Neither ridicule the opposition nor initiate an offensive
until you possess a strategic place from which to strike.
In battle, a fortified position yields plentiful advantages,
even to those already possessing power and prowess.
Even the weak may prevail if they pick the right field of action,
establish good defenses and then fight well.
When an attacker lays siege from a strategic location,
his enemy’s thoughts of conquest become unthinkable.
In a river’s depths the crocodile is unconquerable,
but others may defeat him if he leaves those waters.
A massive chariot with mighty wheels cannot sail the sea;
nor can an ocean-going ship traverse the land.
Fearlessness is the only friend one needs,
if he relentlessly ponders from which place to pounce.
Even a small army, if well-entrenched, can repel
the power of a large army, forcing it to retreat.
Even if they are without firm forts and inferior in force,
a people defending their own soil are difficult to defeat.
The fearless elephant may slaughter a multitude of warriors,
yet be slain by a single jackal if his legs sink in muddy marsh.