Monday, 16 December 2013

b.孫子兵法 (謀攻篇第三) (Chapter 3 - 1) (Part 17)

The last part is here:   孫子兵法 (作戰篇第二) (Chapter 2 - 6) (Part 16)


孫子曰:凡用兵之法,全國為上,破國次之﹔全軍為上,破軍次之﹔ 全旅為上,破旅次之﹔全卒為上,破卒次之﹔全伍為上,破伍次之。 是故百戰百勝,非善之善也﹔不戰而屈人之兵,善之善者也。
           故上兵伐謀,其次伐交,其次伐兵,其下攻城。攻城之法為不得已。 修櫓轒轀、具器械、三月而後成,距闉,又三月而後已。將不勝其忿 ,而蟻附之,殺士三分之一,而城不拔者,此攻之災也。故善用兵者 ,屈人之兵而非戰也。拔人之城而非攻也,破人之國而非久也,必以 全爭于天下,故兵不頓,而利可全,此謀攻之法也。
          故用兵之法,十則圍之,五則攻之,倍則分之,敵則能戰之,少則能 逃之,不若則能避之。故小敵之堅,大敵之擒也。
          故君之所以患于軍者三:不知軍之不可以進而謂之進,不知軍之不可 以退而謂之退,是為縻軍﹔不知三軍之事,而同三軍之政者,則軍士 惑矣﹔不知三軍之權,而同三軍之任,則軍士疑矣。三軍既惑且疑, 則諸侯之難至矣,是謂亂軍引勝。
          故知勝有五:知可以戰與不可以戰者勝,識眾寡之用者勝,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。
          故曰:知己知彼,百戰不貽﹔不知彼而知己,一勝一負﹔不知彼不知 己,每戰必貽。

Let's continue ...

孫子曰:凡用兵之法,全國為上,破國次之﹔全軍為上,破軍次之﹔ 全旅為上,破旅次之﹔全卒為上,破卒次之﹔全伍為上,破伍次之。 是故百戰百勝,非善之善也﹔不戰而屈人之兵,善之善者也。

Some translation suggested: 
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.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Moran:   Master Sun said:  In all cases, the principles for the use of warfare are as follows:   Maintaining the integrity of the [target] nation is more valuable than destroying it. Maintaining [a target] army whole is more valuable than destroying it. Preserving an entire battalion is of greater importance than destroying it. Maintaining a company is of greater importance than destroying it. The standard strength of a company was 100 soldiers. Maintaining the existence of a squad is more important than destroying it. The standard strength of a squad was 5 soldiers. For the above reasons, to achieve one hundred victories in one hundred engagements is not the highest good. To not engage and yet to subjugate the other side's soldiers is the highest good.

Let's discuss:

This chapter is about planning offensives.

孫子曰:凡用兵之法,全國為上,破國次之﹔   Sun Tzu said: In all cases when employing warfare, the principle must be to capture the target nation whole than to destroy it.
全軍為上,破軍次之﹔:   Capture a target army whole than to destroy it.
全旅為上,破旅次之﹔:   Capture a target battalion whole than to destroy it.
全卒為上,破卒次之﹔:   Capture a target company whole than to destroy it.
全伍為上,破伍次之。:   Capture a target squad whole than to destroy it.
是故百戰百勝,非善之善者也﹔:   So although you managed a hundred victories in one hundred engagements, it is not the most suitable outcome.不戰而屈人之兵,善之善者也。:   Therefore, to not engage and yet subjugate the target army is the most suitable outcome.

This chapter deals with Attack by Stratagems. This chapter is the most quoted for SunTzu.

This idea of capturing the target army or nation whole is an idyllic notion. In business, this is not easy. When you fight in business, it is usually very bloody. This concept of trying to capture the target whole is truly enlightening.

Let's try to use this principle in corporate mergers / acquisitions. This is almost true that the dominant player will try to exert its influence on the weaker player, change its culture. This is a hard dilemma. The reason why the weaker player is acquired or merged is due to its poor business idea or culture. If its culture is destroyed in the process of take-over, very likely its employees would feel intimidated and work poorly thereafter. It would be almost like buying a bad apple, one would rather build the entity from scratch. Hence, historically, many corporate mergers / acquisitions seldom end well.

There is no quick methodology to capturing targets whole, but, if one is mindful about its potential benefits, one should rise up strong.

A business leader is strong when he is magnanimous. Never treat an enemy as an enemy but treat him as a friend. During my younger days, I treated some of the competitions as enemies, but, it was not useful. By treating them as friends, you are laying a path for him to come to you without feeling small and weak. Once that is done, you will not only win his respect but his resources at your peck-and-call. Do think about it. It is good notion.

Another thought process is if you have captured the target by force and deny him totally of his food and resources thereafter, the target would put up the bravest defence. But, if you are shown to be magnanimous and that even after capture, you will leave his assets as still under his command, but, only collect your basic food and taxes. Thus, once the target leader fronts a great invading army, I am sure the target leader would think twice about fighting but consider surrender as the notion of surrender is nothing more than paying taxes to the conqueror. In exchange for the taxes, the target would feel safe as he would not be invaded again as the target is now under the official "honourable protection" of the conqueror.

Invasion by destruction, according to SunTzu, is a weak answer to conquest.


  1. I like to read about Sun Tzu. Thank you for your efforts.

  2. Thank you, Sir, for visiting.

    孫子兵法 is a rare book. To understand its philosophy, we must look through it layer by layer.

    Hopefully, we make less mistakes in our paths. SunTzu has paid his life for this book. We must therefore respect his effort most.

  3. I believe the government-of-the-day knew exactly what's happening on the ground. She would have analyzed the situation to death. But, why is she not acting right? Well, it simply meant that her aim is not aligned with the commoners on the street. It was as clear as the day.

    One day in the near future, a cute Uncle Jang would be sacrificed on the altar. Nothing is a free lunch in this world.

    I have tried posting a comment on Gintai's blog, but I don't seem to be able to. So I logged the comment here.

  4. Hi,
    Maybe it's under spam. I'll check thru. I did blog about one Sun Tzu expert. He made his living by giving talks on Sun Tzu but he can't read or speak Chinese. It's amazing. I can't paste the lin here. Just go to my site to do a search for Sun Tzu. Cheers.

    1. LOL ...

      Maybe I need to sign up a wordpress account.

      Still can't post. Anyway, employing the good part of SunTzu's art of war will make you strong.

      SunTzu's art of war is not meant for teaching, it is meant only for application.

      At least your smart SunTzu expert applied his art of war well, he didn't retire on a little island.