Monday, November 10, 2008


Sun Zi said : 

Normally, those who arrives at the battlefield first and wait for the enemy to come will be at ease and unhurried, and will have the opportunity to seize the initiative; while those who arrive later and join the battle in haste will easily be exhausted and fill into a defensive position

Therefore, a skillful commander must be able to impose will on the enemy, but not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.

He can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord by luring him (enemy) with advantages, or he (commander) can inflict damage on the enemy to make an approach impossible.

  Attacking The Enemy

Therefore, if the enemy is taking at ease, exhaust him; if the enemy is well-supplied with provision, starve him out; if the enemy is quietly in camp, forced him into motion !!

Attack where rescue cannot be reached.

Move to place where the enemy is least expected.

An army can march thousands of li without getting exhausted because it marches through the country without enemy.

One can be sure of succeeding an attack if it is made on the enemy's undefended or not easily-defeated areas.

An ever successful defence is guaranteed if defensive positions are in areas where the enemy neither dare to attack nor can easily break through.

Thus, a commander skillful in attack always makes the enemy uncertain of where to defend, while a commander good at defence makes the enemy undecided at where to attack.

What subtlety and mystery ! So subtle that no one sees any trace and so full of mystery that nobody can hear any sound. Only in this way can one decide the fate of the enemy.

When one advances, the enemy cannot stop him because he is moving against the enemy's weak point;

when one retreat, the enemy cannot damage him since he is moving so fast that the enemy cannot catch up.

When one seeks battle, the enemy has to meet the challenge even if he is safe behind deep trenches and high ramparts because we attack the area that the enemy must rescue.

When we do not wish to engage the enemy, we can set up a place for defence anywhere and the enemy will not come to attack us because we had diverted their attention elsewhere.

  Diverting Enemy's Force

Accordingly, in order to expose the enemy's dispositions of forces and keep one's own invisible, one should concentrate one's military force while dividing the enemy's force.

If one own military forces stand together, while the enemy force are scattered in ten different places, then one can defeat each component of the enemy with forces ten times stronger !

Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole, which brings about the favourable situation that one shall be many to the enemy's few.If one is thus able to keep one's own forces united and the enemy's divided, then fewer enemy troops can fight directly with one.

The place where one intends to attack must not be made known; for then the enemy will take precautions everywhere against the attack. Thus the enemy army one attacks directly at any given point will be fewer in numbers.

Should he guard his front, his rear will be weak; should he pay attention to his right, his left will be weak; if he sends reinforcement everywhere, then he will be weak everywhere. Having to guard against attacks everywhere dilutes the enemy 's military strength, while forcing the enemy to disperse his forces causes numerical advantage to our favour.


Therefore, if one can predict the place and time of the coming battle, then even if one is thousand li away, one can still concentrate one's military forces in advances to fight a decisive battle. If one knows neither the spot nor the time of the battle, then when attacked, one cannot manage to have the left wing help the right wing or vice versa; the forces in the front will be unable to support the rear, and vice versa.

How much more so if the troops deployments extend tens of li in breadth, and even the nearest troops are separated ny serval li !

For example, although the state of Yue (now the province of Zhejiang) has more soldiers in number, what benefits does it have to the decision of the outcome of the war? Even though the enemy is greater in numbers, one can achieve victory by making the enemy incapable in deploying the enemy's full power against us.

Make a careful analysis and judgement so as to have a clear understanding of the strong and weak points of the enemy's battle plan.

  Deceptive Apperance

Agitate the enemy so as to find out his pattern of movements.

Lure the enemy into the open by deceptive appearance so ascertain if he holds favourable terrain or not Make probing attack so as to know the weaknesses and the strengths of the disposition of the enemy.

One's camouflage and fake movements must be perfectly executed so that they leave no trace for the enemy to detect.

In this way, even the craftiest spy cannot ascertain one's actual strength, even the wisest commander cannot work out a method to defeat one.

Furthermore, even though one shows people the victory one achieved by using a 'feint' strategy, they cannot tell how one achieved it. People all know the superficial phenomenon of the victory one achieves, but they do not know what false appearance one create to achieve victory.

No one victory is achieved in the same way as another. The method varies each time to suit changes of situation

  Military Tactics

Military tactics are like water. The tendency of water is to run away from high places and hasten downwards. Likewise the law in battle is to avoid engaging the enemy in his strong points, and to attack his weak points

Water shape its course according to the nature of the ground over which its flows; tactics to work out one's victory are decided according to the enemy's situation.

Consequently, just as water ceaselessly change its shape, there are no constant tactics in directing military operations.

The one who is to alter and revise his tactics according to the enemy's situation and achieves victory will be considered as a superb military commander.

  Law Of Military Operations

The laws of military operations predominate alternatively like the five elements (metal,wood,water,fire and earth) , none is ever predominant. They make way for each other in turn like the four seasons, no one last forever, they vary like days, some days are long while others are short; they are like the Moon which waxes and wanes.

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