Monday, November 10, 2008


Sun Zi said : 

There are five methods of attacking by fire.
  • First is to burn the enemy's soldiers in their camp;
  • Second, burn their provisions;
  • Third, burn their equipment;
  • Fourth, burn their warehouse;
  • Fifth,burn their transport corps;

Fire is used under special circumstances only.

  • For example, the equipment for setting fire must be available;
  • There is a proper season for making fire attacks, and special days for setting fire;
The proper seasons is during scorching hot weather, and the most appropriate days are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve, the Wall, the Wing, or the Crossbar, for these four intervals are often all days of rising wind.

Attacking By Fire

When making fire attack, one must co-ordinate the military strength with the various variations caused by the five method of attacking by fire mentioned.

When the fire is set inside the enemy's camp, one should immediately make an attack from outside the enemy's camp.

When the fire is started but the enemy remain clam, one should not take any action, but watch and wait until the fire reaches its height, then attack or withdraw according to the situation.

A fire attack can also be made from outside the enemy's camp, in which case no co-ordinating methods from inside the enemy's camp is needed,

Fire can be set when it is suitable. If the fire starts from upwind, do not launch an attack from downwind. When the wind continues blowing during the day, then it is likely to die down at night.

The army must know how to take precautions against the enemy from using fire attack in accordance with meteorological phenomena.

  Using Fire Attack

An attack by fire as an aid in military operations has spectacular effects, while an attack by water as an aid only gives some additional power.

Water can divide or isolate the enemy, but cannot destroy the enemy and their equipments and supplies as a fire attack does.

To win the war and capture lands and cities and then fail to exploit these gains is very dangerous and is said to be a waste.

Therefore , an enlightened sovereign must make careful consideration in advance and a good general must deploy his army prudently.

Effects Of War

Do not launch an war unless it is beneficial to the state; do not resort to arms unless one is sure of victory; do not rush into battle unless the situation is critical.

A sovereign should not fight a battle simply out of anger;* a general should not fight a battle simply out of resentment.

Engage in war only when it is in the interest of the state; stop when it is not.

Anger might change to gladness; resentment may change to content. But a destroyed country can never exist again; a dead men may not revive again.

Hence , an enlightened sovereign must be cautious in the matter of war and a wise commander must be vigilant.

These are the fundamental principles for the security of a state and the welfare of its army

One good example here is in the case of Liu Bei. During the period of Romance Of Three Kingdoms, Guan Yu was killed by Sun Quan. Liu Bei declare war against Sun Quan in the rage of anger to avenge Guan Yu's death. But in the end, he was killed in the battle

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