Friday, August 9, 2013

the art of war, what war?

The Art of War is the most widely read military classic in human history.

People think that TAOW is a manual on how to outsmart one's opponent, so that physical battle becomes superfluous. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat.

I'd like to present a different view. Self-war. It's called dialectics! 

Chapter 1 

*General is wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and discipline.

*Heaven is dark and light, cold and hot, and the seasonal constraints. Ground is high and low, far and near, obstructed and easy, wide and narrow, and dangerous and safe.

*If they have advantage, entice them; if they are confused, take them, if they are substantial, prepare for them, if they are strong, avoid them, if they are angry, disturb them, if they are humble, make them haughty, if they are relaxed, toil them, if they are united, separate them.

*When it comes to rules and regulations, everyone, high and low, should be treated alike.

*Without deception you cannot carry out strategy, without strategy you cannot control the opponent.

*Force is the control of the balance of power, in accordance with advantages.

*Therefore, if able, appear unable, if active, appear not active, if near, appear far, if far, appear near. When strong, appear weak. Brave, appear fearful. Orderly, appear chaotic. Full, appear empty. Wise, appear foolish. Advancing, appear to retreat. Taking, appear to leave. In one place, appear to be in another.

Chapter 2

*When weapons are blunted, and ardor dampened, strength exhausted, and resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications.

*When doing battle, seek a quick victory. A protracted battle will blunt weapons and dampen ardor.

*The important thing in a military operation is victory, not persistence.

Chapter 3

*Perceiving a victory when it is perceived by all is not the highest excellence.

*In ancient times, those skilled in warfare make themselves invincible and then wait for the enemy to become vulnerable.

*Being invincible depends on oneself, but the enemy becoming vulnerable depends on himself.

Chapter 4

*One takes on sufficiency defending, one takes on deficiency attacking.

*Complete victory is when the army does not fight, the city is not besieged, the destruction does not go on long, but in each case, the enemy is overcome by strategy.

Chapter 5

*Invincibility is a matter of defense, vulnerability is a matter of attack.

*Disorder coming from order is a matter of organization, fear coming from courage is a matter of force, weakness coming from strength is a matter of formation.

*The rules of the military are five: measurement, assessment, calculation, comparison and victory.

*Therefore the victories of good warriors are not noted for cleverness or bravery.

*If you are formless, the most penetrating spies will not be able to discern you, or the wisest counsels will not be able to do calculations against you.

*If he prepares to defend many places, then the forces will be few in number.

*Therefore, it advances like the wind; it marches like the forest; it invades and plunders like fire; it stands like the mountain; it is formless like the dark; it strikes like thunder.

Chapter 6


* Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.

*Calculate the situation, and then move. Those who know the principles of the circuitous and direct will be victorious. This is armed struggle.

*In armed struggle, the difficulty is turning the circuitous into the direct, and turning adversity into advantage.

Chapter 7


*Near, wait for the distant; rested, wait for the fatigued; full, wait for the hungry. This is the way to manage strength.

*Do not do battle with well-ordered flags; do not do battle with well-regulated formations. This is the way to manage adaptation.

Chapter 8

*He who is quick tempered can be insulted. He who is cowardly can be captured.

*So the principles of warfare are: Do not depend on the enemy not coming, but depend on our readiness against him. Do not depend on the enemy not attacking, but depend on our position that cannot be attacked.

*Contemplating the advantages, he fulfills his calculations; contemplating the disadvantages, he removes his difficulties.

*There are routes not to be taken; there are armies not to be attacked; there are walled cities not to be besieged; there are grounds not to be penetrated; there are commands not to be obeyed.

Chapter 9

*If the enemy is close and remains quiet, he occupies a natural stronghold.

*If the enemy is far away and challenges you to do battle, he wants you to advance, because he occupies level ground that is to his advantage.

*If he gives out rewards frequently, he is running out of resources.

*If he speaks humbly, but increases warfare readiness, he will advance.

*If he speaks apologetically, he needs a rest.

Chapter 10

*If I know the enemy can be attacked, and know the troops can attack, but do not know the ground in battle, my victory is half.

*If it is not advantageous to advance or for the enemy to advance, it is called stalemated. For stalemated ground, though the enemy offers you advantage, do not advance. Withdraw.

Chapter 11

*Attack what he values most.

*Give your troops tasks, but do not reveal them your plans.

*One who does not know the mountains and forests, gorges and defiles, swamps and wetlands cannot advance the army. One who does not use local guides cannot take advantage of the ground.