, , , , , ,



Sun Tzu

Written about 500 B.C. in China

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.


At the Capital

This study of evil and war is of vital importance to the peace of the world. Its subject is the life or death of entire peoples, and of the methods required for attaining the security or ruin of nations. It must never be neglected by a sovereign or his general. This study is modeled on five variable factors which must be controlled by the general and by seven deliberations which the sovereign must make when he seeks to foresee the conditions which will later prevail in the battlefield.

The general must control:

1 – The moral law,

2 – Heaven,

3 – Earth,

4 – Leadership and

5 – Military organization.

1 – The moral law refers to the overwhelming of personal remorse. It causes a soldier to instantly obey his general.

2 – Heaven refers to the moment of the command decision, whether it is to be night or day, cold or hot, wet or dry.

3 – Earth refers to the securities against calamitous defeat when faced with distances great and small, marches dangerous and secure, narrow passes and open fields.

4 – Leadership refers to the commander’s reputation for wisdom, sincerity, humanity, perseverance and strictness.

5 – Military organization refers to the grouping of the army into functional subdivisions, the granting of rank among the officers, the maintenance of communication within the army, the feeding of the army and the control of military expenses.

Those five subjects must be controlled by the general; if he masters them he may be victorious; if he doesn’t he will be defeated.

When the sovereign seeks to determine the military balance of power, he should compare the opposing states in the following way:

1 – Which of the two peoples is capable of the moral law?

2 – Which of the two generals has the greatest ability?

3 – Which has the advantageous gradients granted by heaven and earth?

4 – Which army is most rigorously disciplined?

5 – Which army is larger?

6 – Which army is most proficiently trained?

7 – Which army has the greatest justice in reward and punishment?

By weighing those seven deliberations one may anticipate victory or defeat.

A general who controls his factors and is able to act upon them will conquer; retain him in command! A general who doesn’t understand those factors or one who isn’t able to act upon them will bring your people defeat; he must be dismissed beforehand. Heed and profit from these suggestions, but be prepared to make advantage of unexpected developments. When circumstances are favorable, modify your plans accordingly.

Statecraft is founded on Deception!

Therefore, when we intend to wage war on a foreign state we must seem unable; when preparing our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are advancing we must make the enemy believe we are withdrawing; when withdrawing we must make him believe we are advancing. Lay out baits to attract the enemy. Feign a flight so he will charge, then crush him in the prepared trap. If he feels secure at all points, prepare for his immediate attack. If he has the advantages, temporize with him. If their general has a quick temper, seek to irritate him. Feign weakness, that he will become lax. If his army needs a rest, harass it. If his men are disunited scatter them.

Attack them where they are unprepared. Surprise them where they are inattentive. Deception leads to victory and it must be used with utmost secrecy. Now sir, the generals who won battles made many preparations at home before the battles were fought, and the generals who lost battles made few preparations beforehand. Thus we know that thorough preparations lead to victory, hasty preparations lead to defeat and no preparations at all lead to calamity. You may now see who is most likely to bring the world complete and bloodless victories.

Search this site for THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu