The Art of War: Terrain

Greetings Barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights!

Let me start off for thanking you again! First, I reached 1000 followers and second, a Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination! I wanted to thank you for helping me reach this new height in blogging. Special thanks to K. Alice and congratulations to my nominees!

Now back to business. There is no denying how much I love shoes and I got two pairs of what to be the greatest shoe I have ever worn. It was a great pair of penny loafers and double monk straps. What sets these 2 pairs of shoes from the rest of my collection is that they are both have leather soles. Shoes with leather soles are stylish as well as imposing. I love the sound of leather soles clacking on hallway floors. But what I do not like about leather soles is that they are slippery. And once, I almost slipped on my ass by walking into a wheelchair ramp. I almost slipped and made a fool out of myself in front of other people (I was fine, do not worry). I learned my lesson that day, but what was the main cause? Sure, it would be easy to blame the shoe and stop wearing them, but what could that achieve? Blaming the wheelchair ramp would be unfair. So, I instead blame me, for what you ask? For lacking situational awareness…

On the previous chapter of The Art of War, I have talked about movements when given a situation, of handling obstacles, and on how the enemy thinks. I have discussed possible signs of weakness that you can exploit, on how to prevent looking weak in front of an adversary, and on how to control the resources we currently have. With the series nearing its conclusion, I would like to say that it has been a great learning experience for me. To be honest, I started this series because I cannot think of anything to write. I wanted something that would help me understand the complexities of life.

War is a metaphor for anything you wanted to achieve in life. I wanted a practical approach to dealing with life and what is more practical than war. Impracticality has no place in war, where failure means death. One cannot afford to be ignorant of how things work, in war the goal is to win. So, without any further delays, I present to you Chapter 10 of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: Terrain.

Six Kinds of Terrain

Much like war, life is fought on the terrain. Understanding terrain is crucial to any success.

If you have access to something, then it is likely that others will have access too. On a level playing field, a stronger and more prepared person has a better chance to prevail. Accessible ground does not always mean level, but rather easy to navigate. Some places will have more advantage than the other and are worth occupying first. Much like a life of transparency. An honest life is tedious and open to scrutiny. You might not be able to defend yourself unless you are well positioned, well prepared, and strong.

Entangling ground refers to hills, forest, and other areas that provide good cover. Often entailing some challenge in occupying but rewarding. Same thing with living a life full of experience and challenges. You challenge yourself to grow. Yes, it may be difficult, but those difficulties define a man. Remember that a man’s life is of experience and challenges. Too much comfort bereft a man of his manhood.

The temporizing ground is where you have no room to move.  Avoid this at all cause; one cannot afford to be stuck in life. Living is a movement itself; the mere act of breathing is movement. By not limiting yourself, you are allowing yourself to be free. Be active instead of being passive.

During the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans utilized a narrow pass to halt a larger force. The narrow pass prevented the advancing enemy to advance in full force. This situation allows the Spartans to tackle things one at a time. Keep in mind that this requires fortitude as it is often an overwhelming situation. Fortitude along with grit is one of the makings of a man. Being able to withstand even the most overwhelming odds and move on. Never letting any situation or circumstance to grind him down.

Precipitous heights are what you call momentum and try to engage as much as possible. But, avoid engaging someone when they have momentum.

Positions at a great distance from the enemy are disadvantageous if you are taking the fight to the enemy. I have been talking about how futile overreaching was in chapter 1. Overreaching robs you of your energy. Reach only when something is within arm’s reach.

Understanding such things are the duty of a man who wants to win.

Six Calamities

A great man is not only responsible for claiming his victories but also in avoiding losses. There is no denying that sometimes, our losses lie heavier than our victory. Such is the reality that we must learn to accept.

Even with supreme confidence, a head-on approach may appear noble yet vain and foolish. Look for a more practical approach that can avoid even a small loss on your end. Avoid such display of vanity and be wise in your decision making. The best option is the one that has a greater chance of success but does not cost you an arm and a limb.

Precise action is critical, and lack of discipline is always damaging. Everything must work together towards attaining whatever goals. One cannot expect to go far when one does the opposite of what he is supposed to do. Instill discipline to yourself and reach for whatever you set your sights into. You cannot allow various aspect of your life contradict your goals. Know to manage your resources. Use the right tools to get the job done.

Applied Intelligence

In life, there is much consideration. Losing is often the result of failing to consider factors that lead to such loss. The one who thought out most of the variables has a greater chance of succeeding than those who did not. Again, knowledge is useless without its application. One must let his greater goals in life drive him and use his knowledge towards that goal. Knowledge is never power but rather knowing what to do and how to do it.

Soldiers as Children

Nurture your resources as if it was your children. Take good care of your body, mind, time, etc. Being a great parent requires a lot of sacrifices. A great parent has an obligation to nurture their children to be responsible adults. Same goes with your resources, one cannot abuse his body and pollute his mind. Take pristine care of your resources and treat them with the utmost regard. Do not take them for granted and help them to be the best they can be.

When to Attack

If you are ready to make your move but not aware of the situation ahead, it will lead to failure and vice versa. Knowing what lies ahead is as important as knowing what to do. You will not be able to take advantage if you do not know your own readiness. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Learn everything that you can to compensate for your lack of experience. Experience everything that you can to compensate for your lack of learning. Take careful consideration of everything.

So, there you have it Chapter 10 of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War dealing with both self and situational awareness. I hope you enjoyed it and thank you! We are nearing the book’s conclusion with a few chapters left so stay tuned!

Till we meet again, to COURAGE & FREEDOM!

12 thoughts on “The Art of War: Terrain

Add yours

  1. Mr. A, you are an insightful teacher. Even as a “retired” teacher, I still find much to learn from the wisdom that you share as well as my daily time with God’s word and prayer.

    You bring common sense to the practical patterns of life. Lastly, be careful when you are wearing those shoes with leather soles. I appreciate how you use humor, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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