List of Topics

SfC Home > Behavior > Competition > War >


"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu: 5. Energy

by Ron Kurtus (18 December 2005)

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men. But in either case, using both direct fighting and indirect methods are needed to secure victory. Deceiving the enemy is part of using your energy with indirect methods. Proper use of energy results in increased momentum toward victory.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Controlling force

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.

Fighting with a large army under your command is nowise different from fighting with a small one. It is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.

Maneuvers, direct and indirect, ensuring that your whole host may withstand the brunt of the enemy's attack and remain unshaken.

The impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg, as affected by the science of weak points and strong.

Indirect methods

In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.

Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.

The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle—you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

The onset of troops is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course.

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision.

Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.

Deceiving the enemy

Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.

Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.

Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.


The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.

When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped, to go rolling down.

Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height. So much on the subject of energy.

Energy requires conditioning

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Competition Resources


Top-rated books on Warfare Strategies

The Art of War by Sun Tzu; Running Press Book Publishers (2003) $4.95

Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


Click on a button to bookmark or share this page through Twitter, Facebook, email, or other services:


Students and researchers

The Web address of this page is:

Please include it as a link on your website or as a reference in your report, document, or thesis.

Copyright © Restrictions

Where are you now?

School for Champions


"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu: 5. Energy

Competition topics



Competing between individuals

Competing between teams

Competing between companies

Competing between nations

Winning strategies

Underhanded strategies

Also see

Let's make the world a better place

Be the best that you can be.

Use your knowledge and skills to help others succeed.

Don't be wasteful; protect our environment.

You CAN influence the world.

Live Your Life as a Champion:

Take care of your health

Seek knowledge and gain skills

Do excellent work

Be valuable to others

Have utmost character

Be a Champion!

The School for Champions helps you become the type of person who can be called a Champion.