Chapter 11 - The Nine Situations | The Art of War by Sun Tzu

1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground. On dispersive ground, fight not.

Joan of Arc was a victorious commander in many battles during the Hundred Years War in France, but what was arguably just as impressive was that as she approached with her army, thirty towns and cities surrendered without a fight. These places had been invaded by the English and their allies, however Joan’s presence on the front line inspired the French troops, whilst simultaneously intimidating the English.

The fear that Joan of Arc caused, stemmed from a letter she wrote prior to her first battle. Writing to the English, she demanded they surrender all the cities they captured in France and leave the country. Anybody who disobeyed her request would be killed. Her initial aggressive attacks showed they were not empty threats and frightened future targets to the point where they capitulated without any blood being spilt.

Alexander the Great won many battles with the sword, but so did Martin Luther King using other methods. Winning without fighting on your own land requires you to change the heart and mind of your opponent.

Use the advantage of knowing your own turf to make an opponent realise they do not have a chance.

2. When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground. On facile ground, halt not.

Invasion of Quebec, Canada, 1775

In 1775 the U.S. Continental Army tried to capture Quebec and persuade the rest of Canada to join their rebellion.

After initially entering Canada they took several cities and forts, but after losing a battle at Quebec city, they then decided to try to siege the city which proved disastrous and gave time for the British to send reinforcements to the area. The Americans were forced to retreat and lost all the territory they had originally taken.

The element of surprise and being close to home makes the early part of an invasion easier. Do not stop moving when first entering enemy territory as losing a battle could leave your land open to attack.