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1. Sun Tzu said: We may distinguish six kinds of
terrain, to wit: (1) Accessible ground; (2)
entangling ground; (3) temporizing ground; (4) narrow passes; (5)
precipitous heights; (6) positions at a great distance from
2. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called accessible.
3. With regard to ground of this nature, be before the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny
spots, and carefully guard your line of supplies.
Then you will be able to fight with advantage.
4. Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called entangling.
5. From a position of this sort, if the enemy is unprepared, you may sally forth and defeat
him. But if the enemy is prepared for your coming,
and you fail to defeat him, then, return being
impossible, disaster will ensue.
6. When the position is such that neither side will
gain by making the first move, it is called
7. In a position of this sort, even though the enemy should offer us an attractive bait, it will be
advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus
enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his
army has come out, we may deliver our attack with
8. With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and
await the advent of the enemy.
9. Should the army forestall you in occupying a pass, do not go after him if the pass is fully
garrisoned, but only if it is weakly garrisoned.
10. With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should
occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him
to come up.
11. If the enemy has occupied them before you, do not follow him, but retreat and try to entice
12. If you are situated at a great distance from the enemy, and the strength of the two armies is
equal, it is not easy to provoke a battle, and fighting
will be to your disadvantage.
13. These six are the principles connected with Earth. The general who has attained a responsible post
must be careful to study them.
14. Now an army is exposed to six several calamities, not arising from natural causes, but from
faults for which the general is responsible.
These are: (1) Flight; (2) insubordination; (3) collapse;
(4) ruin; (5) disorganization; (6) rout.
15. Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another ten times its size, the
result will be the flight of the former.
16. When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is
insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common
soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.
17. When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, and on meeting the enemy give battle on their
own account from a feeling of resentment, before the
commander-in-chief can tell whether or no he is in a position to
fight, the result is ruin.
18. When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when
there are no fixes duties assigned to officers and
men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard
manner, the result is utter disorganization.
19. When a general, unable to estimate the enemy's strength, allows an inferior force to engage a
larger one, or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful
one, and neglects to place picked soldiers in the
front rank, the result must be rout.
20. These are six ways of courting defeat, which must be carefully noted by the general who has
attained a responsible post.
21. The natural formation of the country is the soldier's best ally; but a power of estimating the
adversary, of controlling the forces of victory, and of
shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and
distances, constitutes the test of a great general.
22. He who knows these things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his
battles. He who knows them not, nor practices them, will
surely be defeated.
23. If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler
forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you
must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
24. The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose
only thought is to protect his country and do good
service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the
25. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look
upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by
you even unto death.
26. If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to
enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of
quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt
children; they are useless for any practical
27. If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not
open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards
28. If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a
condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards
29. If we know that the enemy is open to attack, and also know that our men are in a condition to
attack, but are unaware that the nature of the ground
makes fighting impracticable, we have still gone only
halfway towards victory.
30. Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he
is never at a loss.
31. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in
doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make
your victory complete.
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