total resistance.com


The Sun-tzu Art of War

Translation and Commentary by Lionel Giles



Index to the Translation




Title Page

01 ~ Laying Plans

02 ~ Waging War

03 ~ Attack by Stratagem

04 ~ Tactical Dispositions

05 ~ Energy

06 ~ Weak Points and Strong

07 ~ Maneuvering

08 ~ Variation in Tactics

09 ~ The Army on the March

10 ~ Terrain

11 ~ The Nine Situations

12 ~ The Attack by Fire

13 ~ The Use of Spies



SUN TZU ON THE ART OF WAR

THE OLDEST MILITARY TREATISE IN THE WORLD

Translated from the Chinese with Introduction
and Critical Notes
by
LIONEL GILES, M.A.
Assistant in the Department of Oriental Printed Books and MSS.
in the British Museum
First Published in 1910


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





01. LAYING PLANS


     [Ts`ao Kung, in defining the meaning of the Chinese for the 
title of this chapter, says it refers to the deliberations in the 
temple selected by the general for his temporary use, or as we 
should say, in his tent.  See. ss. 26.]

     1.  Sun Tzu said:  The art of war is of vital importance to 
the State. 
     2.  It is a matter of life and death, a road either to 
safety or to ruin.  Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on 
no account be neglected.
     3.  The art of war, then, is governed by five constant 
factors,  to be taken into account in one's deliberations,  when 
seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. 
     4.  These are:  (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven;  (3)  Earth; 
(4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. 

     [It appears from what follows that Sun Tzu means by  "Moral 
Law" a principle of harmony, not unlike the Tao of Lao Tzu in its 
moral aspect.  One might be tempted to render it by  "morale," 
were it not considered as an attribute of the ruler in ss. 13.] 
     5,  6.  The MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete 
accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless 
of their lives, undismayed by any danger. 

     [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying:   "Without constant 
practice,  the officers will be nervous and undecided when 
mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will 
be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand."]

     7.  HEAVEN signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and 
seasons. 
 
     [The commentators, I think, make an unnecessary mystery of 
two words here.  Meng Shih refers to "the hard and the soft, 
waxing and waning" of Heaven.  Wang Hsi, however, may be right in 
saying that what is meant is "the general economy of Heaven," 
including the five elements, the four seasons, wind and clouds, 
and other phenomena.] 

     8.  EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and 
security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and 
death. 
     9.  The COMMANDER stands for the virtues of   wisdom, 
sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness. 

     [The five cardinal virtues of the Chinese are (1)  humanity 
or benevolence; (2) uprightness of mind; (3) self-respect,  self-
control,  or "proper feeling;" (4) wisdom; (5) sincerity or good 
faith.  Here "wisdom" and "sincerity" are put before "humanity or
benevolence,"  and the two military virtues of  "courage"  and 
"strictness"  substituted for "uprightness of mind"  and  "self-
respect, self-control, or 'proper feeling.'"] 

     10.  By METHOD AND DISCIPLINE are to be understood the 
marshaling   of the army in its proper   subdivisions,   the 
graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads 
by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military 
expenditure. 
     11.  These five heads should be familiar to every general:  
he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will 
fail. 
     12.  Therefore,  in your deliberations,  when seeking to 
determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of 
a comparison, in this wise: --
     13.  (1)   Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the 
Moral law? 

     [I.e., "is in harmony with his subjects."  Cf. ss. 5.] 

     (2)  Which of the two generals has most ability? 
     (3)  With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and 
Earth? 

     [See ss. 7,8] 
     (4)  On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? 

     [Tu Mu alludes to the remarkable story of Ts`ao Ts`ao  (A.D. 
155-220),  who was such a strict disciplinarian that once,  in 
accordance with his own severe regulations against injury to 
standing crops, he condemned himself to death for having allowed 
him horse to shy into a field of corn!  However,  in lieu of 
losing his head, he was persuaded to satisfy his sense of justice 
by cutting off his hair.  Ts`ao Ts`ao's own comment on the 
present passage is characteristically curt:  "when you lay down a 
law,  see that it is not disobeyed; if it is disobeyed the 
offender must be put to death."]

     (5)  Which army is stronger?

     [Morally as well as physically.  As Mei Yao-ch`en puts it, 
freely rendered, "ESPIRIT DE CORPS and 'big battalions.'"] 

     (6)  On which side are officers and men more highly trained? 

     [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying:   "Without constant 
practice,  the officers will be nervous and undecided when 
mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will 
be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand."] 

     (7)   In which army is there the greater constancy both in 
reward and punishment?

     [On which side is there the most absolute certainty that 
merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished?]

     14.  By means of these seven considerations I can forecast 
victory or defeat.
     15.  The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon
it, will conquer:   --let such a one be retained in command!  The 
general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it,  will 
suffer defeat:  --let such a one be dismissed!

     [The form of this paragraph reminds us that Sun Tzu's 
treatise was composed expressly for the benefit of his patron Ho 
Lu, king of the Wu State.]

     16.  While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself 
also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary 
rules.
     17.  According as circumstances are favorable,  one should 
modify one's plans.

     [Sun Tzu,  as a practical soldier, will have none of the 
"bookish theoric."  He cautions us here not to pin our faith to 
abstract principles; "for," as Chang Yu puts it, "while the main 
laws of strategy can be stated clearly enough for the benefit of 
all and sundry, you must be guided by the actions of the enemy in 
attempting to secure a favorable position in actual warfare."  On 
the eve of the battle of Waterloo, Lord Uxbridge, commanding the 
cavalry,  went to the Duke of Wellington in order to learn what 
his plans and calculations were for the morrow, because,  as he 
explained, he might suddenly find himself Commander-in-chief and 
would be unable to frame new plans in a critical moment.  The 
Duke listened quietly and then said:  "Who will attack the first 
tomorrow -- I or Bonaparte?"  "Bonaparte," replied Lord Uxbridge. 

"Well," continued the Duke, "Bonaparte has not given me any idea 
of his projects; and as my plans will depend upon his,  how can 
you expect me to tell you what mine are?" [1] ]

     18.  All warfare is based on deception.

     [The truth of this pithy and profound saying will be 
admitted by every soldier.  Col.  Henderson tells us   that 
Wellington,  great in so many military qualities, was especially 
distinguished by "the extraordinary skill with which he concealed 
his movements and deceived both friend and foe."]

     19.  Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable;  when 
using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near,  we 
must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away,  we 
must make him believe we are near.
     20.  Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder, 
and crush him.

     [All commentators,  except Chang Yu, say, "When he is in 
disorder, crush him."  It is more natural to suppose that Sun Tzu 
is still illustrating the uses of deception in war.]

     21.  If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him.  If 
he is in superior strength, evade him.
     22.  If your opponent is of choleric temper,  seek to 
irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

     [Wang Tzu,  quoted by Tu Yu, says that the good tactician 
plays with his adversary as a cat plays with a mouse,  first 
feigning weakness and immobility, and then suddenly pouncing upon 
him.]

     23.  If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.

     [This is probably the meaning though Mei Yao-ch`en has the 
note:  "while we are taking our ease, wait for the enemy to tire 
himself out."  The YU LAN has "Lure him on and tire him out."]

If his forces are united, separate them.

     [Less plausible is the interpretation favored by most of the 
commentators:   "If sovereign and subject are in accord,  put 
division between them."]

     24.  Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are 
not expected.
     25.  These military devices, leading to victory, must not be 
divulged beforehand.
     26.   Now the general who wins a battle makes   many 
calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.

     [Chang Yu tells us that in ancient times it was customary 
for a temple to be set apart for the use of a general who was 
about to take the field, in order that he might there elaborate 
his plan of campaign.]

The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations 
beforehand.  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.


[1]  "Words on Wellington," by Sir. W. Fraser.
[Go to Index]

02. WAGING WAR



     [Ts`ao Kung has the note:  "He who wishes to fight must 
first count the cost," which prepares us for the discovery that 
the subject of the chapter is not what we might expect from the 
title, but is primarily a consideration of ways and means.]

     1.  Sun Tzu said:  In the operations of war, where there are 
in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, 
and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers,

     [The  "swift chariots" were lightly built and, according to 
Chang Yu, used for the attack; the "heavy chariots" were heavier, 
and designed for purposes of defense.  Li Ch`uan, it is true, 
says that the latter were light, but this seems hardly probable.  
It is interesting to note the analogies between early Chinese 
warfare and that of the Homeric Greeks.  In each case, the war-
chariot was the important factor, forming as it did the nucleus 
round which was grouped a certain number of foot-soldiers.  With 
regard to the numbers given here, we are informed that each swift 
chariot was accompanied by 75 footmen, and each heavy chariot by 
25 footmen,  so that the whole army would be divided up into a 
thousand battalions,  each consisting of two chariots and a 
hundred men.]

with provisions enough to carry them a thousand LI,

     [2.78 modern LI go to a mile.  The length may have varied 
slightly since Sun Tzu's time.]

the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment 
of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on 
chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of 
silver per day.  Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 
men.
     2.  When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long 
in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will 
be damped.  If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your 
strength.
     3.  Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of 
the State will not be equal to the strain.
     4.  Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, 
your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains 
will spring up to take advantage of your extremity.  Then no man, 
however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must 
ensue.
     5.  Thus,  though we have heard of stupid haste in war, 
cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

     [This concise and difficult sentence is not well explained 
by any of the commentators.  Ts`ao Kung, Li Ch`uan, Meng Shih, Tu 
Yu,  Tu Mu and Mei Yao-ch`en have notes to the effect that a 
general,  though naturally stupid,  may nevertheless   conquer 
through sheer force of rapidity.  Ho Shih says:  "Haste may be 
stupid,  but at any rate it saves expenditure of energy and 
treasure;  protracted operations may be very clever,  but they 
bring calamity in their train."  Wang Hsi evades the difficulty 
by remarking:   "Lengthy operations mean an army growing old, 
wealth being expended, an empty exchequer and distress among the 
people;  true cleverness insures against the occurrence of such 
calamities."   Chang Yu says:   "So long as victory can be 
attained,  stupid haste is preferable to clever dilatoriness."  
Now   Sun   Tzu says nothing whatever,  except   possibly   by 
implication,   about ill-considered haste being better   than 
ingenious but lengthy operations.  What he does say is something 
much more guarded, namely that, while speed may sometimes be 
injudicious,  tardiness can never be anything but foolish --  if 
only   because it means impoverishment to the nation.   In 
considering the point raised here by Sun Tzu, the classic example 
of Fabius Cunctator will inevitably occur to the mind.  That 
general deliberately measured the endurance of Rome against that 
of Hannibals's isolated army, because it seemed to him that the 
latter was more likely to suffer from a long campaign in a 
strange country.  But it is quite a moot question whether his 
tactics would have proved successful in the long run.  Their 
reversal it is true, led to Cannae; but this only establishes a 
negative presumption in their favor.]

     6.  There is no instance of a country having benefited from 
prolonged warfare.
     7.  It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the 
evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of 
carrying it on.

     [That is, with rapidity.  Only one who knows the disastrous 
effects of a long war can realize the supreme importance of 
rapidity in bringing it to a close.  Only two commentators seem 
to favor this interpretation, but it fits well into the logic of 
the context,  whereas the rendering, "He who does not know the 
evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits,"  is distinctly 
pointless.]
     8.  The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, 
neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.

     [Once war is declared, he will not waste precious time in 
waiting for reinforcements, nor will he return his army back for 
fresh supplies, but crosses the enemy's frontier without delay.  
This may seem an audacious policy to recommend,  but with all 
great strategists, from Julius Caesar to Napoleon Bonaparte,  the 
value of time -- that is, being a little ahead of your opponent --
has counted for more than either numerical superiority or the 
nicest calculations with regard to commissariat.]

     9.  Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the 
enemy.  Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.

     [The   Chinese word translated here as  "war   material" 
literally means "things to be used", and is meant in the widest 
sense.  It includes all the impedimenta of an army,  apart from 
provisions.]

     10.  Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be 
maintained by contributions from a distance.  Contributing to 
maintain an army at a distance causes the people to   be 
impoverished.

     [The beginning of this sentence does not balance properly 
with the next,  though obviously intended to do so.   The 
arrangement,   moreover,  is so awkward that I cannot   help 
suspecting some corruption in the text.  It never seems to occur 
to Chinese commentators that an emendation may be necessary for 
the sense, and we get no help from them there.  The Chinese words 
Sun Tzu used to indicate the cause of the people's impoverishment 
clearly have reference to some system by which the husbandmen 
sent their contributions of corn to the army direct.  But why 
should it fall on them to maintain an army in this way,  except 
because the State or Government is too poor to do so?]

     11.  On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes 
prices to go up; and high prices cause the people's substance to 
be drained away.

     [Wang Hsi says high prices occur before the army has left 
its own territory.  Ts`ao Kung understands it of an army that has 
already crossed the frontier.]

     12.  When their substance is drained away,  the peasantry 
will be afflicted by heavy exactions.
     13,  14.  With this loss of substance and exhaustion of 
strength,  the homes of the people will be stripped bare,  and 
three-tenths of their income will be dissipated;

     [Tu Mu and Wang Hsi agree that the people are not mulcted 
not of 3/10, but of 7/10, of their income.  But this is hardly to 
be extracted from our text.  Ho Shih has a characteristic tag:  
"The PEOPLE being regarded as the essential part of the State, 
and FOOD as the people's heaven, is it not right that those in 
authority should value and be careful of both?"]

while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, 
breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, 
protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to 
four-tenths of its total revenue.
     15.  Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the 
enemy.  One cartload of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to 
twenty of one's own, and likewise a single PICUL of his provender 
is equivalent to twenty from one's own store.

     [Because twenty cartloads will be consumed in the process of 
transporting one cartload to the front.  A PICUL is a unit of 
measure equal to 133.3 pounds (65.5 kilograms).]

     16.  Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused 
to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, 
they must have their rewards.

     [Tu Mu says:  "Rewards are necessary in order to make the 
soldiers see the advantage of beating the enemy; thus, when you 
capture spoils from the enemy, they must be used as rewards,  so 
that all your men may have a keen desire to fight, each on his 
own account."]

     17.  Therefore in chariot fighting,  when ten or more 
chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the 
first.  Our own flags should be substituted for those of the 
enemy,  and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with 
ours.  The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.
     18.  This is called, using the conquered foe to augment 
one's own strength.
     19.  In war, then, let your great object be victory,  not 
lengthy campaigns.

     [As Ho Shih remarks:  "War is not a thing to be trifled 
with."   Sun Tzu here reiterates the main lesson which this 
chapter is intended to enforce."]

     20.  Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the 
arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether 
the nation shall be in peace or in peril.

[Go to Index]

03. ATTACK BY STRATAGEM


     1.  Sun Tzu said:  In the practical art of war,  the best 
thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact;  to 
shatter and destroy it is not so good.  So, too, it is better to 
recapture an army entire than to destroy it,  to capture a 
regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

     [The equivalent to an army corps, according to Ssu-ma Fa, 
consisted nominally of 12500 men; according to Ts`ao Kung,  the 
equivalent of a regiment contained 500 men, the equivalent to a 
detachment consists from any number between 100 and 500, and the 
equivalent of a company contains from 5 to 100 men.  For the last 
two,  however,  Chang Yu gives the exact figures of 100 and 5 
respectively.]

     2.  Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not 
supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the 
enemy's resistance without fighting.

     [Here again, no modern strategist but will approve the words 
of the old Chinese general.  Moltke's greatest triumph,  the 
capitulation   of the huge French army at Sedan,  was   won 
practically without bloodshed.]

     3.  Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the 
enemy's plans; 

     [Perhaps the word "balk" falls short of expressing the full 
force of the Chinese word, which implies not an attitude of 
defense,  whereby one might be content to foil the enemy's 
stratagems one after another, but an active policy of counter-
attack.  Ho Shih puts this very clearly in his note:  "When the 
enemy has made a plan of attack against us, we must anticipate 
him by delivering our own attack first."]

the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces;

     [Isolating him from his allies.  We must not forget that Sun 
Tzu, in speaking of hostilities, always has in mind the numerous 
states or principalities into which the China of his day was 
split up.]

the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field;

     [When he is already at full strength.]

and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
     4.  The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can 
possibly be avoided.

     [Another sound piece of military theory.  Had the Boers 
acted upon it in 1899, and refrained from dissipating their 
strength before Kimberley, Mafeking, or even Ladysmith,  it is 
more than probable that they would have been masters of the 
situation before the British were ready seriously to oppose 
them.]

     The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various 
implements of war, will take up three whole months;

     [It is not quite clear what the Chinese word,   here 
translated as "mantlets", described.  Ts`ao Kung simply defines 
them as "large shields," but we get a better idea of them from Li 
Ch`uan, who says they were to protect the heads of those who were 
assaulting the city walls at close quarters.  This seems to 
suggest a sort of Roman TESTUDO, ready made.  Tu Mu says they 
were wheeled vehicles used in repelling attacks,  but this is 
denied by Ch`en Hao.  See supra II. 14.  The name is also applied 
to turrets on city walls.  Of the "movable shelters" we get a 
fairly clear description from several commentators.  They were 
wooden missile-proof structures on four wheels,  propelled from 
within, covered over with raw hides, and used in sieges to convey 
parties of men to and from the walls, for the purpose of filling 
up the encircling moat with earth.  Tu Mu adds that they are now 
called "wooden donkeys."]

and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take 
three months more.

     [These were great mounds or ramparts of earth heaped up to 
the level of the enemy's walls in order to discover the weak 
points in the defense, and also to destroy the fortified turrets 
mentioned in the preceding note.]

     5.  The general, unable to control his irritation,  will 
launch his men to the assault like swarming ants,

     [This vivid simile of Ts`ao Kung is taken from the spectacle 
of an army of ants climbing a wall.  The meaning is that the 
general, losing patience at the long delay, may make a premature 
attempt to storm the place before his engines of war are ready.]

with the result that one-third of his men are slain,  while the 
town still remains untaken.  Such are the disastrous effects of a 
siege.

     [We are reminded of the terrible losses of the Japanese 
before Port Arthur, in the most recent siege which history has to 
record.]

     6.  Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops 
without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying 
siege to them;  he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy 
operations in the field.

     [Chia Lin notes that he only overthrows the Government,  but 
does no harm to individuals.  The classical instance is Wu Wang, 
who after having put an end to the Yin dynasty was acclaimed 
"Father and mother of the people."]
     7.  With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of 
the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be 
complete.

     [Owing to the double meanings in the Chinese text,  the 
latter part of the sentence is susceptible of quite a different 
meaning:   "And thus, the weapon not being blunted by use,  its 
keenness remains perfect."]

This is the method of attacking by stratagem.
     8.  It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the 
enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him;

     [Straightway, without waiting for any further advantage.]

if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.

     [Tu Mu takes exception to the saying; and at first sight, 
indeed,  it appears to violate a fundamental principle of war.  
Ts'ao Kung, however, gives a clue to Sun Tzu's meaning:   "Being 
two to the enemy's one, we may use one part of our army in the 
regular way, and the other for some special diversion."  Chang Yu 
thus further elucidates the point:  "If our force is twice as 
numerous as that of the enemy, it should be split up into two 
divisions,  one to meet the enemy in front, and one to fall upon 
his rear; if he replies to the frontal attack, he may be crushed 
from behind;  if to the rearward attack, he may be crushed in 
front."   This is what is meant by saying that 'one part may be 
used in the regular way,  and the other for some special 
diversion.'   Tu Mu does not understand that dividing one's army 
is simply an irregular, just as concentrating it is the regular, 
strategical method,  and he is too hasty in calling this a 
mistake."]

     9.  If equally matched, we can offer battle;

     [Li Ch`uan,  followed by Ho Shih,  gives the following 
paraphrase:   "If attackers and attacked are equally matched in 
strength, only the able general will fight."]

if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy;

     [The meaning, "we can WATCH the enemy," is certainly a great 
improvement on the above; but unfortunately there appears to be 
no very good authority for the variant.  Chang Yu reminds us that 
the saying only applies if the other factors are equal; a small 
difference in numbers is often more than counterbalanced by 
superior energy and discipline.]

if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
     10.  Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small 
force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.
     11.  Now the general is the bulwark of the State;  if the 
bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong;  if 
the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.

     [As Li Ch`uan tersely puts it:  "Gap indicates deficiency; 
if the general's ability is not perfect (i.e.  if he is not 
thoroughly versed in his profession),  his army will   lack 
strength."]

     12.  There are three ways in which a ruler can bring 
misfortune upon his army:--
     13.  (1)  By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, 
being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey.  This is called 
hobbling the army.

     [Li Ch`uan adds the comment:  "It is like tying together the 
legs of a thoroughbred, so that it is unable to gallop."   One 
would naturally think of "the ruler" in this passage as being at 
home,  and trying to direct the movements of his army from a 
distance.  But the commentators understand just the reverse,  and 
quote the saying of T`ai Kung:   "A kingdom should not be 
governed from without,  and army should not be directed from 
within."   Of course it is true that, during an engagement,  or 
when in close touch with the enemy, the general should not be in 
the thick of his own troops, but a little distance apart.  
Otherwise, he will be liable to misjudge the position as a whole, 
and give wrong orders.]

     14.  (2)  By attempting to govern an army in the same way as 
he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which 
obtain in an army.  This causes restlessness in the soldier's 
minds.

     [Ts`ao Kung's note is, freely translated:   "The military 
sphere and the civil sphere are wholly distinct; you can't handle 
an army in kid gloves."  And Chang Yu says:   "Humanity and 
justice are the principles on which to govern a state, but not an 
army;  opportunism and flexibility,  on the other hand,  are 
military rather than civil virtues to assimilate the governing of 
an army"--to that of a State, understood.]

     15.  (3)   By employing the officers of his army without 
discrimination,

     [That is,  he is not careful to use the right man in the 
right place.]

through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to 
circumstances.  This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

     [I follow Mei Yao-ch`en here.  The other commentators refer 
not to the ruler, as in SS. 13, 14, but to the officers he 
employs.  Thus Tu Yu says:  "If a general is ignorant of the 
principle of adaptability,  he must not be entrusted with a 
position of authority."  Tu Mu quotes:  "The skillful employer of 
men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, 
and the stupid man.  For the wise man delights in establishing 
his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage in action, the 
covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man 
has no fear of death."]

     16.  But when the army is restless and distrustful,  trouble 
is sure to come from the other feudal princes.  This is simply 
bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.
     17.  Thus we may know that there are five essentials for 
victory:  (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to 
fight.

     [Chang Yu says:  If he can fight, he advances and takes the 
offensive;  if he cannot fight, he retreats and remains on the 
defensive.  He will invariably conquer who knows whether it is 
right to take the offensive or the defensive.]

     (2)   He will win who knows how to handle both superior and 
inferior forces.

     [This is not merely the general's ability to estimate 
numbers correctly, as Li Ch`uan and others make out.  Chang Yu 
expounds the saying more satisfactorily:  "By applying the art of 
war, it is possible with a lesser force to defeat a greater,  and 
vice versa.  The secret lies in an eye for locality, and in not 
letting the right moment slip.  Thus Wu Tzu says:   'With a 
superior force, make for easy ground; with an inferior one,  make 
for difficult ground.'"]

     (3)  He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit 
throughout all its ranks.
     (4)   He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the 
enemy unprepared.
     (5)   He will win who has military capacity and is not 
interfered with by the sovereign.

     [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying:  "It is the sovereign's 
function to give broad instructions, but to decide on battle it 
is the function of the general."  It is needless to dilate on the 
military disasters which have been caused by undue interference 
with operations in the field on the part of the home government.  
Napoleon undoubtedly owed much of his extraordinary success to 
the fact that he was not hampered by central authority.]

     18.  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, for every victory gained you 
will also suffer a defeat.

     [Li Ch`uan cites the case of Fu Chien, prince of Ch`in,  who 
in 383 A.D. marched with a vast army against the Chin Emperor.  
When warned not to despise an enemy who could command the 
services of such men as Hsieh An and Huan Ch`ung, he boastfully 
replied:   "I have the population of eight provinces at my back, 
infantry and horsemen to the number of one million;  why,  they 
could dam up the Yangtsze River itself by merely throwing their 
whips   into   the stream.  What danger have I   to   fear?"  
Nevertheless,  his forces were soon after disastrously routed at 
the Fei River, and he was obliged to beat a hasty retreat.]

If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in 
every battle.

     [Chang Yu said:  "Knowing the enemy enables you to take the 
offensive,   knowing yourself enables you to stand on   the 
defensive."  He adds:  "Attack is the secret of defense;  defense 
is the planning of an attack."  It would be hard to find a better 
epitome of the root-principle of war.]











|HOME| |LINKS| |MILITIA SKILLS|