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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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CHAPTER SUMMARY (1.01-1.19): Assessing the Five Key Factors in Any Conflict
Planning before action is essential to victory and involves the assessment of five factors:

• Way, or the Tao. Unity (of leader and people) in a moral purpose. 
• Heaven. Weather and cultural atmosphere (season, time of day, social values). 
• Ground. Physical landscape—its limitations and possibilities, given society's rules.
• General. The traits needed in a military general, a good leader (see 1.05). 

 Law. The management of the group's resources. 

One must assess these factors for oneself and one's adversary, then compare the results to devise strategy.


[1.01] Warfare is important to a nation. It is a matter of life and death. It is the way to survival or to destruction. So study it.

[1.02] Study the five factors of warfare: Way, Heaven, Ground, General, and Law. Calculate your strength in each and compare them to your enemy's strengths.

[1.03] The Way is the strong bond your people have with you. Whether they face certain death or hope to come out alive, they never worry about danger or betrayal.*

[1.04] Heaven is dark and light, cold and hot, and the seasonal constraints. Ground is high and low, far and near, obstructed and easy, wide and narrow, and dangerous and safe.

[1.05] General* is wise, trustworthy, benevolent, brave, and disciplined.

[1.06] Law is organization, the chain of command, logistics, and the control of expenses.

[1.07] Every general has heard of these five factors [Way, Heaven, Ground, General, Law]. One who heeds them will be victorious; one who does not heed them will not be victorious.

[1.08] Therefore, calculate and compare your levels of strength in them [Way, Heaven, Ground, General, Law] to your enemy's, and determine whether you are superior.

[1.09] Ask: Which ruler has the Way; which general has the ability; which has advantage in Heaven and Ground; which implemented Law; which army is resilient; which officers and soldiers are trained; which rewards and punishes clearly. By asking these types of questions, I know who will win and who will lose.



1.03 The Way is the strong bond...never worry about...betrayal. The "strong bond" refers to the high moral purpose you and your people share; "betrayal," to your betraying them/not acting in their best interest.
1.05 General. The five basic traits needed in a military general: 1) wisdom (good judgment); 2) credibility (high reputation); 3) benevolence (positive intentions); 4) courage (fortitude); 5) discipline (reliability).

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