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Variation in Tactics – jiu bian pian di ba

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!

jiǔ biàn piān dì bā
九  变    篇    第 八

sūnzi yuē : fán yònɡ bīnɡ zhī fǎ , jiānɡ shòu mìnɡ yú jūn ,hé jūn
孙子   曰 :  凡   用     兵     之 法 ,  将     受      命    于  君,  合 军

jù zhònɡ 。 pǐ dì wú shě , qú dì jiāo hé ,jué dì wú liú ,wéi dì zé
聚  众 。     圮 地  无 舍 ,   衢 地 交  合 , 绝  地 无  留 ,围  地 则

móu , sǐ dì zé zhàn 。tú yǒu suǒ bù yóu ,jūn yǒu suǒ bù jī , chénɡ
谋 ,    死 地 则  战 。  涂 有   所   不  由 ,  军  有    所  不 击 ,  城

yǒu suǒ bù ɡōnɡ , dì yǒu suǒ bù zhēnɡ , jūn mìnɡ yǒu suǒ bú shòu 。
有    所   不  攻 ,     地 有   所   不   争 ,     君    命     有   所   不   受 。

ɡù jiànɡ tōnɡ yú jiǔ biàn zhī dì zhě , zhī yònɡ bīnɡ yǐ ; jiànɡ bù
故  将     通     于 九  变    之 地  者 ,  知   用      兵  矣 ;  将    不

tōnɡ yú jiǔ biàn zhī lì zhě , suī zhī dì xínɡ ,bù nénɡ dé dì zhī lì
通     于 九  变   之  利 者 ,  虽  知 地  形 ,  不   能    得  地 之 利

yǐ ; zhì bīnɡ bù zhī jiǔ biàn zhī shù , suī zhī wǔ lì , bù nénɡ dé
矣 ;治  兵     不  知 九  变    之  术 ,   虽  知  五 利 ,不  能    得

rén zhī yònɡ yǐ 。
人  之   用    矣 。

shì ɡù zhì zhě zhī lǜ , bì zá yú lì hài , zá yú lì ér wù kě xìn yě ,
是  故  智  者   之 虑 ,必 杂 于 利 害 ,杂 于 利 而 务 可 信 也 ,

zá yú hài ér huàn kě jiě yě 。 shì ɡù qū zhū hóu zhě yǐ hài , yì zhū
杂 于 害  而  患    可 解 也 。 是  故  屈  诸    侯   者  以 害 , 役 诸

hóu zhě yǐ yè , qū zhū hóu zhě yǐ lì 。 ɡù yònɡ bīnɡ zhī fǎ ,wú shì
侯    者  以 业 ,  趋  诸  侯   者  以 利 。故 用      兵    之 法 , 无 恃

qí bù lái ,shì wú yǒu yǐ dài yě ;wú shì qí bù ɡōnɡ ,shì wú yǒu suǒ
其 不 来 ,恃  吾  有  以  待  也 ;无  恃 其 不  攻 ,    恃  吾  有    所

bù kě ɡōnɡ yě 。
不 可   攻     也 。

ɡù jiānɡ yǒu wǔ wēi , bì sǐ kě shā yě , bì shēnɡ kě lǔ yě , fèn sù
故  将     有    五  危 , 必 死 可 杀  也 , 必  生     可 虏 也 , 忿  速

kě wǔ yě , lián jié kě rǔ yě , ài mín kě fán yě 。 fán cǐ wǔ zhě ,
可 侮  也 ,  廉  洁 可 辱 也 , 爱 民  可  烦  也 。 凡  此  五  者  ,

jiānɡ zhī ɡuò yě , yònɡ bīnɡ zhī zāi yě 。 fù jūn shā jiānɡ , bì yǐ
将     之   过   也 ,   用    兵    之  灾  也 。 覆 军  杀    将 ,   必 以

wǔ wēi , bù kě bù chá yě 。
五  危 ,   不 可  不  察  也 。

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



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


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


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