1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the
2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to
ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be
3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to
be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to
determine the conditions obtaining in the field.
4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The
Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with
their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their
lives, undismayed by any danger.
7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and
8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security;
open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity,
benevolence, courage and strictness.
10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of
the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among
the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach
the army, and the control of military expenditure.
11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who
knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will
12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the
military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in
13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral
(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and
14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory
15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will
conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that
hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer
defeat:--let such a one be dismissed!
16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of
any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.
17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify
18. All warfare is based on deception.
19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our
forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the
enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him
believe we are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush
21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in
superior strength, evade him.
22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are
united, separate them.
24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not
25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be
26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in
his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle
makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations
lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no
calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can
foresee who is likely to win or lose.