The Art of War (Sun)/Section III

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III. 謀攻篇

  1. 孫子曰凡用兵之法全國爲上破國次之全軍爲上破軍次之全旅爲上破旅次之全卒爲上破卒次之全伍爲上破伍次之
  2. 是故百戰百勝非善之善者也不戰而屈人之兵善之善者也
  3. 故上兵伐謀其次伐交其次伐兵下政攻城

III. Attack by stratagem.

1. Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.


  1. 攻城之法爲不得已修櫓轒轀具器械三月而後成距闉又三月而後已
4. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more.


  1. 將不勝其忿而蟻附之殺士三分之一而城不拔者此攻之災
  2. 故善用兵者屈人之兵而非戰也拔人之城而非攻也毀人之國而非久也
5. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege. 6. Therefore the skilful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.


  1. 必以全爭於天下故兵不頓而利可全此謀攻之法也
  2. 故用兵之法十則圍之五則攻之倍則分之
7. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem. 8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.


  1. 敵則能戰之少則能逃之不若則能避之
  2. 故小敵之堅大敵之擒也
  3. 夫將者國之輔也輔周則國必强輔𨻶則國必弱
  4. 故君之所以患於軍者三
9. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.

11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.

12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:—


  1. 不知軍之不可以進而謂之進不知軍之不可以退而謂之退是謂縻軍
  2. 不知三軍之事而同三軍之政者則軍士惑矣
13. (I) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army. 14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds.


  1. 不知三軍之權而同三軍之任則軍士疑矣
  2. 三軍既惑且疑則諸侯之難至矣是謂亂軍引勝
  3. 故知勝有五知可以戰與不可以戰者勝識衆寡之用者勝上下同欲者勝以虞待不虞者勝將能而君不御者勝此五者知勝之道也
15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

16. But when the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.

17. Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:

(I) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.

(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.

(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

(5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.


  1. 故曰知彼知己百戰不殆不知彼而知己一勝一負不知彼不知己每戰必殆
18. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.