Chapter 7 Weakness and Strength 30
1) Generally he who occupies the field of battle first and
awaits his enemy is at ease; he who comes later to
the scene and rushes into the fight is weary.
2) Therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the
field of battle and are not brought there by him.
3) One able to make the enemy come of his own accord
does so by offering him some advantage. One able to
prevent him from coming does so by hurting him.
4) If you are able to hold critical points on his strategic
roads the enemy cannot come.
5) When a cat is at the rat hole, ten thousand rats
dare not come out.
6) When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him;
when well fed to starve him; when at rest, to make
7) Appear at places to which he must hasten; move
swiftly where he does not expect you.
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8) Go into emptiness, strike voids, bypass what he
defends; hit him where he does not expect you.
9) To be certain to take what you attack is to attack
a place the enemy does not protect. To be certain
to hold what you defend is to defend a place the
enemy does not attack.
10) Therefore, against those skilled in attack, an enemy
does not know where to defend; against the experts
in defense, the enemy does not know where to attack.
11) Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace;
divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus, he is
master of his enemy's fate.
12) If I am able to determine the enemy's dispositions
while at the same time I conceal my own, then I can
concentrate and he must divide.
13) The enemy must not know where I intend to give battle.
14) Therefore, he must prepare in a great many places.
When he prepares in a great many places, those I
have to fight in any one place will be few.
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15) When he prepares everywhere he will be weak
16) One who has few must prepare against the enemy;
one who has many makes the enemy prepare
17) Thus, victory can be created. For even if the enemy is
numerous, I can prevent him from engaging.
18) Therefore, determine the enemy's plans and you will
know which strategy will be successful and which
19) Agitate him and ascertain the pattern of his movement.
20) Determine his dispositions and so ascertain the
field of battle.
21) Probe him and learn where his strength is abundant
and where it is deficient.
22) The ultimate in disposing one's troops is to be without
ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies
cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.
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23) It is according to the shapes that I lay plans for victory.
Although everywhere one can see the outward aspects,
none understands the way in which I have created
24) Therefore, when I have won a victory I do not repeat
my tactics but respond to circumstances in an
infinite variety of ways.
25) Now, an army may be likened to water, for just as
flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the
lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes
26) As water shapes its flow in accordance with the
ground, so an army manages its victory in accordance
with the enemy situation.
27) As water has no constant form, there are in war no
28) Thus, one able to gain the victory by modifying his
tactics in accordance with the enemy situation may
be said to be divine.