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The Attack by Fire – huo gong pian di shi er

Apr. 1, 2015

Sun Zi’s Art of War was written by Sun Wu in the final year of the Spring and Autumn

Period (770BC – 476BC).

It is not only the oldest Chinese military work in existence but also the oldest book

of military theory in the world, well-known for a long time in the history of the

military academy in China and abroad.

Sun Zi’s Art of War has altogether 13 chapters. Both concise and comprehensive,

this book sum up the experience of ancient wars, bring to light the many laws of

war which are of universal significance.

Want to know why business people like it so much? Come and learn Sun Zi’s Art of

War with eChineseLearning’s professional teachers!

huǒ ɡōnɡ piān dì shí èr
火     攻     篇   第  十 二

sūnzi yuē : fán huǒ ɡōnɡ yǒu wǔ : yì yuē huǒ rén , èr yuē huǒ jī ,
孙子   曰 :  凡   火    攻     有    五 : 一 曰    火  人 ,   二  曰  火  积 ,

sān yuē huǒ zī , sì yuē huǒ kù , wǔ yuē huǒ duì 。
三   曰    火  辎 ,四 曰   火   库 ,  五  曰   火    队 。

xínɡ huǒ bì yǒu yīn ,yān huǒ bì sù jù 。fā huǒ yǒu shí , qí huǒ yǒu
行     火  必  有   因 ,  烟   火  必 素 具。发  火  有    时 ,  起  火  有

rì 。 shí zhě , tiān zhī zào yě 。 rì zhě , yuè zài jī 、 bì 、 yì 、
日 。时  者 ,   天   之   燥  也 。 日 者 ,  月  在 箕 、 壁 、翼 、

zhěn yě 。 fán cǐ sì sù zhě , fēnɡ qǐ zhī rì yě 。 fán huǒ ɡōnɡ ,bì
轸     也 。 凡  此 四 宿 者 ,  风    起 之 日 也 。 凡  火    攻 ,   必

yīn wǔ huǒ zhī biàn ér yīnɡ zhī : huǒ fā yú nèi ,zé zǎo yīnɡ zhī yú
因   五  火   之   变   而  应   之 :   火  发 于 内 ,  则  早  应   之  于

wài;huǒ fā bīnɡ jìnɡ zhě ,dài ér wù ɡōnɡ , jí qí huǒ lì , kě cónɡ
外 ; 火   发  兵    静   者 ,   待 而 勿   攻 ,   极 其 火  力 , 可  从

ér cónɡ zhī , bù kě cónɡ ér zhǐ 。 huǒ kě fā yú wài , wú dài yú nèi ,
而  从    之 ,  不  可  从    而  止 。  火  可 发 于  外 ,  无  待  于  内 ,

yǐ shí fā zhī 。 huǒ fā shànɡ fēnɡ , wú ɡōnɡ xià fēnɡ , zhòu fēnɡ
以 时 发 之 。  火  发  上       风 ,    无   攻     下   风 ,     昼    风

jiǔ , yè fēnɡ zhǐ。 fán jūn bì zhī yǒu wǔ huǒ zhī biàn ,yǐ shù shǒu
久 ,  夜  风   止。  凡   军  必 知  有   五   火   之  变   , 以  数  守

zhī 。
之 。

ɡù yǐ huǒ zuǒ ɡōnɡ zhě mínɡ , yǐ shuǐ zuǒ ɡōnɡ zhě qiánɡ 。 shuǐ ké
故 以 火    佐    攻     者   明 ,     以  水   佐   攻     者     强 。      水 可

yǐ jué , bù ké yǐ duó 。
以 绝 ,  不 可 以 夺  。

fū zhàn shènɡ ɡōnɡ qǔ ér bù xiū qí ɡōnɡ zhě xiōnɡ , mìnɡ yuē fèi liú 。
夫 战      胜       攻     取 而 不  修 其  功      者    凶 ,      命    曰   费 留 。

ɡù yuē : mínɡ zhǔ lǜ zhī , liánɡ jiānɡ xiū zhī 。 fēi lì bú dònɡ ,
故  曰 :    明     主  虑  之 ,   良    将     修  之 。 非 利 不  动 ,

fēi děi bú yònɡ,fēi wēi bú zhàn 。zhǔ bù ké yǐ nù ér xīnɡ shī,jiānɡ
非  得  不  用 ,   非  危  不   战 。   主  不  可 以 怒 而  兴  师 , 将

bù ké yǐ yùn ér zhì zhàn 。 hé yú lì ér dònɡ , bù hé yú lì ér zhǐ 。
不 可 以 愠  而  致  战 。    合  于 利 而 动 ,    不 合 于 利 而 止 。

nù ké yǐ fù xǐ ,yùn ké yǐ fù yuè ,wánɡ ɡuó bù ké yǐ fù cún ,sǐ zhě
怒 可 以 复 喜,愠  可 以 复 悦 ,    亡     国  不 可 以 复 存 ,  死 者

bù ké yǐ fù shēnɡ 。 ɡù mínɡ jūn shèn zhī ,liánɡ jiānɡ jǐnɡ zhī 。cǐ
不 可 以 复  生 。      故   明    君   慎     之 ,   良    将    警    之。此

ān ɡuó ān jūn zhī dào yě 。
安   国  安  军  之  道   也 。

Translation:(Translated from the Chinese version By LIONEL GILES, M.A.

(1910))

XII. THE ATTACK BY FIRE

1. Sun Tzu said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. The first

is to burn soldiers in their camp; the second is to burn stores; the third

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

the fifth is to hurl dropping fire amongst the enemy.

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

material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness.

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

for starting a conflagration.

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

are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve, the Wall,

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

5. In attacking with fire, one should be prepared to meet five possible

developments:

6. (1) When fire breaks out inside to enemy’s camp, respond at once with

an attack from without.

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

quiet, bide your time and do not attack.

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

with an attack, if that is practicable; if not, stay where you are.

9. (4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without, do

not wait for it to break out within, but deliver your attack at a favorable

moment.

10. (5) When you start a fire, be to windward of it. Do not attack from

the leeward.

11. A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long, but a night breeze soon

falls.

12. In every army, the five developments connected with fire must be known,

the movements of the stars calculated, and a watch kept for the proper

days.

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

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

14. By means of water, an enemy may be intercepted, but not robbed of all

his belongings.

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

in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the

result is waste of time and general stagnation.

16. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead;

the good general cultivates his resources.

17. Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there

is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.

18. No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own

spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.

19. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where

you are.

20. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by

content.

21. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into

being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

22. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of

caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

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