If you don’t have a copy of The Art of War an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, you should. Although it is quite literally written over 2,000 years ago, 512 BCE according to some scholars; it has never the less lasted into our day because of the timeless nature of the content. I’ve listed some of the more popular quotes down below to give you a sample of the content, and if you are intrigued with deep thought grab a copy. In our modern world Sun Tzu has become quite famous and studied in military circles because of his intimate understanding of guerrilla war and insurgencies (non-conventional warfare).
“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.”
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”
“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
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.”
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. ”
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
“One mark of a great soldier is that he fight on his own terms or fights not at all.”
“He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.”
“If we are concentrated while the enemy is fragmented. If we are concentrated into a single force while he is fragmented into ten, then we attack him with ten times his strength. Thus we are many and the enemy is few. If we attack his few with our many those who we engage in battle will be severely constrained.”
“Being unconquerable lies with yourself, being conquerable lies with the enemy. Thus one who excels in warfare is able to make himself unconquerable, but cannot necessarily cause the enemy to be conquerable.”
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”