The Art of War (Sun)/Section IX

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IX. 行軍篇

  1. 孫子曰凡處軍相敵絶山依谷

IX. The army on the march.

1. Sun Tzu said: We come now to the question of encamping the army, and observing signs of the enemy. Pass quickly over mountains, and keep in the neighborhood of valleys.


  1. 視生處高戰隆無登此處山之軍也
  2. 絶水必遠水
  3. 客絶水而來勿迎之水內令半濟而擊之利
2. Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare.

3. After crossing a river, you should get far away from it.

4. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-stream. It will be best to let half the army get across, and then deliver your attack.


  1. 欲戰者無附於水而迎客
  2. 視生處高無迎水流此處水上之軍也
5. If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross.

6. Moor your craft higher up than the enemy, and facing the sun. Do not move up-stream to meet the enemy.

So much for river warfare.


  1. 絶斥澤惟亟去勿留
  2. 若交軍於斥澤之中必依水草而背衆樹此處斥澤之軍也
  3. 平陸處易右背高前死後生此處平陸之軍也
7. In crossing salt-marshes, your sole concern should be to get over them quickly, without any delay.

8. If forced to fight in a salt-marsh, you should have water and grass near you, and get your back to a clump of trees. So much for operations in salt-marshes.

9. In dry, level country, take up an easily accessible position with rising ground to your right and on your rear, so that the danger may be in front, and safety lie behind. So much for campaigning in flat country.


  1. 凡此四軍之利黃帝之所以勝四帝也
  2. 凡軍喜高而惡下貴陽而賤陰
  3. 養生而處實軍無百疾是謂必勝
10. These are the four useful branches of military knowledge which enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns.

11. All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to dark.

12. If you are careful of your men, and camp on hard ground, the army will be free from disease of every kind, and this will spell victory.


  1. 邱陵隄防必處其陽而右背之此兵之利地之助也
  2. 上雨水沫至欲涉者待其定也
  3. 凡地有絶澗天井天牢天羅天陷天𨻶必亟去之勿近也
13. When you come to a hill or a bank, occupy the sunny side, with the slope on your right rear. Thus you will at once act for the benefit of your soldiers and utilize the natural advantages of the ground.

14. When, in consequence of heavy rains up-country, a river which you wish to ford is swollen and flecked with foam, you must wait until it subsides.

15. Country in which there are precipitous cliffs with torrents running between, deep natural hollows, confined places, tangled thickets, quagmires and crevasses, should be left with all possible speed and not approached.


  1. 吾遠之敵近之吾迎之敵背之
  2. 軍旁有險阻蔣潢井生葭葦小林蘙薈必謹覆索之此伏姦之所藏處也
16. While we keep away from such places, we should get the enemy to approach them; while we face them, we should let the enemy have them on his rear. 17. If in the neighbourhood of your camp there should be any hilly country, ponds surrounded by aquatic grass, hollow basins filled with reeds, or woods with thick undergrowth, they must be carefully routed out and searched; for these are places where men in ambush or insidious spies are likely to be lurking.


  1. 敵近而靜者恃其險也
18. When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet, he is relying on the natural strength of his position.


  1. 遠而挑戰者欲人之進也
  2. 其所居者易利也
  3. 衆樹動者來也衆草多障者疑也
19. When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle, he is anxious for the other side to advance.

20. If his place of encampment is easy of access, he is tendering a bait.

21. Movement amongst the trees of a forest shows that the enemy is advancing. The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious.


  1. 鳥起者伏也獸駭者覆也
  2. 塵高而銳者車來也卑而廣者徒來也散而條達者樵採也少而往來者營軍也
22. The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambuscade. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming. 23. When there is dust rising in a high column, it is the sign of chariots advancing; when the dust is low, but spread over a wide area, it betokens the approach of infantry. When it branches out in different directions, it shows that parties have been sent to collect firewood. A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify that the army is encamping.


  1. 辭卑而益備者進也辭强而進驅者退也
24. Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.


  1. 輕車先出居其側者陣也
  2. 無約而請和者謀也
25. When the light chariots come out first and take up a position on the wings, it is a sign that the enemy is forming for battle. 26. Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot.


  1. 奔走而陳兵者期也
  2. 半進半退者誘也
  3. 倚仗而立者飢也
  4. 汲而先飲者渴也
27. When there is much running about and the soldiers fall into rank, it means that the critical moment has come.

28. When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure.

29. When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears, they are faint from want of food.

30. If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst.


  1. 見利而不進者勞也
  2. 鳥集者虛也夜呼者恐也
  3. 軍擾者將不重也旌旗動者亂也吏怒者倦也
  4. 粟馬肉食軍無懸缻不返其舍者窮寇也
31. If the enemy sees an advantage to be gained and makes no effort to secure it, the soldiers are exhausted.

32. If birds gather on any spot, it is unoccupied. Clamor by night betokens nervousness.

33. If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.

34. When an army feeds its horses with grain and kills its cattle for food, and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots

over the camp-fires, showing that they will not return to their tents, you may know that they are determined to fight to the death.


  1. 諄諄翕翕徐言人人者失衆也
35. The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking in subdued tones points to disaffection amongst the rank and file.


  1. 屢賞者窘也數罰者困也
  2. 先暴而後畏其衆者不精之至也
  3. 來委謝者欲休息也
36. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.

37. To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.

38. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.


  1. 兵怒而相迎久而不合又不相去必謹察之
  2. 兵非益多惟無武進足以併力料敵取人而已
39. If the enemy's troops march up angrily and remain facing ours for a long time without either joining battle or taking themselves off again, the situation is one that demands great vigilance and circumspection. 40. If our troops are no more in number than the enemy, that is amply sufficient; it only means that no direct attack can be made. What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength, keep a close watch on the enemy, and obtain reinforcements.


  1. 夫惟無慮而易敵者必擒於人
  2. 卒未親附而罰之則不服不服則難用卒已親附而罰不行則不可用也
41. He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

42. If soldiers are punished before they have grown

attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.


  1. 故令之以文齊之以武是謂必取
  2. 令素行以教其民則民服令不素行以教其民則民不服
  3. 令素信著者與衆相得也
43. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.

44. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be bad.

45. If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.