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Weak Points and Strong – xu shi pian di liu

Apr. 3, 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!

xū shí piān dì liù
虚  实  篇   第 六

sūn zi yuē : fán xiān chù zhàn dì ér dài dí zhě yì ,hòu chù zhàn dì
孙  子  曰 :  凡   先    处   战    地 而 待  敌 者  佚 ,后    处   战   地

ér qū zhàn zhě láo 。 ɡù shàn zhàn zhě , zhì rén ér bú zhì yú rén 。
而 趋  战    者   劳 。  故   善     战    者 ,   致  人  而 不  致 于  人 。

nénɡ shǐ dí rén zì zhì zhě ,lì zhī yě ;nénɡ shǐ dí rén bù dé zhì zhě ,
能      使 敌 人  自 至  者 ,利 之 也 ; 能     使  敌 人  不  得 至  者 ,

hài zhī yě 。 ɡù dí yì nénɡ láo zhī ,bǎo nénɡ jī zhī ,ān nénɡ dònɡ
害  之  也 。 故 敌 佚  能    劳  之 ,  饱   能    饥 之 , 安 能      动

zhī 。 chū qí suǒ bù qū , qū qí suǒ bú yì 。
之 。   出  其  所  不  趋 , 趋 其  所  不 意 。

xínɡ qiān lǐ ér bù láo zhě ,xínɡ yú wú rén zhī dì yě ;ɡōnɡ ér bì qǔ
行      千 里 而 不 劳   者 ,  行   于  无  人  之 地  也 ; 攻    而 必 取

zhě ,ɡōnɡ qí suǒ bù shǒu yě ;shǒu ér bì ɡù zhě,shǒu qí suǒ bù ɡōnɡ
者 ,     攻  其  所   不  守    也 ;  守   而 必 固  者 , 守    其  所  不   攻

yě 。 ɡù shàn ɡōnɡ zhě ,dí bù zhī qí suǒ shǒu ;shàn shǒu zhě ,dí
也 。 故   善     攻     者 ,  敌 不 知 其  所    守 ;    善    守     者 , 敌

bù zhī qí suǒ ɡōnɡ 。 wēi hū wēi hū , zhì yú wú xínɡ ; shén hū shén
不  知  其 所   攻 。      微  乎  微  乎 ,  至  于  无  形 ;     神   乎  神

hū , zhì yú wú shēnɡ , ɡù nénɡ wéi dí zhī sī mìnɡ 。jìn ér bù kě yù
乎 ,  至  于 无   声 ,      故   能    为  敌 之  司 命 。   进 而 不  可 御

zhě , chōnɡ qí xū yě ; tuì ér bù kě zhuī yě , sù ér bù kě jí yě 。
者 ,      冲    其 虚 也 ; 退 而 不  可  追   也 , 速 而 不 可 及 也 。

ɡù wǒ yù zhàn , dí suī ɡāo lěi shēn ɡōu , bù dé bù yǔ wǒ zhàn zhě ,
故  我  欲  战 ,    敌 虽  高   垒  深    沟 ,    不 得  不  与  我  战    者 ,

ɡōnɡ qí suǒ bì jiù yě ; wǒ bú yù zhàn , huà dì ér shǒu zhī , dí bù
攻     其  所  必 救 也 ; 我  不  欲  战 ,     画 地  而  守   之 ,  敌 不

dé yǔ wǒ zhàn zhě , ɡuāi qí suǒ zhī yě 。 ɡù xínɡ rén ér wǒ wú xínɡ ,
得 与  我   战    者 ,    乖   其  所  之  也 。 故   形  人  而  我  无   形 ,

zé wǒ zhuān ér dí fēn 。 wǒ zhuān wéi yī , dí fēn wéi shí, shì yǐ shí
则  我   专    而  敌 分 。  我   专       为 一 , 敌 分  为   十 ,是  以 十

ɡōnɡ qí yì yě , zé wǒ zhònɡ ér dí ɡuǎ 。 nénɡ yǐ zhònɡ jī ɡuǎ zhě,
攻     其 一 也 ,则  我   众     而 敌  寡 。     能  以  众     击  寡  者 ,

zé wú zhī suǒ yǔ zhàn zhě , yuē yǐ 。wú suǒ yǔ zhàn zhī dì bù kě zhī,
则 吾  之   所  与   战    者 ,   约  矣 。吾  所  与   战    之  地 不 可 知 ,

bù kě zhī , zé dí suǒ bèi zhě duō ; dí suǒ bèi zhě duō , zé wú suǒ
不 可 知 ,   则 敌 所   备  者   多 ;   敌  所   备  者   多 ,  则  吾  所

yǔ zhàn zhě ɡuǎ yǐ 。 ɡù bèi qián zé hòu ɡuǎ , bèi hòu zé qián ɡuǎ ,
与  战     者   寡  矣 。 故  备  前    则  后    寡 ,  背  后   则   前    寡,

bèi zuǒ zé yòu ɡuǎ , bèi yòu zé zuǒ ɡuǎ , wú suǒ bú bèi ,zé wú suǒ
备   左  则  右   寡  ,   备  右   则  左   寡 ,   无  所   不  备 , 则  无 所

bù ɡuǎ。ɡuǎ zhě,bèi rén zhě yě ; zhònɡ zhě ,shǐ rén bèi jǐ zhě yě 。
不  寡。   寡   者,   备  人  者  也 ;   众       者 , 使  人   备 己 者 也 。

ɡù zhī zhàn zhī dì , zhī zhàn zhī rì , zé kě qiān lǐ ér huì zhàn ;
故  知   战   之   地 , 知  战    之 日 , 则 可  千  里 而 会  战 ;

bù zhī zhàn dì,bù zhī zhàn rì, zé zuǒ bù nénɡ jiù yòu , yòu bù nénɡ
不  知   战   地 ,不 知    战 日 ,则  左  不  能     救   右 ,   右   不  能

jiù zuǒ ,qián bù nénɡ jiù hòu ,hòu bù nénɡ jiù qián ,ér kuànɡ yuǎn
救  左 ,   前   不   能    救  后 ,  后   不   能    救   前 ,  而  况       远

zhě shù shí lǐ , jìn zhě shù lǐ hū !
者    数  十 里 ,近  者   数  里 乎 !

yǐ wú dù zhī ,yuè rén zhī bīnɡ suī duō , yì xī yì yú shènɡ bài zāi ?
以 吾  度 之 , 越   人   之  兵    虽   多 , 亦 奚 益 于  胜     败   哉 ?

ɡù yuē : shènɡ kě wéi yě 。 dí suī zhònɡ , kě shǐ wú dòu。
故  曰 :    胜      可  为  也 。敌  虽   众 ,     可  使  无  斗 。

ɡù cè zhī ér zhī dé shī zhī jì , zuò zhī ér zhī dònɡ jinɡ zhī lǐ ,
故  策 之  而 知  得 失 之 计 , 作  之  而 知   动     静   之 理 ,

xínɡ zhī ér zhī sǐ shēnɡ zhī dì,jiǎo zhī ér zhī yǒu yú bù zú zhī chù 。
形    之  而 知 死   生     之 地 ,角  之  而 知  有   余 不  足 之  处 。

ɡù xínɡ bīnɡ zhī jí,zhì yú wú xínɡ 。 wú xínɡ , zé shēn jiān bù nénɡ
故  形    兵     之 极,至 于 无  形 。     无  形 ,   则  深    间   不    能

kuī , zhì zhě bù nénɡ móu 。 yīn xínɡ ér cuò shènɡ yú zhònɡ ,zhònɡ
窥 ,   智  者  不   能      谋 。   因   形   而 错       胜  于     众 ,     众

bù nénɡ zhī 。rén jiē zhī wǒ suó yǐ shènɡ zhī xínɡ ,ér mò zhī wú suó
不   能    知 。 人   皆 知  我   所 以   胜      之  形 ,  而 莫  知  吾   所

yǐ zhì shènɡ zhī xínɡ 。 ɡù qí zhàn shènɡ bú fù , ér yīnɡ xínɡ yú wú
以 制   胜     之   形 。   故 其   战     胜     不  复 , 而  应    形  于  无

qiónɡ 。
穷 。

fū bīnɡ xínɡ xiànɡ shuǐ,shuǐ zhī xínɡ , bì ɡāo ér qū xià ; bīnɡ zhī
夫  兵    形     象      水 ,  水   之  行 ,    避 高  而  趋 下 ; 兵     之

xínɡ ,bì shí ér jī xū ; shuǐ yīn dì ér zhì liú ,bīnɡ yīn dí ér zhì
形 ,   避 实 而 击 虚 ; 水  因 地 而  制 流 , 兵    因 敌 而 制

shènɡ 。 ɡù bīnɡ wú chánɡ shì ,shuǐ wú chánɡ xínɡ 。nénɡ yīn dí biàn
胜 。       故   兵   无    常      势 , 水    无    常      形 。   能    因  敌  变

huà ér qǔ shènɡ zhě ,wèi zhī shén 。ɡù wǔ xínɡ wú chánɡ shènɡ, sì shí
化  而  取   胜      者 ,   谓 之   神 。   故  五  行     无   常       胜 ,   四  时

wú chánɡ wèi , rì yǒu duǎn chánɡ , yuè yǒu sǐ shēnɡ 。
无    常      位 , 日 有    短       长 ,      月  有   死   生 。

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

(1910))

VI. WEAK POINTS AND STRONG

1. Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of

the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field

and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.

2. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does

not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.

3. By holding out advantages to him, he can cause the enemy to approach

of his own accord; or, by inflicting damage, he can make it impossible

for the enemy to draw near.

4. If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him; if well supplied

with food, he can starve him out; if quietly encamped, he can force him

to move.

5. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly

to places where you are not expected.

6. An army may march great distances without distress, if it marches

through country where the enemy is not.

7. You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places

which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only

hold positions that cannot be attacked.

8. Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know

what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know

what to attack.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even

though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. All we need

do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve.

12. If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the enemy from engaging

us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the

ground. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his

way.

13. By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible

ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy’s must

be divided.

14. We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into

fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of

a whole, which means that we shall be many to the enemy’s few

15. And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior

one, our opponents will be in dire straits.

16. The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then

the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several

different points; and his forces being thus distributed in many directions,

the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be

proportionately few.

17. For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear;

should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen

his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he

will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will

everywhere be weak.

18. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible

attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these

preparations against us.

19. Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle, we may concentrate

from the greatest distances in order to fight.

20. But if neither time nor place be known, then the left wing will be

impotent to succor the right, the right equally impotent to succor the

left, the van unable to relieve the rear, or the rear to support the van.

How much more so if the furthest portions of the army are anything under

a hundred LI apart, and even the nearest are separated by several LI!

21. Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yueh exceed our own

in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory.

I say then that victory can be achieved.

22. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from

fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their

success.

23. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force

him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.

24. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may

know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.

25. In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is

to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the

prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.

26. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own

tactics–that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.

27. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see

is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

28. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let

your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.

29. Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course

runs away from high places and hastens downwards.

30. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what

is weak.

31. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over

which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe

whom he is facing.

32. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there

are no constant conditions.

33. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby

succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.

34. The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) are not always

equally predominant; the four seasons make way for each other in turn.

There are short days and long; the moon has its periods of waning and

waxing.

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