14. We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole,
The original text has 以敵攻其一也, which in accordance with the T‘ung Tien and Yü Lan has been altered as above. I adopt the more plausible reading of the T‘u Shu: 是以十攻其一也, in spite of having to refer 十 to ourselves and not to the enemy. Thus Tu Yu and Mei Yao-ch‘ên both regard 十 as the undivided force, consisting of so many parts, and 一 as each of the isolated fractions of the enemy. The alteration of 攻 into 共 can hardly be right, though the true text might conceivably have been 是以十蔽攻其一也.
which means that we shall be many to the enemy’s few.
15. And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.
For 擊, the T‘ung Tien and Yü Lan have 敵. Tu Yu, followed by the other commentators, arbitrarily defines 約 as 少而易勝 “few and easy to conquer,” but only succeeds thereby in making the sentence absolutely pointless. As for Capt. Calthrop’s translation: “In superiority of numbers there is economy of strength,” its meaning is probably known to himself alone. In justification of my own rendering of 約, I would refer to Lun Yü IV. 2 and VII. 25 (3).
16. The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;
Sheridan once explained the reason of General Grant’s victories by saying that “while his opponents were kept fully employed wondering what he was going to do, he was thinking most of what he was going to do himself.”
and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.