Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.
Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.
What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations. And therefore the general who understands war is the Minister of the people's fate and arbiter of the nation's destiny.
A victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning.
The supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles. The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies without having to fight them.
The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities...It is best to win without fighting.
To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.
Know the enemy and know yourself.
Know the enemy, know yourself and victory is never in doubt, not in a hundred battles.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.
The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
Pretend to be weak, so your enemy may grow arrogant.
Defeat your enemy from within.
Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.
Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
Defeat the enemies strategy.
Attack the enemy's strategy.
What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
The height of strategy, is to attack your opponent's strategy.
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 will retreat.
Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.
You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
Conceal your dispositions, and your condition will remain secret, which leads to victory; show your dispositions, and your condition will become patent, which leads to defeat.
Conform to the enemy's tactics until a favorable opportunity offers; then come forth and engage in a battle that shall prove decisive.
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.
Great results, can be achieved with small forces.
Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.
The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.
Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
Who wishes to fight must first count the cost.
There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
There are only five notes in the musical scale, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be heard. There are only five basic colors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be seen. There are only five basic flavors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be tasted. There are only two kinds of charge in battle, the unorthodox surprise attack and the orthodox direct attack, but variations of the unorthodox and the orthodox are endless. The unorthodox and the orthodox give rise to each other, like a beginningless circle-who could exhaust them?
There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.
Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men.
Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
The enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution.
To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and you know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete.
If fighting is sure to result in victory, than you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.
Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.
For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.
The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.
Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.
When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.
When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce. If the enemy's troops march up angrily and remain facing ours for a long time without either joining battle or removing demands, the situation is one that requires great vigilance and circumspection. To begin by bluster, but afterward to take fright at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.
Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.
Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move. An army without secret agents is exactly like a man without eyes or ears.
The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.
If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.
Balk the enemy's power; force him to reveal himself.
If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
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 you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.
Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.