Terrain : chapter ten of 'the art of war'
English Translation by Lionel,Giles (1910)
1. Sun Tzu said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain,
to wit: (1) Accessible ground; (2) entangling ground;
(3) temporizing ground; (4) narrow passes; (5) precipitous
heights; (6) positions at a great distance from the enemy.
2. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides
is called accessible.
3. With regard to ground of this nature, be before
the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny spots,
and carefully guard your line of supplies. Then you
will be able to fight with advantage.
4. Ground which can be abandoned but is hard
to re-occupy is called entangling.
5. From a position of this sort, if the enemy
is unprepared, you may sally forth and defeat him.
But if the enemy is prepared for your coming, and you
fail to defeat him, then, return being impossible,
disaster will ensue.
6. When the position is such that neither side will gain
by making the first move, it is called temporizing ground.
7. In a position of this sort, even though the enemy
should offer us an attractive bait, it will be advisable
not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus enticing
the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has
come out, we may deliver our attack with advantage.
8. With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy
them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and await
the advent of the enemy.
9. Should the army forestall you in occupying a pass,
do not go after him if the pass is fully garrisoned,
but only if it is weakly garrisoned.
10. With regard to precipitous heights, if you are
beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the
raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up.
11. If the enemy has occupied them before you,
do not follow him, but retreat and try to entice him away.
12. If you are situated at a great distance from
the enemy, and the strength of the two armies is equal,
it is not easy to provoke a battle, and fighting will be
to your disadvantage.
13. These six are the principles connected with Earth.
The general who has attained a responsible post must be
careful to study them.
14. Now an army is exposed to six several calamities,
not arising from natural causes, but from faults
for which the general is responsible. These are:
(1) Flight; (2) insubordination; (3) collapse; (4) ruin;
(5) disorganization; (6) rout.
15. Other conditions being equal, if one force is
hurled against another ten times its size, the result
will be the flight of the former.
16. When the common soldiers are too strong and
their officers too weak, the result is insubordination.
When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers
too weak, the result is collapse.
17. When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate,
and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account
from a feeling of resentment, before the commander-in-chief
can tell whether or not he is in a position to fight,
the result is ruin.
18. When the general is weak and without authority;
when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there
are no fixes duties assigned to officers and men,
and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner,
the result is utter disorganization.
19. When a general, unable to estimate the enemy's
strength, allows an inferior force to engage a larger one,
or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one,
and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank,
the result must be rout.
20. These are six ways of courting defeat, which must
be carefully noted by the general who has attained
a responsible post.
21. The natural formation of the country is the soldier's
best ally; but a power of estimating the adversary,
of controlling the forces of victory, and of shrewdly
calculating difficulties, dangers and distances,
constitutes the test of a great general.
22. He who knows these things, and in fighting puts
his knowledge into practice, will win his battles.
He who knows them not, nor practices them, will surely
23. If fighting is sure to result in victory,
then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it;
if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not
fight even at the ruler's bidding.
24. The general who advances without coveting fame
and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only
thought is to protect his country and do good service
for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
25. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they
will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them
as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you
even unto death.
26. If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make
your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to enforce
your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder:
then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children;
they are useless for any practical purpose.
27. If we know that our own men are in a condition
to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open
to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.
28. If we know that the enemy is open to attack,
but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition
to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.
29. If we know that the enemy is open to attack,
and also know that our men are in a condition to attack,
but are unaware that the nature of the ground makes
fighting impracticable, we have still gone only halfway
30. Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion,
is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never
at a loss.
31. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and
know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt;
if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your