Cleary's Translation

Competitive Arenas: 

Cleary's Translation: Cleary mixes The Art of War text with commentaries by historical Chinese figures. His system is to give one passage from Sun Tzu and then one or more passages of commentary. In his introduction, he provides brief biographies of the various people whose commentaries he uses.

Unfortunately, my format for comparing the various translations doesn't capture his method well. I limit myself here to his translation of Sun Tzu's words.

If you see brevity as a virtue in translation, you should like this version. However, some of its lines, such as "Do not eat food for their soldiers," seem to miss Sun Tzu's point and actually contradict the text's advice elsewhere.

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Our Character Translation

Cleary's Translation

Without invitation right correct’s banner, Avoiding confrontation with orderly ranks
Do not attack hall hall of formation, and not attacking great formations
Here govern transform one also; is mastering adaptation.
Make use war’s method, So the rule for military operations is

High mound do not face,

not to face a high hill

Back grave do not oppose,

and not to oppose those with their backs to a hill.

Pretend flee do not follow,

Do not follow a feigned retreat.

Sharp soldiers do not attack,

Do not attack crack troops.

Bait war do not feed,

Do not eat food for their soldiers.

Returning home legion do not block,

Do not stop an army on its way home.

Encircling troops must watch-tower,

A surrounded army must be given a way out.

Poor pillage do not force,

Do not press a desperate army.

Here use war’s method also.

These are the rules of military operations.