Quotations by Sun-Tzu


May your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you strike, fall like a thunderbolt.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
(Spurious)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
(Spurious)

Often attributed to The Art of War, but not found there.
Added on 18-Feb-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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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 afterward looks for victory.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War
Added on 4-Feb-10 | Last updated 4-Feb-10
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And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War
Added on 11-Feb-10 | Last updated 11-Feb-10
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When capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, “Estimates” (18) [tr. Griffith (1963)]
Added on 16-Oct-14 | Last updated 16-Oct-14
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Know the enemy, know yourself; in a hundred battles you will not be in peril.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, “Offensive Strategy” (31) [tr. S. Griffith (1963)]

Alt trans:
  • "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." [cited  ch. 3, last sentence.]
  • "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 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."
  • Literal translation: "Know [the] other, know [the] self, hundred battles without danger; not knowing [the] other but know [the] self, one win one loss; not knowing [the] other, not knowing [the] self, every battle must [be] lost."
Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 16-Jan-20
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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.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 1

Alt trans.: "A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective."

Added on 7-Jan-10 | Last updated 7-Jan-10
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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 (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 1
Added on 25-Feb-10 | Last updated 25-Feb-10
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Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 10
Added on 14-Jan-10 | Last updated 14-Jan-10
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What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 2
Added on 17-Dec-09 | Last updated 17-Dec-09
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There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 2
Added on 11-Mar-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, engage them; if equal, be able to divide them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 3
Added on 19-Nov-09 | Last updated 19-Nov-09
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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.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 3

Alt. trans.:

  • "Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting"
  • "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."
Added on 3-Dec-09 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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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.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 6
Added on 4-Mar-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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A leader leads by example not by force.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, ch. 9
Added on 18-Mar-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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