The Art of War (Sun)/Section VIII

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VIII. 九變篇

  1. 孫子曰凡用兵之法將受命於君合軍聚衆
  2. 圮地無舍衢地合交絶地無留圍地則謀死地則戰

VIII. Variation of tactics.

1. Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, collects his army and concentrates his forces.

2. When in difficult country, do not encamp. In country where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In desperate position, you must fight.



  1. 途有所不由軍有所不擊城有所不攻地有所不爭君命有所不受
3. There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.


  1. 故將通於九變之利者知用兵矣
  2. #將不通於九變之利者雖知地形不能得地之利矣
  3. 治兵不知九變之術雖知五利不能得人之用矣
4. The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops.

5. The general who does not understand these, may be well acquainted with the configuration of the country, yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.

6. So, the student of war who is unversed in the art of war of varying his plans, even though he be acquainted with the Five Advantages, will fail to make the best use of his men.


  1. 是故智者之慮必雜於利害
  2. 雜於利而務可信也
  3. 雜於害而患可解也
7. Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.

8.If our expectation of advantage be tempered in this way, we may succeed in accomplishing the essential part of our schemes.

9. If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.


  1. 是故屈諸侯者以害役諸侯者以業趨諸侯者以利
10. Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them; and make trouble for them, and keep them constantly engaged; hold out specious allurements, and make them rush to any given point.


  1. 故用兵之法無恃其不來恃吾有以待也無恃其不攻恃吾有所不可攻也
  2. 故將有五危必死可殺必生可虜忿速可侮也廉潔可辱也愛民可煩也
11. The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. 12. There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
  1. 凡此五危將之過也用兵之災也
  2. 覆軍殺將必以五危不可不察也
13. These are the five besetting sins of a general, ruinous to the conduct of war. 14. When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. Let them be a subject of meditation.