100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
Sun Tzu said: In the past the skilful warriors first freed themselves from defeat by the enemy, and then awaited opportunities to destroy the enemy. To be invincible depends on one's initiative* to defeat the enemy depends on the enemy's errors. Therefore, those skilled in war can make themselves invincible but cannot manipulate the defeat of the enemy. That is why it is said one may foretell a victory but cannot be sure to gain victory as one wishes.
When there is no chance of winning, assume a defensive position; when there is a chance of victory, launch an attack. If the favourable conditions are insufficient, you should defend yourselves; if the favourable conditions are abundant, you should make an attack. Those skilled in defence should hide themselves as if under the ninefold earth; those skilled in attack should strike at the enemy as if from the ninefold heavens. Thus, they can, on the one hand, protect themselves and, on the other hand, win a complete victory.
A foresight of victory that does not exceed ordinary people's common sense, is not the acme of excellence. A victory that is won through fierce fighting and is universally praised is not the acme of excellence. He who can lift a very light hair is not the one with unusual strength; he who can see both the sun and the moon is not the one with keen sight; he who can hear a thunderclap is not the one with acute hearing.
lt was said in ancient times that those skilled in war always defeated the enemy that could easily be conquered. That is just the point; those skilled in war and win victories have neither the reputation for their wisdom nor the merit for their valour. The reason why they are bound to win is that they have planned for the certainty of their victory and the enemy is already destined to defeat. As a result, he who is skilled in war always finds himself in an invincible position and, at the same time, he will be sure to miss no military opportunities to conquer the enemy.
Thus, a victorious army is one that will not fight with the enemy until it is assured of the conditions for winning, while a defeated army is one that starts the fight first and expects to have victory later. He who is adept in military operations always understands the principles of war and adopts the correct policies, so that victory is entirely in his hands.
There are five important elements in the military rules: the first is the topographic analysis and survey; the second is the calculation of manpower and material resources; the third, the calculation of numerical strength; the fourth, a comparison of military strength of one's own and of the enemy's; and the fifth, a foresight of victory or defeat. An excellent general should understand how to analyse and assess the terrain according to the physical features of a battlefield; how to calculate the manpower and material resources of both his side and the enemy according to the topographic analysis and survey; how to calculate the numerical strengths of both sides according to the manpower and material resources; how to compare the military strengths of his side and the enemy according to the numerical strengths, and how to estimate the outcome, win or lose, according to the military strengths of the opposing sides.
A victorious army is like one yi* balanced against one zhu*, while a defeated army is like one zhu balanced against one yi. The former has an obvious advantage over the latter. A general who will certainly win commands his men to fight with a force like the bursting of pent-up waters pouring down from a stream ten thousand feet high. This is the disposition of actual military strength.
*yi: an ancient Chinese unit of weight, one yi is 24 liang. (1 liang=50 grams)
*zhu: an Chinese unit of weight, one zhu is equal to 1/24 liang.
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