The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 6 – Vacuity & Substance

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 6 – Vacuity & Substance

  • Getting to the battle first to wait for the enemy’s arrival puts you at ease
    • If you have to run far from the conflict, you’ll be tired
    • A winner forces men to do things & isn’t force
  • To make the enemy to come, make them think there’s a gain in it
    • To prevent them from coming, make them think there’ll be some harm in it
    • If rested, tire the enemy. If well fed, starve him. If he’s still, make him move
      • Make him move to where you want him to be
      • Go where he doesn’t expect you
  • To move without fatigue, travel on unoccupied land
    • Strike undefended positions
    • Take defenses the enemy won’t attack
  • An expert in attack, will make an enemy not know where to defend
    • An expert in defense will make the enemy not know where to attack
      • Become the master of enemy’s fate
  • Go to where the enemy isn’t
    • Retreat with speed so that you aren’t overtaken
  • To engage an enemy with high ramparts & deep moats, attack what he wants to protect
    • If you don’t want to attack, find a good place to defend where he can’t engage you in battle
  • Concentrate forces while the enemy is fragmented & you appear to have no form
    • When he is fragmented attack with 10x his force
  • Don’t let the enemy know where you’ll attack
    • If they don’t know, they’ll have to prepare for anything. If they concentrate on the front, the rear will be exposed & vice versa – right & left, vice versa
    • If they try to cover all bases, they can’t do so very well
  • If you know where & when you’ll fight, you can travel far & be ready to fight
    • If you don’t know either, you can’t coordinate the battle with respect to your front, back, left & right
    • Some armies are doomed at only a few miles away while some are ready 1000 miles away
  • Analyze estimations for gain & loss, tenable & fatal terrains, excesses & deficiencie
    • Be formless, so no spy or general can analyze you
  • All men know the disposition for victory but not the configuration to control victory
    • Victorious battle isn’t repeated because configurations are inexhaustible
    • Disposition of force like water, avoids heights & falls
    • Configurations are to be in accordance to terrain
  • Army doesn’t maintain constant configuration, no constant shape
    • Adapt them to the enemy

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