Greetings Barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights! Who else is slaying the week? I, myself, had a few setbacks but it was a great week for writing. I have discovered a few things that make this whole blogging thing manageable. I must say that I am starting to have a working system for writing after trying out some stuff I have read. Aside from that, I will be having Pancake over the weekend. So, I’m getting my sexy on and I am quite excited. But enough of that, I am trying to throw you off into something unrelated. As well all know, Life is always about movement or the lack thereof. Forward, backward, or at standstill, life happens when it happens. Kismet does not care whether you’re taking a humongous dump or having the greatest fuck of your life when it decides to screw you. Thus you must be aware of each situation that passes and to where you are currently standing. But life is not that cruel, it usually rewards those who are in complete awareness and know how to act on the signs.
On the previous chapter of The Art of War, we talked about variation in tactics: Of how to move when things did not go to plan. And of the dangerous sins that must be corrected at all cost to succeed. We talked about how knowledge is useless when not put into action, hence its importance, and the dangers of being petty and the uselessness of being critical of others. I started this very series as a way to understand the principles of warfare and use it to serve modern life. I wanted to understand the complexities of life and try to it for our consumption. Not to have the means to deal with enemies but rather a way to deal with life.
Now, let us put on our big boy pants and strap ourselves in. Let us begin.
While high grounds are of strategic importance, the level of elevation also important. Too high, and you will have no means of escape but to go down. Position yourself at a point where you can see everything that also offers a means to fallback. A top is often a lonely place, as they say. Any form of support may have difficulty reaching you when you are up high. Always remember that high ground is a position of advantage not of disadvantage.
If the situation cannot be helped, try to mitigate the risk by positioning to a secure point. Wait for any relief to arrive; it is also wise to find a way to fall back. A position of extreme height is difficult unless you know what you are doing.
Obstacles are often difficult to overcome, and you can get stuck at a certain point. If there is competition, avoid engaging when they are about to take on the obstacle. Engage competitions when they are occupied with an obstacle. By doing so, you can overcome a greater force than your own. Be aware when taking on an obstacle as the same tactics can also be used against you. Always use whatever natural advantage at your disposal.
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 (https://amzn.to/2Gw4Pxx)
When tackling an obstacle, always be aware of its difficulty. Even an approximation, as obstacles will eat away your time and leaves you vulnerable. Try to do such obstacles with haste.
Try to mitigate risk by hiding in direct sight (avoid giving away your current position). Make a habit of taking on challenges in silence.
Plain and simple something proves to be more helpful as it gives you a better vantage of everything. Thus allowing you to have the foresight and make necessary adjustments.
The main goal is to be aware of each situation and act. Know every advantage and disadvantage you may come across. Life is a series of situations; It has its ups and downs. It pays to know your way in each situation you put yourself into.
High ground offers security and comfort.
Obstacles snap away your focus and time, leaving you vulnerable.
Position yourself in situations that have an advantage and allow you to move. It does not take much to cause a man to tumble. Be aware that one should always respect each situation that is presented.
An unambiguous and clear situation often yields the best situations for action. But do not fret, ambiguity can also be used to your advantage. As it could also mislead your unknowing competitions to an obstacle. Use this to make it difficult for those on the other side. This is the reason why knowing what lies ahead is so important.
Beware of what lies underneath the surface, there are surprises at every corner. Take the time to assess the situation to make sure it is safe. It is also wise to conceal yourself and be subtle about your actions.
If an enemy does not attack nor flee, then ask yourself why. It is either they are confident or they do not see its worth. To confirm, look for signs of confusion in their side. Confidence is calm and quiet while Insecurity is loud.
An enemy who does not simply engage, they want to engage you on their terms or may have found a way to ambush you. Beware of this; again not everything is what it seems. Speaking of ambush, beware of the enemy who is too relaxed and makes it too easy for you to defeat them. They are either foolish or you are walking into an ambush.
Beware of any movements, even in places you do not see. There is wisdom in the old adage “If there is smoke, there is fire”. Be suspicious of things that are out of the ordinary.
Learn to read signs, anything that is out of the ordinary has a likelihood of being a cover. Take note of the indirect or subtle movements of your enemies as it usually means a greater scheme is at work.
Beware of compliance without any explicit terms, attempting to gain your trust. Be wary of future betrayals. Enemies that act as if you have the same ways even when you know that it is not their way is a sign of deceit. Any form of chaos may be a ruse to lure you, beware of disorder that has a method in it. Watch out for enemies that withdraw without any sense. If they are making it too easy for you then it is a ploy to entrap you.
Signs of Weakness
Bad posture, puffy eye bags, and loss of weight (to name a few) are often signs of lack of rest or too much stress. This is why it is important to keep up with the appearance. It recently dawned on me that dressing up and taking care of yourself (even trying to appear like so) means keeping your hands up. If you look like you have given up on yourself that does not translate into winning. The same thing can be said about manners and common courtesy. If someone abandons their manners then things are not going well for that person.
If an opportunity presented itself, and the enemy does not take it means they are exhausted. They are unmotivated and tired.
Be keen in looking for signs up to the tiniest details, if there is smoke then there is fire. Bad behavior is often the result of bad leadership. Internal conflict and shouting are often signs of rising discontent. People who do not prepare for their next step or does not look forward have already given up in life. People who put their all usually delivers the final blow. Whispers and murmurs are often a sign that not everybody agrees.
Rewards are given to motivate but if used in excess, they are unconvincing. Punishments are the opposite of rewards. If used in excess usually means that the leadership is desperate.
An enthusiastic start that dwindles after is a clear sign of lack of knowledge. It means they are biting more than they can chew.
Beware of the enemy’s compliments. Compliments soften you and turn your guard down. Compliments are great for making friends but beware from where it is coming from.
Be on guard for an adversary that prepared to confront you but with no action. They are stalking you, trying to unsettle you and get into your nerves. Be vigilant in this kind of situation.
When in direct conflict with an equal in forces, apply your cunning and wit.
Planning is key in winning conflicts, regardless of the plans made. The act of planning itself means you are preparing even when everything is not foreseen.
Control of Soldiers
Avoid demanding and earn the respect of those who surround you. Thinking that they will follow you out of the goodness of their heart and not of their own personal interest is gullibility. Earn their respect by being reliable and useful, earn their trust by being honest. It may come to your surprise that being nice does not earn you respect.
Discipline should always be reasonable. They are more likely to be accepted if they understood the reason they are being punished.
Always be consistent and firm. You have to walk the talk otherwise you are instilling that you are of no importance. But of course, you can always retract your words if it is unwise (as all things change). If this is the case, then replace it with another firm word.
Show confidence in yourself, your words, and those who follow you. A show of confidence can increase performance. Avoid poor and disrespectful ways of dealing with yourself and others.
Life happens when it happens and it best if you are in full awareness of your life. It pays to know how to read the signs. If you want something, the universe will conspire for you to get it. You have to be good at reading the signs.
So there you have it, Chapter 9 of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. A few chapters more and we are nearing the end. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I wish you are all with me when I reach the final conclusion of the book.
To COURAGE & FREEDOM!
The Art of War Round-up:
- The Art of War: Laying Plans
- The Art of War: Waging War
- The Art of War: Attack By Stratagem
- The Art of War: Tactical Dispositions
- The Art of War: Energy
- The Art of War: Weak Points and Strong
- The Art of War: Maneuvering
- The Art of War: Variation in Tactics