SUN ZI said:  Generally,  he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits his enemy is at ease; he who arrives later and joins  battle in haste is weary.  And, therefore, one skil]ed in war brings the enemy to the field of battle and is not brought there by him.

    One able to make the enemy come of his own accord does so by offering him some advantage.  And one able to stop him from com lng does so by inflicting damage on him.  Thus, when the enemy is at ease, he is able to tire him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move.  All these can be done because you appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend.  That you may march a thousand li without tiring yourself is because you travel where there is no enemy.  That you are certain to take what you attack is because you attack a place the enemy does not or cannot protect.  That you are certain of success in holding what you defend is because you defend a place the enemy must hasten to attack.

    Theretore, against those skilful in attack, the enemy does not know where to defend, and against the experts in defence, the enemy does not know where to attack.

    How subtle and insubstantial,  that the expert leaves no trace. How divinely mysterious, that he is inaudible.  Thus, he is master of his enemy's fate.

    His offensive will be irresistible if he plunges into the enemy's weak points; he cannot be overtaken when he withdraws if he moves swiftly.  Hence, if we wish to fight, the enemy will be compelled to an engagement even though he is safe behind high ramparts  and deep ditches.  This is because we attack a position he must relieve. If we do not wish tc, fight, we can prevent him from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground.  This is because we divert him from going where he wishes.

    Accordingly, by exposing the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must be divided.  We can form a single united body at one place, while the enemy must scatter his forces at ten places. Thus, it is ten to one when we attack him at one place, which means we ale numerically superior. And if we are able to use many to strike few at the selected place, those we deal with will be in dire straits. The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known. In this way, the enemy must take precautions at many places against the attack.  The more places he must guard, the fewer his troops we shall have to face at any given point.

    For if he prepares to the front his rear will be weak; and if to the rear, his front will be fragile. If he strengthens his left, his right will be vulnerable; and if his right gets strengthened, there will be few troops on his left.  If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will be weak everywhere.  Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength from compelling the enemy to make these preparations against us.

    Therefore, if one knows the place and time of the coming battle, his troops can march a thousand Ii and fight on the field.  But if one knows neither the spot nor the time. then one cannot manage to have the left wing help the right wing or the right wing help the left; the forces in the front will be unable to support the rear,  and the rear will be unable to reinforce  the front.  How much more so if the furthest portions of the troop  deployments extend tens of li in breadth, and even the nearest troops are separated by several

    Although I estimate the troops of Yue as many, of what benefit is this superiority in terms of victory?

    Thus, I say that victory can be achieved.  For even if the enemy is numerically stronger, we can prevent him from fighting.

    Therefore. analyze the enemy's battle plan, so as to have a clear understanding of its strong and weak points.  Agitate the enemy, so as to ascertain his pattern of movement.  Lure him in the open so as to find out his vulnerable spots in disposition.  Probe  him and learn where his strength is abundant and where deficient.

    Now, the ultimate in disposing one's troops is to coneal them without ascertainable shape.  In this. way, the most  penetrating spies cannot pry nor can the wise lay plans against you.

    Even though we show people the victory gained by using flexible tactics in conformity to the changing situations,  they do not comprehend this. People all know the tactics by which we achieved victory, but they do not know how the tactics were applied in the situation to defeat the enemy.  Hence no one victory is gained in the same as another.  The tactics change in an infinite variety of ways to suit changes in the circumstances.

    Now, the laws of military operations are like water.  The tendency of water is to flow from  heights to lowlands.  The la w of successful operations is to avoid the enemy's  strength and strike his weakness.  Water changes its course in  accordance with the contours of the land.  The soldier works out his victory in accordance with the situation of the enemy.  Hence, there are neither fixed postures nor constant tactics in warfare.  He who can modify his tactics in accordance with the enemy situation and thereby succeeds in winning may be said to be divine.  Of the five elements, none is ever predominant; of the four seasons, none lasts forever; of the days, some are longer and others shorter, and of the moon, it sometimes waxes and sometimes wanes.