Quick Story: 

Long ago, during the Warring States Period, Emperor Ho Lu was in a time of need. He was the emperor of a small state and needed help protecting his people from the other countries.

Day and night, he tossed and turned on his bed wondering things such as – who the spies were and whether his country was going to be invaded…

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One day he read the Art of War. He decided to call in Sun Tzu for a test into his royal court.

art of war

Their conversation looked like this:

Emperor Ho Lu “Sun Tzu. Since you believe you have such ability to command, why don’t you command my concubines to listen to you?”

Sun Tzu: “Okay. Will do sir.”

The concubines gathered into the royal court giggling and laughing. as they are given swords Two of the most beautiful concubines were chosen to lead the numerous concubines. 

Sun Tzu: “Okay. Hold your swords correctly!”

The concubines gathered into the royal court giggling and laughing. One of the concubines shouted “WHY SHOULD WE LISTEN TO YOU?”

Sun Tzu: “Listen Hold your swords correctly!”

The concubines continued to laugh.

Sun Tzu: “At this point since the orders were clearly given and communicated, the problem is not with the general it is with the soldiers. During war obeying orders is a matter of life and death so have those top two concubines killed.”

The two concubines were be-headed and Sun Tzu gave the order again and this time the concubines immediately obeyed. 

A Way to Think About Predicting Defeat and Victory During a Battle: 

Sun Tzu says that there are 5 factors to predicting war/loss in a battle:

(1) The Moral Law

(2) Heaven

(3) Earth

(4) The Commander(s)

(5) Method and discipline of the soldiers.

The following are quick definitions of what he means: ¹

Moral Law aka trust/respect/honor this is what causes the soldiers to be in complete accord with their ruler so that they will follow him regardless of their lives fearless in battle and facing danger.

Heaven or weather signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

Earth means distances, great and small; danger and security; the risk of life and death scenarios.

The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

There are some starting questions to ask when evaluating battles:

  1. Which side has the better general(s)? Which side are people willing to obey the general(s) to the point of death?
  2. Which side has the better economy?
  3. How are the soldiers trained?