V. Directing Energy

These are the words of Master Sun:

You lead a large force the same way you lead a small group of men. To do so you must structure and subdivide the force in a suitable manner. And you command an army the same way you command a unit. To do so you must develop a good system of signals.

Through direct and indirect maneuvering you can make your army withstand the shocks of the enemy attacking. By knowing the relationship between weak points and strong points you can make your army become like a millstone falling on an egg.

Direct maneuvering is how you engage the enemy in battle, whereas indirect maneuvering is how you win battles. [Sun Tzu does not give a precise definition of what is understood by indirect maneuvering. It can be construed as the maneuvering of the army ahead of battle.]

Applied effectively, indirect maneuvers are boundless like the heaven and the earth, ceaseless like the great rivers. They can disappear like the moon and the sun, but, just like the moon and the sun, they always return. They are like the four seasons, always shifting and always returning.

There are only five musical notes, yet these may be combined into more melodies than can be listened to in a lifetime. There are only five primary colors -- blue, yellow, red, white, and black -- and yet these may be combined in more ways and nuances than can ever be seen in a lifetime. And there are only fives tastes -- salt, acrid, sweet, sour, and bitter -- and yet these can be combined into more flavors than can be tasted in a lifetime.

There are only two forms of maneuvering in battle: direct and indirect maneuvering. And yet these two forms can be combined endlessly. The two forms are born of each other. They are like a ring with no beginning and no end. No one will ever be able to determine where one form of maneuvering begins and the other ends.

When an army is put into motion it is like a spring river running swiftly downhill, bringing with it great boulders. Such is the energy embodied in water.

A hawk strikes at the precise right moment. This is how it captures and kills it prey. In the same way, an accomplished solider will strike at the precise right moment and in this way make his blow overpowering. The loaded crossbow is energy bottled up, and your decision to attack is akin to pulling the crossbow's trigger.

In the heat of battle, everything appears to be chaos, but beneath the veneer of chaos order should reside. Your formations can appear to be failing when faced with the enemy and yet remain perfectly intact. But to feign disorder requires perfect discipline; to feign fear requires bravery; and to feign weakness requires strength.

To hide order in chaos is not just a question of structuring the army correctly; rather, it requires a surplus of strength to hide beneath a mask of weakness. And this strength stems from the choices you make when you maneuver your army.

An experienced commander will therefore keep the enemy moving and employ feints to trick the enemy into action. He will make a tempting sacrifice and make the enemy lunge. When he puts out his bait, he will draw out the enemy, and when he does so, he will have skilled men ready to ambush the rushing enemy.

The skilled commander is focused on combining energies and does not rely too heavily on individual soldiers. Rather, through his ability to choose the right men, the skilled commander employs the principle of combined energy.

When a commander employs the principle of combined energy, his soldiers become like rolling logs or boulders. It is the nature of a log or a boulder to lie still on level ground and to move with great speed down a steep incline. If a log or a boulder is made to be square, it will find rest; if such things are round, they will roll. Following this, the energy of accomplished soldiers is like that of a round boulder thundering down from a soaring mountain.

This is what you must know on the subject of directing energy.

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