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Last update: 08/25/98 Join the Crusade
Art of War:            
Art of War
by Sun Tzu
6) Weak Points and Strong
- Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and
awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the
field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
- Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will
on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.
- By holding out advantages to him, he can cause
the enemy to approach of his own accord; or, by inflicting damage, he can make it
impossible for the enemy to draw near.
- If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass
him; if quietly encamped, he can force him to move.
- Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to
defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.
- An army may move great distances without
distress, if it moves through territory where the enemy is not.
- You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if
you only attack places which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if
you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
- Hence that general is skillful in attack whose
opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does
not know what to attack.
- O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you
we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in
- You may advance and be absolutely irresistible,
if you make for the enemy's weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your
movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.
- If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to
an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. All we
need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve.
- If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the
enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the
ground. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way.
- By discovering the enemy's dispositions and
remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must
- We can form a single united body, while the enemy
must split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of
a whole, which means that we shall be many to the enemy's few.
- And if we are able thus to attack an inferior
force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.
- The spot where we intend to fight must not be
made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several
different points; and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we
shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.
- For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will
weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he
strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will
weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
- Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare
against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these
preparations against us.
- Knowing the place and the time of the coming
battle, we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight.
- But if neither time nor place be known, then the
left wing will be impotent to succor the right, the right equally impotent to succor the
left, the van unable to relieve the rear, or the rear to support the van. How much more so
if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred squares apart, and even
the nearest are separated by several squares!
- Though according to my estimate the forces of
Sheevat exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of
victory. I say then that victory can be achieved.
- Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may
prevent him from fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their
- Rouse him, and learn the principle of his
activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable
- Carefully compare the opposing army with your
own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.
- In making tactical dispositions, the highest
pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe
from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.
- How victory may be produced for them out of the
enemy's own tactics--that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.
- All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer,
but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
- Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you
one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
- Military tactics are like unto water; for water
in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.
- So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and
to strike at what is weak.
- Water shapes its course according to the nature
of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the
foe whom he is facing.
- Therefore, just as water retains no constant
shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
- He who can modify his tactics in relation to his
opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
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