The Art of War (Sun)/Section XI

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XI. 九地篇

  1. 孫子曰用兵之法有散地有輕地有爭地有交地有衢地有重地有圮地有圍地有死地
  2. 諸侯自戰其地者爲散地

XI. The nine situations.

1. Sun Tzu said that the art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground.

2. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground.


  1. 入人之地而不深者爲輕地
  2. 我得則利彼得亦利者爲爭地
3. When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground. 4. Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side, is contentious ground.


  1. 我可以往彼可以來者爲交地
  2. 諸侯之地三屬先至而得天下之衆者爲衢地
5. Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground. 6. Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states, so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is ground of intersecting highways.


  1. 入人之地深背城邑多者爲重地
  2. 山林險阻沮澤凡難行之道者爲圮地
  3. 所由入者隘所從歸者迂彼寡可以擊吾之衆者爲圍地
  4. 疾戰則存不疾戰則亡者爲死地
7. When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious ground.

8. Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens--all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground.

9. Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground.

10. Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground.


  1. 是故散地則無戰輕地則無止爭地則無攻
11. On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not. On facile ground, halt not. On contentious ground, attack not.


  1. 交地則無絶衢地則合交
  2. 重地則掠圮地則行
12. On open ground, do not try to block the enemy's way. On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies. 13. On serious ground, gather in plunder. In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march.


  1. 圍地則謀死地則戰
  2. 所謂古之善用兵者能使敵人前後不相及衆寡不相恃貴賤不相救上下不相收
14. On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem. On desperate ground, fight.

15. Those who were called skilful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy's front and rear;

to prevent co-operation between his large and small divisions; to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad, the officers from rallying their men.


  1. 卒離而不集兵合而不齊
  2. 合於利而動不合於利而止
  3. 敢問敵衆整而將來待之若何曰先奪其所愛則聽矣
16. When the enemy's men were united, they managed to keep them in disorder.

17. When it was to their advantage, they made a forward move; when otherwise, they stopped still.

18. If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”


  1. 兵之情主速乘人之不及由不虞之道攻其所不戒也
19. Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.


  1. 凡爲客之道深入則專主人不克
  2. 掠於饒野三軍足食
  3. 謹養而勿勞併氣積力運兵計謀爲不可測
20. The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country, the greater will be the solidarity of your troops, and thus the defenders will not prevail against you.

21. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food.

22. Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. Keep your army continually on the move, and devise unfathomable plans.



  1. 投之無所往死且不北死焉不得士人盡力
  2. 兵士甚陷則不懼無所往則固深入則拘不得已則鬥
23. Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. 24. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.


  1. 是故其兵不修而戒不求而得不約而親不令而信
  2. 禁祥去疑至死無所災
25. Thus, without waiting to be marshalled, the soldiers will be constantly on the qui vive; without waiting to be asked, they will do your will; without restrictions, they will be faithful; without giving orders, they can be trusted. 26. Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared.


  1. 吾士無餘財非惡貨也無餘命非惡壽也
  2. 令發之日士卒坐者涕霑襟偃臥者涕交頤投之無所往者諸劌之勇也
27. If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity. 28. On the day they are ordered out to battle, your soldiers may weep, those sitting up bedewing their garments, and those lying down letting the tears run down their cheeks. But let them once be brought to bay, and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei.


  1. 故善用兵譬如率然率然者常山之蛇也擊其首則尾至擊其尾則首至擊其中則首尾俱至
29. The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch'ang mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.


  1. 敢問兵可使如率然乎曰可夫吳人與越人相惡也當其同舟而濟遇風其相救也如左右手
  2. 是故方馬埋輪未足恃也
30. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan, I should answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other's assistance just as the left hand helps the right. 31. Hence it is not enough to put one's trust in the tethering of horses, and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground.


  1. 齊勇若一政之道也
  2. 剛柔皆得地之理也
  3. 故善用兵者攜手若使一人不得已也
32. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.

33. How to make the best of both strong and weak — that is a question involving the proper use of ground.

34. Thus the skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand.


  1. 將軍之事靜以幽正以治
  2. 能愚士卒之耳目使之無知
35. It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order. 36. He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance.


  1. 易其事革其謀使人無識易其居迂其途使人不得慮
37. By altering his arrangements and changing his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose.


  1. 帥與之期如登高而去其梯帥與之深入諸侯之地而發其機
  2. 焚舟破釜若驅羣羊而往驅而來莫知所之
38. At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand. 39. He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots; like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and nothing knows whither he is going.


  1. 聚三軍之衆投之於險此謂將軍之事也
  2. 九地之變屈伸之利人情之理不可不察也
  3. 凡為客之道,深則專,淺則散
  4. 去國越境而師者絶地也四達者衢地也
40. To muster his host and bring it into danger: — this may be termed the business of the general.

41. The different measures suited to the nine varieties of ground; the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics; and the fundamental laws of human nature: these are things that must most certainly be studied.

42. When invading hostile territory, the general principle is, that penetrating deeply brings cohesion; penetrating but a short way means dispersion.

43. When you leave your own country behind, and take your army across neighbouring territory, you find yourself on critical ground. When there are means of communication on all four sides, the ground is one of intersecting highways.


  1. 入深者重地也入淺者輕地也
  2. 背固前隘者圍地也無所往者死地也
  3. 是故散地吾將一其志輕地吾將使之屬
44. When you penetrate deeply into a country, it is serious ground. When you penetrate but a little way, it is facile ground.

45. When you have the enemy's strongholds on your rear, and narrow passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground. When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground.

46. Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose. On facile ground, I would see that there is close connection between all parts of my army.


  1. 爭地吾將趨其後
47. On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear.


  1. 交地吾將謹其守衢地吾將固其結
  2. 重地吾將繼其食圮地吾將進其塗
  3. 圍地吾將塞其闕死地吾將示之以不活
48. On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye on my defenses. On ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances.

49. On serious ground, I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies. On difficult ground, I would keep pushing on along the road.

50. On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way of retreat. On desperate ground, I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives.



  1. 故兵之情圍則禦不得已則鬥過則從
51. For it is the soldier's disposition to offer an obstinate resistance when surrounded, to fight hard when he cannot help himself, and to obey promptly when he has fallen into danger.


  1. 是故不知諸侯之謀者不能預交不知山林險阻沮澤之形者不能行軍不用鄉導者不能得地利
  2. 四五者不知一,非霸王之兵也
52. We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides. 53. To be ignored of any one of the following four or five principles does not befit a warlike prince.


  1. 夫霸王之兵伐大國則其衆不得聚威加於敵則其交不得合
  2. 是故不爭天下之交不養天下之權信己之私威加於敵故其城可拔其國可隳
54. When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy's forces. He overawes his opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him. 55. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry, nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his antagonists in awe. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms.


  1. 施無法之賞懸無政之令犯三軍之衆若使一人
56. Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders without regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man.


  1. 犯之以事勿告以言犯之以利勿告以害
  2. 投之亡地然後存陷之死地然後生
57. Confront your soldiers with the deed itself; never let them know your design. When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy. 58. Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.



  1. 夫衆陷於害然後能爲勝敗
  2. 故爲兵之事在於順詳敵之意
  3. 并敵一向千里殺將
  4. 此謂巧能成事者也
59. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.

60. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.

61. By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief.

62. This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning.


  1. 是故政舉之日夷關折符無通其使
  2. 厲於廊廟之上以誅其事
63. On the day that you take up your command, block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all emissaries. 64. Be stern in the council-chamber, so that you may control the situation.


  1. 敵人開闔必亟入之
  2. 先其所愛微與之期
65. If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in. 66. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.


  1. 踐墨隨敵以決戰事
  2. 是故始如處女敵人開戶後如脫兎敵不及拒
67. Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle. 68. At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.