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Wikipedia Summary for Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu ( soon DZOO, soon SOO; Chinese: 孫子; pinyin: Sūnzǐ) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking. His works focus much more on alternatives to battle, such as stratagem, delay, the use of spies and alternatives to war itself, the making and keeping of alliances, the uses of deceit, and a willingness to submit, at least temporarily, to more powerful foes. Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure. His birth name was Sun Wu (Chinese: 孫武) and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing (Chinese: 長卿). The name Sun Tzu by which he is best known in the Western World is an honorific which means "Master Sun".

Sun Tzu's historicity is uncertain. The Han dynasty historian Sima Qian and other traditional Chinese historians placed him as a minister to King Helü of Wu and dated his lifetime to 544–496 BC. Modern scholars accepting his historicity place the extant text of The Art of War in the later Warring States period based on its style of composition and its descriptions of warfare. Traditional accounts state that the general's descendant Sun Bin wrote a treatise on military tactics, also titled The Art of War. Since Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese texts, some historians believed them identical, prior to the rediscovery of Sun Bin's treatise in 1972.

Sun Tzu's work has been praised and employed in East Asian warfare since its composition. During the twentieth century, The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society as well. It continues to influence many competitive endeavors in the world, including culture, politics, business and sports, as well as modern warfare.

In desperate position, you must fight.

--Sun Tzu

A leader leads by example, not by force.

--Sun Tzu

Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.

--Sun Tzu

So there are five ways of knowing who will win. Those who know when to fight and when not to fight are victorious. Those who discern when to use many or few troops are victorious. Those whose upper and lower ranks have the same desire are victorious.

--Sun Tzu

Engage people with what they expect, it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment that which they cannot anticipate.

--Sun Tzu

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war,
while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

--Sun Tzu

These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

--Sun Tzu

A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

--Sun Tzu

Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.

--Sun Tzu

According to my assessment, even if you have many more troops than others, how can that help you to victory?

--Sun Tzu

A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return.

--Sun Tzu

Longer Version:

A clever general... avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods. Disciplined and calm, he awaits the appearance of disorder and hubbub among the enemy. This is the art of retaining self-possession.


One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful, subduing the other's military without battle is the most skillful.

--Sun Tzu

It is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

--Sun Tzu

All battles are won before they start.

--Sun Tzu

When the leader is morally weak and his discipline not strict, when his instructions and guidance are not enlightened, when there are no consistent rules, neighboring rulers will take advantage of this.

--Sun Tzu

All war is based on deception.

--Sun Tzu

Longer Version:

All warfare is based on deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away, that you are to lure him; feign disorder and strike him. When he concentrates, prepare against him; where he is strong, avoid him. Anger his general and confuse him. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.



When troops flee, are insubordinate, distressed, collapse in disorder or are routed, it is the fault of the general. None of these disasters can be attributed to natural causes.

--Sun Tzu

The expert in battle seeks his victory from strategic advantage and does not demand it from his men.

--Sun Tzu

The general is the protector of the state. If this protection is all-embracing, the state will surely be strong; if defective, the state will certainly be weak. A sovereign who obtains the right person prospers. One who fails to do so will be ruined.

--Sun Tzu

Confirmation of the ground is of the greatest assistance in battle. Therefore, to estimate the enemy situation and to calculate distances and the degree of difficulty of the terrain so as to control victory are virtues of the superior general.

--Sun Tzu

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments, is the height of inhumanity.

--Sun Tzu

If this is long delayed, weapons are blunted and morale depressed.

--Sun Tzu

Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.

--Sun Tzu

The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

--Sun Tzu

Apparent confusion is a product of good order; apparent cowardice, of courage; apparent weakness, of strength.

--Sun Tzu

So the principles of warfare are: Do not depend on the enemy not coming, but depend on our readiness against him. Do not depend on the enemy not attacking, but depend on our position that cannot be attacked.

--Sun Tzu

The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambuscade. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming.

--Sun Tzu

It is best to keep one's own state intact; to crush the enemy's state is only second best.

--Sun Tzu

If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.

--Sun Tzu

Generally, management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization. And to control many is the same as to control few. This is a matter of formations and signals.

--Sun Tzu

Spies are a most important element in water, because on them depends an army's ability to move.

--Sun Tzu

If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be unless.

--Sun Tzu

Perfection in war lies in so sapping your opponents will that he surrenders without fighting.

--Sun Tzu

Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports.

--Sun Tzu

If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.

--Sun Tzu

The art of war is the art of deception.

--Sun Tzu

Therefore I say: know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.

--Sun Tzu

When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.

--Sun Tzu

Attack where he is unprepared; sally forth when he does not expect you.

--Sun Tzu

With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy.

--Sun Tzu

Agitate him and ascertain the pattern of his movement.

--Sun Tzu

The leader of armies is the arbiter of the people's fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.

--Sun Tzu

Appraise war in terms of the fundamental factors. The first of these factors is moral influence.

--Sun Tzu

It is ten thousand times cheaper to pay the best spies lavishly than even a tiny army poorly.

--Sun Tzu

Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.

--Sun Tzu

It is imperative to contest all factions for complete victory, so the army is not garrisoned and the profit can be total. This is the law of strategic siege.

--Sun Tzu

To ... not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.

--Sun Tzu

I will be able to forecast which side will be victorious and which defeated.

--Sun Tzu

Wait by the river long enough and the body of your enemy will float by you.

--Sun Tzu

He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

--Sun Tzu

If an enemy has alliances, the problem is grave and the enemy's position strong; if he has no alliances, the problem is minor and the enemy's position weak.

--Sun Tzu

Sweat more during peace: bleed less during war.

--Sun Tzu

Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.

--Sun Tzu

Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.

--Sun Tzu

When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.

--Sun Tzu

The natural formation of the country is the soldier's best ally; but a power of estimating the adversary, of controlling the forces of victory, and of shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and distances, constitutes the test of a great general.

--Sun Tzu

Without harmony in the State, no military expedition can be undertaken; without harmony in the army, no battle array can be formed.

--Sun Tzu

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

--Sun Tzu

A wise general makes a point of foraging of the enemy.

--Sun Tzu

Therefore the victories of good warriors are not noted for cleverness or bravery. Therefore their victories in battle are not flukes. Their victories are not flukes because they position themselves where they will surely win, prevailing over those wh.

--Sun Tzu

To plan secretly, to move surreptitiously, to foil the enemy's intentions and balk his schemes, so that at last the day may be won without shedding a drop of blood.

--Sun Tzu

Like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.

--Sun Tzu

When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become, as it were, like rolling logs or stones... The energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height.

--Sun Tzu

So it is that good warriors take their stance on ground where they cannot lose, and do not overlook conditions that make an opponent prone to defeat.

--Sun Tzu

At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.

--Sun Tzu

Against those skilled in attack, an enemy does not know where to defend; against the experts in defense, the enemy does not know where to attack.

--Sun Tzu

First learn to become invincible, then wait for your enemy's moment of vulnerability.

--Sun Tzu

War is a matter of vital importance to the state; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied.

--Sun Tzu

Use humility to make the enemy haughty. Tire them by flight. Cause division among them. When they are unprepared, attack and make your move when they do not expect it.

--Sun Tzu

Those who would wage war, should first eliminate all domestic enemies before proceeding to attack the external foe.

--Sun Tzu

Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision.

--Sun Tzu

To perceive victory when it is known to all is not really skilful... It does not take much strength to lift a hair, it does not take sharp eyes to see the sun and moon, it does not take sharp ears to hear the thunderclap.

--Sun Tzu

Unless you know the mountains and the forests, the defiles and impasses, the lay of the marshes and swamps, you cannot maneuver with an armed force. Unless you use local guides, you cannot get the advantages of the land.

--Sun Tzu

The tao is the way of humanity and justice; 'laws' are regulations and institutions. Those who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity and justice and maintain their laws and institution. By these means they make their governments invincible.

--Sun Tzu

Factors in the art of warfare are: First, calculations; second, quantities; third, logistics; fourth, the balance of power; and fifth, the possibility of victory is based on the balance of power.

--Sun Tzu

Being unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with your enemy.

--Sun Tzu

When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.

--Sun Tzu

Do not press an enemy at bay. Prince Fu Ch'ai said: Wild beasts, when at bay, fight desperately. How much more is this true of men! If they know there is no alternative, they will fight to the death.

--Sun Tzu

Those who do not know the conditions of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes and swamps, cannot conduct the march of an army. Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground.

--Sun Tzu

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.

--Sun Tzu

When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time it will dull your forces and blunt you edge...If you keep your armies out in the field for a long time, your supplies will be insufficient. Transportation of provisions itself consumes 20 times the amount transported.

--Sun Tzu

A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

--Sun Tzu

Those who do not know the plans of competitors cannot prepare alliances. Those who do not know the lay of the land cannot maneuver their forces. Those who do not use local guides cannot take advantage of the ground.

--Sun Tzu

Thus, though I have heard of successful military operations that were clumsy but swift, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

--Sun Tzu

It is according to the shapes that I lay the plans for victory, but the multitude does not comprehend this. Although everyone can see the outward aspects, none understands the way in which I have created victory.

--Sun Tzu

In war, numbers alone confer no advantage. Do not advance relying on sheer military power.

--Sun Tzu

Longer Version:

In war, numbers alone confer no advantage. Do not advance relying on sheer military power. It is sufficient to estimate the enemy situation correctly and to concentrate your strength to capture him. There is no more to it than this. He who lacks foresight and underestimates his enemy will surely be captured by him.


The crux of military operations lies in the pretense of accommodating one's self to the designs of the enemy.

--Sun Tzu

It is a doctrine of war not to assume the enemy will not come, but rather to rely on one's readiness to meet him; not to presume that he will not attack, but rather to make one's self invincible.

--Sun Tzu

With regard to ground of this nature, be before the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny spots, and carefully guard your line of supplies. Then you will be able to fight with advantage.

--Sun Tzu

With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up.

--Sun Tzu

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