Whenever you station an army to
observe an opponent, cut off the
mountains and stay by the valleys.
Watch the light, stay on the
heights. When fighting on a hill,
do not climb. This applies to an
army in the mountains.
When cut off by water, always stay
away from the water. Do not meet
them in the water; it is advantageous
to let half of them across and
then attack them.
When you want to fight, do not
face an enemy near water. Watch
the light, stay in high places, do
not face the current of the water.
This applies to an army on water.
Go right through salt marshes, just
go quickly and do not tarry. If you
run into an army in the middle of
a salt marsh, stay by the water-plants,
with your back to the trees.
This applies to an army in a salt marsh.
On a level plateau, take up positions
where it is easy to maneuver,
keeping higher land to your right
rear, with low ground in front and
high ground behind. This applies
to an army on a plateau.
It was by taking advantage of the
situation in these four basic ways
that the Yellow Emperor overcame
Ordinarily, an army likes high
places and dislikes low ground,
values light and despises darkness.
Take care of physical health and
stay where there are plenty of
resources. When there is no sickness
in the army, it is said to be invincible.
Where there are hills or embankments
keep on their sunny side,
with them to your right rear. This
is an advantage to a military force,
the help of the land.
When it rains upstream and froth
is coming down on the current, if
you want to cross, wait until it settles.
Whenever the terrain has impassable
ravines, natural enclosures,
natural prisons, natural traps, natural
pitfalls, and natural clefts,
you should leave quickly and not
get near them. For myself, I keep
away from these, so that opponents
are nearer to them; I keep
my face to these so that opponents
have their backs to them.
When an army is traveling, if there
is hilly territory with many
streams and ponds or depressions
overgrown with reeds, or wild forests
with a luxuriant growth of
plants and trees, it is imperative to
search them carefully and thoroughly.
For these afford stations
for bushwhackers and spoilers.
When the enemy is near but still,
he is resting on a natural stronghold.
When he is far away but tries
to provoke hostilities, he wants
you to move forward. If his position
is accessible, it is because that
is advantageous to him.
When the trees move, the enemy is
coming; when there are many
blinds in the undergrowth, it is misdirection.
If birds start up, there are
ambushers there. If the animals are
freightened, there are attackers
there. If dust rises high and sharp,
vehicles are coming; if it is low and
wide, footsoldiers are coming.
Scattered wisps of smoke indicate
woodcutters. Relatively small
amounts of dust coming and going
indicate setting up camp.
Those whose words are humble
while they increase war preparations
are going to advance. Those
whose words are strong and who
advance aggressively are going to retreat.
When light vehicles come out first
and stay to the sides, they are
going to set up a battle line.
Those who come out seeking peace
without a treaty are plotting.
Those who busily set out arrays of armed
vehicles are expecting reinforcements.
If half their force advances and
half retreats, they are trying to lure you.
If they brace themselves as they
stand, they are starving. When
those sent to draw water first
drink themselves, they are thirsty.
When they see an advantage but
do not advance on it, they are weary.
If birds are gathered there,
the place has been vacated.
If there are calls in the night,
they are afraid.
If the army is unsettled, it means
the general is not taken seriously.
If signals move, that means they
are in confusion.
If their emissaries are irritable,
it means they are tired.
When they kill their horses for
meat, it means that the soldiers
have no food; when they have no
pots and do not go back to their
quarters, they are desperate adversaries.
When there are murmurings,
lapses in duties, and extended
conversations, the loyalty of the
group has been lost.
When they give out numerous
rewards, it means they are at an
impasse; when they give out numerous
punishments, it means they are worn out.
To be violent at first and wind up
fearing one's people is the epitome
Those who come in a conciliatory
manner want to rest.
When forces angrily confront you
but delay engagement, yet do not
leave, it is imperative to watch
In military matters it is not necessarily
beneficial to have more
strength, only to avoid acting
aggressively; it is enough to consolidate
your power, assess opponents,
and get people, that is all.
The individualist without strategy
who take opponents lightly will
inevitably become the captive of others.
If soldiers are punished before a
personal attachment to the
leadership is formed, they will not
submit, and if they do not submit
they are hard to employ.
If punishments are not executed
after personal attachment has been
established with the soldiers, then
they cannot be employed.
Therefore direct them through
cultural arts, unify them through
martial arts; this means certain victory.
When directives are consistently
carried out to edify the populace,
the populace accepts. When directives
are not consistently carried
out to edify the populace, the
populace does not accept. When
directives are consistently carried
out, there is mutual satisfaction
between the leadership and the group.