It was rendered into English and published as Tao and War in 1977 by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn. That modern book included renderings of The Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The Art of War, is here revisited by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn 2013 to make it more web ready.
A general may court defeat in many ways. He may expose his army to six calamities which arise from the natural formation of the country:
1 – Accessible terrain,
2 – Entangling terrain,
3 – Temporizing terrain,
4 – Narrow passes,
5 – Steep country and
6 – Encampments too far from the battlefield.
1 – Terrain over which either army can freely move is called accessible. In this situation beat the enemy to the higher ground and the sunny places and carefully maintain your supplies. This way your men will maintain their strength and be able to fight with vigor.
2 – Terrain easy to leave but difficult to return to is called entangling. From terrain of this type you may strike out and defeat an unprepared enemy. However if he is prepared you will fail to defeat him. At that time a difficult return will become impossible and disaster will follow.
3 – When either side will lose by attacking first it is called temporizing terrain. In this situation offer the enemy attractive baits and lure him out but never accept his baits. Wait until his army exposes itself or you will attack to our disadvantage.
4 – Occupy narrow passes first if you can and garrison them strongly. If the enemy occupies a pass first don’t force your way through if it is strongly defended but only if you can take it quickly.
5 – In steep country you should occupy the high sunny spots and wait there for the enemy to come up. If the enemy occupies them first don’t press him but retreat and entice him away.
6 – If you are encamped at a distance from the enemy and the strength of the two armies is equal, it is not easy to attract him to fight, and attacking will leave you overextended and exhausted at the battlefield.
In addition to those six calamities which arise from the formation of the country are six calamities which arise from the behavior of men. The general must control these also. They are:
1 – Dispersion,
2 – Disobedience,
3 – Prostration,
4 – Ruin,
5 – Disorganization and
6 – Rout.
1 – If an army attacks another ten times more powerful there will simply be dispersion of the weaker.
2 – If the lower ranks have too many appeals to justice over the higher ranks there will be disobedience.
3 – If the higher ranks have too much authority over lower ranks there will be prostration.
4 – If the various commanding officers are insubordinate and resentful and can seek out the enemy and give battle on their own decision, before the general has prepared every element of his army for the battle, there will be ruin.
5 – If the general is weak or without authority, or if his orders are not clear and specific, or if there are not inescapable duties assigned to every officer and man, or if the ranks can be deformed into haphazard formation, there will be utter disorganization.
6 – If the general is incapable of understanding the enemy’s strength or brings his passive army to face a desperate one, or if he hurls his untrained recruits against their highly disciplined veterans, or if he fails to place honor bound soldiers in the lead positions, there will be a rout.
He who understands all this and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice will never lose. He who doesn’t understand, or is unable to make practical application of his knowledge, will be defeated. The general must control the six forces of defeat which arise from the natural formation of the country and the six which arise from the behavior of men.
In addition to those he must be skilled in shrewdly knowing the predicaments associated with the battle:
1 – Certain victory,
2 – Certain defeat,
3 – Soldier’s faith,
4 – Un-openness,
5 – Un-readiness and
6 – Disadvantages.
1 – If battle is certain to result in victory then the general must fight, even though the sovereign forbids it.
2 – If battle is certain to result in defeat then the general must not fight even at the sovereign’s demand. The general who attacks without seeking honor and retreats without fearing dishonor, whose primary ambition is to protect his nation’s people and serve his sovereign well is the gem of the nation. The sovereign must give him faithful encouragement and support.
3 – If the general treats his soldiers as little children they will follow him into the most dreadful situations. If he looks on them as his beloved sons they will stand by him even unto death. But if he is indulgent and can’t make his authority felt, or softhearted and can’t enforce his commands, or weak and can’t quell disorder, then his soldiers will become worthless as spoiled children and incapable of any organized activities.
4 – If we know our men are fully prepared to attack, but we are unaware the enemy is fully prepared to be attacked, we have gone halfway to defeat.
5 – If we know the enemy is unprepared to be attacked but we are unaware our men are not fully prepared to launch an attack, we have gone halfway to defeat.
6 If we know the enemy is unprepared to be attacked and if we know our men are fully prepared to launch an attack, but we are unaware the nature of the ground makes any fighting impossible, we have gone halfway to defeat.
All this the competent general knows and he forms his plan carefully before he makes the move, but once he moves, his resolve is firm. Remember the sayings, ‘If you know yourself you can’t be defeated and if you know your enemy you may gain victory, but if you can properly use the heaven and earth you may take your enemy whole and without any fighting.’