兵者凶器也爭者逆德也將者死官也 “are baleful instruments, strife is antagonistic to virtue, a military commander is the negation of civil order!” The unpalatable fact remains, however, that even Imperial wishes must be subordinated to military necessity. Cf. III. § 17. (5), X. § 23. The T‘ung Tien has 將在軍 before 君命, etc. This is a gloss on the words by Chu-ko Liang, which being repeated by Tu Yu became incorporated with the text. Chang Yü thinks that these ﬁve precepts are the 五利 referred to in § 6. Another theory is that the mysterious 九變 are here enumerated, starting with 圮地無舍 and ending at 地有所不爭, while the final clause 君命有所不受 embraces and as it were sums up all the nine. Thus Ho Shih says: “Even if it be your sovereign’s command to encamp in difficult country, linger in isolated positions, etc., you must not do so.” The theory is perhaps a little too ingenious to be accepted with confidence.
4. The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops.
Before 利 in the original text there is a 地, which is obviously not required.
5. The general who does not understand these, may be well acquainted with the configuration of the country, yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.
Literally, “get the advantage of the ground,” which means not only securing good positions, but availing oneself of natural advantages in every possible way. Chang Yü says: “Every kind of ground is characterised by certain natural features, and also gives scope for a certain variability of plan. How is it possible to turn these natural features to account unless topographical knowledge is supplemented by versatility of mind.”
6. So, the student of war who is unversed in the art of war of varying his plans, even though he be acquainted with the Five Advantages, will fail to make the best use of his men.