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Art of War
I. LAYING PLANS
1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war
is of vital importance to the State.
2. It is a matter of life and death,
a road either to safety or to ruin.
Hence it is a subject of inquiry
which can on no account be
3. The art of war, then, is
governed by five constant factors,
to be taken into account in one's
deliberations, when seeking to
determine the conditions obtaining
in the field.
4. These are: (1) The Moral Law;
(2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The
Commander; (5) Method and
5,6. The Moral Law causes the
people to be in complete accord
with their ruler, so that they will
follow him regardless of their lives,
undismayed by any danger.
7. Heaven signifies night and day,
cold and heat, times and seasons.
8. Earth comprises distances,
great and small; danger and security;
open ground and narrow passes;
the chances of life and death.
9. The Commander stands for the
virtues of wisdom, sincerely,
benevolence, courage and
10. By method and discipline are
to be understood the marshaling of
the army in its proper subdivisions,
the graduations of rank among the
officers, the maintenance of roads
by which supplies may reach the
army, and the control of military
11. These five heads should be
familiar to every general: he who
knows them will be victorious; he
who knows them not will fail.
12. Therefore, in your deliberations,
when seeking to determine the
military conditions, let them be
made the basis of a comparison,
in this wise:--
13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns
is imbued with the Moral law?
(2) Which of the two generals
has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages
derived from Heaven
(4) On which side is discipline
most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and
men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the
both in reward and punishment?
14. By means of these seven
considerations I can forecast victory
15. The general that hearkens to my
counsel and acts upon it, will conquer:
let such a one be retained in command!
The general that hearkens not to my
counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer
defeat:--let such a one be dismissed!
16. While heading the profit of my
counsel, avail yourself also of any
helpful circumstances over and
beyond the ordinary rules.
17. According as circumstances
are favorable, one should modify
18. All warfare is based on deception.
19. Hence, when able to attack,
we must seem unable; when using
our forces, we must seem inactive;
when we are near, we must make the
enemy believe we are far away;
when far away, we must make him
believe we are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the
enemy. Feign disorder, and crush
21. If he is secure at all points, be
prepared for him. If he is in superior
strength, evade him.
22. If your opponent is of choleric
temper, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may
23. If he is taking his ease, give
him no rest. If his forces are united,
24. Attack him where he is
unprepared, appear where you are
25. These military devices, leading
to victory, must not be divulged
26. Now the general who wins a
battle makes many calculations in
his temple ere the battle is fought.
The general who loses a battle
makes but few calculations
beforehand. Thus do many
calculations lead to victory, and
few calculations to defeat: how
much more no calculation at all!
It is by attention to this point that I
can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
Click here to read Chapters 2 through
13 of Sun Tzu on the Art of War.
Sun Tzu and Martial Arts
A book by Robert L. Cantrell
(Author's copy of an original 1910 Lionel Giles translation)
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