[This is the basic text of Sun Tzu on the Art of War. It was extracted from Mr. Giles' complete work as titled above. The commentary itself, which, of course includes this work embedded within it, has been released as suntzu10.txt (or suntzu10.zip). This is being released only as an adjunct to that work, which contains a wealth of commentary upon this text.]
The Art of War has 13 chapters. You can click on the Chapter Number to go to that chapter directly.
The only surviving source on the life of Sun Tzu is the
biography written in the 2nd century BC by the historian Sima Qian, who
describes him as a general who lived in the state of Wu in the 6th century BC,
and therefore a contemporary of one of the great Chinese thinkers of ancient
times—Confucius. According to tradition, Sun Tzu was a member of the landless
Chinese aristocracy, the shi, descendants of nobility who had lost their
dukedoms during the consolidation of the Spring and
Autumn Period. Unlike most shi, who were traveling academics, Sun Tzu worked as
a mercenary (similar to a modern military consultant). According to tradition,
King Helü of Wu hired Sun Tzu as a general approximately 512 BC after finishing
his military treatise, the Bing Fa (The Art of War). After his hiring, the
kingdom of Wu, previously considered a semi-barbaric state, went on to become
the most powerful state of the period by conquering Chu, one of the most
powerful states in the Spring and Autumn Period. Sun Tzu suddenly disappeared
when King Helu finally conquered
The historicity of Sun Tzu is discussed extensively in the introduction to Lionel Giles' 1910 translation of The Art of War available as a Project Gutenberg online text. In Giles' introduction to his translation, he expands on the doubt and confusion which has surrounded the historicity of Sun Tzu.
In 1972 a set of bamboo engraved texts were discovered in a grave near Linyi in Shandong. These have helped to confirm parts of the text which were already known and have also added new sections. This version has been dated to between 134–118 BC, and so rules out older theories that parts of the text had been written much later.
Sun Bin, also known as Sun the Mutilated, allegedly a crippled descendent of Sun Tzu, also wrote a text known as the Art of War. A more accurate title might be the Art of Warfare since this was more directly concerned with the practical matters of warfare, rather than military strategy. At least one translator has used the title The Lost Art of War, referring to the long period of time during which Sun Bin's book was lost. There is, however, no commonality between the content or writing style in Sun Bin and Sun Tzu.
The Art of War has been one of the most popular combat collections in history. Ancient Chinese have long viewed this book as one of the entrance test materials, and it is one of the most important collections of books in the Chinese literature. It is said that Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin both read this book while in war.
Sun Tzu also is rumored to be an ancestor of Sun Quan, the founder of the Wu Kingdom, which was one of the three competing dynasties during the Three Kingdoms era
[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.]
[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.]
[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."]
[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.]
[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.'"]
(a) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? [I.e., "is in harmony with his subjects.]
(b) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(c) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? [See ss. 7,8]
(d) 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, s ee that it is not disobeyed; if it is disobeyed the offender must be put to death."]
(e) Which army is stronger? [Morally as well as physically. As Mei Yao-ch`en puts it, freely rendered, "ESPIRIT DE CORPS and 'big battalions.'"]
(f) 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."]
(g) 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?]
[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
[The truth of this pithy and profound saying will be
admitted by every soldier. Col. Henderson tells us that
[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.]
[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.]
[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."]
[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 w in or lose.
 "Words on
[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.]
[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. I t 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 re gard 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 hun dred 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.
[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 throug h 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 remarkin g: "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, stupi d 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 inj udicious, 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
[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 equi valent 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.]
[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
[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 Sh ih 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
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.
[Another sound piece of military
Had the Boers acted upon it in 1899, and refrained from dissipating their
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 assaulti ng 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 me n 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.]
[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
[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."]
[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.
a) If our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him;
b) If five to one, to attack him; [Straightway, without waiting for any further advantage.]
c) 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 regul ar 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 r ear; 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."]
d) 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."]
e) 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.]
f) If quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
[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."]
a) 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 dista nce. 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 clo se 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.]
b) 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.]
c) 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 aut hority." 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."]
a) 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.]
b) 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 v ersa. 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.'"]
c) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
d) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
e) 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 wit h 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.]
[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?" Neverthe
less, his forces were soon after disastrously routed at the
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 epi tome of the root-principle of war.]
[Ts`ao Kung explains the Chinese meaning of the words for the title of this chapter: "marching and countermarching on the part of the two armies with a view to discovering each other's condition." Tu Mu says: "It is through the dispositions of an army that its condition may be discovered. Conceal your dispositions, and your condition will remain secret, which leads to victory,; show your dispositions, and your condition will become patent, which leads to defeat." Wang Hsi remarks that the good ge neral can "secure success by modifying his tactics to meet those of the enemy."]
[Chang Yu says this is done, "By concealing the disposition of his troops, covering up his tracks, and taking unremitting precautions."]
but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
[Literally, "hides under the ninth earth," which is a metaphor indicating the utmost secrecy and concealment, so that the enemy may not know his whereabouts."]
he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven.
[Another metaphor, implying that he falls on his adversary like a thunderbolt, against which there is no time to prepare. This is the opinion of most of the commentators.]
Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves; on the other, a victory that is complete.
[As Ts`ao Kung remarks, "the
thing is to see the plant before it has germinated," to foresee the event
before the action has begun. Li Ch`uan alludes to the story of Han Hsin who,
when about to attack the vastly superior army of Chao, which was strong ly
entrenched in the city of
[True excellence being, as Tu Mu says: "To plan secretly, to move surreptitiously, to foil the enemy's intentions and balk his schemes, so that at last the day may be won without shedding a drop of blood." Sun Tzu reserves his approbation for things tha t "the world's coarse thumb And finger fail to plumb."]
["Autumn" hair" is explained as the fur of a hare, which is finest in autumn, when it begins to grow afresh. The phrase is a very common one in Chinese writers.]
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.
[Ho Shih gives as real instances of strength, sharp sight and quick hearing: Wu Huo, who could lift a tripod weighing 250 stone; Li Chu, who at a distance of a hundred paces could see objects no bigger than a mustard seed; and Shih K`uang, a blind mus ician who could hear the footsteps of a mosquito.]
[The last half is literally "one who, conquering, excels in easy conquering." Mei Yao-ch`en says: "He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks below the surface of things, wins with ease."]
[Tu Mu explains this very well: "Inasmuch as his victories are gained over circumstances that have not come to light, the world as large knows nothing of them, and he wins no reputation for wisdom; inasmuch as the hostile state submits before there has been any bloodshed, he receives no credit for courage."]
[Ch`en Hao says: "He plans no superfluous marches, he devises no futile attacks." The connection of ideas is thus explained by Chang Yu: "One who seeks to conquer by sheer strength, clever though he may be at winning pitched battles, is also liable on occasion to be vanquished; whereas he who can look into the future and discern conditions that are not yet manifest, will never make a blunder and therefore invariably win."]
Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
[A "counsel of perfection" as Tu Mu truly observes. "Position" need not be confined to the actual ground occupied by the troops. It includes all the arrangements and preparations which a wise general will make to increase the safety of his army.]
[Ho Shih thus expounds the paradox: "In warfare, first lay plans which will ensure victory, and then lead your army to battle; if you will not begin with stratagem but rely on brute strength alone, victory will no longer be assured."]
[It is not easy to distinguish the four terms very clearly in the Chinese. The first seems to be surveying and measurement of the ground, which enable us to form an estimate of the enemy's strength, and to make calculations based on the data thus obtain ed; we are thus led to a general weighing-up, or comparison of the enemy's chances with our own; if the latter turn the scale, then victory ensues. The chief difficulty lies in third term, which in the Chinese some commentators take as a calculation of NUMBERS, thereby making it nearly synonymous with the second term. Perhaps the second term should be thought of as a consideration of the enemy's general position or condition, while the third term is the estimate of his numerical strength. On the o ther hand, Tu Mu says: "The question of relative strength having been settled, we can bring the varied resources of cunning into play." Ho Shih seconds this interpretation, but weakens it. However, it points to the third term as being a calculation of numbers.]
[Literally, "a victorious army is like an I (20 oz.) weighed against a SHU (1/24 oz.); a routed
army is a SHU weighed against an I." The point is simply the enormous
advantage which a disciplined force, flushed with victory, has over one
demoralized by defeat." Legge, in his note on Mencius,
[That is, cutting up the army into regiments, companies, etc., with subordinate officers in command of each. Tu Mu reminds us of Han Hsin's famous reply to the first Han Emperor, who once said to him: "How large an army do you think I could lead?" "Not more than 100,000 men, your Majesty." "And you?" asked the Emperor. "Oh!" he answered, "the more the better."]
[We now come to one of the most interesting parts of Sun Tzu's treatise, the discussion of the CHENG and the CH`I." As it is by no means easy to grasp the full significance of these two terms, or to render them consistently by good English equiva lents; it may be as well to tabulate some of the commentators' remarks on the subject before proceeding further. Li Ch`uan: "Facing the enemy is CHENG, making lateral diversion is CH`I. Chia Lin: "In presence of the enemy, your troops should be ar rayed in normal fashion, but in order to secure victory abnormal maneuvers must be employed." Mei Yao-ch`en: "CH`I is active, CHENG is passive; passivity means waiting for an opportunity, activity beings the victory itself." Ho Shih: "We must cause the enemy to regard our straightforward attack as one that is secretly designed, and vice versa; thus CHENG may also be CH`I, and CH`I may also be CHENG."]
[He instances the famous exploit of Han Hsin, who when
marching ostensibly against Lin-chin (now Chao-i in
[A comment on the T`ang Emperor T`ai Tsung goes to the root of the matter: 'A CH`I maneuver may be CHENG, if we make the enemy look upon it as CHENG; then our real attack will be CH`I, and vice versa. The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so tha t he cannot fathom our real intent.'" To put it perhaps a little more clearly: any attack or other operation is CHENG, on which the enemy has had his attention fixed; whereas that is CH`I," which takes him by surprise or comes from an unexpected quarte r. If the enemy perceives a movement which is meant to be CH`I," it immediately becomes CHENG."]
[Chang Yu says: "Steadily develop indirect tactics, either by pounding the enemy's flanks or falling on his rear." A brilliant example of "indirect tactics" which decided the fortunes of a campaign was Lord Roberts' night march round the Peiwar Ko tal in the second Afghan war. 
[Tu Yu and Chang Yu understand this of the permutations of CH`I and CHENG." But at present Sun Tzu is not speaking of CHENG at all, unless, indeed, we suppose with Cheng Yu-hsien that a clause relating to it has fallen out of the text. Of course, as has already been pointed out, the two are so inextricably interwoven in all military operations, that they cannot really be considered apart. Here we simply have an expression, in figurative language, of the almost infinite resource of a great leader.]
[The Chinese here is tricky and a certain key word in the context it is used defies the best efforts of the translator. Tu Mu defines this word as "the measurement or estimation of distance." But this meaning does not quite fit the illustrative simile i n ss. 15. Applying this definition to the falcon, it seems to me to denote that instinct of SELF RESTRAINT which keeps the bird from swooping on its quarry until the right moment, together with the power of judging when the right moment has arrived. Th e analogous quality in soldiers is the highly important one of being able to reserve their fire until the very instant at which it will be most effective. When the "Victory" went into action at Trafalgar at hardly more than drifting pace, she was for se veral minutes exposed to a storm of shot and shell before replying with a single gun. Nelson coolly waited until he was within close range, when the broadside he brought to bear worked fearful havoc on the enemy's nearest ships.]
[The word "decision" would have reference to the measurement of distance mentioned above, letting the enemy get near before striking. But I cannot help thinking that Sun Tzu meant to use the word in a figurative sense comparable to our own idiom "short a nd sharp." Cf. Wang Hsi's note, which after describing the falcon's mode of attack, proceeds: "This is just how the 'psychological moment' should be seized in war."]
[None of the commentators seem to grasp the real point of the simile of energy and the force stored up in the bent cross-bow until released by the finger on the trigger.]
[Mei Yao-ch`en says: "The subdivisions of the army having been previously fixed, and the various signals agreed upon, the separating and joining, the dispersing and collecting which will take place in the course of a battle, may give the appearance of disorder when no real disorder is possible. Your formation may be without head or tail, your dispositions all topsy-turvy, and yet a rout of your forces quite out of the question."]
[In order to make the translation intelligible, it is necessary to tone down the sharply paradoxical form of the original. Ts`ao Kung throws out a hint of the meaning in his brief note: "These things all serve to destroy formation and conceal one's co ndition." But Tu Mu is the first to put it quite plainly: "If you wish to feign confusion in order to lure the enemy on, you must first have perfect discipline; if you wish to display timidity in order to entrap the enemy, you must have extreme courag e; if you wish to parade your weakness in order to make the enemy over-confident, you must have exceeding strength."]
18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; [See supra, ss. 1.] concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy;
[The commentators strongly understand a certain Chinese word here differently than anywhere else in this chapter. Thus Tu Mu says: "seeing that we are favorably circumstanced and yet make no move, the enemy will believe that we are really afraid."]
masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.
[Chang Yu relates the following anecdote of Kao Tsu, the first Han Emperor: "Wishing to crush the Hsiung-nu, he sent out spies to report on their condition. But the Hsiung-nu, forewarned, carefully concealed all their able-bodied men and well-fed h orses, and only allowed infirm soldiers and emaciated cattle to be seen. The result was that spies one and all recommended the Emperor to deliver his attack. Lou Ching alone opposed them, saying: "When two countries go to war, they are naturally incli ned to make an ostentatious display of their strength. Yet our spies have seen nothing but old age and infirmity. This is surely some ruse on the part of the enemy, and it would be unwise for us to attack." The Emperor, however, disregarding this advi ce, fell into the trap and found himself surrounded at Po-teng."]
[Ts`ao Kung's note is "Make a display of weakness and want." Tu Mu says: "If our force happens to be superior to the enemy's, weakness may be simulated in order to lure him on; but if inferior, he must be led to believe that we are strong, in order tha t he may keep off. In fact, all the enemy's movements should be determined by the signs that we choose to give him." Note the following anecdote of Sun Pin, a descendent of Sun Wu: In 341 B.C., the Ch`i State being at war with Wei, sent T`ien Chi and Sun Pin against the general P`ang Chuan, who happened to be a deadly personal enemy of the later. Sun Pin said: "The Ch`i State has a reputation for cowardice, and therefore our adversary despises us. Let us turn this circumstance to account."]
[Accordingly, when the army had crossed the border into Wei territory, he gave orders to show 100,000 fires on the first night, 50,000 on the next, and the night after only 20,000. P`ang Chuan pursued them hotly, saying to himself: "I knew these men of Ch`i were cowards: their numbers have already fallen away by more than half." In his retreat, Sun Pin came to a narrow defile, with he calculated that his pursuers would reach after dark.]
[Here he had a tree stripped of its bark, and inscribed upon it the words: "Under this tree shall P`ang Chuan die." Then, as night began to fall, he placed a strong body of archers in ambush near by, with orders to shoot directly they saw a light. Lat er on, P`ang Chuan arrived at the spot, and noticing the tree, struck a light in order to read what was written on it. His body was immediately riddled by a volley of arrows, and his whole army thrown into confusion. [The above is Tu Mu's version of the story; the SHIH CHI, less dramatically but probably with more historical truth, makes P`ang Chuan cut his own throat with an exclamation of despair, after the rout of his army.] ]
He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.
[With an emendation suggested by Li Ching, this then reads, "He lies in wait with the main body of his troops."]
[Tu Mu says: "He first of all considers the power of his army in the bulk; afterwards he takes individual talent into account, and uses each men according to his capabilities. He does not demand perfection from the untalented."]
Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.
[Ts`au Kung calls this "the use of natural or inherent power."]
[The chief lesson of this chapter, in Tu Mu's opinion, is the paramount importance in war of rapid evolutions and sudden rushes. "Great results," he adds, "can thus be achieved with small forces."]
"Forty-one Years in
[Chang Yu attempts to explain the sequence of chapters as follows: "Chapter IV, on Tactical Dispositions, treated of the offensive and the defensive; chapter V, on Energy, dealt with direct and indirect methods. The good general acquaints himself firs t with the theory of attack and defense, and then turns his attention to direct and indirect methods. He studies the art of varying and combining these two methods before proceeding to the subject of weak and strong points. For the use of direct or indi rect methods arises out of attack and defense, and the perception of weak and strong points depends again on the above methods. Hence the present chapter comes immediately after the chapter on Energy."]
[One mark of a great soldier is that he fight on his own terms or fights not at all.  ]
[In the first case, he will entice him with a bait; in the second, he will strike at some important point which the enemy will have to defend.]
[This passage may be cited as evidence against Mei
Yao-Ch`en's interpretation of
if well supplied with food, he can starve him out; if quietly encamped, he can force him to move.
[Ts`ao Kung sums up very well: "Emerge from the void [q.d. like "a bolt from the blue"], strike at vulnerable points, shun places that are defended, attack in unexpected quarters."]
[Wang Hsi explains "undefended places" as "weak points; that is to say, where the general is lacking in capacity, or the soldiers in spirit; where the walls are not strong enough, or the precautions not strict enough; where relief comes too late, or pr ovisions are too scanty, or the defenders are variance amongst themselves."]
You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
[I.e., where there are none of the weak points mentioned above. There is rather a nice point involved in the interpretation of this later clause. Tu Mu, Ch`en Hao, and Mei Yao-ch`en assume the meaning to be: "In order to make your defense quite safe, you must defend EVEN those places that are not likely to be attacked;" and Tu Mu adds: "How much more, then, those that will be attacked." Taken thus, however, the clause balances less well with the preceding--always a consideration i n the highly antithetical style which is natural to the Chinese. Chang Yu, therefore, seems to come nearer the mark in saying: "He who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven [see IV. ss. 7], making it impossible for the enemy to guard against him. This being so, the places that I shall attack are precisely those that the enemy cannot defend.... He who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth, making it impossible for the enemy to estimate h is whereabouts. This being so, the places that I shall hold are precisely those that the enemy cannot attack."]
[An aphorism which puts the whole art of war in a nutshell.]
[Literally, "without form or sound," but it is said of course with reference to the enemy.] and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
[Tu Mu says: "If the enemy is the invading party, we can cut his line of communications and occupy the roads by which he will have to return; if we are the invaders, we may direct our attack against the sovereign himself." It is clear that Sun Tzu, unl ike certain generals in the late Boer war, was no believer in frontal attacks.]
[This extremely concise expression is intelligibly paraphrased by Chia Lin: "even though we have constructed neither wall nor ditch." Li Ch`uan says: "we puzzle him by strange and unusual dispositions;" and Tu Mu finally clinches the meaning by three illustrative anecdotes--one of Chu-ko Liang, who when occupying Yang-p`ing and about to be attacked by Ssu-ma I, suddenly struck his colors, stopped the beating of the drums, and flung open the city gates, showing only a few men engaged in sweepi ng and sprinkling the ground. This unexpected proceeding had the intended effect; for Ssu-ma I, suspecting an ambush, actually drew off his army and retreated. What Sun Tzu is advocating here, therefore, is nothing more nor less than the timely use of "bluff."]
[The conclusion is perhaps not very obvious, but Chang Yu (after Mei Yao-ch`en) rightly explains it thus: "If the enemy's dispositions are visible, we can make for him in one body; whereas, our own dispositions being kept secret, the enemy will be obli ged to divide his forces in order to guard against attack from every quarter."]
[Sheridan once explained the reason of General Grant's victories by saying that "while his opponents were kept fully employed wondering what he was going to do, HE was thinking most of what he was going to do himself."]
and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.
[The highest generalship, in Col. Henderson's words, is "to compel the enemy to disperse his army, and then to concentrate superior force against each fraction in turn."]
[What Sun Tzu evidently has in mind is that nice calculation
of distances and that masterly employment of strategy which enable a general to
divide his army for the purpose of a long and rapid march, and afterwards to
effect a junction at precisely the ri ght spot and the right hour in order to
confront the enemy in overwhelming strength. Among many such successful
junctions which military history records, one of the most dramatic and decisive
was the appearance of Blucher just at the critical moment on t he field of
[The Chinese of this last sentence is a little lacking in precision, but the mental picture we are required to draw is probably that of an army advancing towards a given rendezvous in separate columns, each of which has orders to be there on a fixed date . If the general allows the various detachments to proceed at haphazard, without precise instructions as to the time and place of meeting, the enemy will be able to annihilate the army in detail. Chang Yu's note may be worth quoting here: "If we do no t know the place where our opponents mean to concentrate or the day on which they will join battle, our unity will be forfeited through our preparations for defense, and the positions we hold will be insecure. Suddenly happening upon a powerful foe, we shall be brought to battle in a flurried condition, and no mutual support will be possible between wings, vanguard or rear, especially if there is any great distance between the foremost and hindmost divisions of the army."]
[Alas for these brave words! The long feud between the two states ended in 473 B.C. with the total defeat of Wu by Kou Chien and its incorporation in Yueh. This was doubtless long after Sun Tzu's death. With his present assertion compare IV. ss. 4. Chang Yu is the only one to point out the seeming discrepancy, which he thus goes on to explain: "In the chapter on Tactical Dispositions it is said, 'One may KNOW how to conquer without being able to DO it,' whereas here we have the statement that 'vict ory' can be achieved.' The explanation is, that in the former chapter, where the offensive and defensive are under discussion, it is said that if the enemy is fully prepared, one cannot make certain of beating him. But the present passage refers pa rticularly to the soldiers of Yueh who, according to Sun Tzu's calculations, will be kept in ignorance of the time and place of the impending struggle. That is why he says here that victory can be achieved."]
[An alternative reading offered by Chia Lin is: "Know beforehand all plans conducive to our success and to the enemy's failure."
[Chang Yu tells us that by noting the joy or anger shown by the enemy on being thus disturbed, we shall be able to conclude whether his policy is to lie low or the reverse. He instances the action of Cho-ku Liang, who sent the scornful present of a woman 's head-dress to Ssu-ma I, in order to goad him out of his Fabian tactics.]
Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
[The piquancy of the paradox evaporates in translation. Concealment is perhaps not so much actual invisibility (see supra ss. 9) as "showing no sign" of what you mean to do, of the plans that are formed in your brain.]
conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.
[Tu Mu explains: "Though the enemy may have clever and capable officers, they will not be able to lay any plans against us."]
[I.e., everybody can see superficially how a battle is won; what they cannot see is the long series of plans and combinations which has preceded the battle.]
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
[As Wang Hsi sagely remarks: "There is but one root-principle underlying victory, but the tactics which lead up to it are infinite in number." With this compare Col. Henderson: "The rules of strategy are few and simple. They may be learned in a week. They may be taught by familiar illustrations or a dozen diagrams. But such knowledge will no more teach a man to lead an army like Napoleon than a knowledge of grammar will teach him to write like Gibbon."]
The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) are not always equally predominant;
[That is, as Wang Hsi says: "they predominate alternately."]
the four seasons make way for each other in turn. [Literally, "have no invariable seat."]
There are short days and long; the moon has its periods of waning and waxing.
[Cf. V. ss. 6. The purport of the passage is simply to illustrate the want of fixity in war by the changes constantly taking place in Nature. The comparison is not very happy, however, because the regularity of the phenomena which Sun Tzu mentions is by no means paralleled in war.]
 See Col. Henderson's biography of Stonewall Jackson, 1902 ed., vol. II, p. 490.
["Chang Yu says: "the establishment of harmony and confidence between the higher and lower ranks before venturing into the field;" and he quotes a saying of Wu Tzu (chap. 1 ad init.): "Without harmony in the State, no military expedition can be undertaken; without harmony in the army, no battle array can be formed." In an historical romance Sun Tzu is represented as saying to Wu Yuan: "As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all the domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe."]
[I have departed slightly from the traditional interpretation of Ts`ao Kung, who says: "From the time of receiving the sovereign's instructions until our encampment over against the enemy, the tactics to be pursued are most difficult." It seems to me t hat the tactics or maneuvers can hardly be said to begin until the army has sallied forth and encamped, and Ch`ien Hao's note gives color to this view: "For levying, concentrating, harmonizing and entrenching an army, there are plenty of old rules wh ich will serve. The real difficulty comes when we engage in tactical operations." Tu Yu also observes that "the great difficulty is to be beforehand with the enemy in seizing favorable position."]
The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.
[This sentence contains one of those highly condensed and
somewhat enigmatical expressions of which Sun Tzu is so fond. This is how it is
explained by Ts`ao Kung: "Make it appear that you are a long way off, then
cover the distance rapidly and arrive o n the scene before your opponent."
Tu Mu says: "Hoodwink the enemy, so that he may be remiss and leisurely
while you are dashing along with utmost speed." Ho Shih gives a slightly
different turn: "Although you may have difficult ground to traverse and
natural obstacles to encounter this is a drawback which can be turned into
actual advantage by celerity of movement." Signal examples of this saying
are afforded by the two famous passages across the
[Tu Mu cites the famous march of Chao She in 270 B.C. to
relieve the town of O-yu, which was closely invested by a Ch`in army. The King
of Chao first consulted Lien P`o on the advisability of attempting a relief,
but the latter thought the distance too great, and the intervening country too
rugged and difficult. His Majesty then turned to Chao She, who fully admitted
the hazardous nature of the march, but finally said: "We shall be like two
rats fighting in a whole--and the pluckier one will win!" S o he left the
capital with his army, but had only gone a distance of 30 LI when he stopped
and began throwing up entrenchments. For 28 days he continued strengthening his
fortifications, and took care that spies should carry the intelligence to the
enemy. The Ch`in general was overjoyed, and attributed his adversary's
tardiness to the fact that the beleaguered city was in the
[I adopt the reading of the T`UNG TIEN, Cheng Yu-hsien and the T`U SHU, since they appear to apply the exact nuance required in order to make sense. The commentators using the standard text take this line to mean that maneuvers may be profitable, or they may be dangerous: it all depends on the ability of the general.]
[Some of the Chinese text is unintelligible to the Chinese commentators, who paraphrase the sentence. I submit my own rendering without much enthusiasm, being convinced that there is some deep-seated corruption in the text. On the whole, it is clear t hat Sun Tzu does not approve of a lengthy march being undertaken without supplies. Cf. infra, ss. 11.]
[The ordinary day's march, according to Tu Mu, was 30 LI; but on one occasion, when pursuing Liu Pei, Ts`ao Ts`ao is said to have covered the incredible distance of 300 _li_ within twenty-four hours.]
doing a hundred LI in order to wrest an advantage, the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into the hands of the enemy.
[The moral is, as Ts`ao Kung and others point out: Don't march a hundred LI to gain a tactical advantage, either with or without impedimenta. Maneuvers of this description should be confined to short distances. Stonewall Jackson said: "The hardships of forced marches are often more painful than the dangers of battle." He did not often call upon his troops for extraordinary exertions. It was only when he intended a surprise, or when a rapid retreat was imperative, that he sacrificed everything for speed.  ]
9. If you march fifty LI in order to outmaneuver the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division, and only half your force will reach the goal. [Literally, "the leader of the first division will be TORN AWAY."]
[In the T`UNG TIEN is added: "From this we may know the difficulty of maneuvering."]
[I think Sun Tzu meant "stores accumulated in depots." But Tu Yu says "fodder and the like," Chang Yu says "Goods in general," and Wang Hsi says "fuel, salt, foodstuffs, etc."]
[In the tactics of Turenne, deception of the enemy, especially as to the numerical strength of his troops, took a very prominent position.  ]
[The simile is doubly appropriate, because the wind is not only swift but, as Mei Yao-ch`en points out, "invisible and leaves no tracks."] your compactness that of the forest.
[Meng Shih comes nearer to the mark in his note: "When slowly marching, order and ranks must be preserved"--so as to guard against surprise attacks. But natural forest do not grow in rows, whereas they do generally possess the quality of density or co mpactness.]
[That is, when holding a position from which the enemy is trying to dislodge you, or perhaps, as Tu Yu says, when he is trying to entice you into a trap.]
[Tu Yu quotes a saying of T`ai Kung which has passed into a proverb: "You cannot shut your ears to the thunder or your eyes to the lighting--so rapid are they." Likewise, an attack should be made so quickly that it cannot be parried.]
[Sun Tzu wishes to lessen the abuses of indiscriminate plundering by insisting that all booty shall be thrown into a common stock, which may afterwards be fairly divided amongst all.]
when you capture new territory, cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery.
[Ch`en Hao says "quarter your soldiers on the land, and let them sow and plant it." It is by acting on this principle, and harvesting the lands they invaded, that the Chinese have succeeded in carrying out some of their most memorable and triumphant expeditions, such as that of Pan Ch`ao who penetrated to the Caspian, and in more recent years, those of Fu-k`ang-an and Tso Tsung-t`ang.]
[Chang Yu quotes Wei Liao Tzu as saying that we must not
break camp until we have gained the resisting power of the enemy and the
cleverness of the opposing general. Cf. the "seven comparisons" in
22. He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. [See supra, SS. 3, 4.]
Such is the art of maneuvering.
[With these words, the chapter would naturally come to an end. But there now follows a long appendix in the shape of an extract from an earlier book on War, now lost, but apparently extant at the time when Sun Tzu wrote. The style of this fragment is n ot noticeable different from that of Sun Tzu himself, but no commentator raises a doubt as to its genuineness.]
[It is perhaps significant that none of the earlier commentators give us any information about this work. Mei Yao-Ch`en calls it "an ancient military classic," and Wang Hsi, "an old book on war." Considering the enormous amount of fighting that had g one on for centuries before Sun Tzu's time between the various kingdoms and principalities of China, it is not in itself improbable that a collection of military maxims should have been made and written down at some earlier period.]
On the field of battle, [Implied, though not actually in the Chinese.] the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.
[Chang Yu says: "If sight and hearing converge simultaneously on the same object, the evolutions of as many as a million soldiers will be like those of a single man."!]
[Chuang Yu quotes a saying: "Equally guilty are those who advance against orders and those who retreat against orders." Tu Mu tells a story in this connection of Wu Ch`i, when he was fighting against the Ch`in State. Before the battle had begun, one of his soldiers, a man of matchless daring, sallied forth by himself, captured two heads from the enemy, and returned to camp. Wu Ch`i had the man instantly executed, whereupon an officer ventured to remonstrate, saying: "This man was a good soldier, and ought not to have been beheaded." Wu Ch`i replied: "I fully believe he was a good soldier, but I had him beheaded because he acted without orders."]
This is the art of handling large masses of men.
[Ch`en Hao alludes to Li Kuang-pi's night ride to Ho-yang at the head of 500 mounted men; they made such an imposing display with torches, that though the rebel leader Shih Ssu-ming had a large army, he did not dare to dispute their passage.]
["In war," says Chang Yu, "if a spirit of anger can be made to pervade all ranks of an army at one and the same time, its onset will be irresistible. Now the spirit of the enemy's soldiers will be keenest when they have newly arrived on the scene, and it is therefore our cue not to fight at once, but to wait until their ardor and enthusiasm have worn off, and then strike. It is in this way that they may be robbed of their keen spirit." Li Ch`uan and others tell an anecdote (to be found in the TSO C HUAN, year 10, ss. 1) of Ts`ao Kuei, a protege of Duke Chuang of Lu. The latter State was attacked by Ch`i, and the duke was about to join battle at Ch`ang-cho, after the first roll of the enemy's drums, when Ts`ao said: "Not just yet."]
[Only after their drums had beaten for the third time, did he give the word for attack. Then they fought, and the men of Ch`i were utterly defeated. Questioned afterwards by the Duke as to the meaning of his delay, Ts`ao Kuei replied: "In battle, a courageous spirit is everything. Now the first roll of the drum tends to create this spirit, but with the second it is already on the wane, and after the third it is gone altogether. I attacked when their spirit was gone and ours was at its height. Hen ce our victory." Wu Tzu (chap. 4) puts "spirit" first among the "four important influences" in war, and continues: "The value of a whole army--a mighty host of a million men--is dependent on one man alone: such is the influence of spirit!"]
a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind.
[Chang Yu says: "Presence of mind is the general's most important asset. It is the quality which enables him to discipline disorder and to inspire courage into the panic-stricken." The great general Li Ching (A.D. 571-649) has a saying: "Attacking does not merely consist in assaulting walled cities or striking at an army in battle array; it must include the art of assailing the enemy's mental equilibrium."]
[Always provided, I suppose, that he has had breakfast. At
the battle of the Trebia, the Romans were foolishly allowed to fight fasting,
by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp.
[Li Ch`uan and Tu Mu, with extraordinary inability to see a metaphor, take these words quite literally of food and drink that have been poisoned by the enemy. Ch`en Hao and Chang Yu carefully point out that the saying has a wider application.]
Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.
[The commentators explain this rather singular piece of advice by saying that a man whose heart is set on returning home will fight to the death against any attempt to bar his way, and is therefore too dangerous an opponent to be tackled. Chang Yu quote s the words of Han Hsin: "Invincible is the soldier who hath his desire and returneth homewards." A marvelous tale is told of Ts`ao Ts`ao's courage and resource in ch. 1 of the SAN KUO CHI: In 198 A.D., he was besieging Chang Hsiu in Jang, when Liu Pi ao sent reinforcements with a view to cutting off Ts`ao's retreat. The latter was obligbed to draw off his troops, only to find himself hemmed in between two enemies, who were guarding each outlet of a narrow pass in which he had engaged himself. In thi s desperate plight Ts`ao waited until nightfall, when he bored a tunnel into the mountain side and laid an ambush in it. As soon as the whole army had passed by, the hidden troops fell on his rear, while Ts`ao himself turned and met his pursuers in fron t, so that they were thrown into confusion and annihilated. Ts`ao Ts`ao said afterwards: "The brigands tried to check my army in its retreat and brought me to battle in a desperate position: hence I knew how to overcome them."]
[This does not mean that the enemy is to be allowed to escape. The object, as Tu Mu puts it, is "to make him believe that there is a road to safety, and thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair." Tu Mu adds pleasantly: "After that, you ma y crush him."]
Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
[Ch`en Hao quotes the saying: "Birds and beasts when brought to bay will use their claws and teeth." Chang Yu says: "If your adversary has burned his boats and destroyed his cooking-pots, and is ready to stake all on the issue of a battle, he must not be pushed to extremities." Ho Shih illustrates the meaning by a story taken from the life of Yen-ch`ing. That general, together with his colleague Tu Chung-wei was surrounded by a vastly superior army of Khitans in the year 945 A.D. The country was ba re and desert-like, and the little Chinese force was soon in dire straits for want of water. The wells they bored ran dry, and the men were reduced to squeezing lumps of mud and sucking out the moisture. Their ranks thinned rapidly, until at last Fu Yen -ch`ing exclaimed: "We are desperate men. Far better to die for our country than to go with fettered hands into captivity!" A strong gale happened to be blowing from the northeast and darkening the air with dense clouds of sandy dust. To Chung-wei wa s for waiting until this had abated before deciding on a final attack; but luckily another officer, Li Shou-cheng by name, was quicker to see an opportunity, and said: "They are many and we are few, but in the midst of this sandstorm our numbers will n ot be discernible; victory will go to the strenuous fighter, and the wind will be our best ally." Accordingly, Fu Yen-ch`ing made a sudden and wholly unexpected onslaught with his cavalry, routed the barbarians and succeeded in breaking through to sa fety.]
 See Col. Henderson, op. cit. vol.
 For a number of maxims on this head, see "Marshal Turenne" (Longmans, 1907), p. 29.
[The heading means literally "The Nine Variations," but as Sun Tzu does not appear to enumerate these, and as, indeed, he has already told us (V SS. 6-11) that such deflections from the ordinary course are practically innumerable, we have little option but to follow Wang Hsi, who says that "Nine" stands for an indefinitely large number. "All it means is that in warfare we ought to very our tactics to the utmost degree.... I do not know what Ts`ao Kung makes these Nine Variations out to be, but it has been suggested that they are connected with the Nine Situations" - of chapt. XI. This is the view adopted by Chang Yu. The only other alternative is to suppose that something has been lost--a supposition to which the unusual shortness of the chapter le nds some weight.]
1. Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, collects his army and concentrates his forces. [Repeated from VII. ss. 1, where it is certainly more in place. It may have been interpolated here merely in order to suppl y a beginning to the chapter.]
[The last situation is not one of the Nine Situations as given in the beginning of chap. XI, but occurs later on (ibid. ss. 43. q.v.). Chang Yu defines this situation as being situated across the frontier, in hostile territory. Li Ch`uan says it is "co untry in which there are no springs or wells, flocks or herds, vegetables or firewood;" Chia Lin, "one of gorges, chasms and precipices, without a road by which to advance."]
In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In desperate position, you must fight.
[More correctly, perhaps, "there are times when an army must not be attacked." Ch`en Hao says: "When you see your way to obtain a rival advantage, but are powerless to inflict a real defeat, refrain from attacking, for fear of overtaxing your men's strength."]
towns which must not not be besieged,
[Cf. III. ss. 4 Ts`ao Kung gives an interesting illustration
from his own experience. When invading the territory of Hsu-chou, he ignored
the city of
positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.
[This is a hard saying for the Chinese, with their reverence for authority, and Wei Liao Tzu (quoted by Tu Mu) is moved to exclaim: "Weapons are baleful instruments, strife is antagonistic to virtue, a military commander is the negation of c ivil order!" The unpalatable fact remains, however, that even Imperial wishes must be subordinated to military necessity.]
[Literally, "get the advantage of the ground," which means not only securing good positions, but availing oneself of natural advantages in every possible way. Chang Yu says: "Every kind of ground is characterized by certain natural features, and also gives scope for a certain variability of plan. How it is possible to turn these natural features to account unless topographical knowledge is supplemented by versatility of mind?"]
[Chia Lin tells us that these imply five obvious and generally advantageous lines of action, namely: "if a certain road is short, it must be followed; if an army is isolated, it must be attacked; if a town is in a parlous condition, it must be besieged; if a position can be stormed, it must be attempted; and if consistent with military operations, the ruler's commands must be obeyed." But there are circumstances which sometimes forbid a general to use these advantages. For instance, "a certain road ma y be the shortest way for him, but if he knows that it abounds in natural obstacles, or that the enemy has laid an ambush on it, he will not follow that road. A hostile force may be open to attack, but if he knows that it is hard-pressed and likely to f ight with desperation, he will refrain from striking," and so on.]
7. Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together. ["Whether in an advantageous position or a disadvantageous one," says Ts`ao Kung, "the opposite state should be always present to your mind. "]
[Tu Mu says: "If we wish to wrest an advantage from the enemy, we must not fix our minds on that alone, but allow for the possibility of the enemy also doing some harm to us, and let this enter as a factor into our calculations."]
[Tu Mu says: "If I wish to extricate myself from a dangerous position, I must consider not only the enemy's ability to injure me, but also my own ability to gain an advantage over the enemy. If in my counsels these two considerations are properly blend ed, I shall succeed in liberating myself.... For instance; if I am surrounded by the enemy and only think of effecting an escape, the nervelessness of my policy will incite my adversary to pursue and crush me; it would be far better to encourage my men to deliver a bold counter-attack, and use the advantage thus gained to free myself from the enemy's toils." See the story of Ts`ao Ts`ao, VII. ss. 35, note.]
[Chia Lin enumerates several ways of inflicting this injury, some of which would only occur to the Oriental mind:--"Entice away the enemy's best and wisest men, so that he may be left without counselors. Introduce traitors into his country, that the gov ernment policy may be rendered futile. Foment intrigue and deceit, and thus sow dissension between the ruler and his ministers. By means of every artful contrivance, cause deterioration amongst his men and waste of his treasure. Corrupt his moral s by insidious gifts leading him into excess. Disturb and unsettle his mind by presenting him with lovely women." Chang Yu (after Wang Hsi) makes a different interpretation of Sun Tzu here: "Get the enemy into a position where he must suffer injury, an d he will submit of his own accord."]
and make trouble for them,
[Tu Mu, in this phrase, in his interpretation indicates that trouble should be make for the enemy affecting their "possessions," or, as we might say, "assets," which he considers to be "a large army, a rich exchequer, harmony amongst the soldi ers, punctual fulfillment of commands." These give us a whip-hand over the enemy.]
and keep them constantly engaged; [Literally, "make servants of them." Tu Yu says "prevent the from having any rest."]
hold out specious allurements, and make them rush to any given point.
[Meng Shih's note contains an excellent example of the idiomatic use of: "cause them to forget PIEN (the reasons for acting otherwise than on their first impulse), and hasten in our direction."]
a) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
["Bravery without forethought," as Ts`ao Kung analyzes it, which causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent, says Chang Yu, "must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain." Cf. W u Tzu, chap. IV. ad init.: "In estimating the character of a general, men are wont to pay exclusive attention to his courage, forgetting that courage is only one out of many qualities which a general should possess. The merely brave man is prone to fi ght recklessly; and he who fights recklessly, without any perception of what is expedient, must be condemned." Ssu-ma Fa, too, make the incisive remark: "Simply going to one's death does not bring about victory."]
b) Cowardice, which leads to capture;
[Ts`ao Kung defines the Chinese word translated here as
"cowardice" as being of the man "whom timidity prevents from
advancing to seize an advantage," and Wang Hsi adds "who is quick to
flee at the sight of danger." Meng Shih gives the closer paraphrase
"he who is bent on returning alive," this is, the man who will never
take a risk. But, as Sun Tzu knew, nothing is to be achieved in war unless you
are willing to take risks. T`ai Kung said: "He who lets an advantage slip
will subsequently bring upon himself real disaster." In 404 A.D., Liu Yu
pursued the rebel Huan Hsuan up the Yangtsze and fought a naval battle with him
c) A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
[Tu Mu tells us that Yao Hsing, when opposed in 357 A.D. by Huang Mei, Teng Ch`iang and others shut himself up behind his walls and refused to fight. Teng Ch`iang said: "Our adversary is of a choleric temper and easily provoked; let us make constant s allies and break down his walls, then he will grow angry and come out. Once we can bring his force to battle, it is doomed to be our prey." This plan was acted upon, Yao Hsiang came out to fight, was lured as far as San-yuan by the enemy's pretended fl ight, and finally attacked and slain.]
d) A delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;
[This need not be taken to mean that a sense of honor is really a defect in a general. What Sun Tzu condemns is rather an exaggerated sensitiveness to slanderous reports, the thin-skinned man who is stung by opprobrium, however undeserved. Mei Yao-ch`en truly observes, though somewhat paradoxically: "The seek after glory should be careless of public opinion."]
e) Over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
[Here again, Sun Tzu does not mean that the general is to be careless of the welfare of his troops. All he wishes to emphasize is the danger of sacrificing any important military advantage to the immediate comfort of his men. This is a shortsighted poli cy, because in the long run the troops will suffer more from the defeat, or, at best, the prolongation of the war, which will be the consequence. A mistaken feeling of pity will often induce a general to relieve a beleaguered city, or to reinforce a ha rd-pressed detachment, contrary to his military instincts. It is now generally admitted that our repeated efforts to relieve Ladysmith in the South African War were so many strategical blunders which defeated their own purpose. And in the end, relief ca me through the very man who started out with the distinct resolve no longer to subordinate the interests of the whole to sentiment in favor of a part. An old soldier of one of our generals who failed most conspicuously in this war, tried once, I rememb er, to defend him to me on the ground that he was always "so good to his men." By this plea, had he but known it, he was only condemning him out of Sun Tzu's mouth.]
 "Marshal Turenne," p. 50.
[The contents of this interesting chapter are better indicated in ss. 1 than by this heading.]
[The idea is, not to linger among barren uplands, but to keep close to supplies of water and grass. Cf. Wu Tzu, ch. 3: "Abide not in natural ovens," i.e. "the openings of valleys." Chang Yu tells the following anecdote: Wu-tu Ch`iang was a robber c aptain in the time of the Later Han, and Ma Yuan was sent to exterminate his gang. Ch`iang having found a refuge in the hills, Ma Yuan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favorable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Ch` iang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender. He did not know the advantage of keeping in the neighborhood of valleys."]
[Tu Mu takes this to mean "facing south," and Ch`en Hao "facing east." Cf. infra, SS. 11, 13.]
Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare.
["In order to tempt the enemy to cross after you," according to Ts`ao Kung, and also, says Chang Yu, "in order not to be impeded in your evolutions." The T`UNG TIEN reads, "If THE ENEMY crosses a river," etc. But in view of the next sentence, this is almost certainly an interpolation.]
[Li Ch`uan alludes to the great victory won by Han Hsin over
Lung Chu at the
5. If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross. [For fear of preventing his crossing.]
[See supra, ss. 2. The repetition of these words in connection with water is very awkward. Chang Yu has the note: "Said either of troops marshaled on the river-bank, or of boats anchored in the stream itself; in either case it is essential to be high er than the enemy and facing the sun." The other commentators are not at all explicit.]
Do not move up-stream to meet the enemy.
[Tu Mu says: "As water flows downwards, we must not pitch our camp on the lower reaches of a river, for fear the enemy should open the sluices and sweep us away in a flood. Chu-ko Wu-hou has remarked that 'in river warfare we must not advance against th e stream,' which is as much as to say that our fleet must not be anchored below that of the enemy, for then they would be able to take advantage of the current and make short work of us." There is also the danger, noted by other commentators, that the en emy may throw poison on the water to be carried down to us.]
So much for river warfare.
[Because of the lack of fresh water, the poor quality of the herbage, and last but not least, because they are low, flat, and exposed to attack.]
[Tu Mu quotes T`ai Kung as saying: "An army should have a stream or a marsh on its left, and a hill or tumulus on its right."]
so that the danger may be in front, and safety lie behind. So much for campaigning in flat country.
[Those, namely, concerned with (1) mountains, (2) rivers, (3) marshes, and (4) plains. Compare Napoleon's "Military Maxims," no. 1.]
which enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns.
[Regarding the "Yellow Emperor": Mei Yao-ch`en asks, with some plausibility, whether there is an error in the text as nothing is known of Huang Ti having conquered four other Emperors. The SHIH CHI (ch. 1 ad init.) speaks only of his victories over Y en Ti and Ch`ih Yu. In the LIU T`AO it is mentioned that he "fought seventy battles and pacified the Empire." Ts`ao Kung's explanation is, that the Yellow Emperor was the first to institute the feudal system of vassals princes, each of whom (to the nu mber of four) originally bore the title of Emperor. Li Ch`uan tells us that the art of war originated under Huang Ti, who received it from his Minister Feng Hou.]
[Chang Yu says: "The dryness of the climate will prevent the outbreak of illness."]
and this will spell victory.
[The latter defined as "places enclosed on every side by steep banks, with pools of water at the bottom.]
confined places, [Defined as "natural pens or prisons" or "places surrounded by precipices on three sides--easy to get into, but hard to get out of."]
tangled thickets, [Defined as "places covered with such dense undergrowth that spears cannot be used."]
quagmires [Defined as "low-lying places, so heavy with mud as to be impassable for chariots and horsemen."]
[Defined by Mei Yao-ch`en as "a narrow difficult way between beetling cliffs." Tu Mu's note is "ground covered with trees and rocks, and intersected by numerous ravines and pitfalls." This is very vague, but Chia Lin explains it clearly enough as a defile or narrow pass, and Chang Yu takes much the same view. On the whole, the weight of the commentators certainly inclines to the rendering "defile." But the ordinary meaning of the Chinese in one place is "a crack or fissure" and the fact that the meaning of the Chinese elsewhere in the sentence indicates something in the nature of a defile, make me think that Sun Tzu is here speaking of crevasses.]
should be left with all possible speed and not approached.
[Chang Yu has the note: "We must also be on our guard against traitors who may lie in close covert, secretly spying out our weaknesses and overhearing our instructions."]
[Here begin Sun Tzu's remarks on the reading of signs, much of which is so good that it could almost be included in a modern manual like Gen. Baden-Powell's "Aids to Scouting."]
[Probably because we are in a strong position from which he wishes to dislodge us. "If he came close up to us, says Tu Mu, "and tried to force a battle, he would seem to despise us, and there would be less probability of our responding to the challenge. "]
[Ts`ao Kung explains this as "felling trees to clear a passage," and Chang Yu says: "Every man sends out scouts to climb high places and observe the enemy. If a scout sees that the trees of a forest are moving and shaking, he may know that they are bei ng cut down to clear a passage for the enemy's march."]
The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious.
[Tu Yu's explanation, borrowed from Ts`ao Kung's, is as follows: "The presence of a number of screens or sheds in the midst of thick vegetation is a sure sign that the enemy has fled and, fearing pursuit, has constructed these hiding-places in order t o make us suspect an ambush." It appears that these "screens" were hastily knotted together out of any long grass which the retreating enemy happened to come across.]
[Chang Yu's explanation is doubtless right: "When birds that are flying along in a straight line suddenly shoot upwards, it means that soldiers are in ambush at the spot beneath."] Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming.
["High and sharp," or rising to a peak, is of course somewhat exaggerated as applied to dust. The commentators explain the phenomenon by saying that horses and chariots, being heavier than men, raise more dust, and also follow one another in the same wheel-track, whereas foot-soldiers would be marching in ranks, many abreast. According to Chang Yu, "every army on the march must have scouts some way in advance, who on sighting dust raised by the enemy, will gallop back and report it to the commander- in-chief." Cf. Gen. Baden-Powell: "As you move along, say, in a hostile country, your eyes should be looking afar for the enemy or any signs of him: figures, dust rising, birds getting up, glitter of arms, etc."  ]
When it branches out in different directions, it shows that parties have been sent to collect firewood. A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify that the army is encamping.
[Chang Yu says: "In apportioning the defenses for a cantonment, light horse will be sent out to survey the position and ascertain the weak and strong points all along its circumference. Hence the small quantity of dust and its motion."]
["As though they stood in great fear of us," says Tu Mu. "Their object is to make us contemptuous and careless, after which they will attack us." Chang Yu alludes to the story of T`ien Tan of the Ch`i-mo against the Yen forces, led by Ch`i Chieh. In ch. 82 of the SHIH CHI we read: "T`ien Tan openly said: 'My only fear is that the Yen army may cut off the noses of their Ch`i prisoners and place them in the front rank to fight against us; that would be the undoing of our city.' The other side bein g informed of this speech, at once acted on the suggestion; but those within the city were enraged at seeing their fellow-countrymen thus mutilated, and fearing only lest they should fall into the enemy's hands, were nerved to defend themselves more obs tinately than ever. Once again T`ien Tan sent back converted spies who reported these words to the enemy: "What I dread most is that the men of Yen may dig up the ancestral tombs outside the town, and by inflicting this indignity on our forefathers c ause us to become faint-hearted.']
[Forthwith the besiegers dug up all the graves and burned the corpses lying in them. And the inhabitants of Chi-mo, witnessing the outrage from the city-walls, wept passionately and were all impatient to go out and fight, their fury being increased tenf old. T`ien Tan knew then that his soldiers were ready for any enterprise. But instead of a sword, he himself too a mattock in his hands, and ordered others to be distributed amongst his best warriors, while the ranks were filled up with their wives an d concubines. He then served out all the remaining rations and bade his men eat their fill. The regular soldiers were told to keep out of sight, and the walls were manned with the old and weaker men and with women. This done, envoys were dispatched to the enemy's camp to arrange terms of surrender, whereupon the Yen army began shouting for joy.]
[T`ien Tan also collected 20,000 ounces of silver from the people, and got the wealthy citizens of Chi-mo to send it to the Yen general with the prayer that, when the town capitulated, he would allow their homes to be plundered or their women to be maltr eated. Ch`i Chieh, in high good humor, granted their prayer; but his army now became increasingly slack and careless. Meanwhile, T`ien Tan got together a thousand oxen, decked them with pieces of red silk, painted their bodies, dragon-like, with colored stripes, and fastened sharp blades on their horns and well-greased rushes on their tails. When night came on, he lighted the ends of the rushes, and drove the oxen through a number of holes which he had pierced in the walls, backing them up with a forc e of 5000 picked warriors. The animals, maddened with pain, dashed furiously into the enemy's camp where they caused the utmost confusion and dismay; for their tails acted as torches, showing up the hideous pattern on their bodies, and the weapons on t heir horns killed or wounded any with whom they came into contact.]
[In the meantime, the band of 5000 had crept up with gags in their mouths, and now threw themselves on the enemy. At the same moment a frightful din arose in the city itself, all those that remained behind making as much noise as possible by banging drum s and hammering on bronze vessels, until heaven and earth were convulsed by the uproar. Terror-stricken, the Yen army fled in disorder, hotly pursued by the men of Ch`i, who succeeded in slaying their general Ch`i Chien.... The result of the battle was the ultimate recovery of some seventy cities which had belonged to the Ch`i State."]
Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.
[The reading here is uncertain. Li Ch`uan indicates "a treaty confirmed by oaths and hostages." Wang Hsi and Chang Yu, on the other hand, simply say "without reason," "on a frivolous pretext."]
If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.
[Tu Mu understands the sentence differently: "If all the officers of an army are angry with their general, it means that they are broken with fatigue" owing to the exertions which he has demanded from them.]
[In the ordinary course of things, the men would be fed on grain and the horses chiefly on grass.]
and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots over the camp-fires, showing that they will not return to their tents, you may know that they are determined to fight to the death.
[I may quote here the illustrative passage from the HOU HAN SHU, ch. 71, given in abbreviated form by the P`EI WEN YUN FU: "The rebel Wang Kuo of Liang was besieging the town of Ch`en-ts`ang, and Huang-fu Sung, who was in supreme command, and Tung Cho were sent out against him. The latter pressed for hasty measures, but Sung turned a deaf ear to his counsel. At last the rebels were utterly worn out, and began to throw down their weapons of their own accord. Sung was not advancing to the attack, but Cho said: 'It is a principle of war not to pursue desperate men and not to press a retreating host.' Sung answered: 'That does not apply here. What I am about to attack is a jaded army, not a retreating host; with disciplined troops I am falling on a disorganized multitude, not a band of desperate men.' Thereupon he advances to the attack unsupported by his colleague, and routed the enemy, Wang Kuo being slain."]
[Because, when an army is hard pressed, as Tu Mu says, there is always a fear of mutiny, and lavish rewards are given to keep the men in good temper.] too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress. [Because in such case discipline becomes r elaxed, and unwonted severity is necessary to keep the men to their duty.]
[I follow the interpretation of Ts`ao Kung, also adopted by Li Ch`uan, Tu Mu, and Chang Yu. Another possible meaning set forth by Tu Yu, Chia Lin, Mei Tao-ch`en and Wang Hsi, is: "The general who is first tyrannical towards his men, and then in terro r lest they should mutiny, etc." This would connect the sentence with what went before about rewards and punishments.]
[Tu Mu says: "If the enemy open friendly relations be sending hostages, it is a sign that they are anxious for an armistice, either because their strength is exhausted or for some other reason." But it hardly needs a Sun Tzu to draw such an obvious i nference.]
[Ts`ao Kung says a maneuver of this sort may be only a ruse to gain time for an unexpected flank attack or the laying of an ambush.]
[Literally, "no martial advance." That is to say, CHENG tactics and frontal attacks must be eschewed, and stratagem resorted to instead.]
What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength, keep a close watch on the enemy, and obtain reinforcements.
[This is an obscure sentence, and none of the commentators succeed in squeezing very good sense out of it. I follow Li Ch`uan, who appears to offer the simplest explanation: "Only the side that gets more men will win." Fortunately we have Chang Yu to e xpound its meaning to us in language which is lucidity itself: "When the numbers are even, and no favorable opening presents itself, although we may not be strong enough to deliver a sustained attack, we can find additional recruits amongst our sutlers and camp-followers, and then, concentrating our forces and keeping a close watch on the enemy, contrive to snatch the victory. But we must avoid borrowing foreign soldiers to help us." He then quotes from Wei Liao Tzu, ch. 3: "The nominal strength o f mercenary troops may be 100,000, but their real value will be not more than half that figure."]
40. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them. [Ch`en Hao, quoting from the TSO CHUAN, says: "If bees and scorpions carry poison, how much more will a hostile state! Even a puny opponent, then, shou ld not be treated with contempt."]
[Yen Tzu [B.C. 493] said of Ssu-ma Jang-chu: "His civil virtues endeared him to the people; his martial prowess kept his enemies in awe." Cf. Wu Tzu, ch. 4 init.: "The ideal commander unites culture with a warlike temper; the profession of arms requi res a combination of hardness and tenderness."]
This is a certain road to victory.
[Tu Mu says: "A general ought in time of peace to show kindly confidence in his men and also make his authority respected, so that when they come to face the enemy, orders may be executed and discipline maintained, because they all trust and look up to him." What Sun Tzu has said in ss. 44, however, would lead one rather to expect something like this: "If a general is always confident that his orders will be carried out," etc."]
the gain will be mutual.
[Chang Yu says: "The general has confidence in the men under his command, and the men are docile, having confidence in him. Thus the gain is mutual" He quotes a pregnant sentence from Wei Liao Tzu, ch. 4: "The art of giving orders is not to try to rec tify minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts." Vacillation and fussiness are the surest means of sapping the confidence of an army.]
 "Aids to Scouting," p. 26.
[Only about a third of the chapter, comprising ss. ss. 1-13, deals with "terrain," the subject being more fully treated in ch. XI. The "six calamities" are discussed in SS. 14-20, and the rest of the chapter is again a mere string of desultory remarks, though not less interesting, perhaps, on that account.]
a) Accessible ground; [Mei Yao-ch`en says: "plentifully provided with roads and means of communications."]
b) Entangling ground; [The same commentator says: "Net-like country, venturing into which you become entangled."]
c) Temporizing ground; [Ground which allows you to "stave off" or "delay."]
d) Narrow passes;
e) Precipitous heights;
f) Positions at a great distance from the enemy.
[It is hardly necessary to point out the faultiness of this classification. A strange lack of logical perception is shown in the Chinese unquestioning acceptance of glaring cross-divisions such as the above.]
[The general meaning of the last phrase is doubtlessly, as Tu Yu says, "not to allow the enemy to cut your communications." In view of Napoleon's dictum, "the secret of war lies in the communications,"  we could wish that Sun Tzu had done more than skirt the edge of this important subject here and in I. ss. 10, VII. ss. 11. Col. Henderson says: "The line of supply may be said to be as vital to the existence of an army as the heart to the life of a human being. Just as the duelist who finds his adversary's point menacing him with certain death, and his own guard astray, is compelled to conform to his adversary's movements, and to content himself with warding off his thrusts, so the commander whose communications are suddenly threatened find s himself in a false position, and he will be fortunate if he has not to change all his plans, to split up his force into more or less isolated detachments, and to fight with inferior numbers on ground which he has not had time to prepare, and where defea t will not be an ordinary failure, but will entail the ruin or surrender of his whole army." 
Then you will be able to fight with advantage.
[Tu Yu says, "turning their backs on us and pretending to flee." But this is only one of the lures which might induce us to quit our position.]
it will be advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has come out, we may deliver our attack with advantage.
8. With regard to NARROW PASSES, if you can occupy them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy. [Because then, as Tu Yu observes, "the initiative will lie with us, and by making sudden and unexpected attacks we shall have the enemy at our mercy."]
[Ts`ao Kung says: "The particular advantage of securing heights and defiles is that your actions cannot then be dictated by the enemy." [For the enunciation of the grand principle alluded to, see VI. ss. 2]. Chang Yu tells the following anecdote of P`ei Hsing-chien (A.D. 619-682), who was sent on a punitive expedition against the Turkic tribes. "At night he pitched his camp as usual, and it had already been completely fortified by wall and ditch, when suddenly he gave orders that the army should sh ift its quarters to a hill near by. This was highly displeasing to his officers, who protested loudly against the extra fatigue which it would entail on the men. P`ei Hsing-chien, however, paid no heed to their remonstrances and had the camp moved as q uickly as possible. The same night, a terrific storm came on, which flooded their former place of encampment to the depth of over twelve feet. The recalcitrant officers were amazed at the sight, and owned that they had been in the wrong. 'How did you know what was going to happen?' they asked. P`ei Hsing-chien replied: 'From this time forward be content to obey orders without asking unnecessary questions.' From this it may be seen," Chang Yu continues, "that high and sunny places are advantageous not only for fighting, but also because they are immune from disastrous floods."]
[The turning point of Li Shih-min's campaign in 621 A.D. against the two rebels, Tou Chien-te, King of Hsia, and Wang Shih-ch`ung, Prince of Cheng, was his seizure of the heights of Wu-lao, in spike of which Tou Chien-te persisted in his attempt to rel ieve his ally in Lo-yang, was defeated and taken prisoner. See CHIU T`ANG, ch. 2, fol. 5 verso, and also ch. 54.]
[The point is that we must not think of undertaking a long and wearisome march, at the end of which, as Tu Yu says, "we should be exhausted and our adversary fresh and keen."]
and fighting will be to your disadvantage.
[Tu Mu cites the unhappy case of T`ien Pu [HSIN T`ANG SHU, ch. 148], who was sent to Wei in 821 A.D. with orders to lead an army against Wang T`ing-ts`ou. But the whole time he was in command, his soldiers treated him with the utmost contempt, and open ly flouted his authority by riding about the camp on donkeys, several thousands at a time. T`ien Pu was powerless to put a stop to this conduct, and when, after some months had passed, he made an attempt to engage the enemy, his troops turned tail and d ispersed in every direction. After that, the unfortunate man committed suicide by cutting his throat.]
When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is COLLAPSE. [Ts`ao Kung says: "The officers are energetic and want to press on, the common soldiers are feeble and suddenly collapse."]
[Wang Hsi`s note is: "This means, the general is angry without cause, and at the same time does not appreciate the ability of his subordinate officers; thus he arouses fierce resentment and brings an avalanche of ruin upon his head."]
When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct;
[Wei Liao Tzu (ch. 4) says: "If the commander gives his orders with decision, the soldiers will not wait to hear them twice; if his moves are made without vacillation, the soldiers will not be in two minds about doing their duty." General Baden-Powell says, italicizing the words: "The secret of getting successful work out of your trained men lies in one nutshell--in the clearness of the instructions they receive."  Cf. also Wu Tzu ch. 3: "the most fatal defect in a military leader is differen ce; the worst calamities that befall an army arise from hesitation."]
when there are no fixes duties assigned to officers and men,
[Tu Mu says: "Neither officers nor men have any regular routine."]
and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter DISORGANIZATION.
[Chang Yu paraphrases the latter part of the sentence and continues: "Whenever there is fighting to be done, the keenest spirits should be appointed to serve in the front ranks, both in order to strengthen the resolution of our own men and to demoralize the enemy." Cf. the primi ordines of Caesar ("De Bello Gallico," V. 28, 44, et al.).]
[Ch`en Hao says: "The advantages of weather and season are not equal to those connected with ground."] but a power of estimating the adversary, of controlling the forces of victory, and of shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and distances, cons titutes the test of a great general.
[Cf. VIII. ss. 3 fin. Huang Shih-kung of the Ch`in dynasty, who is said to have been the patron of Chang Liang and to have written the SAN LUEH, has these words attributed to him: "The responsibility of setting an army in motion must devolve on the gen eral alone; if advance and retreat are controlled from the Palace, brilliant results will hardly be achieved. Hence the god-like ruler and the enlightened monarch are content to play a humble part in furthering their country's cause [lit., kneel down t o push the chariot wheel]." This means that "in matters lying outside the zenana, the decision of the military commander must be absolute." Chang Yu also quote the saying: "Decrees from the Son of Heaven do not penetrate the walls of a camp."]
[A noble presentiment, in few words, of the Chinese "happy warrior." Such a man, says Ho Shih, "even if he had to suffer punishment, would not regret his conduct."]
[Cf. I. ss. 6. In this connection, Tu Mu draws for us an engaging picture of the famous general Wu Ch`i, from whose treatise on war I have frequently had occasion to quote: "He wore the same clothes and ate the same food as the meanest of his soldier s, refused to have either a horse to ride or a mat to sleep on, carried his own surplus rations wrapped in a parcel, and shared every hardship with his men. One of his soldiers was suffering from an abscess, and Wu Ch`i himself sucked out the virus. Th e soldier's mother, hearing this, began wailing and lamenting. Somebody asked her, saying: 'Why do you cry? Your son is only a common soldier, and yet the commander-in-chief himself has sucked the poison from his sore.' The woman replied, 'Many years ago, Lord Wu performed a similar service for my husband, who never left him afterwards, and finally met his death at the hands of the enemy. And now that he has done the same for my son, he too will fall fighting I know not where.'" Li Ch`uan mentions the Viscount of Ch`u, who invaded the small state of Hsiao during the winter. The Duke of Shen said to him: "Many of the soldiers are suffering severely from the cold." So he made a round of the whole army, comforting and encouraging the men; and str aightway they felt as if they were clothed in garments lined with floss silk.]
[Li Ching once said that
if you could make your soldiers afraid of you, they would not be afraid of the
enemy. Tu Mu recalls an instance of stern military discipline which occurred in
219 A.D., when Lu Meng was occupying the town of
26. If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory. [That is, Ts`ao Kung says, "the issue in this case is uncertain."]
27. If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory. [Cf. III. ss. 13 (1).]
 See "Pensees de Napoleon 1er," no. 47.
 "The Science of War," chap. 2.
 "Aids to Scouting," p. xii.
Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground:
(1) Dispersive ground - When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground;
(2) Facile ground - When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground;
(3) Contentious ground - Ground the posse ssion of which imports great advantage to either side, is contentious ground;
(4) Open ground - Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground;
(5) Ground of intersecting highways - Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states, so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is a ground of intersecting highways;
(6) Serious ground - When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is ser ious ground;
(7) Difficult ground - Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens--all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground;
(8) Hemmed-in ground - Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which 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;
(9) Desperate 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 ground, fight.
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 me n. 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 in orderly 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 w ar: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.
The following are the principles to be observed by an invading 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.
(1) Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food;
(2) Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. Keep your army continually on the move, and devise unfatho mable plans;
(3) Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, 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;
(4) 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 will be 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 om ens, 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 may 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
The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the 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 mi ddle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan, I should 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 sto rm, 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 th ough 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, he keeps 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 a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and nothing knows whither he is going.
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 of ground; 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 is, that penetrating deeply brings cohesion; penetrating but a short way means dispersion.
When you leave your own country behind, and take your army 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 highways.
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, and narrow passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground. When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground.
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 defenses. On ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances.
On serious ground, I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies. On difficult ground, I would keep pushing on along the road.
On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way of retreat. On 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 until we 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 turn natural 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 generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy's forces. He overawes his opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him.
Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry, 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 without 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 let them 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 cunning.
On the day that you take up your command, block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all emissaries.
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, until the 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.
Sun Tzu said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. The first is to burn soldiers in their camp; the second is to burn stores; the third is to burn baggage trains; the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines; the fifth is to hurl dropping fi re amongst the opponent.
In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available. The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness. There is a proper season for making attacks with fire, and special days for starting a conflagration. The proper season is when the weather is very dry; the special days are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve, the Wall, the Wing or the Cross-bar; for these four are all days of rising wind.
In attacking with fire, one should be prepared to meet five possible developments:
(1) When fire breaks out inside to opponent's camp, respond at once with an attack from without;
(2) If there is an outbreak of fire, but the opponent's soldiers remain qui et, bide your time and do not attack;
(3) When the force of the flames has reached its height, follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable; if not, stay where you are;
(4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without, do not wait fo r it to break out within, but deliver your attack at a favorable moment;
(5) When you start a fire, be to windward of it. Do not attack from the leeward.
A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long, but a night breeze soon falls. In every army, the five developments connected with fire must be known, the movements of the stars calculated, and a watch kept for the proper days. Hence those who use fire as an aid to the attack show intelligence; those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession of strength. By means of water, an opponent may be intercepted, but not robbed of all his belongings.
Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.
Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are. Anger may in time change to gladne ss; vexation may be succeeded by content.
No leader should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no leader should fight a battle simply out of pique. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened leader is heedful, and the good leader full of caution.
Sun Tzu said: Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and engaging them in war entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop out exhausted.
Opposing forces may face each other for years, striving for the victory which may be decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver is the height of stupidity.
One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his cause, no master of victory. Thus, what enables the wise commander to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation. Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men.
Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes:
(1) Local spies - Having local spies means employing the services of the inhabitants of an enemy territory;
(2) Moles - Having moles means making use of officials of the enemy;
(3) Double agents - Ha ving double agents means getting hold of the enemy's spies and using them for our own purposes;
(4) Doomed spies - Having doomed spies means doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to t he enemy;
(5) Surviving spies - Surviving spies means are those who bring back news from the enemy's camp.
When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret system. This is called "divine manipulation of the threads." It is the commander's most precious faculty. Hence it is that which none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies. None should be more liberally rewarded. In no other fields should greater secrecy be preserved.
(1) Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain intuitive sagacity;
(2) They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straight forwardness;
(3) Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports;
(4) Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of warfare;
(5) If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told.
Whether the object be to crush an enemy, to storm a territory, or to kill an enemy general, it is always necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants, the aides-de-camp, and door-keepers and sentries of the general in command. Our spies m ust be commissioned to ascertain these.
The enemy's spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. Thus they will become double agents and available for our service. It is through the information brought by the double agent that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies. It is owing to his information, again, that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy.
Lastly, it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions. The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the double agent . Hence it is essential that the double agent be treated with the utmost liberality.
Hence it is only the enlightened and wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results. Spies are the most important asset, because on them depends an army's ability to march.