July 28th, 2012 Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu wrote the earliest — and still the most revered — military treatise in the world. This masterpiece is best known to most of us as The Art of War. Sun Tzu means Master Sun. His first name was Wu. According to Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Shih chi, also called the Records of the Grand Historian, Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general during the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BC). The Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yueh confirms this account except it claims he originates from the state of Wu, not Ch'i. Most scholars surmise he lived from 544 BC to 496 BC.
Sun Tzu wrote the earliest — and still the most revered — military treatise in the world. This masterpiece is best known to most of us as The Art of War. Since naming a written work after its author was customary in ancient China, the text was originally referred to as simply "Sun Tzu." Sonshi.com uses the terms "Sun Tzu" and "The Art of War" interchangeably.
The Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yueh states:
Sun Tzu, whose name was Wu, was a native of Wu. He excelled at military strategy but dwelled in secrecy far away from civilization, so ordinary people did not know of his ability. Wu Tzu-hsu [King Ho-lu's advisor], himself enlightened, wise, and skilled in discrimination, knew Sun Tzu could penetrate and destroy the enemy. One morning when he was discussing military affairs he recommended Sun Tzu seven times. King Ho-lu said: "Since you have found an excuse to advance this shih, I want to have him brought in." He questioned Sun Tzu about military strategy, and each time that he laid out a section of his book the king could not praise him enough.
Skilled and experienced in warfare matters during a time of unprecedented political and military turmoil, Sun Tzu validates his treatise. When asked by King Ho-lu whether the book's principles can be applied to anyone, Sun Tzu replies, "Yes." As proof of his competency and to confirm the principles' effectiveness, he successfully transforms 180 court women into trained soldiers in one session.
With Sun Tzu as general, King Ho-lu captured the capital city of Ying to defeat the powerful Ch'u state in 506 BC. He then headed north and subdued the states of Ch'i and Chin. Not surprisingly, Sun Tzu's name quickly spread throughout the land and among the feudal lords.
How Sun Tzu later lived or died is unknown. However, the Yueh Chueh Shu declared "ten li outside the city gate of Wu Hsieh, there is a large tomb of the great strategist Sun Tzu." By the Han dynasty, his reputation as a wise and respected military leader was well-known. Considering the countless texts lost or destroyed throughout China's history, the remarkable survival and relevancy of Sun Tzu's Art of War to this very day attest to its immeasurable value.
Quotations From Translations of the Book: The Art of War (6th Century BC)
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.
If ten times the enemy's strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, divide them; if equal, be able to fight them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
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.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know.
What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.
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.
A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear 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.
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.
Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.
He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
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. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
It is best to keep one's own state intact; to crush the enemy's state is only second best.
Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.
When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.
If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.
It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.
Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.
O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
Of all those in the army close to the commander none is more intimate than the secret agent; of all rewards none more liberal than those given to secret agents; of all matters none is more confidential than those relating to secret operations.
Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.
Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
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.
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.
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.
The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.
The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.
The ultimate in disposing one's troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
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.
Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.
When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move. Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy's fate.
To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.
Too frequent rewards indicate that the general is at the end of his resources; too frequent punishments that he is in acute distress.
Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.
Bestow rewards without respect to customary practice; publish orders without respect to precedent. Thus you may employ the entire army as you would one man.
To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.
The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: ï¿½ let such a one be dismissed!
If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.
A leader leads by example not by force.
A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.
If your opponent is of choleric temperment, seek to irritate him.
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
One defends when his strength is inadaquate, he attacks when it is abundant.
Being unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with your enemy.
You cannot stop innovation.
The expert in battle seeks his victory from strategic advantage and does not demand it from his men.