Philosophers / Thinkers

Top 24 Sun Tzu Quotes (THE ART OF WAR)

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24 of the Most Crucial Quotes Found in The Art of War

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.”

Sun Tzu
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

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.”

Sun Tzu
To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
All warfare is based on deception.
All warfare is based on deception.
If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.”

Sun Tzu
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike what is weak.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike what is weak.
He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. Such is the art of maneuvering.
He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. Such is the art of maneuvering.
When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure.
When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.”

Sun Tzu
In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed to secure victory.
In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed to secure victory.
Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.
Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.
Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.
We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.

Sun Tzu Short Biography

Born on 544 BC in the Eastern Zhou kingdom of Ancient China, Sun Tzu was a Chinese philosopher, military strategist, and general who wrote one of the Seven Military Classics, The Art of War.

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

Sun Tzu

For 1,500 years, The Art of War remains one of the most influential military strategy and tactics that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy.

His birth name was Sun Wu (Chinese: 孫武) but is best known today as Sun Tzu which means ‘Master Sun.’

Further reading:

The Art of War philosophy can be applied to your job, business, and even your relationships.

Here are the best Sun Tzu quotes so you can choose your battles wisely and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

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Top Sun Tzu Quotes (THE ART OF WAR) - Gracious Quotes

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