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Sun Tzu Quotes

War Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu quotes: Chinese military strategist and author of The Art of War, here are Sun Tzu’s top quotes.

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

“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.”

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”

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

“It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.”

“You have to believe in yourself.”

“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.”

“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.  If he is in superior strength, evade him.  If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.  If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.  If his forces are united, separate them.  If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them.  Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

“To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Move swift as the wind and closely-formed as the wood; attack like the fire and be still as the mountain.”

“Quickness is the essence of the war.”

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

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

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

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

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

“Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.”

“One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or fights not at all.”

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

“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”

“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 not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.  There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.”

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

“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.”

“He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.”

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

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

“The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

“Thus, the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.”

“Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men.”

“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.”

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

“When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.”

“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.”

“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.”

“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

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

“Who wishes to fight must first count the cost.”

“Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity.  Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.”

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

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

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