孫子曰：昔之善戰者，先為不可勝，以侍敵之可勝。不可勝在己，可 勝在敵。故善戰者，能為不可勝，不能使敵之必可勝。故曰：勝可知 ，而不可為。
見勝不過眾人之所知，非善之善者也﹔戰勝而天下曰善，非善之善者也。故舉秋毫不為多力，見日月不為明目，聞雷霆不為聰耳。古之所 謂善戰者，勝于易勝者也。故善戰之勝也，無智名，無勇功。故其戰 勝不忒。不忒者，其所措必勝，勝已敗者也。故善戰者，立于不敗之 地，而不失敵之敗也。是故勝兵先勝而後求戰，敗兵先戰而後求勝。
善用兵者，修道而保法，故能為勝敗之政。 兵法：一曰度，二曰量，三曰數，四曰稱，五曰勝。地生度，度生量 ，量生數，數生稱，稱生勝。 故勝兵若以鎰稱銖，敗兵若以銖稱鎰。 勝者之戰民也，若決積水于千仞之谿者，形也。
Let's continue ...
This chapter is about military shape.
孫子曰：昔之善戰者，先為不可勝，以侍敵之可勝。不可勝在己，可 勝在敵。故善戰者，能為不可勝，不能使敵之必可勝。故曰：勝可知 ，而不可為。
Some translation suggested:
Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat, but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy. Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.
Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength. The general who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth; he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven. Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves; on the other, a victory that is complete.
Moran: SunTzu said: Those in antiquity who were good at warfare first made sure that they could not be overcome in order to wait for such time as the enemy could be overcome. Being unconquerable is something that one can arrange on one's own behalf. Their being susceptible to conquest depends on them. Truly, those who are good at warfare can make themselves unconquerable, but they cannot make it so that the enemy must fall in defeat. So it is said: One can comprehend victory, but one cannot make it happen. Being invincible is a matter of self protection. Vulnerability is a matter of oneself going on the attack. 【PEM: In hand-to-hand combat, "protecting oneself" has at least two aspects. On the one hand, one can wall oneself off from attack by always staying barricaded at home or something of that sort. The problem with that approach is that one becomes one's own prisoner. Going about town in a tank is not much better.
【PEM: Walking down the street one can do much toward self protection by things such as not giving off victim vibrations, not walking into obviously threatening situations, not flashing a great amount of cash, etc. That kind of protection can go on right up to the moment that an assailant gets to within striking distance. At the point that one's back is to the wall, at the point when there is no way of escape, if the assailant persists in preparations for attack (and those preparatory moves may only take an additional second or so) it is not at all clear that one can be invincible. One's "mistake" was not to have stayed at home, having come to the aid of a damsel in distress, etc.
【PEM: This is the situation that is specific to the training of a martial artist. Many people will have other kinds of preparation to avoid attacks, and their ways will succeed or fail depending on circumstances. Many people will carry a pistol or other defensive weapon. But pulling a pistol puts one in the situation of possibly having to use it — and of then hesitating to use it due to psychological manipulation by one's assailant, awareness of a possible felony charge, etc.
【PEM: Massad Ayoob says to always make sure that any witnesses hear you say: "Don't threaten me! Put that gun down!" etc., not only in the hope that they may intervene but also, in case you hurt your assailant, so that it does not appear to witnesses that you were the felon.
【PEM: The key point that SunTzu is making, I think, is that there are disadvantages to going on the attack. The reason, especially in a self defense situation on the street, is that whoever attacks first has to commit and the person who awaits the attack has great freedom of movement with no countervailing momentum to overcome. One the attacker is in motion (or, if the defender is good enough to do a sen no sen defense as soon as the attacker's mind is in motion to attack), then the attacker is committed to one course of action an d changing his course of action will require resisting his own inertia. The defender, however, can go to either side, can step back, or can even step forward and totally disrupt most unarmed attacks. The mongoose knows how to defeat the cobra. (A sen no sen or "before the before" defense is one in which the attacker starts before the defender begins to move, but the defender still makes a counter - strike that connects before the original attack can be completed.)】
In the case of self protection there may be [a perceived] insufficiency. In the case of attack there may be [a perceived] excess in capacity. 【PEM: Self-protectiveness can be an indication that one does not believe oneself to have tactical superiority. Leaders faced with the need to defend their own territory often fear they may not be able to provide a sufficient defense. 【PEM: Aggressiveness can be an indication that one believes oneself to have the upper hand. On the other hand, it may be bluster. It is easier to overestimate one's capacities when it is the enemy's territory that is perceived as being placed at risk.】
Those who are good at self protection treasure resources away in all quadrants of the country. 【PEM: Resilience.】
Those who are good at attack move over all the land (as though travelling in the heavens). 【PEM: Mobility.】
So [by having the two strengths] one is able to protect oneself and also have complete victory. 【PEM: One is not tied down to any heavy defenses in one's own country but can melt and reform, never far from known caches. In a complementary way one has the mobility to permit one to strike anywhere within or around that domain.】
孫子曰﹕ SunTzu said:
昔之善戰者，先為不可勝，以待敵之可勝。不可勝在己，可勝在敵。: Seasoned warriors will ensure first they could not be overcome, while lie in wait for the time to overcome the enemy. One can make thyself unconquerable, but only the enemy can allow the conquest to be won.
故善戰者，能為不可勝，不能使敵必可勝。: Therefore, good warriors are those who are good at making themselves unconquerable, however they can never make sure victory of the enemy.
故曰﹕勝可知，而不可為。: So it is said: One can deduce victory, but one cannot make it happen.
不可勝者，守也﹔ If the battle cannot be won, defend.
可勝者，攻也。: If the battle can be won, attack.
守則不足，攻則有餘。: If defending, there is a perceived insufficiency. If attacking, there is a perceived excess.
善守者，藏於九地之下﹔ One is good in defence, military resources will be concealed in the deepest abysses.
善攻者，動於九天之上。: One is good in attack, military resources will be summoned as if from the highest heavens.
故能自保而全勝也。: Hence, in defence, one can totally self-preserve; on attack, victory is wholesome.
The translation is fucking weak. The translators have totally misunderstood the passage.
SunTzu obviously drew lessons from seasoned campaigners. He explained any clever warrior must first make himself invincible and totally defensible and attack only if he has the opportunity, only then can he be assured of full victory.
This is absolutely true in business. In business, forget about invading other competitor's products. Stay focused and concentrate on developing the product's quality. Only with quality, your product will not perish in the market. The price of the product is not an issue. If it is really that good, it can be priced higher. The market penetration may be slower but your competitors will not be able to kill you simply because their products are currently not as good as yours. Consumers are not dumb. They are great at discerning quality. They are just cheapskate, wanting great quality with zero price. But, pushed to the corner, the consumers will consume the best price-value product.
By retaining an invincible position, i.e., your product has a loyal following. Once the competitors show weakness, you can now attempt the attack and attain complete victory. But, in other chapters, this form of attacking is not the most ideal form of warfare.
SunTzu was unusually hateful of full battle engagement. I wonder why?