1. Sun Tzu said: We come now to the question of encamping the army,
and observing signs of the enemy. Pass quickly over mountains, and
keep in the neighborhood of valleys.
2. Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in
order to fight. So much for mountain warfare.
3. After crossing a river, you should get far away from it.
4. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do
not advance to meet it in mid-stream. It will be best to let half
the army get across, and then deliver your attack.
5. If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the
invader near a river which he has to cross.
6. Moor your craft higher up than the enemy, and facing the sun. Do
not move up-stream to meet the enemy. So much for river
7. In crossing salt-marshes, your sole concern should be to get
over them quickly, without any delay.
8. If forced to fight in a salt-marsh, you should have water and
grass near you, and get your back to a clump of trees. So much for
operations in salt-marches.
9. In dry, level country, take up an easily accessible position
with rising ground to your right and on your rear, so that the
danger may be in front, and safety lie behind. So much for
campaigning in flat country.
10. These are the four useful branches of military knowledge which
enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several
11. All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to
12. If you are careful of your men, and camp on hard ground, the
army will be free from disease of every kind, and this will spell
13. When you come to a hill or a bank, occupy the sunny side, with
the slope on your right rear. Thus you will at once act for the
benefit of your soldiers and utilize the natural advantages of the
14. When, in consequence of heavy rains up-country, a river which
you wish to ford is swollen and flecked with foam, you must wait
until it subsides.
15. Country in which there are precipitous cliffs with torrents
running between, deep natural hollows, confined places, tangled
thickets, quagmires and crevasses, should be left with all possible
speed and not approached.
16. While we keep away from such places, we should get the enemy to
approach them; while we face them, we should let the enemy have
them on his rear.
17. If in the neighborhood of your camp there should be any hilly
country, ponds surrounded by aquatic grass, hollow basins filled
with reeds, or woods with thick undergrowth, they must be carefully
routed out and searched; for these are places where men in ambush
or insidious spies are likely to be lurking.
18. When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet, he is
relying on the natural strength of his position.
19. When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle, he is
anxious for the other side to advance.
20. If his place of encampment is easy of access, he is tendering a
21. Movement amongst the trees of a forest shows that the enemy is
advancing. The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of
thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious.
22. The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an
ambuscade. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is
23. When there is dust rising in a high column, it is the sign of
chariots advancing; when the dust is low, but spread over a wide
area, it betokens the approach of infantry. When it branches out in
different directions, it shows that parties have been sent to
collect firewood. A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify
that the army is encamping.
24. Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the
enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as
if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.
25. When the light chariots come out first and take up a position
on the wings, it is a sign that the enemy is forming for
26. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a
27. When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into
rank, it means that the critical moment has come.
28. When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a
29. When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears, they are faint
from want of food.
30. If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking
themselves, the army is suffering from thirst.
31. If the enemy sees an advantage to be gained and makes no effort
to secure it, the soldiers are exhausted.
32. If birds gather on any spot, it is unoccupied. Clamor by night
33. If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is
weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is
afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are
34. When an army feeds its horses with grain and kills its cattle
for food, and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots over the
camp-fires, showing that they will not return to their tents, you
may know that they are determined to fight to the death.
35. The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking
in subdued tones points to disaffection amongst the rank and
36. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of
his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire
37. To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the
enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.
38. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a
sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.
39. If the enemy's troops march up angrily and remain facing ours
for a long time without either joining battle or taking themselves
off again, the situation is one that demands great vigilance and
40. If our troops are no more in number than the enemy, that is
amply sufficient; it only means that no direct attack can be made.
What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength,
keep a close watch on the enemy, and obtain reinforcements.
41. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his
opponents is sure to be captured by them.
42. If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to
you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then
will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become
attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be
43. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with
humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This
is a certain road to victory.
44. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the
army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be
45. If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on
his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.