The Annotated Art of War (Parts 6.21-24: Understanding Them)
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Annotated Art of War > Parts 6.21-24: Understanding Them
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VI. Weak Points and Strong
|Sun Tzu said:
21. Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yueh exceed our own in
number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. I say then
that victory can be achieved.
||Having more soldiers
is an advantage, but it is not the only way that advantage can be
gained. Superior strategy and tactics can enable a far smaller force
The business world is rife with stories of small companies
that beat much bigger companies. Superior strategy and stronger
motivation go a long way towards success.
|22. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from
fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their
||It is usually not a
good idea to take on a superior force. It is better to avoid a fight
and even better to manage the situation so they cannot fight, for
example by cutting their supply lines or superior
|23. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force
him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
||With provocation, the
enemy will be forced into action, whereby you can study how they
If a provoked force leaps forward ready for action, then
this is different to them hunkering down to defend.
A way of provoking a volatile commander is to proffer insults and
You can also learn much by how they behave when they are not
fighting, for example whether they simply relax or engage in
|24. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know
where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.
||Compare your army
with the enemy in all dimensions, understanding in each who is
superior and by how much.
For example you can consider number of
troops, weapons (numbers and type), speed of movement,
communication, innovative use of tactics, and so on.
Perhaps the most critical comparison is between the senior
officers of each side.
Where you are superior, there is the place
to take advantage. Where you are weaker, then there is the place for