Translated from the Chinese
By LIONEL GILES, M.A. (1910)

[This is the basic text of Sun Tzu on the Art of War. It was extracted from Mr. Giles’ complete work as titled above. The commentary itself, which, of course includes this work embedded within it, has been released as suntzu10.txt (or suntzu10.zip). This is being released only as an adjunct to that work, which contains a wealth of commentary upon this text.]

The Art of War has 13 chapters.


1. Sun Tzu said:  The art of war is of vital importance

    to the State.

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 neglected.

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 seasons.

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,

    sincerely, 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 fail.

12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking

    to determine the military conditions, let them be made

    the basis of a comparison, in this wise:--

13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued

        with the Moral law?

    (2) Which of the two generals has most ability?

    (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven

        and Earth?

    (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 punishment?

14. By means of these seven considerations I can

    forecast victory or defeat.

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 one's plans.

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 him.

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 expected.

25. These military devices, leading to victory,

    must not be divulged beforehand.

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.

[To Chinese text |To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  In the operations of war,

    where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots,

    as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand

    mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them

    a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front,

    including entertainment of guests, small items such as

    glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor,

    will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day.

    Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.

2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory

    is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and

    their ardor will be damped.  If you lay siege to a town,

    you will exhaust your strength.

 3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources

    of the State will not be equal to the strain.

4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped,

    your strength exhausted and your treasure spent,

    other chieftains will spring up to take advantage

    of your extremity.  Then no man, however wise,

    will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war,

    cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

6. There is no instance of a country having benefited

    from prolonged warfare.

7. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted

    with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand

    the profitable way of carrying it on.

8. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy,

    neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.

9. Bring war material with you from home, but forage

    on the enemy.  Thus the army will have food enough

    for its needs.

10. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army

    to be maintained by contributions from a distance.

    Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes

    the people to be impoverished.

11. On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes

    prices to go up; and high prices cause the people's

    substance to be drained away.

12. When their substance is drained away, the peasantry

    will be afflicted by heavy exactions.

13,14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion

    of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare,

    and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated;

    while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses,

    breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields,

    protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons,

    will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.

15. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging

    on the enemy.  One cartload of the enemy's provisions

    is equivalent to twenty of one's own, and likewise

    a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty

    from one's own store.

16. Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must

    be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from

    defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.

17. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots

    have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first.

    Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy,

    and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours.

    The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

18. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment

    one's own strength.

19. In war, then, let your great object be victory,

    not lengthy campaigns.

20. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies

    is the arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it

    depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.

[To Chinese text |To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  In the practical art of war, the best

    thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact;

    to shatter and destroy it is not so good.  So, too, it is

    better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it,

    to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire

    than to destroy them.

2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles

    is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists

    in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to

    balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent

    the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in

    order is to attack the enemy's army in the field;

    and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.

4. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it

    can possibly be avoided.  The preparation of mantlets,

    movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take

    up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over

    against the walls will take three months more.

5. The general, unable to control his irritation,

    will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants,

    with the result that one-third of his men are slain,

    while the town still remains untaken.  Such are the disastrous

    effects of a siege.

6. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's

    troops without any fighting; he captures their cities

    without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom

    without lengthy operations in the field.

7. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery

    of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph

    will be complete.  This is the method of attacking by stratagem.

8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten

    to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one,

    to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army

    into two.

9. If equally matched, we can offer battle;

    if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy;

    if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made

    by a small force, in the end it must be captured

    by the larger force.

11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State;

    if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will

    be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will

    be weak.

12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring

    misfortune upon his army:--

13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat,

    being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey.

    This is called hobbling the army.

14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the

    same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant

    of the conditions which obtain in an army.  This causes

    restlessness in the soldier's minds.

15. (3) By employing the officers of his army

    without discrimination, through ignorance of the

    military principle of adaptation to circumstances.

    This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

16. But when the army is restless and distrustful,

    trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes.

    This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging

    victory away.

17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials

    for victory:

    (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when

        not to fight.

    (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior

        and inferior forces.

    (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same

        spirit throughout all its ranks.

    (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take

        the enemy unprepared.

    (5) He will win who has military capacity and is

        not interfered with by the sovereign.

18. Hence the saying:  If you know the enemy

    and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a

    hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy,

    for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

    If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will

    succumb in every battle.

[To Chinese text |To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  The good fighters of old first put

    themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then

    waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.

2. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our

    own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy

    is provided by the enemy himself.

 3. Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat,

    but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.

4. Hence the saying:  One may know how to conquer

    without being able to do it.

5. Security against defeat implies defensive tactics;

    ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.

6. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient

    strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.

7. The general who is skilled in defense hides in the

    most secret recesses of the earth; he who is skilled in

    attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven.

    Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves;

    on the other, a victory that is complete.

8. To see victory only when it is within the ken

    of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.

9. Neither is it the acme of excellence if you fight

    and conquer and the whole Empire says, "Well done!"

10. To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength;

    to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight;

    to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.

11. What the ancients called a clever fighter is

    one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

12. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation

    for wisdom nor credit for courage.

13. He wins his battles by making no mistakes.

    Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty

    of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is

    already defeated.

14. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into

    a position which makes defeat impossible, and does

    not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.

15. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist

    only seeks battle after the victory has been won,

    whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights

    and afterwards looks for victory.

16. The consummate leader cultivates the moral law,

    and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is

    in his power to control success.

17. In respect of military method, we have,

    firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity;

    thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances;

    fifthly, Victory.

18. Measurement owes its existence to Earth;

    Estimation of quantity to Measurement; Calculation to

    Estimation of quantity; Balancing of chances to Calculation;

    and Victory to Balancing of chances.

19. A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as

    a pound's weight placed in the scale against a single grain.

20. The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting

    of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.

[To Chinese text |To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  The control of a large force

    is the same principle as the control of a few men:

    it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.

2. Fighting with a large army under your command

    is nowise different from fighting with a small one:

    it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.

3. To ensure that your whole host may withstand

    the brunt of the enemy's attack and remain unshaken--

    this is effected by maneuvers direct and indirect.

4. That the impact of your army may be like a grindstone

    dashed against an egg--this is effected by the science

    of weak points and strong.

5. In all fighting, the direct method may be used

    for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed

    in order to secure victory.

6. Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible

    as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams;

    like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew;

    like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.

7. There are not more than five musical notes,

    yet the combinations of these five give rise to more

    melodies than can ever be heard.

8. There are not more than five primary colors

    (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination

    they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

9. There are not more than five cardinal tastes

    (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations

    of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.

10. In battle, there are not more than two methods

    of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two

    in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.

11. The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn.

    It is like moving in a circle--you never come to an end.

    Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

12. The onset of troops is like the rush of a torrent

    which will even roll stones along in its course.

13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed

    swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy

    its victim.

14. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible

    in his onset, and prompt in his decision.

15. Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow;

    decision, to the releasing of a trigger.

16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may

    be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all;

    amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head

    or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.

17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline,

    simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness

    postulates strength.

18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is

    simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under

    a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy;

    masking strength with weakness is to be effected

    by tactical dispositions.

19. Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy

    on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to

    which the enemy will act.  He sacrifices something,

    that the enemy may snatch at it.

20. By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march;

    then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.

21. The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined

    energy, and does not require too much from individuals.

    Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize

    combined energy.

22. When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting

    men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones.

    For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain

    motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope;

    if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if

    round-shaped, to go rolling down.

23. Thus the energy developed by good fighting men

    is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain

    thousands of feet in height.  So much on the subject

    of energy.

[To Chinese text |To Top]


1. 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.

2. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on

    the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.

3. 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.

4. If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him;

    if well supplied with food, he can starve him out;

    if quietly encamped, he can force him to move.

5. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend;

    march swiftly to places where you are not expected.

6. An army may march great distances without distress,

    if it marches through country where the enemy is not.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 our hands.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. By discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining

    invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated,

    while the enemy's must be divided.

14. 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.

15. And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force

    with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare

    against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling

    our adversary to make these preparations against us.

19. Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle,

    we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order

    to fight.

20. 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 LI apart, and even the nearest

    are separated by several LI!

21. Though according to my estimate the soldiers

    of Yueh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage

    them nothing in the matter of victory.  I say then

    that victory can be achieved.

22. 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 success.

23. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his

    activity or inactivity.  Force him to reveal himself,

    so as to find out his vulnerable spots.

24. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own,

    so that you may know where strength is superabundant

    and where it is deficient.

25. 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.

26. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy's

    own tactics--that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.

27. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer,

    but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory

    is evolved.

28. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained

    you one victory, but let your methods be regulated

    by the infinite variety of circumstances.

29. Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its

    natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.

30. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong

    and to strike at what is weak.

31. 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.

32. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape,

    so in warfare there are no constant conditions.

33. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his

    opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called

    a heaven-born captain.

34. The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth)

    are not always equally predominant; the four seasons make

    way for each other in turn.  There are short days and long;

    the moon has its periods of waning and waxing.

[To Chinese text  |To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  In war, the general receives his

    commands from the sovereign.

2. Having collected an army and concentrated his forces,

    he must blend and harmonize the different elements thereof

    before pitching his camp.

3. After that, comes tactical maneuvering,

    than which there is nothing more difficult.

    The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists

    in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.

4. Thus, to take a long and circuitous route,

    after enticing the enemy out of the way, and though starting

    after him, to contrive to reach the goal before him,

    shows knowledge of the artifice of DEVIATION.

5. Maneuvering with an army is advantageous;

    with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

6. If you set a fully equipped army in march in order

    to snatch an advantage, the chances are that you will be

    too late.  On the other hand, to detach a flying column

    for the purpose involves the sacrifice of its baggage

    and stores.

7. Thus, if you order your men to roll up their

    buff-coats, and make forced marches without halting day

    or night, covering double the usual distance at a stretch,

    doing a hundred LI in order to wrest an advantage,

    the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into

    the hands of the enemy.

8. The stronger men will be in front, the jaded

    ones will fall behind, and on this plan only one-tenth

    of your army will reach its destination.

9. If you march fifty LI in order to outmaneuver

    the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division,

    and only half your force will reach the goal.

10. If you march thirty LI with the same object,

    two-thirds of your army will arrive.

11. We may take it then that an army without its

    baggage-train is lost; without provisions it is lost;

    without bases of supply it is lost.

12. We cannot enter into alliances until we are

    acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.

13. We are not fit to lead an army on the march

    unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its

    mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices,

    its marshes and swamps.

14. We shall be unable to turn natural advantage

    to account unless we make use of local guides.

15. In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed.

16. Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops,

    must be decided by circumstances.

17. Let your rapidity be that of the wind,

    your compactness that of the forest.

18. In raiding and plundering be like fire,

    is immovability like a mountain.

19. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night,

    and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

20. When you plunder a countryside, let the spoil be

    divided amongst your men; when you capture new territory,

    cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery.

21. Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.

22. He will conquer who has learnt the artifice

    of deviation.  Such is the art of maneuvering.

23. The Book of Army Management says:  On the field

    of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough:

    hence the institution of gongs and drums.  Nor can ordinary

    objects be seen clearly enough:  hence the institution

    of banners and flags.

24. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means

    whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused

    on one particular point.

25. The host thus forming a single united body,

    is it impossible either for the brave to advance alone,

    or for the cowardly to retreat alone.  This is the art

    of handling large masses of men.

26. In night-fighting, then, make much use of signal-fires

    and drums, and in fighting by day, of flags and banners,

    as a means of influencing the ears and eyes of your army.

27. A whole army may be robbed of its spirit;

    a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind.

28. Now a soldier's spirit is keenest in the morning;

    by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening,

    his mind is bent only on returning to camp.

29. A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when

    its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish

    and inclined to return.  This is the art of studying moods.

30. Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance

    of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:--this is the art

    of retaining self-possession.

31. To be near the goal while the enemy is still

    far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is

    toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy

    is famished:--this is the art of husbanding one's strength.

32. To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose

    banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking

    an army drawn up in calm and confident array:--this

    is the art of studying circumstances.

33. It is a military axiom not to advance uphill

    against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill.

34. Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight;

    do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen.

35. Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy.

    Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.

36. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free.

    Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

37. Such is the art of warfare.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  In war, the general receives

    his commands from the sovereign, collects his army

    and concentrates his forces

2. When in difficult country, do not encamp.  In country

    where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies.

    Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions.

    In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem.

    In desperate position, you must fight.

3. There are roads which must not be followed,

    armies which must be not attacked, towns which must

    be besieged, positions which must not be contested,

    commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.

4. The general who thoroughly understands the advantages

    that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle

    his troops.

5. The general who does not understand these, may be well

    acquainted with the configuration of the country, yet he

    will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.

6. So, the student of war who is unversed in the art

    of war of varying his plans, even though he be acquainted

    with the Five Advantages, will fail to make the best use

    of his men.

7. Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of

    advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.

8. If our expectation of advantage be tempered in

    this way, we may succeed in accomplishing the essential

    part of our schemes.

9. If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties

    we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate

    ourselves from misfortune.

10. Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage

    on them; and make trouble for them, and keep them

    constantly engaged; hold out specious allurements,

    and make them rush to any given point.

11. The art of war teaches us to rely not on the

    likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness

    to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking,

    but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

12. There are five dangerous faults which may affect

    a general:

    (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;

    (2) cowardice, which leads to capture;

    (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;

    (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;

    (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him

        to worry and trouble.

13. These are the five besetting sins of a general,

    ruinous to the conduct of war.

14. When an army is overthrown and its leader slain,

    the cause will surely be found among these five

    dangerous faults.  Let them be a subject of meditation.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


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 warfare.

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 sovereigns.

11. All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny

    places to dark.

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 victory.

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 ground.

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 bait.

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 coming.

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 battle.

26. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant

    indicate a plot.

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 lure.

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 betokens nervousness.

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 weary.

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 file.

36. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is

    at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray

    a condition of dire distress.

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 circumspection.

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 unless.

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 bad.

45. If a general shows confidence in his men but always

    insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


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 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 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 advantage.

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 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 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 kingdom.

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 purpose.

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.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground:

    (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground;

    (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways;

    (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground;

    (9) desperate ground.

2. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory,

    it is dispersive ground.

3. When he has penetrated into hostile territory,

    but to no great distance, it is facile ground.

4. Ground the possession of which imports great

    advantage to either side, is contentious ground.

5. Ground on which each side has liberty of movement

    is open ground.

6. Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states,

    so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire

    at his command, is a ground of intersecting highways.

7. When an army has penetrated into the heart of a

    hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities

    in its rear, it is serious ground.

8. Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens--all

    country that is hard to traverse:  this is difficult ground.

9. Ground which is reached through narrow gorges,

    and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths,

    so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush

    a large body of our men:  this is hemmed in ground.

10. Ground on which we can only be saved from

    destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground.

11. On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not.

    On facile ground, halt not.  On contentious ground,

    attack not.

12. On open ground, do not try to block the enemy's way.

    On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands

    with your allies.

13. On serious ground, gather in plunder.

    In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march.

14. On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem.

    On desperate ground, fight.

15. Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew

    how to drive a wedge between the enemy's front and rear;

    to prevent co-operation between his large and small divisions;

    to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad,

    the officers from rallying their men.

16. When the enemy's men were united, they managed

    to keep them in disorder.

17. When it was to their advantage, they made

    a forward move; when otherwise, they stopped still.

18. If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy

    in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack,

    I should say:  "Begin by seizing something which your

    opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will."

19. Rapidity is the essence of war:  take advantage of

    the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes,

    and attack unguarded spots.

20. The following are the principles to be observed

    by an invading force:  The further you penetrate into

    a country, the greater will be the solidarity of your troops,

    and thus the defenders will not prevail against you.

21. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply

    your army with food.

22. Carefully study the well-being of your men,

    and do not overtax them.  Concentrate your energy and hoard

    your strength.  Keep your army continually on the move,

    and devise unfathomable plans.

23. Throw your soldiers into positions whence there

    is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.

    If they will face death, there is nothing they may

    not achieve.  Officers and men alike will put forth

    their uttermost strength.

24. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose

    the sense of fear.  If there is no place of refuge,

    they will stand firm.  If they are in hostile country,

    they will show a stubborn front.  If there is no help

    for it, they will fight hard.

25. Thus, without waiting to be marshaled, the soldiers

    will be constantly on the qui vive; without waiting to

    be asked, they will do your will; without restrictions,

    they will be faithful; without giving orders, they can

    be trusted.

26. Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with

    superstitious doubts.  Then, until death itself comes,

    no calamity need be feared.

27. If our soldiers are not overburdened with money,

    it is not because they have a distaste for riches;

    if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they

    are disinclined to longevity.

28. On the day they are ordered out to battle,

    your soldiers may weep, those sitting up bedewing

    their garments, and those lying down letting the tears run

    down their cheeks.  But let them once be brought to bay,

    and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei.

29. The skillful tactician may be likened to the

    shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found

    in the ChUng mountains.  Strike at its head, and you

    will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you

    will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle,

    and you will be attacked by head and tail both.

30. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan,

    I should answer, Yes.  For the men of Wu and the men

    of Yueh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river

    in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come

    to each other's assistance just as the left hand helps the right.

31. Hence it is not enough to put one's trust

    in the tethering of horses, and the burying of chariot

    wheels in the ground

32. The principle on which to manage an army is to set

    up one standard of courage which all must reach.

33. How to make the best of both strong and weak--that

    is a question involving the proper use of ground.

34. Thus the skillful general conducts his army just

    as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by

    the hand.

35. It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus

    ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order.

36. He must be able to mystify his officers and men

    by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them

    in total ignorance.

37. By altering his arrangements and changing

    his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge.

    By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes,

    he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose.

38. At the critical moment, the leader of an army

    acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks

    away the ladder behind him.  He carries his men deep

    into hostile territory before he shows his hand.

39. He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots;

    like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives

    his men this way and that, and nothing knows whither he

    is going.

40. To muster his host and bring it into danger:--this

    may be termed the business of the general.

41. The different measures suited to the nine

    varieties of ground; the expediency of aggressive or

    defensive tactics; and the fundamental laws of human nature:

    these are things that must most certainly be studied.

42. When invading hostile territory, the general

    principle is, that penetrating deeply brings cohesion;

    penetrating but a short way means dispersion.

43. When you leave your own country behind, and take

    your army across neighborhood territory, you find yourself

    on critical ground.  When there are means of communication

    on all four sides, the ground is one of intersecting highways.

44. When you penetrate deeply into a country, it is

    serious ground.  When you penetrate but a little way,

    it is facile ground.

45. When you have the enemy's strongholds on your rear,

    and narrow passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground.

    When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground.

46. Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire

    my men with unity of purpose.  On facile ground, I would

    see that there is close connection between all parts

    of my army.

47. On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear.

48. On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye

    on my defenses.  On ground of intersecting highways,

    I would consolidate my alliances.

49. On serious ground, I would try to ensure

    a continuous stream of supplies.  On difficult ground,

    I would keep pushing on along the road.

50. On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way

    of retreat.  On desperate ground, I would proclaim

    to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives.

51. For it is the soldier's disposition to offer

    an obstinate resistance when surrounded, to fight hard

    when he cannot help himself, and to obey promptly when he

    has fallen into danger.

52. We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring

    princes until we are acquainted with their designs.  We are

    not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar

    with the face of the country--its mountains and forests,

    its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.

    We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account

    unless we make use of local guides.

53. To be ignored of any one of the following four

    or five principles does not befit a warlike prince.

54. When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state,

    his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration

    of the enemy's forces.  He overawes his opponents,

    and their allies are prevented from joining against him.

55. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all

    and sundry, nor does he foster the power of other states.

    He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his

    antagonists in awe.  Thus he is able to capture their

    cities and overthrow their kingdoms.

56. Bestow rewards without regard to rule,

    issue orders without regard to previous arrangements;

    and you will be able to handle a whole army as though

    you had to do with but a single man.

57. Confront your soldiers with the deed itself;

    never let them know your design.  When the outlook is bright,

    bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when

    the situation is gloomy.

58. Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive;

    plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off

    in safety.

59. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into

    harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.

60. Success in warfare is gained by carefully

    accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.

61. By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall

    succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief.

62. This is called ability to accomplish a thing

    by sheer cunning.

63. On the day that you take up your command,

    block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies,

    and stop the passage of all emissaries.

64. Be stern in the council-chamber, so that you

    may control the situation.

65. If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.

66. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear,

    and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.

67. Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate

    yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.

68. At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden,

    until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate

    the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late

    for the enemy to oppose you.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  There are five ways of attacking

    with fire.  The first is to burn soldiers in their camp;

    the second is to burn stores; the third is to burn

    baggage trains; the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines;

    the fifth is to hurl dropping fire amongst the enemy.

2. In order to carry out an attack, we must have

    means available.  The material for raising fire should

    always be kept in readiness.

3. There is a proper season for making attacks with fire,

    and special days for starting a conflagration.

4. The proper season is when the weather is very dry;

    the special days are those when the moon is in the

    constellations of the Sieve, the Wall, the Wing

    or the Cross-bar; for these four are all days of rising wind.

5. In attacking with fire, one should be prepared

    to meet five possible developments:

6. (1) When fire breaks out inside to enemy's camp,

    respond at once with an attack from without.

7. (2) If there is an outbreak of fire, but the enemy's

    soldiers remain quiet, bide your time and do not attack.

8. (3) When the force of the flames has reached its height,

    follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable;

    if not, stay where you are.

9. (4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire

    from without, do not wait for it to break out within,

    but deliver your attack at a favorable moment.

10. (5) When you start a fire, be to windward of it.

    Do not attack from the leeward.

11. A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long,

    but a night breeze soon falls.

12. In every army, the five developments connected with

    fire must be known, the movements of the stars calculated,

    and a watch kept for the proper days.

13. Hence those who use fire as an aid to the attack show intelligence;

    those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession of strength.

14. By means of water, an enemy may be intercepted,

    but not robbed of all his belongings.

15. Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his

    battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating

    the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time

    and general stagnation.

16. Hence the saying:  The enlightened ruler lays his

    plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.

17. Move not unless you see an advantage; use not

    your troops unless there is something to be gained;

    fight not unless the position is critical.

18. No ruler should put troops into the field merely

    to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight

    a battle simply out of pique.

19. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move;

    if not, stay where you are.

20. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may

    be succeeded by content.

21. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can

    never come again into being; nor can the dead ever

    be brought back to life.

22. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful,

    and the good general full of caution.  This is the way

    to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

[To Chinese text|To Top]


1. Sun Tzu said:  Raising a host of a hundred thousand

    men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss

    on the people and a drain on the resources of the State.

    The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces

    of silver.  There will be commotion at home and abroad,

    and men will drop down exhausted on the highways.

    As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded

    in their labor.

2. Hostile armies may face each other for years,

    striving for the victory which is decided in a single day.

    This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's

    condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred

    ounces of silver in honors and emoluments, is the height

    of inhumanity.

3. One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present

    help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

4. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good

    general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond

    the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.

5. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits;

    it cannot be obtained inductively from experience,

    nor by any deductive calculation.

6. Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only

    be obtained from other men.

7. Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes:

    (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies;

    (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies.

8. When these five kinds of spy are all at work,

    none can discover the secret system.  This is called "divine

    manipulation of the threads."  It is the sovereign's

    most precious faculty.

9. Having local spies means employing the services

    of the inhabitants of a district.

10. Having inward spies, making use of officials

    of the enemy.

11. Having converted spies, getting hold of the enemy's

    spies and using them for our own purposes.

12. Having doomed spies, doing certain things openly

    for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know

    of them and report them to the enemy.

13. Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring

    back news from the enemy's camp.

14. Hence it is that which none in the whole army are

    more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies.

    None should be more liberally rewarded.  In no other

    business should greater secrecy be preserved.

15. Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain

    intuitive sagacity.

16. They cannot be properly managed without benevolence

    and straightforwardness.

17. Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make

    certain of the truth of their reports.

18. Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every

    kind of business.

19. If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy

    before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together

    with the man to whom the secret was told.

20. Whether the object be to crush an army, to storm

    a city, or to assassinate an individual, it is always

    necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants,

    the aides-de-camp, and door-keepers and sentries of the general

    in command.  Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these.

21. The enemy's spies who have come to spy on us

    must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and

    comfortably housed.  Thus they will become converted

    spies and available for our service.

22. It is through the information brought by the

    converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ

    local and inward spies.

23. It is owing to his information, again, that we can

    cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy.

24. Lastly, it is by his information that the surviving

    spy can be used on appointed occasions.

25. The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties

    is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only

    be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy.

    Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated

    with the utmost liberality.

26. Of old, the rise of the Yin dynasty was due to I

    Chih who had served under the Hsia.  Likewise, the rise

    of the Chou dynasty was due to Lu Ya who had served

    under the Yin.

27. Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the

    wise general who will use the highest intelligence of

    the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve

    great results.  Spies are a most important element in water,

    because on them depends an army's ability to move.

[To Chinese text|To Top]

[END - Sun Tzu on the Art of War, text-only]