Sun Tzus Art of War
Sep 21, 2008
I was bored so I read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”, quick read found here and came across some cool / profound quotes. Enjoy: (after the jump)
"All warfare is based on deception."
"In war, then, let your great object be victory,
not lengthy campaigns."
"Thus we may know that there are five essentials
(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when
not to fight.
(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior
and inferior forces.
(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same
spirit throughout all its ranks.
(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take
the enemy unprepared.
(5) He will win who has military capacity and is
not interfered with by the sovereign.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy
and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a
hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy,
for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will
succumb in every battle."
"He wins his battles by making no mistakes.
Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty
of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is
"The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting
of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep."
"Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline,
simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness
"Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on
the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him."
"Hence that general is skillful in attack whose
opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful
in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.
O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you
we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible;
and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands."
"For should the enemy strengthen his van,
he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear,
he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left,
he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right,
he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere,
he will everywhere be weak."
"All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer,
but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained
you one victory, but let your methods be regulated
by the infinite variety of circumstances."
"He who can modify his tactics in relation to his
opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called
a heaven-born captain."
"If you set a fully equipped army in march in order
to snatch an advantage, the chances are that you will be
too late. On the other hand, to detach a flying column
for the purpose involves the sacrifice of its baggage
"We cannot enter into alliances until we are
acquainted with the designs of our neighbors."
"In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed."
"Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.
He will conquer who has learnt the artifice
of deviation. Such is the art of maneuvering."
"A whole army may be robbed of its spirit;
a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind."
"Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of
advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together."
"The art of war teaches us to rely not on the
likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness
to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking,
but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."
"When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet,
he is relying on the natural strength of his position.
When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle,
he is anxious for the other side to advance.
If his place of encampment is easy of access,
he is tendering a bait."
"Humble words and increased preparations are signs
that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language
and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he
"Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant
indicate a plot.
When there is much running about and the soldiers
fall into rank, it means that the critical moment has come.
When some are seen advancing and some retreating,
it is a lure."
"Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is
at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray
a condition of dire distress.
To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright
at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.
When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths,
it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.
"If a general shows confidence in his men but always
insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual."
"Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion,
is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never
at a loss.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and
know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt;
if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your
"Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of
the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes,
and attack unguarded spots."
"How to make the best of both strong and weak--that
is a question involving the proper use of ground."
"It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus
ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order."
"For it is precisely when a force has fallen into
harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.
Success in warfare is gained by carefully
accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose."
"Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his
battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating
the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time
and general stagnation.
Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his
plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources."
"Move not unless you see an advantage; use not
your troops unless there is something to be gained;
fight not unless the position is critical."
"Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful,
and the good general full of caution. This is the way
to keep a country at peace and an army intact."
"Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good
general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond
the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.
Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits;
it cannot be obtained inductively from experience,
nor by any deductive calculation.
Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only
be obtained from other men."