The Art of War – Fierceness in Combat

From Book 12 – Fierceness in Combat

Fierceness is a natural state when troops see the wisdom of their leader. Correct tactics are required to ensure that any approach to the enemy will be consistent with victory. It is the perceptive warlord who prepares for any eventuality and accepts victory with a glad heart. To do battle and be saddened by it is not to be considered meritorious. A warlord and his warriors exist to maintain the state for the ruler.

If the warlord is also the ruler, then it is advantageous for him to understand the need for the destruction of the leader he is overthrowing. He should be sage and think of nothing except victory, followed by proper and intelligent maintenance of the conquest. When this is done, all things under Heaven respond with harmony in accordance with his true desires.

All supplies and materials for the invasion should be on hand at all times. It is a time of laboring when the warlord must seek weapons in order to repel an attack. Likewise, he must have adequate resources available if he is to take the offensive. He must know that timing is essential for victory and must be in accord with Heaven before starting an offensive of defensive attack. Both conditions are the same in the eyes of the warlord.

When the attack is begun, the warlord makes sure that his timing is correct with regard to all conditions. If the attack is easily repelled, then it is not wise to attempt another entrance into the enemy camp without reconsidering the situation. The enemy may now be prepared and will deal destruction in return for entrance into their domain. They will be merciless. Restructure the components of the attack and create more difficulty before entering enemy ground a second time. If you are repelled a second time, it is prudent to get out entirely.

The warlord understands the types of attack to be used. If an attack is begun from the outside of the enemy camp and produces the results sought after, it may not be necessary to enter into the midst of the enemy. Perhaps the enemy will destroy himself by being unprepared. If you enter into the enemy camp, be prepared to fight furiously and make sacrifices where necessary. The enemy is fighting from a place of death.

Let your attack be of such ferocity as to destroy the morale of the enemy. Attack his lines of supply. Use your engineers to destroy his machinery and equipment for survival. Destroy his records and sources of information. Use any method you can devise to accomplish these ends. Be merciless. Any other form of thinking is incorrect and Heaven will not favor you if you show leniency where none is required. Compassion incorrectly placed will not bring victory; it will bring humiliation regardless of the outcome of the battle. Too many people will have discriminate thoughts about your actions, and it will cost you respect in the eyes of your superiors and your men.

Anger prevents even the greatest of leaders from acting intelligently. Rage and passion are not substitutes for cold-blooded planning in the destruction of an enemy. The judicious warlord understands all of this and maintains his position with respect to Heaven. Heaven looks upon him with approval as a leader of good cause. He is favored among all others. The state is maintained in joy and the ruler is able to relax while making further preparations for the future with confidence.

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2 comments on “The Art of War – Fierceness in Combat

  1. Hello Hanshi,

    I read Suntzu (or Suntze) too but if i had to choose between Musashi and Suntzu regarding my martial arts practice, i would choosen the japanese one, because of his experience in singular duel…
    as there is no record abt Suntzu duels.


    • Musashi certainly relates to mortal combat, Sun Tzu relates to the management of specific situations and though the fierceness of combat is discussed, it should only be used as a final resort and then, with all commitment and conviction; a fierceness of passion. Combat on the level of Sun Tzu’s words apply to negotiations while both attitudes, Musashi and Sun Tzu, complement the need to understand one’s position in all aspects of life.

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