Sun Tzu (flourished 5th century BC) was a Chinese general, military strategist, philosopher, and writer. He is best known as the author of The Art of War, the earliest known treatise on war and military science. Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure.
Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories. Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt. A leader leads by example not by force. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can? He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. You have to believe in yourself. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity. The greatest victory is that which requires no battle. Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems. Opportunities multiply as they are seized. Quickness is the essence of the war. To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
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 To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy. Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust. Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across. It is more important to outhink your enemy, than to outfight him. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley. Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. 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. One may know how to conquer without being able to do it. Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.
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.
Sun Tzu Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack. 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. If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. The wise warrior avoids the battle. 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. 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. Correct your mistake as soon as you have found it.
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.
Sun Tzu If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak. The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. Great results, can be achieved with small forces.
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.
Sun Tzu If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things. 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. Know yourself and you will win all battles. 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. When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move. 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. You can prevent your opponent from defeating you through defense, but you cannot defeat him without taking the offensive. Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men. It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy. If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near. Weak leadership can wreck the soundest strategy; forceful execution of even a poor plan can often bring victory. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance. A warrior who is prepared to fight must also be prepared to die. Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small. 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. Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak. If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by. Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price. If quick, I survive. If not quick, I am lost. This is death. Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain. All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. One need not destroy one's enemy. One need only destroy his willingness to engage. The nature of war is constant change. o 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. When the leader is morally weak and his discipline not strict, when his instructions and guidance are not enlightened, when there are no consistent rules, neighboring rulers will take advantage of this. Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow. A battle avoided cannot be lost. 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. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances. First learn to become invincible, then wait for your enemy’s moment of vulnerability. The true objective of war is peace. Wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine. Who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits. Never venture, never win! So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.