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.
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 the enemy.
2. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called
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
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 temporizing ground.
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
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
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 him away.
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
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
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
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
not 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
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
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 victory.
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 victory.
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.