|Sun Tzu said:
1. Sun Tzu said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain, to wit: (1)
Accessible ground; (2) entangling ground; (3) temporizing ground; (4) narrow
passes; (5) precipitous heights; (6) positions at a great distance from the
||Here are six
different types of terrain which are described in more detail in
Understanding is at the heart of any success.
War is fought on the land, which means understanding the land is a
core route to success.
Likewise in business there is virtual and
geographic territory. Understanding this is key to success.
|2. Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called accessible.
||When something is
accessible for you, it likely will also be accessible for your
On open ground, a much stronger army will likely prevail,
although even this is open to attacks from all sides.
|3. With regard to ground of this nature, be before the enemy in occupying the
raised and sunny spots, and carefully guard your line of supplies. Then you will
be able to fight with advantage.
need not be level, just easy to traverse. Within this, some places
will be more advantageous than others. These are worth occupying
In accessible ground you may travel far, creating the need
for a long and vulnerable supply line which your enemy may try to
sever. Effort should be put into protecting this life-giving
|4. Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called
||Ground that is hard
to re-occupy includes hills, forests and other areas that give good
Such places are good to keep once you have occupied them. It is important to try to
prevent enemies from taking such ground.
|5. From a position of this sort, if the enemy is unprepared, you may sally
forth and defeat him. But if the enemy is prepared for your coming, and you fail
to defeat him, then, return being impossible, disaster will ensue.
||Entangling ground is
good for defending, so unless you are confident of a winning sortie,
it may be better to take a defensive
stance and let your enemy wear himself out on your defenses.
worse case is where you leave and cannot return, perhaps because you
are cut off or your enemy has taken the entangling ground whilst you
|6. When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first
move, it is called temporizing ground.
||Stalemate can ensue
from equality, for example where both hold entangling ground or
where there is a disadvantageous obstacle in the way.
when neither army is motivated to fight, being equal and bereft of
ideas, the ground may be taken as temporizing when it is not.
|7. In a position of this sort, even though the enemy should offer us an
attractive bait, it will be advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat,
thus enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has come out,
we may deliver our attack with advantage.
||Beware of being lured
out of a strong position, especially if the enemy also holds a
If going forward is disadvantageous then the
alternative is to go sideways or backwards. If in doing so you can
lure the enemy out into open ground, then you can gain advantage.
|8. With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first, let them be
strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy.
||Narrow passes are
dangerous if the ground above can be taken and the people below
showered from above. If the land above is untenable, then the pass
may be held with only a few people, such as in the Spartan adventure
Building walls and a defensive garrison can turn a
pass into an impregnable castle.
|9. Should the army forestall you in occupying a pass, do not go after him if
the pass is fully garrisoned, but only if it is weakly garrisoned.
||If the other side
gets to the pass first and has created a garrison, attacking this is
wasteful and likely futile, like laying siege.
The best hope is that the enemy is careless and has insufficient
guards, allowing you to charge in with a wholesale attack, or maybe
creep in at night.
|10. With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your
adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him
to come up.
||If you can occupy a
high place that is warm enough, and if the enemy is obliged or
motivated to attack such a position, then the height can give you a
strong advantage as you fire down on him from this natural
|11. If the enemy has occupied them before you, do not follow him, but retreat
and try to entice him away.
||As with entangling
ground, the best approach when the enemy is in a position of
defensive strength is to lure rather than directly attack.
general, when the enemy is stronger, then the best tactics are those
of subterfuge and surprise.
|12. If you are situated at a great distance from the enemy, and the strength
of the two armies is equal, it is not easy to provoke a battle, and fighting
will be to your disadvantage.
||When you are far away
but wish to fight, them you must approach them over ground that may
tire your troops and which may be hazardous and unfriendly, such
that when you reach the enemy your troops are exhausted and in poor
condition for a fight.
|13. These six are the principles connected with Earth. The general who has
attained a responsible post must be careful to study them.
||As with other rule
sets, these are derived from Sun Tzu's learning and experience.
Study these to determine what you can use to best effect.