The Types of Field Positions

by Allan Elder

The following images are from a PowerPoint slide show prepared by Allan. Your read these decision trees from the bottom up. The bottom of the tree shows the preconditions, that is, the possible starting conditions. The middle the intermediate effects and actions. The top is the end result or desired effect.

The six types of ground are shown with one form followed by its opposite, but they are numbered according to Sun Tzu's original ordering.

Unobstructed Position

For example, here we have the tree for "Unobstructed ground."


Reading from the bottom up this means: that IF “other forces can attack you easily.” AND “you can attack easily.” THEN “Your field position is open or unobstructed.”

IF “Your field position is unobstructed.” AND “You are first to occupy a high, sunny area.” AND “Put yourself where you can defend your supply routes.” THEN “You will have an advantage.”

Barricaded Position


Entangling Position



Supporting Position


You read this as: IF “You cannot leave your position without losing an advantage.” OR “The enemy cannot leave a position without losing an advantage.” THEN “The field position is supporting.

IF “The field position is supporting.” AND “The enemy tries to entice you away.” THEN “Hold your position.”

Constricted Positions


Spread-Out Positions


Future Decision Trees

Allan has continued this methodology through the six weakness of organizations, which flow from field positions,

through the final formulations of "know yourself and know your enemy," charting the entire contents of Chapter Ten. These charts will be published in future Strategy Journals as they are integrated into or training methodology.

Competitive Arenas: