Shigure’s “Winning”

    A polite translation would be “Victory”. But Shigure used a vulgar tone.



      Before engaging in conflict, you must consider your goals. A wise warrior does not even consider engaging until he has ascertained what he wants. If you do not know that, how can you achieve it?

   Akodo says that victory without bloodshed is the supreme height of skill. This is true. However, unless the difference between your skill and you enemy’s skill is great, this can never be done, for he will oppose you.

   Better to lose some soldiers than to lose everything. Do not expect and do not attempt to win without bloodshed, and do not seek it to the exclusion of victory. Achieve victory first, and then consider how efficiently it may be done.

   There are no lies in warfare. There is no trust to be broken. If there is no trust, there can be no lies. If there are no lies, then honor cannot be lost by them. Therefore, have no fear for your honor. Honor is lost by cowardice, foolishness, and stupidity. He who allows himself to be deceived has lost glory for his mistake.

   In warfare, victory is achieved by deception. Warfare is the Way of Deception.

   Only deception can enable one to do war. Without deception, there is no warfare. Without deception, warriors do battle only with strength. In strength, blood is shed without purpose, for no battle or war can decide anything. Strength may win the day, but only with great loss, and will never proceed to make anything of victory.

   There are Samurai who disdain the use of feinting, of the art of twisting hands, or spinning the blade in battle so the foe cannot see where the next blow is coming. However, none would say these techniques are dishonorable. Deception in war is no different than deception in battle.



     Before a war is to be done, the lord must consider his position and be certain of his goals. If he does not, how can he attain victory? Without a goal, there can be no victory. Without victory, even the most brilliant campaign must be lost.

   Therefore, the commander must know his goal, must have a way of achieving it, and must have ways of achieving the steps he needs to attain his goals.



    Victory is a matter of strength opposed to weakness, or weakness opposed to weakness. Strength opposed to strength is a doubtful; if either side wins, which is unlikely, the victory will be costly and ultimately indecisive. When strength is opposed to weakness, the victory will be overwhelming and fruitful, without great cost. Beware when weakness is matched to weakness. The victory will be costly, and may be indecisive, and neither can exploit victory.

   When two enemies are alike in strengths and weaknesses, or very nearly alike, they may battle horribly for a long time. But when one does achieve victory, it will be overwhelming, for in this form of battle there can be no victory without totally destroying the enemy.

   Hoshi-san says: when the Horde of the Maw attacked the Army of the Crab, there was terrible slaughter. Both forces fielded the mighty against the mighty, and fought with total conviction. Neither could give in nor break from the Wall. When the Maw was finally overthrown, his army was broken like glass. This happened because both sides were alike in strength and weakness: slow but powerful and of unyielding will.

   Motoko-san says: When Kakita fought with the son of Mirumoto, they were the greatest duelists. neither would back down, and neither could avoid the other’s strike. So they were nearly equal and both died. But because their strengths were not totally alike, Kakita nearly overcame his enemy.

   Thus, we always wish to match strength to weakness. But this is not always possible. The enemy, unless foolish, will not expose their weaknesses to us. If he is wise, he will feign weakness where he has strengths. Therefore, the first task of any warrior is to either ascertain his enemy’s true weakness, or create weakness where there is none.


Achieving Victory with Soldiers


The First Apex of Victory

   This Apex comes first revolves around the soldiers who obtain victory. This Apex must come first; well-trained soldiers cannot advance upon the enemy alone, but without them other Apexes of victory cannot be achieved. Without this Apex an army is merely a mob of fighters.

   This Apex can be found alone where the army is young and inexperienced. This is extremely dangerous for the commander, for he will need to gain the confidence of a loyal but inexperienced army quickly.

   First comes Discipline. Troops must trust their commanders enough to follow commands and comport themselves with honor. Regardless of their personal style or techniques, they must comprehend a unified body of combat and military life techniques. If this cannot be done, all further development is meaningless. No matter how well the troops are led,or how skillfully they fight, or with what great weapons they wield, if they will not advance when it is needed nor retreat when it is advised, they cannot win.

   Second comes Resilience. War is not generally a glorious thing. It is primarily done in the mud and rain, it seems, long boring times punctured by screaming confused battles. Soldiers must therefore be patient and resilient, able to march day and night if necessary, taking rest and food when they can. Victory is often defined not by strength or cunning but by raw endurance.

   Third comes Courage. A Resilient soldier may fight. A Courageous one will win. Victory requires the courage to attack when it seems unlikely to win, to fight on when it seems hopeless. Fortunately, Samurai rarely lack for courage: their whole education has prepared them for it. Ashigaru may not always, depending on their level of training leadership.

   When these three are aligned, the soldiers will march long hours without wearying or losing their places in line. They will attack without hesitation, conquer any point which is put before them.


The Second Apex of Victory

   This Apex comes unites the unit commanders and soldiers into a cooperative engine of destruction. In this stage of victory, the army becomes versatile and individualistic, as individual soldiers and the army itself acquires a defined cohesion which allow them to operate in nonstandard fashions. The commanders can trust their troops enough to allow them greater license.

   This Apex can be found alone where generals must take command of an army with a well-developed sense of self, but do not yet understand their commands.

   First comes Initiative. The unit must be willing to strike first and gain the advantage it sees. Even without great skill, those who act quickly and decisively often attain great results. Great armies especially cannot wait for all the scouts to report and all the maps to be made and the wait for sages to recount the hundreds of possibilities and what their ancestors did, for by then they will have lost the battle.

   Second comes Mobility. In order to receive gains from the advantages it sees, the army must move quickly. When a strong position is left open, march quickly and take it. When the enemy opens a hole in his deployments, move quickly to strike it. In battle, speed is life. A smaller, faster army can destroy a larger one with speed.

   Third comes Flexibility. In order to reap all the gains which are possible in a campaign, the army must be able to fight in any way it needs. It must defend, it must attack. It must move swiftly and suddenly when needed. It can guard roads and fight in cities and hide amidst forests equally. The soldiers know the way of the sword but also the way of the bow and the horse, and can fight well in all. When it is cold they know how to stay warm. When it is hot they know how to stay cool, and can fight in either without perishing. They know their business on campaign and do not stop living when they put upon armor.


The Third Apex of Victory

   This Apex comes first revolves around the generals who plan victory. This Apex must come third, because it builds upon the commander’s use of soldiers in battle. If the soldiers are ineffective, they cannot or will not carry out the generals orders whether or not those orders are wise.

   This Apex can be found alone where skilled generals must take command without knowing their army. While dangerous, it is sometimes necessary.

   First comes Understanding. You must know all the capabilities of your soldiers and their needs. If your subordinates require information about your strategy, you must give them what they require. If your soldiers require more food for a long march, you must know this almost before they do. If you are racing against the enemy, you must know that your troops will arrive first, and by how much.

   Second comes Foresight. One you can comprehend your own ability, you must predict the enemy’s. You will come to know the enemy’s tactics, methods, and stratagems without fail. You will come to know his army’s abilities without fail. In this manner, he can do nothing to surprise you.

   Third comes Unpredictability. Between an understanding of your forces and the enemy’s, you can inevitably guess what your opponents do and know, and can outmaneuver them in myriad ways. A staunch foe can stymie you, just as a deep river may slow you, but neither can stop you.


The Final Apex of Victory

   In combining all three subordinate Apexes of victory, a general makes himself invulnerable. Only the greatest of opponents can hope to challenge him.








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