Monday, November 10, 2008


Sun Zi said : 

Genrally in the deployment of troops based on terrain and in the observation and judgement of the enemy's situation, several principles should be taken into account : while marching through the mountains, one should walk along valleys with water and grass; while camping, one should face the sun in heights; if the enemy has seized the heights, do not try to attack them from below.

These are the essential principles for fighting and marching in mountainous areas.

  Principles Of Fighting Near Rivers

After crossing a river, one should get far away from it.
  • When enemy troops cross the river to make an attack, one should not advance to meet them on the shore at once. It will be better to attack them when part of the soldiers are on their way across the river and part of them have reached the shore.
  • When we are taking on the enemy, we should not go near a river.
  • When camping in river areas, one should also choose higher ground facing the ground, but not downstream.
These are the essential principles for fighting and marching near rivers.

  Priciples Of Marching Through Salt Marshes

When marching through salt marshes, one should leave without delay. When confronting the enemy in such area, one should have water and grass nearby and woods behind.

These are the principles for marching through salt marshes.

  Principles Of Fighting On Plain

When stationing oneself on the plain, one should choose flat ground with the right wing (main force) of the army against the ridge with the front lower than the back.

These are the principles for fighting on the plain.

By employing these four sets of principles, the Yellow Emperor (often believed to be the ancestor of the Chinese people) conquered other sovereigns in neighbouring regions.

  Marching And Manoeurving

Generally, one prefers high ground to low land; one looks for sunny places instead of shady and wet areas. By camping in places convenient for life and of abundant produce, the army will be free from disease of every kind. This is one of the essential prerequisites for victory.
  1. When stationing oneself on hilly land or along embankments, it is necessary to occupy the sunny side with the right wing of the army back to the slope. In this way, one can exploit the possibilities of the terrain to one's advantage.
  2. When coming to a river that is swollen and foamy, indicating heavy rains upstream, one should not cross the river until after the river has subsided.
  3. Places, where there are precipitous cliffs with torrents running between, deep natural hollows enclosed on every side by steep banks, basins surrounded by precipices, tangled thickets covered with such dense undergrowth that is difficult to advance or retreat, low laying land so heavy with mud as to be impassable for chariots and horsemen and crevasses between beetling cliffs, should be avoid at all costs.
One should try to draw the enemy towards these areas, one should choose positions facing them, so as to cause the enemy to station himself with these areas against his rear.

When marching along dangerous and difficult mountain paths, river areas, low-laying ground overgrown with reeds, or forest areas with dense, tangled undergrowth, one must make a careful search, for these are places where ambushes are easily laid and spies are hidden

  Signs Of Enemy's Movements

The enemy who can approach in silence and composure is one who believes he is in a favourable position. The far-off enemy who challenges one to fight is attempting to lure one into advancing. There must be some advantages to the enemy involved when he choose to station at open ground instead of precipitous height.

  1. The enemy is making a raid when one sees the trees move;
  2. the enemy is trying to deceive one when many obstacles are placed in the undergrowth.
  3. Birds suddenly flying into the sky indicates that the enemy is lying in ambush;
  4. animals startled and set to flight show that the enemy in ambush is about to make a sudden attack.
  5. When dust rise in a high column, the enemy is coming by chariots;
  6. when the dust raised is low but over a wide area, the enemy infantry is approaching.
  7. When the dust is scattered in different directions, it means that the enemy is out collecting firewood;
  8. when there is a sparse dust rising here and there, the enemy is surveying the land and encamping his army.

  Enemy's Movements

When an enemy's envoy uses humble words while his army is speeding up preparations for battle, it is a sign of impending battle.

When the enemy's envoy uses harsh words and his army is marching towards one, the enemy is actually intending to retreat.

When the chariots are sent out first to occupy both the sides of the battlefield, the enemy is deploying for battle.

When the enemy suddenly sues for peace without previous discussions , there must be schemes or intrigues afoot.

When the enemy army moves rapidly along with his chariots, he is committed to a fight with one;

When the enemy partially advances and partially retreats, he is luring one to penetrate into with pretended confusions.

When the enemy soldiers stand leaning on their weapons, they must be starved and are short of food; when they are fighting to be the first to drink at the well, they must be suffering from thirst ; when they remain unmoved upon seeing an advantage ahead, they must had been exhausted .

Birds gathering at the enemy's campsite indicates that is empty.

Noises and shouting at night from the enemy's camp indicate that the fear in his soldiers.

Disorder in the enemy camp reflects the fact that the enemy officers have no authority.

When the enemy army's flags are in disarray, it is a sign of mutiny.

Impetuousness on the part of the enemy commanders shows that they are exhausted and weary of war.

When the enemy feeds the horse with grains, then killed the beast of burden for food, packs up the cooking utensils and does not plan to return to camp after battle, it shows that they are desperate and want to run away or make a dash through siege.

When the enemy commanders are soft-spoken and submissive to their soldiers, they have lost their support of their men.

When the soldiers are frequently rewarded, the commander is at the end of his resources; and when the soldiers are frequently punished, the enemy is in acute distress.

To begin by bluster , but afterwards to take fright at the soldiers' revolt shows that the enemy commander has a supreme lack of intelligence.

When the enemy sends his envoy for negotiations and does so with compliments, the enemy wants to end the war temporarily; but when the enemy army marches towards one in great anger while neither joining battle nor withdrawing soon, one needs to throughly investigate the situation.

  Victory ?

The strength of an army does not depends on sheer number. If one does not act recklessly as a result of underestimating the enemy's strength, and is able to concentrate his military power, to have a clear understanding of the enemy's capabilities and to have the support of his subordinates, a victory is assured.

Those who do not have a well developed plan but make light of the enemy will surely fall captive to the enemy.

  Art Of Command

If a commander inflicts punishment on his soldiers before they have grown attached to him, the soldiers will surely resent it, and hence it will be more difficult for the commander to direct the army in war.

If the soldiers who have become attached to the commander and are liked by him, violated military discipline and regulations and yet they go unpunished, then an array of such men will be equally ineffective.

It is therefore necessary to treat the soldiers humanely, but controls the army with regulations and strict discipline. In this way the army will surely win in war.

If orders are always enforced and the soldiers re treated with respects, they will willingly commit themselves to the army, otherwise they will not .

The art of successful command is based on mutual trust between the commanders and the soldiers.

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