Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sun Bin Bing Fa

Sun Bin's Art of war written by Sun Bin is among one of the famed military classics in China similar to "Sun Tzu's The Art of War which blongs to the theoretical work of military strategies during Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period. According to the account of the Han historical records, Sun Bin had 89 chapters with 4 volumes of pictures attached.
The contents were large and extensive but unfortunately were lost by the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty and which its strategies reflected his own experiences and history during his military engagements.

Rediscovery of the lost works

Not until April of 1972, when Bamboo slips of Sun Tzu's and Sun Bin's Art of War were unearthed in the Yin Que Hills , was this historical issue resolved. Because of natural erosion, the unearthed bamboo slips were broken and had deteriorated and difficult to reinterpret. After initial collection and study by the experts, the Cultural Relic Press published a new edition which is divided into 2 volumes, each containing 15 chapters including 364 bamboo slips, totalling 11,000 words.
Later, after a decade of textual research and study, the Cultural Relic press published the bamboo slips unearthed in a Han Grave of the Yin Que hills, in which a major adjustment was made to Sun Bin's Art of war. The 15 chapters of the second volume were no longer considered to be Sun Bins Writing and the first volume was edited and one chapter detailing five types of training added.
Now, the Sun Bin's Art of War contains 16 chapters, 222 bamboo slips and totalling 4891 words.

History of Sun Bin

Being a military strategist who lived during the warring states period Born in Qi,he was member of local Sun family famed for producing military strategist and was later on recognized for his military brilliance at an early age which he studied as a student of Master Guiguzi. He later on escaped from Wei to Qi when he was disfavored by king Hui of Wei and having been mutilated, through removal of the kneecaps, by Pang Juan who was jealous of his military talents. He later helped the King Wei of Qi defeated the general of the kingdom of Wei Pang Juan in the Battle of Guiling.

Sun Bin Bing Fa

Chapter 1 : Capturing Pang Juan

Describes the four Stratagem employed in the Battle of Guiling:
#Southward march at the initial stage of the war to avoid a decisive battle with Pang Juan
# Launching a False attack and feigning retreat defeat in Ping ling which reinforced Pang Juan's determination to Attack Handan.
# Direct advance on Kaifeng which is the capital of Wei to force Pang Juan to return for a rescue.
# Ambush at Guiling to destroy the enemy in one stroke.

Chapter 2: A Meeting with King Wei

It gives account of Sun Bin's presentation in his meeting with King Wei of Qi state and reflects Sun Bin outlook of War ''only victory in war can bring about authority and prosperity''. He believed that the historically progressive unification accomplished by war had been an important means and a guarantee with which to facilitate the submission of the feudal lords. To carry out a war, one must have ''a storage of materials, have just cause'' and ''be well prepared before launching an attack''. Sun Bin also points out ''Those who enjoy fighting will inevitably and those who expects to make a fortune out of war mongering will also suffer defeat and disgrace''

Chapter 3: King Wei Ask for Advice

It contains questions and answers between Sun Bin, King Wei and Tian Ji, comprehensively accounting Sun Bins basic thought on strategy and tactics. It focuses on the resolute attack of a key enemy position which is weakly garrisoned, and the military philosophy of using Dao to achieve a victory as well as flexible principles in employing military tactics.

Chapter 4: Tian ji ask how to construct a Defence

With the Battle of Mailing as the primary background, Sun Bin and Tian Ji
discuss the problems of battlefield positions in field positions in field operations, Emphasised is the appropriate combination of terrain, weapons and troop type.

Chapter 5 : selection of Best soldiers

It comments on the basic principles of army construction and training and the factors of field command that will determine victory or defeat. On the topic of army construction.
Sun Bin focuses on the employment of Best soldiers in terms of field command.
He stresses five 'five factors that will lead to constant victory'
# ''The Commander who has won the sovereign's trust and has an independent command will win.''
#''The one who knows the art of war will win''
#''The one who gets uniform support from his soldiers will win''
#''The one whose subordinate work in concert with each other will win''
#''The one who is good at analysing and utilising terrain will win''

There are also five corollaries that will lead to constant defeat
#''The one who command is constrained by the sovereign will be defeated''
#''The one who does not know the Art of war will be defeated''
#''The one whose subordinates do not work harmony will be defeated''
#''The one who does not know to use spies will be defeated.''
#''The one who does not the support of his soldiers will be defeated''

Chapter 7: Eight Formations

It discusses the ways a commander and the principles of battle formation.
It emphasises that commanders must ''be well versed in both meteorology and geography. He also must get the support of his people at home, while understanding the actual situation of his enemy. In a direct battle, he knows well the basic points of the eight formations. If one is sure of victory he will fight; if unsure he should not fight'' It also emphasises ''That in laying a formation, the army can be divided into three divisions. In each, the best soliders should be placed as a vanguard and every team should be followed with a sustainable reserved.''
It emphasises ''diving the army into three teams'' and ''engaging one team in battle in while leaving the other two strictly in defence''
Take an advantageous geographical position to attack enemy in a less defensible position. ''When land is flat there should be more armed chariots; when terrain is difficult, more cavalry should be sent: and when is narrow and blocked, there should be more archers sent''

Chapter 14: Organisation of military post

Chapter 14 is similar to military rules and regulations of the later ages.
It may be divided into three parts:
# Regulations on army organizations and command emphaisising that all types of organizations, units and systems must complete and appropriately meet the requirements for battle.
#Regulations on the military operations under the conditions of different enemy situation, different terrain and different climate. Its focus is to emphasize flexibility in command and in the employment of soldiers, and to make decisions according to different situations.
# Specific rules on marching, camping, patrolling, guarding, war preparations and logistics maintenance.

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