The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 10 – Configurations of Terrain

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 10 – Configurations of Terrain

  • There are 6 kinds of terrain
    1. Accessible – free to both you & the enemy. Be there before the enemy in high & sunny spots. Guard your supply lines
    2. Entangling – can be abandoned but hard to reoccupy. If the enemy’s unprepared, rush at him & defeat him. If he’s prepared, you will fail & be unable to return leading you to ruin
    3. Stalemating – neither side gains ground by making the first move. Even if the enemy sets out attractive bait, don’t take it! Retreat! Make him take some sort of bait instead. Once a good chunk of his army moves forward, pounce on him
    4. Narrow passes – if you can occupy them first, put loads of men there & wait for the enemy
    5. Precipitous heights – if you’re the before the enemy, occupy raised, sunny spots & wait for him to join you. If he’s there first, don’t follow him but hand back & try to get him to come down
    6. Far from the enemy – if 2 armies are evenly matched, it’s not easy to provoke a battle & fighting will be to your disadvantage anyway
  • 6 types of calamities:
    1. Flight – if a force is hurled at another 10x its size, it will end in flight
    2. Insubordination – when common soldiers are too strong & officers are too weak
    3. Collapse – when the officers are too strong & the common soldiers are too weak
    4. Ruin – When higher officers are angry & insubordinate & show the enemy signs of this before the commander can see he’s not fit for battle
    5. Disorganization – when the general is weak & has no authority, has no clear & distinct orders, no fixed duties to his men & the ranks are a mess
    6. Rout – When a general is unable to see the enemy’s strength & allows his smaller force to fight a larger one, & neglects to fix problems in the middle of a battle
  • Terrain can help an army but it can also hurt it, & can really test a general’s abilities
    • Know them, you’ll win. Ignore them, you’ll lose
    • Fight if victory is guaranteed, even if the ruler forbids it
    • Don’t fight is failure is guaranteed, even if the ruler commands it
  • A general who acts & commands without much of an eye for fame or is too much in fear of disgrace & only wants to protect the country is a gem.
    • Look at your soldiers as your children & they’ll stick by you
    • If you’re indulgent & without authority, kind but incapable, the soldiers will be useless
  • If we know our men can attack but don’t know the enemy can’t be attacked, we’re only halfway to victory
  • If we know our enemy can be attack but don’t know our men can’t attack, we’re only halfway to victory
  • If we know about our men & the enemy but not about the terrain we’ll fight on, we’re only halfway to victory
  • An experienced soldier is never bewildered & never at a loss
  • Know yourself & your enemy & you’ll win
    • Know the heaven & earth & you’ll be in complete victory

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