Sun Tzu – The Art of War

Sun Tzu - The Art of War

Sun Tzu – The Art of War – Contents

  • Sun Tzu Biography
  • Sun Tzu – Big Idea:
    • The Art of War
  • Interesting Facts and Insights about Sun Tzu
  • Career Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu
  • Business Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu
  • Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu
  • Sun Tzu Inspirational Quotes
  • Books by Sun Tzu
  • Questions about Sun Tzu
  • Sun Tzu – Videos

Sun Tzu Biography

Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in ancient China. Sun Tzu is credited as the author of “The Art of War,” an influential work of military strategy that has significantly affected Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.

Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” focuses on the strategies for battle, such as deception, 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, temporarily, to more powerful enemies. Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and Asian culture as a legendary strategic political and military figure.

Sun Tzu’s work has been employed in East Asian warfare since its composition. During the twentieth century, “The Art of War” has grown in popularity and application in Western society as well. Sun Tzu’s Big Ideas in his “The Art of War” continue to influence many competitive situations in the world, including culture, politics, business, and sports, as well as modern warfare.


Sun Tzu – Big Idea: The Art of War

“The Art of War” is a book that describes military and competitive strategy and tactics dating from about 5th century BC. The work is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. The work is composed of 13 chapters. Each chapter is devoted to an aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics.

“The Art of War” writings were formalized as the “Seven Military Classics” by Emperor Shenzong of Song in 1080. It remains the most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare and has influenced both Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, and legal strategy. The book was translated into French and published in 1772. A British officer in 1905 first attempted a partial translation into English under the title “The Book of War.”

Military and political leaders such as China’s communist leader Mao Zedong, Japan’s daimyō Takeda Shingen, Vietnamese general Võ Nguyên Giáp, and American military general Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. have been influenced by the book.

“The Art of War” is divided into 13 chapters as follows:

  1. Laying Plans
  2. Waging War
  3. Attack by Stratagem
  4. Tactical Dispositions
  5. Strategic Military Power
  6. Illusion and Reality
  7. Engaging The Force
  8. Variation of Tactics
  9. Maneuvering the Forces
  10. Situational Positioning
  11. The Nine Battlegrounds
  12. Incendiary Attacks
  13. The Use of Intelligence

Interesting Facts and Insights about Sun Tzu and The Art of War

  • Born: Sun Tzu was born in about 544 BC, in Qi or Wu, Zhou Kingdom
  • Name: His birth name was Sun Wu, and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing. The name Sun Tzu is an honorific which means “Master Sun.”
  • General: Sun Tzu was a general and strategist, serving king Helü of Wu in the late sixth century BC, beginning around 512 BC.
  • Died: Sun Tzu died about 496 BC at the age of 48.
  • Academic Debate: Around the 12th century, some scholars began to doubt the historical existence of Sun Tzu, because he is not mentioned in some ancient classic.
  • Authorship: Skeptics also claim that “The Art of War” is a compilation from different authors and military strategists.
  • The Art of War: “The Art of War” writings are traditionally ascribed to Sun Tzu.
  • Publication Date: 5th century BC in Chinese
  • Traditional Chinese Title: 孫子兵法
  • Simplified Chinese Title: 孙子兵法
  • Literal Meaning: “Master Sun’s Military Methods”
  • Seven Military Classics: “The Art of War” for almost 1,500 years was the lead text in an anthology that was formalized as the “Seven Military Classics” by Emperor Shenzong of Song in 1080.
  • French Translation: The book was translated into French and published in 1772 (re-published in 1782) by the French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot.
  • English Translation: British officer Everard Ferguson Calthrop attempted a partial translation into English in 1905 under the title “The Book of War.”
  • Full Translation: The first annotated English translation was completed and published by Lionel Giles in 1910.
  • Influence: Military and political leaders such as the Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, Japanese daimyō Takeda Shingen, Vietnamese general Võ Nguyên Giáp, and American military general Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. have all drawn inspiration from the book.
  • Vietnam War: During the Vietnam War, Vietcong officers studied “The Art of War” and could recite entire passages from memory.
  • Vietnam Victory: General Võ Nguyên Giáp successfully implemented tactics described in “The Art of War” during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. This victory ended the significant French involvement in Indochina and led to partitioned Vietnam into North and South.
  • General Võ: General Võ, the chief PVA military commander in the Vietnam War, was an avid student and practitioner of Sun Tzu’s ideas.
  • KGB: The strategy of deception from “The Art of War” was studied and widely used by the KGB: “I will force the enemy to take our strength for weakness, and our weakness for strength, and thus will turn his strength into a weakness.”
  • U.S.A. Military: “The Art of War” is listed on the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program.
  • U.S.A. Intelligence: “The Art of War” is recommended reading for all United States Military Intelligence personnel.
  • Business: Many business books have applied the lessons taken from “The Art of War” to corporate and business strategy settings.
  • Legal: “The Art of War” has been used in the trial process, including negotiation tactics and trial strategy.
  • Sports: Numerous sports coaches are known to have read the book and used its lessons to gain insights into preparing for games.

Career Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

“Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.”

“If he is in superior strength, evade him.”

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

“It is more important to out-think your enemy than to outfight him”

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”

“Those skilled in warfare move the enemy, and are not moved by the enemy.”

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

“Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”

“Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.”

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.”

“If the enemy knows not where he will be attacked, he must prepare in every quarter, and so be everywhere weak.”

“Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”

“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.”


Business Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu

“All warfare is based on deception.”

“Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.”

“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.”

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

“If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.”

“There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”

“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”

“The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict unnecessary.”

“Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

 “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.”

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

“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.”

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

“When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.”


Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Sun Tzu

“Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.”

“Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

“For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.”

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat.”

“The skillful employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man.”

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

“When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.”

“Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness.”

“When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

“It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.”

“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.”

”The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

“Do not engage an enemy more powerful than you. And if it is unavoidable and you do have to engage, then make sure you engage it on your terms, not on your enemy’s terms.”

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”


“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

– Sun Tzu – The Art of War

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“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

– Sun Tzu – The Art of War

Sun Tzu Inspirational Quotes

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

“Who wishes to fight must first count the cost”

“Sweat more during peace: bleed less during the war.”

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

“If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.”

“The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”

“Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.”


Books by Sun Tzu

  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, Translated by Samuel B. Griffith, 2011
  • The Art of War for the Sales Warrior: Sun Tzu’s Strategy for Salespeople, by Sun Tzu, Gary Gagliardi, 2007
  • Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, The Ancient Chinese Revealed, by Sun Tzu and Gary Gagliardi (Translator, Author), 2014
  • The Art of War: Sun Tzu’s Ultimate Treatise on Strategy for War, Leadership, by Sun Tzu, Sn W, and S. N. W, 2010
  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, Samuel B. Griffith, 1971
  • Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, by Sun Tzu and Lionel Giles, 2019
  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu and Peter Harris, 2018
  • The Art of War, by Sun Tzu and Thomas Cleary, 2005
  • The Ultimate Art of War: A Step-by-Step Illustrated Guide to Sun Tzu’s Teachings, by Antony Cummins, 2019
  • Sun Tzu – The Art of War for Managers: 50 Strategic Rules Updated for Today’s Business, by Gerald A Michaelson and Steven W Michaelson, 2010
  • The Art of War: Sun Tzu’s Ultimate Treatise on Strategy for War, Leadership, and Life, by Pin Sun and Sun Tzu, 2010
  • Amazing secrets of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, by Gary Gagliardi and Sun Tzu, 2001
  • The Art of War: Sunzi’s Military Methods. Translated by Victor H. Mair, 2007
  • The Art of War: Spirituality for Conflict. Translated by Thomas Huynh. 2008.
  • The Art of War, The Book Of Lord Shang, by Sun Tzu and Shang Yang
  • The Art of War, by John Henriksen and Sun Tzu
  • Sun-Tzu the Art of Warfare, by General Marc A. Moore

Questions about Sun Tzu and The Art of War

  • Why should I read The Art of War?
    • Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” continues to influence many competitive situations in the world, including culture, politics, business, law, and sports, as well as modern warfare.
  • Did Sun Tzu write The Art of War?
    • Skeptics claim that “The Art of War” is a compilation from different authors and military strategists. “The Art of War” writings have been traditionally and culturally ascribed to Sun Tzu.
  • Where can I get a free copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War?
    • There are various fee texts available on the Web. Just Google Sun Tzu The Art of War PDF. However, lowcost E-books are available and provide higher quality.

“I will force the enemy to take our strength for weakness, and our weakness for strength, and thus will turn his strength into weakness”.

– Sun Tzu – The Art of War

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“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

– Sun Tzu – The Art of War

Sun Tzu – Videos

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War | Overview & Summary

11 The Nine Situations | The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Animated)


“A leader leads by example, not by force.”

– Sun Tzu – The Art of War

Image Credit: vlasta2, bluefootedbooby on flickr.com [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] ;