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Old 07-23-2003, 04:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: USA
The Art of War



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.

(End of Chapter 1)



This thread ran on TFP v3 and I’ve gotten some reports that people’s lives were affected and even changed by the focus on it and the ensuing discussion.

As life continues here in v4, I’m seeing the need for it again. Why? Because strategy is everything. Someone always wins. Someone always loses. The only reason for not winning is one does not deserve to win because one is not the fittest. The fittest win. The fittest are the best strategists. The best warriors are the best strategists.

I see bad strategy every day. I see people who believe they should win because they are somehow convinced they are right and the opponent is wrong. Good strategy involves, first, ruthless self-assessment. I don’t see a lot of that.

Positions of strength are based on ancient natural principles and application of human intelligence.

Sun Tzu maintains in this chapter that by means of his simple 7-point checklist, he can predict the outcome of any struggle:


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.

(end quote)

As this treatise has survived 2400 years and continues to inspire warriors and leaders, I acknowledge its value to our daily lives and offer it here for our consideration.
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Midwest
Re: The Art of War

Originally posted by ARTelevision

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?
Some comments:
1. We make our own moral law. Right or wrong, the importance is that we believe in it.
2. Recognizing someone else's abilities as superior is often difficult. We don't like to be told we need to work on things. And our leaders (especially in the workplace) aren't often candid in assessing our weaknesses.
5. I think, especially in the workplace, we understand the concept of which side is stronger. We often allign ourselves with the shooting stars of our organization. But we need to make sure that those with the strength and power in our organizations also represent us.
6. Recognizing experience, ability, and training is important to forming powerful groups to advance ourselves and our ideas. But our culture is infatuated with the power of one, and we often do not seek council from those that are in the best positions to give it. Everyone knows teamwork is important to organizations. But for teams to function correctly, everyone must understand their role and appreciate, in some areas, the abilities of others as superior to theirs.
7. This is the one I struggle with, especially in the workplace. We lack such consistency in rewards and punishments it often turns me off on the whole process. Nepotism. Boss's pet. Special situations. Excuses.
My feeling has always been that reward systems should be: 1. based on goals that, if met, everyone is rewarded or 2. drastically reduced to the point that rewards are given only for exemplary service. Punishment is also almost never uniform. I'm not sure that our leaders understand that the people they are leading see these things, and often get frustrated.

My two cents. Maybe I rambled a bit.
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
Location: around the corner
The greatest thing about this is that your right Art.

Last edited by bender; 10-20-2003 at 02:28 PM..
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: USA
gov135, good thoughtful response, thanks.
These views are dealt with at length in later chapters.
So there will be more later on the 7 points.

bender, yes. It creates the conditions for victory and defeat and ensures their fate.
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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haha i was going to skim this but i read the first line of the comments about how it changed peoples lives, so i stopped and just read it all. very good points. gov135 thank you for your comments/perspective on the workplace.
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Finger on the little red button.
Interesting that someone else has read this book.

I can honestly say that in my personal battles, you can get away with a lot, as long as you've convinced those watching that you are on the morally correct side. It's a very powerful tool. I've actually had people apologize to me, because they were persuaded that they were morally incorrect, and had others tell them so.

Also, I'm not sure where this is in the list, but bide your time, be willing to take a few bruises from your enemy, when you strike, strike quickly and completely, in the hopes that they will be suprised and completely overrun.

It's extremely useful for getting old girlfriends to completely leave your social circle.... ;-)
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Frederich Nietzsche

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Old 07-23-2003, 11:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
Location: Houston
I have it, i liked it, i plan to re-read it a few times.
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
I love the Art of War, and several other old asian writings (such as the Book of Five Rings). I consider myself to be a modern strategist, and every move I make socially I refer to some of the strategems in those books. Life is a battle, but the enemy isn't always apparent.

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Old 07-23-2003, 12:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
I've been meaning to read this for quite a while, but always keep putting it off. I think it's high time I went ahead and ordered it. Besides, it might help me at the poker table.
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Old 07-23-2003, 12:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
Location: Wales
Lost my copy.
Still have The Book of The Five Rings floating around somewhere but Art of War is far superior.
Must remember to get another copy.
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Old 07-23-2003, 02:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: USA
The Art of War, Chapter II


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.


In Chapter II, Sun Tzu focuses on four related themes:

The cost of war is very high.
War must not be prolonged.
One’s troops must be necessarily acknowledged in their human motivation.
The enemy’s wealth is a potential asset.

Underestimating the cost of waging war is a deadly mistake.
Making best use of economic and human resources is key to victory.

We see impetuous and unplanned attempts to overcome opponents every day.
Even weak opponents can withstand impetuous and unplanned attack.
Often the strong attacker loses his strength during the course of his attack.

In this way he defeats himself.
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
It's been 12 years since I read this book and I had forgotten much of it. Also those 12 years have given such experiences that the information had a much more meaningful affect on me. Thanks for the reminders.

I have found a few of these things that I did remember over the years to be helpful when dealing with business matters. Much of business is about the customers perception of what we have to offer. Business has so many different twists and turns, ups and downs, that we need to be observing constantly the changes and be ready for whatever may come.
"Always learn the rules so that you can break them properly." Dalai Lama
My Karma just ran over your Dogma.
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
Location: The Kitchen
I wish I could remember who I lent my copy to. I've read it ten or fifteen times and I find something new every time. It's such a concise, simple, to-the-point document, but you could study it for a lifetime and not learn everything from it. I'll probably give up my dog-eared pocket sized copy and find myself a larger edition with more commentary.
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Belgium
hmm, some of these things will apply today still, and some won't.

In the time of Sun Tzu, the lower casts were the ideal soldiers. They fought and followed orders. These days, I don't think however that you could afford to augment your own strength with that of the foe's. Too many infiltrants, spies and just plain stubborn idealists that will eat away at your own.

Indeed though, if you want to wage your war well, you are best to plan ahead, plan in general with room for changes, and once you act on it, do it in a quick burst. Siege & long battles are always bad, especially nowadays, because it gives people a chance to think, even the people "under your control". And you can't have underlings thinking for themselves, it invites disaster
Moderation should be moderately moderated.
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Old 07-23-2003, 05:03 PM   #15 (permalink)
Its all based on the basic chinese hallmarks, things which stem from its long history and confucianism. I came by this book when doing an assignment about chinese cuklture and attitutudes to work...
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Old 07-23-2003, 05:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
Location: Calgary, Canada
This is my favorite part...

"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."

It's served me well over the years. Not about warfare, obviously, but any adversarial relationship with a person, organization or institution.

"What do I want? Well, what every man wants. To destroy his enemies. Burn their cities. Enslave their women and salt their lands."
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Old 07-24-2003, 04:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Location: USA
The Art of War, Chapter III


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.



Chapter III is informed by the axiom, “Choose your battles wisely.”

One of the most interesting things about this chapter for me is the idea that the best victory is the one in which no battles need be waged.

“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.”

(end quote)

This is what makes The Art of War a book of strategy first and a book of open warfare only secondarily. Life is full of struggle in which there are many victories and many defeats. If armed struggle is necessary, the amount of brute force required to overcome one’s opponent is inversely proportional to the amount of strategy one is able to bring to bear on the situation.
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Old 07-24-2003, 05:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Location: maybe utah
Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are abhorred by those who follow the Tao.
The leader who follows the natural way
does not abide them.

The warrior king leans to his right,
from whence there comes his generals' advice,
but the peaceful king looks to his left,
where sits his counsellor of peace.
When he looks to his left, it is a time of peace,
and when to the right, a time for sorrow.

Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are not favoured by the wise,
who use them only when there is no choice,
for peace and stillness are dear to their hearts,
and victory causes them no rejoicing.

To rejoice in victory is to delight in killing;
to delight in killing is to have no self-being.

The conduct of war is that of a funeral;
when people are killed, it is a time of mourning.
This is why even victorious battle
should be observed without rejoicing.

Man is born gentle and supple.
At death, his body is brittle and hard.
Living plants are tender,
and filled with life-giving sap,
but at their death they are withered and dry.

The stiff, the hard, and brittle
are harbingers of death,
and gentleness and yielding
are the signs of that which lives.
The warrior who is inflexible
condemns himself to death,
and the tree is easily broken,
which ever refuses to yield.
Thus the hard and brittle will surely fall,
and the soft and supple will overcome.

taoism: sho nuff!
"Remember, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen." -Homer

Unless you are the freakin Highlander, what is the point in learning how to fight with a sword?
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Old 07-24-2003, 02:06 PM   #19 (permalink)

To rejoice in victory is to delight in killing; to delight in killing is to have no self-being.

Uh-oh....quite a few Americans have no self-being....hehe, like I didn't already know that.

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Old 07-24-2003, 06:59 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Location: USA
The Art of War, Chapter IV


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.


I like this Chapter.
In it Sun Tzu makes everything clear from the start:


“…The good fighters of old first put
themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then
waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

(end quote)

The rest of the chapter restates the axiom implicit throughout this treatise:

Wage war only when victory is assured.

If you are a smart tactician, you know exactly when this is the case.
If you are not a smart tactician, you will be defeated.


“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.”

(end quote)

When you are in a position of making no mistakes – by definition – you know it. When you only think this is the case – and do not really know it, you are deluded. When you are deluded – you lose.
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Old 07-25-2003, 03:37 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Location: USA
The Art of War, Chapter V


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.



Chapter V offers insight into the nature of leveraging power.
The simple machines are examples of methods by which force can be multiplied – sometimes by division (as with the wedge) – sometimes by indirection (as with the screw) – or one may employ a lever with a variety of fulcrum positions to create imbalance.

These analogies are mine. I see them operating with the same mechanistic principle that underlies the descriptions of judicious, intelligent, and strategic use of energy toward attaining one’s goal.
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Old 07-26-2003, 04:34 AM   #22 (permalink)
Once upon a time...
Sun Tzu speaks mainly the obvious. Such is the power of his book.

However, I would not exhort anyone to take this book (nor any book*) as a sacred scripture.

Advice, especially translated advice, is a dangerous curative.

*yes yes, I am a secularist...
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Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.
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Old 07-26-2003, 03:00 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Location: ...between Christ and Belial.
For those who do not follow my journal, I have gained new resolve in my life. War against the world and anything that would dare stand in my way.

I'm reading this book in celebration. I will have discussion to contribute upon completion.

Four hundred sixty-five.
On the outside I'm jazz, but my soul is rock and roll.

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Old 07-26-2003, 03:13 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Location: ...between Christ and Belial.
Edit: Comments withdrawn.
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Old 07-27-2003, 05:56 PM   #25 (permalink)
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The Art of War, Chapter VI


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.



“…learn the principle of his
activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself,
so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
(end quote)

This is the essence of strategy. Listen and learn. Watch and wait. Study your adversary until you can comprehend his essential nature. When he is out of balance, he is easily toppled.

I often wonder why some people waste energy on ill-timed and ill-conceived attacks. You see it in hyper-aggressive folks – attacking at every opportunity, with no apparent insight into either the ultimate or instantaneous nature of the opponent. Or you see it in reactive types who respond with force every time they feel attacked. This is all very enervating. Such attacks are easily rebuffed. Well-timed attacks are far more formidable. Timing is everything.
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Old 07-28-2003, 08:53 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Location: ...between Christ and Belial.
I have completed reading the text. Nothing short of magnificent.

I'm reading some essays on the text now.

This is a book that I will certainly read dozens of times.
On the outside I'm jazz, but my soul is rock and roll.

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Old 07-29-2003, 07:23 AM   #27 (permalink)

asain people are always the ones that have the best ideas/thoughts
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Old 07-29-2003, 06:09 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting this. Who did this translation? I really enjoyed it. A few years ago I picked up the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao te Ching. It is the most valuable (to me) book I have ever read, and fittingly I have given my copies away to friends every time I buy a new one. It made quite an impact on me at the time that I first read it. Every so often I get an urge to review it, and it always seems to be the perfect time to gain some new (and usually much needed) insight. Are there any other translations that you could recommend - especially of Taoist writers?
Cogito ergo spud -- I think, therefore I yam
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Old 07-31-2003, 03:52 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I'm using this translation (Giles, 1910) for online resource:


I also have a copy of James Clavell's version from Delacorte Press.

As you can imagine, translating from ideograms to phonics, Chinese to English, and orient to occident, translation is going to be, at best, imprecise. I believe the underlying logic and spirit of the work is sufficiently preserved in the several standard extant translations.
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Old 07-31-2003, 10:28 AM   #30 (permalink)
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The Art of War, Chapter VII


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.



This is the meat.
I'll post my comments later.
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Old 08-28-2003, 05:33 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Art is artfice - it is "artificial."
Art is involved with the creation of illusion.
It's natural therefore, that the art of war should involve such a thing as camouflage -
in all its various forms and meanings...
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Old 08-28-2003, 05:35 PM   #32 (permalink)
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The Art of War, Chapter VIII


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.

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Old 08-29-2003, 04:22 PM   #33 (permalink)
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The discouraging aspect about what this group of people wrote (the core was one person) is the reality of it. The shaolin monks live a peaceful way of life; yet train self discipline through the martial way. I’ve argued with others about the line "The best battle is the battle won without being fought" There is no peace in that statement, but indirect tactics which still leads to conquest (or as I see it)

This philosophy (as I see it) acknowledges the human race for what it is, and what it will always do. With that realization come guidance and wisdom of tools used successfully.

Carnegie had a different philosophy. He believed that even though the entire history of the human race has been built on win/lose that it’s possible to have win/win. I’ve seen examples of this, but the world is in such a state of perpetual motion in the opposite direction that nothing can stop it.

Is that good news or bad news? I don’t think it’s either, I think it’s just the news as it’s always been. The frustration for me is knowing that it doesn’t have to be that way.
To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.- Stephen Hawking
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Old 08-29-2003, 04:26 PM   #34 (permalink)
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You have made a brilliant comment here and I applaud you for it.
You have captured the essence of the lesson and at the same time captured also its inner contradiction. But perhaps it's not so much an "inner" contradiction as it is a comment on what it is to be human - both mentally and materially. Or more precisely, the tension inherent in those modalities.

Thanks for a highly thoughtful and complex response to this thread!
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Old 08-29-2003, 06:25 PM   #35 (permalink)
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The Art of War, Chapter IX


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.

The discouraging aspect about what this group of people wrote (the core was one person) is the reality of it. The shaolin monks live a peaceful way of life; yet train self discipline through the martial way. I’ve argued with others about the line "The best battle is the battle won without being fought" There is no peace in that statement, but indirect tactics which still leads to conquest (or as I see it)

This philosophy (as I see it) acknowledges the human race for what it is, and what it will always do. With that realization come guidance and wisdom of tools used successfully.

Carnegie had a different philosophy. He believed that even though the entire history of the human race has been built on win/lose that it’s possible to have win/win. I’ve seen examples of this, but the world is in such a state of perpetual motion in the opposite direction that nothing can stop it.

Is that good news or bad news? I don’t think it’s either, I think it’s just the news as it’s always been. The frustration for me is knowing that it doesn’t have to be that way.
This quote by Sun Tzu (the TFP member - not the author of "The Art of War") bears repeating. It's just deep...
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Old 09-04-2003, 04:23 AM   #36 (permalink)
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The Art of War, Chapter X


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.

Point 14 suggests 5 of the 6 aspects of defeat are the result of internal weaknesses.

Point 31 succinctly states victory is the result of of knowing oneself and knowing the terrain (in all its aspects).
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Old 09-04-2003, 04:42 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Location: Chicago
i was told to read this as training for pit trading. some of the concepts are used on a daily basis. intimidation is vital.
raw power is a guaranteed o.d.

raw power is a laughin' at you & me

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Old 09-04-2003, 10:04 PM   #38 (permalink)
Location: Riverside, CA
Thank you for posting this for others to learn. The Art of War has and will continue to influence my life.
I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it. - Jack Handy

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Old 10-02-2003, 12:03 PM   #39 (permalink)
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thought that this should be bumped back up to the top...
I don't care if you are black, white, purple, green, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, hippie, cop, bum, admin, user, English, Irish, French, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, indian, cowboy, tall, short, fat, skinny, emo, punk, mod, rocker, straight, gay, lesbian, jock, nerd, geek, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist, either you're an asshole or you're not.
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Old 10-02-2003, 06:50 PM   #40 (permalink)
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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.



Interestingly, Sun Tzu, in his discussion of the aspects of territory and environmental strategy – takes the entire middle section of this chapter to discuss matters of morale.

It is as if the nature of the territory itself compels particular attention to the ever-changing psychological complexion of one’s forces. This is similar to the way in which weather has its effect on our emotions. We are highly susceptible to conditions. The adroit leader recognizes the human needs of his army to be subtly affected by the nature of its surroundings.

The emphasis is on matching tactics to these parameters and adjusting according to the varieties of terrain encountered.

Where one stands makes all the difference in how one should behave.
This is the basis of an essentially existential philosophy...
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