Chapter 4 Dispositions 14
1) Invincibility depends on one's self; the enemy's
vulnerability on him.
2) It follows that those skilled in war can make
themselves invincible but cannot cause an
enemy to be certainly vulnerable.
3) Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility
of victory in the attack.
4) One defends when his strength is inadequate;
he attacks when it is abundant.
5) In preparing defenses, it is fundamental to rely
on the strength of such obstacles as mountains,
rivers and foothills.
6) Those expert in attack consider it fundamental
to rely on the seasons and the advantages of
7) Therefore, that skillful commander takes up a
position in which he cannot be defeated and
misses no opportunity to master his enemy.
8) Those who excel in war cultivate their own
humanity and justice and maintain their laws and
institutions. By these means they make their
9) Now the elements of the art of war are first,
measurement of space; second, estimation of
10) Measurements are derived from the ground.
11) Quantities derive from measurement, figures from
quantities, comparisons from figures, and victory
12) Ground includes both distances and types of
terrain; measurement is calculation.
13) Calculations are made respecting the degree
of difficulty of the enemy's land; directness or
indirectness of its roads; the number of his
troops; the quantity of his war equipment; and
the state of his moral. Calculations are then
made to see if the enemy can be attacked.
14) It is because of disposition, that a victorious
general is able to make his people fight with
the effect of pent-up waters.
15) The nature of water is that it avoids heights
and hastens to the lowlands.
16) Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness;
attack him when he does not expect it; avoid his
strength and attack his emptiness, and like
water, none can oppose you.
17) When a dam is broken the water cascades with
18) The force which confronts the enemy is the
normal force; that which goes to his flanks
19) No commander of an army can wrest the
advantage from the enemy without extraordinary
20) Generally, in battle use the normal force to
engage; use the extraordinary to win.
21) In battle, there are only the normal and extra-
ordinary forces, but their combinations are
limitless; none can comprehend them all.
22) When torrential water tosses boulders, it is
because of its momentum.
23) When the strike of the hawk breaks the body
of its prey, it is because of timing.
24) Thus, the momentum of one skilled in war is
overwhelming and his attack precisely regulated.
25) One who wishes to feign disorder to entice an
enemy must be well disciplined; to simulate
cowardice and lie in wait one must be courageous;
and to appear weak in order to make the enemy
arrogant one must be extremely strong.
26) Order or disorder depends on organization;
courage or cowardice on circumstances;
strength or weakness on dispositions.