100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
|Weakness and Strength|
Sun Tzu said: He who occupies the battlefield first and awaits the enemy will be at ease; he who arrives later and makes war in haste will be weary. Thus, he who is skilled in war always leads the enemy by the nose, and will not be manipulated by the enemy.
Give the enemy inducement and you can make him come into your trap. Threaten him with danger and you can stop him from approaching you. Therefore, the general should tire the enemy while he is at ease, starve the enemy while he is well fed, and make the enemy move while he is stationary.
Appear at the place to which the enemy won't come; attack a place where the enemy does not expect you. If you can lead your troops to march a thousand li and without fatigue, it is because you march in the area where the enemy has not set up defences.
That you are certain to take what you attack is because the enemy cannot fortify it. That you are certain of success in holding what you defend is because the enemy cannot attack it.
So with those who are adept in attack, the enemy docs not know where and how to defend; and with those who are adept in defence, the enemy does not know where and how to attack. Be extremely subtle, so subtle that no one can find any trace; be extremely mysterious, so mysterious that no one can hear any information. If one can do so, one can hold the enemy's fate in one's hands.
The offensive one takes can be so strong that the enemy cannot defend just because one strikes at the enemy's weak point. One can withdraw without being overtaken by the enemy just because one moves so swiftly that the enemy cannot pursue. If we intend to fight, the enemy, though holding fast to his position with ramparts high and ditches deep, is compelled to fight with us because we attack where he must succour. If we do not intend to fight with him, even though we set up little defence, the enemy will not intrude upon us because we divert him from going where he wishes.
If we expose the enemy's disposition and hide ours, we can concentrate our troops and divide the enemy's forces. If we concentrate our forces at one place while the enemy disperses his forces at ten places, then we are ten to one when we launch an attack on him at one place, which means our forces are numerically superior. If we are able to use many to strike a few, naturally it well be easy enough for us to deal with, because the enemy there is small and weak.
The spot our forces intend to attack must not be known to the enemy. In this way, he must take precautions at many places against our attack, because he does not understand where we shall strike; when he takes precautions at many places, his troops at any given spot will be fewer.
If the enemy takes precautions in the front, his rear will be weak; if he takes precautions in the rear, his front will be fragile; if his left gets strengthened, his right will be weakened; if his right is well prepared, his left will be easily destroyed; if he strengthens everywhere, he will be weak everywhere. One who has few must take precautions against possible attacks everywhere; one who has many compels the enemy to prepare against his attacks.
If a general knows both the place and time of a battle to come, he can lead his troops to go even a thousand li away for a decisive battle. If he knows neither the place nor the time of a battle to come, then his left wing cannot help his right, and his right wing cannot save his left; the troop in the front cannot .turn back to help the rear, and the rear cannot go forward to relieve the front, let alone looking after the more distant portions of the troops tens of li apart and even the nearest several li away.
My opinion is that the troops of the state Yue* are many, but from the above mentioned principle, can you say for sure that it will help Yue win a battle?
So a victory may be made. Even if the enemy's troops are many, we can find a way to make them unable to fight.
* the state Yue: Wu and Yue were two states in ancient China, Sun Tzu himself helped Wu against Yue.
If you consider and analyse the enemy's situation and his plan to battle, you can have a clear understanding of his chances of success. If you agitate the enemy, you can know the patterns of his attack and defence. If you lure the enemy, you can find out his vulnerable points. If you count up the number of the enemy's soldiers and horses, you can know his strengths and inadequacies.
Accordingly, the highest of the military art of deceiving the enemy is to conceal your dispositions, In this way, the most penetrating spies of the enemy cannot pry in, even the wise man may not conspire against you. Even if you make public that you have won victory by taking appropriate tactics in conformity to the enemy's changing situation, they are still unable to comprehend it. Though everyone knows the tactics by which you have won victory, yet they are unable to know how it was applied to defeat the enemy. Therefore the way to defeat the enemy should not follow the beaten track, but change constantly according to the enemy's changing situation.
Military tactics are like flowing water. Flowing water always moves from high to low, and military tactics always avoid the enemy's strong points and attack his weak points. Whereas the course of flowing water is decided by the different landforms, the way to win victory in a battle is decided by altering the tactics according to enemy's changing situation. Accordingly, the way to fight never remains constant and water never flows in the same way. Whoever can win victory by taking appropriate tactics according to the enemy's different situations is one who directs military operations with great skill. It is just like Wuxing* (the five elements), of which none is forever dominant, and the four seasons, of which none can last forever; and the days, which are, sometimes long and sometimes short; and the moon, which sometimes waxes and sometimes wanes.
*Wuxing: Classic Chinese philosophy calls Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth the five elements. The five elements represent five states of forces of expansion or condensation.
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