- Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognizes nine varieties
- Dispersive ground;
- facile ground;
- contentious ground;
- open ground;
- ground of intersecting highways;
- serious ground;
- difficult ground;
- hemmed-in ground;
- desperate ground.
- When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory,
it is dispersive ground.
- When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but
to no great distance, it is facile ground.
- Ground the possession of which imports great advantage
to either side, is contentious ground.
- Ground on which each side has liberty of movement
is open ground.
- Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states,
he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is a
ground of intersecting
- When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile
country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious
- Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens--all
country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground.
- Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and
we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the
enemy would suffice to
crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground.
- Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction
by fighting without delay, is desperate ground.
- On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not. On facile
ground, halt not. On contentious ground, attack not.
- On open ground, do not try to block the enemy's way.
On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies.
- On serious ground, gather in plunder. In difficult
ground, keep steadily on the march.
- On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem. On desperate
- Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew
how to drive
a wedge between the enemy's front and rear; to prevent co-operation
between his large and
small divisions; to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad, the
officers from rallying their men.
- When the enemy's men were united, they managed to
keep them in disorder.
- When it was to their advantage, they made a forward
move; when otherwise, they stopped still.
- If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy
array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: "Begin
by seizing something
which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will."
- Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of
unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded
- The following are the principles to be observed by
force: The further you penetrate into a country, the greater will be the
solidarity of your troops,
and thus the defenders will not prevail against you.
- Make forays in fertile country in order to supply
your army with food.
- Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do
them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. Keep your army
continually on the
move, and devise unfathomable plans.
- Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is
and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is
nothing they may not achieve.
Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.
- Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense
of fear. If
there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in
hostile country, they will show a
stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.
- Thus, without waiting to be marshaled, the soldiers
constantly on the qui vive; without waiting to be asked, they will do
your will; without restrictions,
they will be faithful; without giving orders, they can be trusted.
- Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious
doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared.
- If our soldiers are not overburdened with money,
it is not
because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly
long, it is not because they are
disinclined to longevity.
- On the day they are ordered out to battle, your soldiers
weep, those sitting up bedewing their garments, and those lying down
letting the tears run down
their cheeks. But let them once be brought to bay, and they will display
the courage of a Chu or a Kuei.
- The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan.
shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the ChUng mountains. Strike at
its head, and you will be
attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by
its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and
- Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan,
answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies; yet if
they are crossing a
river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each
other's assistance just as the left hand helps the right.
- Hence it is not enough to put one's trust in the
tethering of horses, and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground
- The principle on which to manage an army is to set
up one standard of courage which all must reach.
- How to make the best of both strong and weak--that
is a question involving the proper use of ground.
- Thus the skillful general conducts his army just
as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand.
- It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus
ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order.
- He must be able to mystify his officers and men by
false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance.
- By altering his arrangements and changing his plans,
the enemy without definite knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking
circuitous routes, he
prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose.
- At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts
like one who
has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. He
carries his men deep
into hostile territory before he shows his hand.
- He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots; like
driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and
nothing knows whither he
- To muster his host and bring it into danger:--this
may be termed the business of the general.
- The different measures suited to the nine varieties
the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics; and the fundamental
laws of human nature:
these are things that must most certainly be studied.
- When invading hostile territory, the general principle
penetrating deeply brings cohesion; penetrating but a short way means
- When you leave your own country behind, and take
across neighborhood territory, you find yourself on critical ground.
When there are means of
communication on all four sides, the ground is one of intersecting
- When you penetrate deeply into a country, it is serious
ground. When you penetrate but a little way, it is facile ground.
- When you have the enemy's strongholds on your rear,
passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground. When there is no place of
refuge at all, it is
- Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire
my men with
unity of purpose. On facile ground, I would see that there is close
connection between all parts
of my army.
- On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear.
- On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye on my
ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances.
- On serious ground, I would try to ensure a continuous
supplies. On difficult ground, I would keep pushing on along the road.
- On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way of retreat.
desperate ground, I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of
saving their lives.
- For it is the soldier's disposition to offer an obstinate
resistance when surrounded, to fight hard when he cannot help himself,
and to obey promptly when he
has fallen into danger.
- We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes
are acquainted with their designs. 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, its
pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to
advantages to account unless we make use of local guides.
- To be ignored of any one of the following four or
five principles does not befit a warlike prince.
- When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his
shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy's forces. He
opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him.
- Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all
nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own
secret designs, keeping his
antagonists in awe. Thus he is able to capture their cities and
overthrow their kingdoms.
- Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders
regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole
army as though you had
to do with but a single man.
- Confront your soldiers with the deed itself; never
know your design. When the outlook is bright, bring it before their
eyes; but tell them nothing when
the situation is gloomy.
- Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive;
plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.
- For it is precisely when a force has fallen into
harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.
- Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating
ourselves to the enemy's purpose.
- By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we
shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief.
- This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer
- On the day that you take up your command, block the
passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all
- Be stern in the council-chamber, so that you may
control the situation.
- If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.
- Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds
dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.
- Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate
yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.
- At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden,
enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running
hare, and it will be too late
for the enemy to oppose you