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|Sun Bin's Art of War|
Inscribed bamboo-slips of Sun Bin's Art of War, unearthed in Yinque Mountain, Linyi, Shandong in 1972
Sun Bin's Art of War is an ancient Chinese classic work on military strategy written by Sun Bin, a supposed descendant of Sun Tzu who served as a military strategist in the Qi state during the Warring States period. According to historical records from the Han Dynasty, Sun Bin's Art of War contained an extensive 89 chapters, with four volumes of pictures attached, but was lost by the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. As a result, Sun Bin's Art of War is sometimes confused with Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
In April 1972, bamboo slips of both Sun Tzu's and Sun Bin's works were unearthed in the Yinque Hills (Linyi city, Shandong province). Due to natural erosion, some of the bamboo slips were damaged and difficult to read. After the initial collection and study by experts, the Cultural Relic Press published a new edition of Sun Bin's Art of War, divided into two volumes, each containing 15 chapters, from the 364 bamboo slips, with a total of 11,000 words.
After a decade of textual research and study, the Cultural Relic Press made a major adjustment to the book: the second volume was no longer considered to be Sun Bin's writings; the first volume was edited and one chapter detailing five types of training was added. The current edition of Sun Bin's Art of War contains 16 chapters from 222 bamboo slips, with a total of 4891 words.
Describes the four stratagems employed in the Battle of Guiling:
Sun Bin discusses with King Wei of Qi about war and states: "Only victory in war can bring about authority and prosperity". Sun believes that the historically progressive unification accomplished in war had been an important means of facilitating the submission of feudal lords. To start a war, one must have "a storage of materials, a just cause for war" and must "be well-prepared before launching an attack". Sun also pointed out that "Warmongers will inevitably lose and those who expect to make a fortune out of war will also suffer defeat and disgrace".
Sun Bin advises King Wei and Tian Ji, engaging them in a comprehensive discussion on his basic thoughts about strategy and tactics. The chapter focuses on resolute attacks on weakly defended key enemy positions and on the military philosophy of using Tao and flexible principles to attain victory.
Set in the Battle of Maling, Sun Bin and Tian Ji discuss the problems of battlefield positions in field operations. The combination of terrain, weapons and the types of soldiers is emphasized.
Comments on the basic principles of building and training an army, and on the factors of field command that will determine victory or defeat. On the topic of building an army, Sun Bin focuses on the employment of the best soldiers in terms of field command. He stresses 'five factors that will lead to constant victory':
There are also five corollaries that will lead to constant defeat:
Discusses the methods of a commander and the principles of battle formation.
It emphasises that a commander must "be well versed in both meteorology and geography. He also must get the support of his people at home, while understanding the actual situation of his enemy. In a direct battle, he knows well the basic points of the eight formations. If one is sure of victory he will fight; if unsure he should not fight." Sun Bin also emphasises "that in laying a formation, the army can be divided into three divisions. In each, the best soldiers should be placed as a vanguard and every team should be followed with a sustainable reserve."
He emphasises "dividing the army into three teams" and "engaging one team in battle in while leaving the other two strictly in defence."
Sun Bin says that an army must take an advantageous geographical position to attack enemy in a less defensible position. "When land is flat there should be more armed chariots; when terrain is difficult, more cavalry should be sent: and when is narrow and blocked, there should be more archers sent."
Chapter 14 is similar to military rules and regulations of the later ages. It may be divided into three parts: