The Art of War: Variation in Tactics

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”

Greetings fellow barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights! A few days more until the new Avengers movie and I am excited. I have always been fond of the fantastical and the extraordinary.  Since we are on the topic of the extraordinary, let me ask you what would you consider extraordinary? Will it be superhuman strength or perhaps supreme intellect? Is it the ability to pass through walls or maybe to shoot objects with deadly accuracy? Regardless, we all have our own idea of the fantastical and the extraordinary. We all have this vision of the kind of protagonist we wanted to be in life.

On the previous post in my series of The Art of War, we have talked about maneuvering and its importance, the price of haste as well as proper timing, familiarization, and effective communication, of acquiring crucial skills, remaining calm, and taking caution. It is about the different ways to navigate the various turns and tumbles of life in general. I started this series in hopes of understanding wisdom that has lasted the test of time, translating and applying it to suit our modern times.

So without any more delays, I now present you the next chapter. The Art of War: Variation in Tactics

On the Move

“Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, collects his army and concentrates his forces”

In life, it is crucial to figure out your needs, wants, and values. As it will be the ones that will determine the direction you are going to well as the method that you are going to use to get there. Intent and direction are crucial on knowing where to focus your attention. Remain vigilant even when settling down. Often times you are at most vulnerable at your comfort zone. Try to position yourself in a point where there is plenty of space to move around. High ground is often viewed as a position of power hence acquiring is of topmost priority. Gather the support of your friends and loved ones to move forward without much loss. Be quick to move out of dangerous situations where you are vulnerable. Avoid getting boxed in, as it requires more resources and effort to get you out in such a situation. When you found yourself cornered, you will have no choice but to fight. Hence, avoid getting cornered to avoid unnecessary engagements. In life, the most obvious path is always not the easiest. Life is often complicated and filled with unexpected challenges. Learn to pick your battles and avoid pettiness. Always think with the end in mind. Pettiness might expose a weakness that would later be exploited. And also, avoid being so critical of your family and friends. Human beings are not logical creatures but rather emotional ones. Do not arouse resentment among those who support you by being too critical of them. Nothing good ever comes out in overreaching thus it should be avoided. It depletes your resources and most of the time meaningless. Avoid taking counsel from someone who does not have as much to lose as you. Be discriminate of what advice to heed and what to take at heart. Not everyone has your best interest in mind.


“The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops.”

Simply knowing is not enough and you must put into action what you know. It takes a certain level of skill when it comes to putting what you know into action in various situations. A simple combination of varying actions can be powerful as well as unpredictable. With this in mind, you cannot help but agree to Cersei Lannister when she said; “Power is power”. A well thought out strategy is useless when it is not put into action. You must know what action is effective in each situation you face. Thus, there are two ways to meet knowledge. One way to attain it is by going out there and experience it. The cheap way is to observe and learn what worked and what did not for others. Be both a perpetual student and a veteran practitioner.  By being as such, you will have an insight into a situation even as it unfolds. This is where an advantage is drawn, so have the courage to go out there and have the humility to learn.  You may or you may not draw advantage and often times you have both. You must be aware of which side you stand to make plans and take the best possible course of action. Avoid reckless abandon at all cost. It is easy to lose track of the goal when you are all caught up in the moment. This also makes you susceptible to getting manipulated. Thus, practice controlled aggression or controlled enthusiasm. Be reserved and observe your surroundings in a realistic manner. Work towards attaining advantage and retaining it. Everything changes and every turn and tumble may cause you to lose the advantage. So pay close attention to every opportunity to snatch an advantage and keep it. Learn to inflict, exhaust and entice to draw an advantage. Conquer any challenge by being ready to take on it at any given time.

My faithful barbarians, a quick word before we proceed. In case you haven’t got a copy of The Art of War, I highly suggest checking out Jessica Hagy’s The Art of War Visualized. This is the one that I am using as a reference as I write this series. It is a re-energized version of the mythic teachings of Sun Tzu (translated by Lionel Giles) combined with the visual charts of Jessica Hagy that makes it more easier to understand. You can get it at Amazon.

Jessica Hagy – The Art of War Visualized (

Five Sins

“There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”

According to the book, there are 5 faults that would lead to ruin. These are:

  1. Recklessness – decision making or action based on strong emotions; Devoid of any consideration of reasonable facts.
  2. Cowardice – inaction due to an unreasonable sense of fear.
  3. Hasty Temper – provoked by pettiness with ease.
  4. Single-minded Honor / Sensitivity – unable to accept defeat and move on. Inability to learn from mistakes.
  5. Over-solicitude – unable to make a decision out of too much affection.

To be honest, there is no easy approach in life. There are a handful of ways to succeed yet plenty of ways to lose. If you can avoid these 5 common sins then you can manage to go a long way.

So there you have it, Chapter 5 of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. And according to the book, fearsome is the man who can adjust himself to anything; a man who is in complete control of himself and can weather a storm, a man who allows himself to move and can turn the tides to his favor. Lucky for us, we do not need to expose ourselves to gamma radiation. Or inject a super soldier serum to be the best version of ourselves.  Just an indomitable will and an insatiable desire to be better and having a better understanding of ourselves and our surrounding. With this, I will now conclude The Art of War; Variation in Tactics


The Art of War Round-up:

9 thoughts on “The Art of War: Variation in Tactics

Add yours

    1. Exactly! A well though strategy or even a good knowledge base is still useless when not put into motion. In my opinion, our action determines the amount of results that we’re gonna get. Sometimes even “winging it” is much better than a great plan with no action.

      Liked by 1 person

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