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.
Carefully compare the opposing
army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant
and where it is deficient.
Rouse him, and learn the
principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so
as to find out his vulnerable spots.
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.
You must know the battle ground. You must know
the time of battle. You can then travel a thousand of miles and still win
The enemy should not know the battleground. He shouldn't know the
time of battle. His left will be unable to support his right. His right will be
unable to support his left. His front lines will be unable to support his
His rear will be unable to support his front. His support is distant
even if it is only ten miles away. What unknown place can be close?
Control the balance of forces. The enemy may have many men but they are
superfluous. How can they help him to win?
Make war without a standard approach. Manage your military position like
water. Water takes every shape. If you follow the enemy's shifts and
changes, you can always win. We call this shadowing.
Fight five different campaigns without a firm rule for victory. Use all four
seasons without a consistent position. Your timing must be sudden. A few
weeks determine your failure or success.