack by Stratagem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Laying Plans . . . . 31 X. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 VII. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 XIII. . . . . . .
Ho Lu said to him: “I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. to the sound of drums.” u Ho Lu asked: “May the test be applied to women?” The answer was again in the aﬃrmative.” But the girls only burst out laughing. he gave the order “Right turn. so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. Sun Tz˘ said: “If words u of command are not clear and distinct. and placed one of the King’s favourite concubines at the head of each.’ you must look straight u ahead. then the general is to blame. He then bade them all take spears in their hands.” Again the girls assented. right hand and left hand?” The girls replied: “Yes. Sun Tz˘ : “If words of command are not clear and distinct. When I say ‘Right turn. and the soldiers nevertheless disobey. Sun Tz˘ divided them into u two companies. he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. and this time gave the order “Left turn. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?” Sun Tz˘ replied: “You may. The words of command having been thus explained. and addressed them thus: “I presume you know the diﬀerence between front and back.” Sun Tz˘ went on: “When I say ‘Eyes front.’ you must face towards your right hand. if orders u are not thoroughly understood. then it is the 1 . His Art of War brought u him to the notice of Ho Lu.Introduction Sun Tz˘ Wu was a native of the Ch‘i State. King of Wu.” whereupon the girls once more burst into ﬁts of laughter. But if his orders are clear. When I say ‘Left turn. Then.’ you must face towards your left hand. if orders are not thoroughly understood.’ you must face right round towards your back. the general is to blame. When I say ‘About turn.” So he started drilling them again.
I am unable to accept. bid them go through ﬁre and water.” Accordingly. — Ss˘ -ma Ch‘ien (c. are now properly drilled and disciplined. We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops. And Sun Tz˘ shared in the u might of the King.” After that. turning to the right or to the left. and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. Now the King of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion. and they will not disobey. Sun Tz˘ u fault of their oﬃcers. acting in that capacity. and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place.” Sun Tz˘ replied: “Having once received His Majesty’s commission u to be the general of his forces. he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. the drum was sounded for the drill once more. there are certain commands of His Majesty which. 145 BC – 86 BC) u 2 . and when he saw that his favourite concubines were about to be executed.” But the King replied: “Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. Then Sun Tz˘ sent a messenger to the King saying: “Your soldiers. to the north he put fear into the States of Ch‘i and Chin. our meat and drink will lose their savour. As for us. he had the two leaders beheaded.” Thereupon Sun Tz˘ said: “The King is only fond of words. Ho Lu saw that Sun Tz˘ was one who knew how to u handle an army. If We are bereft of these two concubines. kneeling or standing. and u cannot translate them into deeds. and ﬁnally appointed him general. marching ahead or wheeling back. u Sire. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded. the capital. and ready for your majesty’s inspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire. with perfect accuracy and precision.The Art of War.” So saying. and the girls went through all the evolutions. In the west. 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. he defeated the Ch‘u State and forced his way into Ying. not venturing to utter a sound. When this had been done.
danger and security. 9. the chances of life and death. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler. to be taken into account in one’s deliberations. 8. cold and heat. It is a matter of life and death. (5) method and discipline. u 2. 7. 5. so that they will follow him regardless of their lives. benevolence. Sun Tz˘ said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. The art of war. great and small. open ground and narrow passes. Earth comprises distances. times and seasons. courage and strictness. a road either to safety or to ruin. (2) Heaven. (4) the Commander. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. sincerity. when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the ﬁeld.I Laying Plans 1. undismayed by any danger. is governed by ﬁve constant factors. Heaven signiﬁes night and day. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom. (3) Earth. 3. then. 4. 3 . These are: (1) the Moral Law. 6.
Sun Tz˘ u 10. 11. he who knows them not will fail. Therefore. 18. when seeking to determine the military conditions. we must seem unable. will suﬀer defeat: — let such a one be dismissed! 16. the graduations of rank among the oﬃcers. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. According as circumstances are favourable. when we are near. These ﬁve heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious. 17. All warfare is based on deception. avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules. in this wise: — 13. when far away. when using our forces. 4 . While heeding the proﬁt of my counsel. will conquer: — let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it.The Art of War. when able to attack. the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army. 19. we must seem inactive. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions. one should modify one’s plans. let them be made the basis of a comparison. in your deliberations. and the control of military expenditure. 15. 12. we must make the enemy believe we are far away. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it. Hence. (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 make him believe we are near.
be prepared for him. If he is taking his ease. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. seek to irritate him. give him no rest. 26. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Thus do many calculations lead to victory. 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. separate them. If his forces are united. leading to victory. 5 . Pretend to be weak. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. If he is secure at all points. If your opponent is of choleric temper. 22. 24. If he is in superior strength. 25. and crush him. appear where you are not expected.I. must not be divulged beforehand. Laying Plans 20. Feign disorder. 23. that he may grow arrogant. 21. Attack him where he is unprepared. These military devices. evade him.
including entertainment of guests. 7 .000 men. however wise. 2. where there are in the u ﬁeld a thousand swift chariots. cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. 3. the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. your strength exhausted and your treasure spent. Thus. If you lay siege to a town. if the campaign is protracted. as many heavy chariots. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100. though we have heard of stupid haste in war. When you engage in actual ﬁghting. will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers. when your weapons are dulled. will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Sun Tz˘ said: In the operations of war. 5. with provisions enough to carry them a thousand Li. other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Now. Again. then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be damped.II Waging War 1. 4. Then no man. the expenditure at home and at the front. if victory is long in coming. small items such as glue and paint. your ardour damped. There is no instance of a country having beneﬁted from prolonged warfare. 6. and sums spent on chariots and armour. you will exhaust your strength.
draught-oxen and heavy waggons. while Government expenses for broken chariots. worn-out horses. 8. the proximity of an army causes prices to go up. Sun Tz˘ u 7. but forage on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own. Our own ﬂags should be substituted for those of the enemy. the homes of the people will be stripped bare. those should be rewarded who took the ﬁrst. and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy. Bring war material with you from home. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength. On the other hand. 15. and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one’s own store. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs. Now in order to kill the enemy. 17. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. protective mantles. they must have their rewards. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.The Art of War. 8 . 9. Therefore in chariot ﬁghting. 16. when ten or more chariots have been taken. When their substance is drained away. 13. 12. our men must be roused to anger. will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue. 10. and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away. bows and arrows. 11. and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated. neither are his supply-waggons loaded more than twice. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the proﬁtable way of carrying it on. the peasantry will be aﬄicted by heavy exactions. breast-plates and helmets. 14. spears and shields.
This is called. using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.II. not lengthy campaigns. 9 . 20. Waging War 18. let your great object be victory. In war. the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate. 19. then.
a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them. The preparation of mantlets. will take up three whole months. Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy’s plans. too. with the result that one-third of his men are slain. the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces. Such are the disastrous eﬀects of a siege. 6. while the town still remains untaken. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any ﬁghting. So. 5. it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it. will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants. and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. Sun Tz˘ said: In the practical art of war. Hence to ﬁght and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence. movable shelters. not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. to capture a regiment. to shatter and destroy it is not so good. 4. the best thing of all is u to take the enemy’s country whole and intact. he captures their cities without laying siege to 11 . and various implements of war.III Attack by Stratagem 1. unable to control his irritation. The general. The rule is. 3. and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more. the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the ﬁeld. 2. supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without ﬁghting.
(1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat. his triumph will be complete. But when the army is restless and distrustful. to surround him. 9. we can ﬂee from him.The Art of War. we can avoid the enemy. being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. Thus we may know that there are ﬁve essentials for victory: 12 . if ﬁve to one. 15. if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one. 11. and ﬂinging victory away. 8. Hence. If equally matched. 12. through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the conﬁdence of the soldiers. (3) By employing the oﬃcers of his army without discrimination. if slightly inferior in numbers. the State will be weak. we can oﬀer battle. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army. 7. to attack him. 17. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds. This is the method of attacking by stratagem. 14. if the bulwark is defective. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire. Now the general is the bulwark of the State. the State will be strong. if the bulwark is complete at all points. Sun Tz˘ u them. 10. in the end it must be captured by the larger force. It is the rule in war. he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the ﬁeld. to divide our army into two. 16. though an obstinate ﬁght may be made by a small force. This is called hobbling the army. trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. without losing a man. if quite unequal in every way. and thus. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army: — 13. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom. if twice as numerous. being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself. 18. you will succumb in every battle. prepared himself. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. Attack by Stratagem (1) He will win who knows when to ﬁght and when not to ﬁght. (4) He will win who. for every victory gained you will also suﬀer a defeat.III. Victory lies in the knowledge of these ﬁve points. waits to take the enemy unprepared. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself. you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy. 13 .
Standing on the defensive indicates insuﬃcient strength.IV Tactical Dispositions 1. 4. The general who is skilled in defence hides in the most secret recesses of the earth. Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands. To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence. 2. 8. a superabundance of strength. a victory that is complete. on the other. ability to defeat the enemy means taking the oﬀensive. Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves. Thus the good ﬁghter is able to secure himself against defeat. Sun Tz˘ said: The good ﬁghters of old ﬁrst put themselves u beyond the possibility of defeat. 3. 6. but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy. attacking. 5. 15 . and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. he who is skilled in attack ﬂashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven. but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. 7. Security against defeat implies defensive tactics.
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
By holding out baits. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and to utilise combined energy. to come to a standstill. but if round-shaped. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground. his ﬁghting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. 22.V. Energy 20. he keeps him on the march. 23. and to move when on a slope. and does not require too much from individuals. 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. then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him. So much on the subject of energy. to go rolling down. 21. 19 . When he utilises combined energy. The clever combatant looks to the eﬀect of combined energy.
if it marches through country where the enemy is not. By holding out advantages to him. by inﬂicting damage. and he is skillful in defence whose opponent does not know what to attack.VI Weak Points and Strong 1. Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend. An army may march great distances without distress. or. march swiftly to places where you are not expected. If the enemy is taking his ease. 8. he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near. 21 . 7. 6. will be fresh for the ﬁght. but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him. he can harass him. You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. if well supplied with food. whoever is second in the ﬁeld and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted. 2. 4. he can force him to move. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy. 3. if quietly encamped. Sun Tz˘ said: Whoever is ﬁrst in the ﬁeld and awaits the coming u of the enemy.You can ensure the safety of your defence if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked. he can starve him out. 5. he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend.
And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one. we can keep our forces concentrated. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole. If we wish to ﬁght. while the enemy must split up into fractions. should he strengthen his rear. 14. By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves. For should the enemy strengthen his van. You may advance and be absolutely irresistible. 22 . the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy. Sun Tz˘ u 9. he will weaken his left. which means that we shall be many to the enemy’s few. If he sends reinforcements everywhere. 11. he will everywhere be weak. 13. 10. and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands. 16. should he strengthen his left. and his forces being thus distributed in many directions. our opponents will be in dire straits. 12. The spot where we intend to ﬁght must not be made known. O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible. We can form a single united body. 15. if you make for the enemy’s weak points. All we need do is to attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve. 17. he will weaken his van.The Art of War. the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way. should he strengthen his right. If we do not wish to ﬁght. while the enemy’s must be divided. through you inaudible. we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. he will weaken his right. he will weaken his rear. for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several diﬀerent points.
and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself. numerical strength. Weak Points and Strong 18. 26. the van unable to relieve the rear. but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory.VI. Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle. or the rear to support the van. 25. that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. 23. we may prevent him from ﬁghting. 24. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own. 22. In making tactical dispositions. then the left wing will be impotent to succour the right. we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to ﬁght. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers. from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks. so as to ﬁnd out his vulnerable spots. Rouse him. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success. Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yüeh exceed our own in number. How much more so if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred Li apart. 23 . But if neither time nor place be known. from the machinations of the wisest brains. conceal your dispositions. the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them. but let your methods be regulated by the inﬁnite variety of circumstances. 19. so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deﬁcient. 28. I say then that victory can be achieved. 27. the right equally impotent to succour the left. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics — that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. 20. and even the nearest are separated by several Li! 21.
34. may be called a heaven-born captain. the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. 30. There are short days and long. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it ﬂows. 32. so in warfare there are no constant conditions. So in war.The Art of War. the moon has its periods of waning and waxing. Sun Tz˘ u 29. 31. 24 . the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. 33. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning. the four seasons make way for each other in turn. Military tactics are like unto water. Therefore. just as water retains no constant shape. The ﬁve elements are not always equally predominant. for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.
to take a long and circuitous route. If you set a fully equipped army in march in order to snatch an advantage. after enticing the enemy out of the way. if you order your men to roll up their buﬀ-coats.VII Manœuvring 1. comes tactical manœuvring. covering 25 . and though starting after him. the general receives his commands from u the sovereign. The diﬃculty of tactical manœuvring consists in turning the devious into the direct. Thus. On the other hand. with an undisciplined multitude. 5. 3. most dangerous. and make forced marches without halting day or night. shows knowledge of the artiﬁce of deviation. the chances are that you will be too late. After that. he must blend and harmonise the diﬀerent elements thereof before pitching his camp. 6. Manœuvring with an army is advantageous. 2. Thus. 7. and misfortune into gain. 4. Having collected an army and concentrated his forces. than which there is nothing more diﬃcult. Sun Tz˘ said: In war. to detach a ﬂying column for the purpose involves the sacriﬁce of its baggage and stores. to contrive to reach the goal before him.
fall like a thunderbolt. 12. without provisions it is lost. 19. 14. 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. practise dissimulation. your compactness that of the forest. Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops. its marshes and swamps. without bases of supply it is lost. and only half your force will reach the goal. and on this plan only one-tenth of your army will reach its destination. Let your rapidity be that of the wind.The Art of War. 9. In raiding and plundering be like ﬁre. If you march ﬁfty Li in order to outmanœuvre the enemy. must be decided by circumstances. and you will succeed. in immovability like a mountain. We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbours. 17. 11. We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides. the jaded ones will fall behind. 18. you will lose the leader of your ﬁrst division. If you march thirty Li with the same object. In war. the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into the hands of the enemy. 26 . 10. 8. 15. 16. doing a hundred Li in order to wrest an advantage. two-thirds of your army will arrive. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night. 13. The stronger men will be in front. Sun Tz˘ u double the usual distance at a stretch. its pitfalls and precipices. Move only if there is a real advantage to be gained. and when you move. We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost.
30. banners and ﬂags. let the spoil be divided amongst your men. The Book of Army Management says: On the ﬁeld of battle. but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. Ponder and deliberate before you make a move. 24. 29. 31. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and ﬂags. 23. Manœuvring 20. or for the cowardly to retreat alone. Gongs and drums. A clever general. to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: — this is the art of retaining self-possession. 22. To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it. This is the art of handling large masses of men. Disciplined and calm. 25. his mind is bent only on returning to camp. 26. and in the evening. are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point. a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind. of ﬂags and banners. as a means of inﬂuencing the ears and eyes of your army. by noonday it has begun to ﬂag. cut it up into allotments for the beneﬁt of the soldiery. make much use of signal-ﬁres and drums. He will conquer who has learnt the artiﬁce of deviation. avoids an army when its spirit is keen. Such is the art of manœuvring. 27. the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. it is impossible either for the brave to advance alone. The host thus forming a single united body. therefore. and in ﬁghting by day. to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling. to be well-fed 27 . This is the art of studying moods. When you plunder a countryside.VII. In night-ﬁghting. Now a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning. 28. when you capture new territory. A whole army may be robbed of its spirit. 21. then.
34. 28 . Do not pursue an enemy who simulates ﬂight. do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. leave an outlet free. 36. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home. It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy. 35. Such is the art of warfare. nor to oppose him when he comes downhill. 37. When you surround an army. 32. to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and conﬁdent array: — this is the art of studying circumstances. Sun Tz˘ u while the enemy is famished: — this is the art of husbanding one’s strength.The Art of War. Do not swallow bait oﬀered by the enemy. To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order. 33.
yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.VIII Variation in Tactics 1. even though he be acquainted with the Five Advantages. may be well acquainted with the conﬁguration of the country. In a desperate position. The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops. 7. 3. you must resort to stratagem. the general receives his commands from u the sovereign. In hemmed-in situations. will fail to make the best use of his men. armies which must not be attacked. When in diﬃcult country. 29 . 5. considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together. So. collects his army and concentrates his forces 2. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. you must ﬁght. Sun Tz˘ said: In war. do not encamp. join hands with your allies. the student of war who is unversed in the art of varying his plans. The general who does not understand these. In country where high roads intersect. 4. There are roads which must not be followed. commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed. Hence in the wise leader’s plans. positions which must not be contested. towns which must not be besieged. 6.
Reduce the hostile chiefs by inﬂicting damage on them. (2) cowardice. in the midst of diﬃculties we are always ready to seize an advantage. The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming. the cause will surely be found among these ﬁve dangerous faults. which leads to capture. 30 . 14. but on our own readiness to receive him. (5) over-solicitude for his men. Let them be a subject of meditation. but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. we may succeed in accomplishing the essential part of our schemes. not on the chance of his not attacking. (4) a delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame. and keep them constantly engaged. which leads to destruction. There are ﬁve dangerous faults which may aﬀect a general: (1) Recklessness. When an army is overthrown and its leader slain. and make them rush to any given point. on the other hand. 9. 12. If our expectation of advantage be tempered in this way. hold out specious allurements. we may extricate ourselves from misfortune. 13. (3) a hasty temper. Sun Tz˘ u 8. ruinous to the conduct of war. which can be provoked by insults. If. 10.The Art of War. These are the ﬁve besetting sins of a general. 11. make trouble for them. which exposes him to worry and trouble.
Sun Tz˘ said: We come now to the question of encamping the u army. So much for operations in salt-marshes. Camp in high places. and then deliver your attack. 2. facing the sun. If forced to ﬁght in a salt-marsh. It will be best to let half the army get across. and facing the sun. and get your back to a clump of trees.IX The Army on the March 1. without any delay. your sole concern should be to get over them quickly. Pass quickly over mountains. 3. 5. Do not move up-stream to meet the enemy. do not advance to meet it in mid-stream. 7. you should have water and grass near you. 6. If you are anxious to ﬁght. and observing signs of the enemy. 31 . you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross. So much for mountain warfare. 4. After crossing a river. So much for river warfare. you should get far away from it. and keep in the neighbourhood of valleys. In crossing salt-marshes. 8. Moor your craft higher up than the enemy. Do not climb heights in order to ﬁght. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march.
hollow basins ﬁlled with reeds. 16. we should let the enemy have them on his rear. ponds surrounded by aquatic grass. the army will be free from disease of every kind. quagmires and crevasses. and this will spell victory. deep natural hollows. All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to dark. with the slope on your right rear. and safety lie behind. When you come to a hill or a bank. he is relying on the natural strength of his position. If in the neighbourhood of your camp there should be any hilly country. 10. 18. When.The Art of War. occupy the sunny side. conﬁned places. These are the four useful branches of military knowledge which enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns. and camp on hard ground. a river which you wish to ford is swollen and ﬂecked with foam. 32 . So much for campaigning in ﬂat country. or woods with thick undergrowth. 12. while we face them. 13. 15. 11. Sun Tz˘ u 9. Thus you will at once act for the beneﬁt of your soldiers and utilise the natural advantages of the ground. 14. If you are careful of your men. we should get the enemy to approach them. you must wait until it subsides. should be left with all possible speed and not approached. for these are places where men in ambush or insidious spies are likely to be lurking. they must be carefully routed out and searched. When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet. in consequence of heavy rains up-country. 17. so that the danger may be in front. Country in which there are precipitous cliﬀs with torrents running between. While we keep away from such places. level country. In dry. tangled thickets. take up an easily accessible position with rising ground to your right and on your rear.
When it branches out in diﬀerent directions. 28. 20. A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify that the army is encamping. 25.IX. When the light chariots come out ﬁrst and take up a position on the wings. it is the sign of chariots advancing. it betokens the approach of infantry. 22. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot. 27. 24. 26. it is a sign that the enemy is forming for battle. it shows that parties have been sent to collect ﬁrewood. 33 . 30. when the dust is low. Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. he is tendering a bait. When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears. 23. When there is dust rising in a high column. When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into rank. they are faint from want of food. The rising of birds in their ﬂight is the sign of an ambuscade. When some are seen advancing and some retreating. If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves. The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious. Movement amongst the trees of a forest shows that the enemy is advancing. When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming. the army is suﬀering from thirst. he is anxious for the other side to advance. it is a lure. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat. but spread over a wide area. it means that the critical moment has come. 29. If his place of encampment is easy of access. The Army on the March 19. 21.
that is amply suﬃcient. 32. 41. If birds gather on any spot. 34 . To begin by bluster. If our troops are no more in number than the enemy. 37. it is unoccupied. If there is disturbance in the camp. keep a close watch on the enemy. The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking in subdued tones points to disaﬀection amongst the rank and ﬁle. sedition is afoot. the general’s authority is weak. 33. it means that the men are weary. If the banners and ﬂags are shifted about. 34. 40. shows a supreme lack of intelligence. you may know that they are determined to ﬁght to the death. it only means that no direct attack can be made. showing that they will not return to their tents. Sun Tz˘ u 31. What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength. and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots over the camp-ﬁres. it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce. 36. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths.The Art of War. 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. but afterwards to take fright at the enemy’s numbers. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources. 38. the situation is one that demands great vigilance and circumspection. If the oﬃcers are angry. 35. If the enemy sees an advantage to be gained and makes no eﬀort to secure it. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them. When an army feeds its horses with grain and kills its cattle for food. and obtain reinforcements. Clamour by night betokens nervousness. 39. the soldiers are exhausted. too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.
45. The Army on the March 42. but kept under control by means of iron discipline. the army will be well-disciplined. 35 . unless submissive. and. they will still be useless. they will be practically useless. This is a certain road to victory. If a general shows conﬁdence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed. 44. if not. its discipline will be bad.IX. the gain will be mutual. they will not prove submissive. If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you. If. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the ﬁrst instance with humanity. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced. 43. punishments are not enforced. when the soldiers have become attached to you.
thus enticing the enemy in his turn. In a position of this sort. 5.X Terrain 1. (3) temporising ground. it will be advisable not to stir forth. (6) positions at a great distance from the enemy. disaster will ensue. 6. you may sally forth and defeat him. 2. (2) entangling ground. it is called temporising ground. even though the enemy should oﬀer us an attractive bait. Then you will be able to ﬁght with advantage. When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the ﬁrst move. we may deliver our attack with advantage. when part of his army has come out. 7. But if the enemy is prepared for your coming. and you fail to defeat him. but rather to retreat. (5) precipitous heights. 37 . and carefully guard your line of supplies. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called accessible. Sun Tz˘ said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain. 4. 3. Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called entangling. be before the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny spots. to wit: u (1) Accessible ground. (4) narrow passes. return being impossible. From a position of this sort. With regard to ground of this nature. then. if the enemy is unprepared. then.
let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy. and ﬁghting will be to your disadvantage. if one force is hurled against another ten times its size. 12. (3) collapse. and the strength of the two armies is equal. but retreat and try to entice him away. but only if it is weakly garrisoned. (2) insubordination. 15. before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or not he is in a position to ﬁght. 11. These are: (1) Flight. you should occupy the raised and sunny spots. 14. These six are the principles connected with Earth. 10. but from faults for which the general is responsible. 17. When the higher oﬃcers are angry and insubordinate. the result will be the ﬂight of the former. not arising from natural causes. If the enemy has occupied them before you. if you are beforehand with your adversary. The general who has attained a responsible post must be careful to study them. it is not easy to provoke a battle. Sun Tz˘ u 8. the result is collapse. With regard to precipitous heights. Should the enemy forestall you in occupying a pass.The Art of War. and there wait for him to come up. When the common soldiers are too strong and their oﬃcers too weak. do not follow him. the result is ruin. if you can occupy them ﬁrst. With regard to narrow passes. Now an army is exposed to six several calamities. 9. do not go after him if the pass is fully garrisoned. (4) ruin. If you are situated at a great distance from the enemy. Other conditions being equal. (5) disorganization. (6) rout. the result is insubordination. 38 . 16. When the oﬃcers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak. and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment. 13.
look upon them as your own beloved sons. When the general is weak and without authority. 20. If. is the jewel of the kingdom. 24. but unable to make your authority felt. The natural formation of the country is the soldier’s best ally. and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. 23. the result is utter disorganization. These are six ways of courting defeat. moreover. He who knows them not. and of shrewdly calculating diﬃculties. they are useless for any practical purpose. 26. of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children. but a power of estimating the adversary. or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one. If ﬁghting is sure to result in victory. of controlling the forces of victory. and in ﬁghting puts his knowledge into practice. allows an inferior force to engage a larger one. you are indulgent. and they will stand by you even unto death. 22. dangers and distances. Regard your soldiers as your children.X. which must be carefully noted by the general who has attained a responsible post. when his orders are not clear and distinct. constitutes the test of a great general. He who knows these things. but unable to enforce your commands. if ﬁghting will not result in victory. even though the ruler forbid it. then you must ﬁght. The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace. 25. when there are no ﬁxed duties assigned to oﬃcers and men. and incapable. the result must be a rout. 19. whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign. and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner. unable to estimate the enemy’s strength. 39 . nor practises them. kind-hearted. 21. will win his battles. When a general. Terrain 18. will surely be defeated. and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank. then you must not ﬁght even at the ruler’s bidding. however.
once in motion. we have gone only halfway towards victory. you may make your victory complete. but are unaware that the nature of the ground makes ﬁghting impracticable. is never bewildered. If we know that the enemy is open to attack. Hence the experienced soldier. we have gone only halfway towards victory. 40 . we have still gone only halfway towards victory. Sun Tz˘ u 27. 28. if you know Heaven and know Earth. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself. he is never at a loss. If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack.The Art of War. If we know that the enemy is open to attack. 31. 29. once he has broken camp. your victory will not stand in doubt. but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack. but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack. 30. and also know that our men are in a condition to attack.
Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states. leaving a number of fortiﬁed cities in its rear. is a ground of intersecting highways. When he has penetrated into hostile territory. 41 . (7) diﬃcult ground. 3. it is facile ground. it is serious ground. (2) facile ground. Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground. (3) contentious ground. When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country. it is dispersive ground. Mountain forests. Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side. 7. 2. 6. 4. (9) desperate ground.XI The Nine Situations 1. marshes and fens — all country that is hard to traverse: this is diﬃcult ground. Sun Tz˘ said: The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground: u (1) Dispersive ground. rugged steeps. (4) open ground. so that he who occupies it ﬁrst has most of the Empire at his command. (6) serious ground. (5) ground of intersecting highways. When a chieftain is ﬁghting in his own territory. 8. is contentious ground. but to no great distance. (8) hemmed-in ground. 5.
I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear. make your way by unexpected routes. 10. when otherwise. If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack. 15. they managed to keep them in disorder. In diﬃcult ground. so that a small number of the enemy would suﬃce to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground. do not try to block the enemy’s way. 18. When it was to their advantage. Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy’s front and rear. ﬁght. On serious ground. 11. gather in plunder. they prevented them from concentrating. Ground which is reached through narrow gorges. On dispersive ground. and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths. therefore. and attack unguarded spots. 17. halt not. they stopped still. 42 . to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad. Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by ﬁghting without delay. join hands with your allies.” 19. then he will be amenable to your will. resort to stratagem. 12. 14. On the ground of intersecting highways. On desperate ground. Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness. ﬁght not. even when their forces were united. On facile ground. to prevent cooperation between his large and small divisions. When the enemy’s men were scattered. they made a forward move. 16. keep steadily on the march. the oﬃcers from rallying their men. attack not. Sun Tz˘ u 9. is desperate ground. On open ground. 13. On hemmed-in ground.The Art of War. On contentious ground.
it is not because they have a distaste for riches. But let them once be brought to bay. they will show a stubborn front. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food. 23. 22. and thus the defenders will not prevail against you. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. Keep your army continually on the move. without waiting to be asked. the soldiers will be constantly on the qui vive. Prohibit the taking of omens. 21. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. Oﬃcers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. they will do your will. On the day they are ordered out to battle. those sitting up bedewing their garments. and they will prefer death to ﬂight. without giving orders. If there is no place of refuge. they will ﬁght hard. 43 . and do not overtax them. The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country. Carefully study the well-being of your men. if their lives are not unduly long. they will stand ﬁrm. 28. no calamity need be feared. and do away with superstitious doubts. and devise unfathomable plans. 24. your soldiers may weep. there is nothing they may not achieve. and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei. The Nine Situations 20.XI. and those lying down letting the tears run down their cheeks. Then. without restrictions. 27. If our soldiers are not overburdened with money. Thus. If they are in hostile country. the greater will be the solidarity of your troops. 26. it is not because they are disinclined to longevity. they can be trusted. until death itself comes. they will be faithful. Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape. If there is no help for it. 25. without waiting to be marshaled. If they will face death.
He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots. He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand. he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose. The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. and thus maintain order. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch’ang mountains. he keeps the enemy without deﬁnite knowledge. and thus keep them in total ignorance. yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm. willy-nilly. like a shepherd driving a ﬂock of sheep. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan. 38. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes.The Art of War. He must be able to mystify his oﬃcers and men by false reports and appearances. Hence it is not enough to put one’s trust in the tethering of horses. 37. strike at its tail. 35. At the critical moment. By altering his arrangements and changing his plans. they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right. For the men of Wu and the men of Yüeh are enemies. Strike at its head. upright and just. and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground 32. 30. Sun Tz˘ u 29. by the hand. 31. 39. and you will be attacked by head and tail both. the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. 44 . Thus the skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man. I should answer. 36. he drives his men this way and that. It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy. and you will be attacked by its tail. 34. and you will be attacked by its head. 33. and nothing knows whither he is going. Yes. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach. strike at its middle. How to make the best of both strong and weak — that is a question involving the proper use of ground.
I would consolidate my alliances. 43. the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics. 48. When there is no place of refuge at all. I would inspire my men with unity of purpose. you ﬁnd yourself on critical ground. 45 . I would block any way of retreat. I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies. 47. on dispersive ground. The diﬀerent measures suited to the nine varieties of ground. On ground of intersecting highways. I would hurry up my rear. it is hemmed-in ground. 50. When you leave your own country behind. I would see that there is close connection between all parts of my army. 44. When invading hostile territory.XI. 41. and take your army across neighbourhood territory. On diﬃcult ground. When you have the enemy’s strongholds on your rear. that penetrating deeply brings cohesion. it is serious ground. When there are means of communication on all four sides. I would keep pushing on along the road. 46. and the fundamental laws of human nature: these are things that must most certainly be studied. it is desperate ground. I would keep a vigilant eye on my defences. I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives. the ground is one of intersecting highways. When you penetrate but a little way. On desperate ground. When you penetrate deeply into a country. On contentious ground. penetrating but a short way means dispersion. Therefore. On facile ground. 49. On serious ground. 42. On hemmed-in ground. the general principle is. 45. On open ground. it is facile ground. To muster his host and bring it into danger: — this may be termed the business of the general. and narrow passes in front. The Nine Situations 40.
its marshes and swamps. plunge it into desperate straits. He overawes his opponents. Sun Tz˘ u 51. 59. and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man. to ﬁght hard when he cannot help himself. For it is the soldier’s disposition to oﬀer an obstinate resistance when surrounded. nor does he foster the power of other states. 55. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose. We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. and it will survive. Place your army in deadly peril. Bestow rewards without regard to rule. 53. By persistently hanging on the enemy’s ﬂank.The Art of War. 58. we shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief. 46 . We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides. 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. 54. keeping his antagonists in awe. issue orders without regard to previous arrangements. Confront your soldiers with the deed itself. and their allies are prevented from joining against him. its pitfalls and precipices. 56. When the outlook is bright. 52. and it will come oﬀ in safety. never let them know your design. 60. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms. 57. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm’s way that is capable of striking a blow for victory. and to obey promptly when he has fallen into danger. 61. To be ignorant of any one of the following four or ﬁve principles does not beﬁt a warlike prince. bring it before their eyes. He carries out his own secret designs. his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy’s forces. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry. but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy. When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state.
exhibit the coyness of a maiden. 67. At ﬁrst. If the enemy leaves a door open. 66. 68. and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground. until the enemy gives you an opening. then. 63. 47 . This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning. and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you. 64. On the day that you take up your command. The Nine Situations 62. block the frontier passes. and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can ﬁght a decisive battle. afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare. destroy the oﬃcial tallies. 65. and stop the passage of all emissaries. Be stern in the council-chamber.XI. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear. you must rush in. so that you may control the situation. Walk in the path deﬁned by rule.
7. the special days are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve. The proper season is when the weather is very dry.XII The Attack by Fire 1. (1) When ﬁre breaks out inside the enemy’s camp. In attacking with ﬁre. respond at once with an attack from without. the Wall. the second is to burn stores. 2. the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines. In order to carry out an attack with ﬁre. 49 . but the enemy’s soldiers remain quiet. the ﬁfth is to hurl dropping ﬁre amongst the enemy. The material for raising ﬁre should always be kept in readiness. 5. 4. and special days for starting a conﬂagration. for these four are all days of rising wind. Sun Tz˘ said: There are ﬁve ways of attacking with ﬁre. bide your time and do not attack. the third is to burn baggage-trains. we must have means available. the Wing or the Cross-bar. (2) If there is an outbreak of ﬁre. There is a proper season for making attacks with ﬁre. 3. one should be prepared to meet ﬁve possible developments: 6. The u ﬁrst is to burn soldiers in their camp.
Sun Tz˘ u 8. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead. the movements of the stars calculated. follow it up with an attack. make a forward move. no general should ﬁght a battle simply out of pique. 11. Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise. Hence those who use ﬁre as an aid to the attack show intelligence. but not robbed of all his belongings. 10. By means of water. 15. the ﬁve developments connected with ﬁre must be known. and a watch kept for the proper days. 14. Do not attack from the leeward. 18. (4) If it is possible to make an assault with ﬁre from without.The Art of War. 20. but deliver your attack at a favourable moment. stay where you are. In every army. A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long. an enemy may be intercepted. 13. If it is to your advantage. for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Anger may in time change to gladness. but a night breeze soon falls. use not your troops unless there is something to be gained. the good general cultivates his resources. 12. 17. 19. Move not unless you see an advantage. vexation may be succeeded by content. (3) When the force of the ﬂames has reached its height. 50 . No ruler should put troops into the ﬁeld merely to gratify his own spleen. stay where you are. ﬁght not unless the position is critical. 16. do not wait for it to break out within. be to windward of it. if that is practicable. 9. if not. if not. (5) When you start a ﬁre. those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession of strength.
nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.XII. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being. and the good general full of caution. 51 . The Attack by Fire 21. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful. 22.
what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer.XIII The Use of Spies 1. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. it cannot be obtained inductively from experience. striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men. This being so. 53 . no present help to his sovereign. As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labour. no master of victory. 2. nor by any deductive calculation. 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. Thus. 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. There will be commotion at home and abroad. Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men. is the height of inhumanity. 4. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits. Hostile armies may face each other for years. 6. and men will drop down exhausted on the highways. One who acts thus is no leader of men. is foreknowledge. 5. 3.
13.The Art of War. (4) doomed spies. ﬁnally. (5) surviving spies. 15. None should be more liberally rewarded. Hence the use of spies. It is the sovereign’s most precious faculty. he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told. one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports. Having inward spies. (3) converted spies. Having converted spies. getting hold of the enemy’s spies and using them for our own purposes. 8. 10. 11. (2) inward spies. of whom there are ﬁve classes: (1) Local spies. 18. Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of business. 9. Sun Tz˘ u 7. Having doomed spies. 12. 19. making use of oﬃcials of the enemy. Hence it is that with none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies. 17. 16. When these ﬁve kinds of spy are all at work. are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp. 54 . and allowing our own spies to know of them and report them to the enemy. In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved. This is called “divine manipulation of the threads”. They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straightforwardness. Without subtle ingenuity of mind. Surviving spies. Having local spies means employing the services of the inhabitants of a district. If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe. Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain intuitive sagacity. doing certain things openly for purposes of deception. none can discover the secret system. 14.
the rise of the Yin dynasty was due to I Chih who had served under the Hsia. 26. 21. the aides-de-camp. and thereby they achieve great results. Of old. to storm a city. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality. Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying. 22. Likewise. It is through the information brought by the converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies. Lastly. 55 . because on them depends an army’s ability to move. Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these. The end and aim of spying in all its ﬁve varieties is knowledge of the enemy. or to assassinate an individual. The enemy’s spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service. 24. tempted with bribes. the rise of the Chou dynasty was due to Lü Ya who had served under the Yin. that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy.XIII. The Use of Spies 20. 25. again. it is always necessary to begin by ﬁnding out the names of the attendants. the door-keepers and sentries of the general in command. 23. in the ﬁrst instance. It is owing to his information. and this knowledge can only be derived. from the converted spy. Whether the object be to crush an army. 27. led away and comfortably housed. it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions. Spies are a most important element in war.
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