Sun Tzu’s 90 Best Quotes (The Art of War)

Sun Tzu he was a general and philosopher of ancient China, of whom it is not known whether he was a real character or not.

Historians generally place it in China between 722 and 481 BC, but there is no compelling evidence of its existence. The only contrasting document that tells us about his figure is a biography written in the 2nd century BC by the author Sima Qian.

    Table of Contents

    Great Sun Tzu phrases (and thoughts)

    Whether he really existed or not, his work “The Art of War” is considered as a unique manual on military philosophy and tactics which can bring us great knowledge, below you can enjoy 90 best Sun Tzu phrases (The Art of War) that you will surely love.

    1. The best victory is to win without a fight.

    If we are smart enough, we won’t have to fight to get out of a problem.

    2. If you use the enemy to defeat the enemy, you will be powerful wherever you go.

    Knowing how to oppose third parties can bring us victory without moving a single finger.

    3. Get them to a point where they can’t get out, and they’ll die before they can escape.

    In this quote, Sun Tzu tells us about the importance of surrounding our enemies.

    4. Weapons are deadly instruments which should only be used when there is no other alternative.

    The use of brute force will not always be necessary to achieve victory.

    5. When you are near you must look far away, when you are far away you must appear near. The bait is shown to incite the enemy. He pretends to be a mess and crushes it.

    This quote tells us that we must disorient our enemy to defeat him.

    6. A victorious army wins first and then engages in battle; a defeated army fights first and tries to achieve victory later.

    The attitude with which we come into battle will largely determine our success.

    7. If you want to be cowardly to know the strategy of the opponents, you must first be extremely courageous, because only then can you act artificially like timid.

    Pretending to be cowardly can lead us to premature death, so you have to be very brave to use this tactic.

    8. Make your adversaries see as extraordinary what is ordinary for you; make them see as ordinary what is extraordinary to you.

    Knowing how to play our cards is extremely important in military tactics.

    9. The opposing army must be carefully compared to its own to know where the force is superabundant and where it is deficient.

    Seeing our adversary’s weaknesses and being able to hide our own will enable us to achieve victory on the battlefield.

    10. The supreme in the art of war is to subdue the enemy without giving battle to him.

    Long before the first arrow is fired, the war will have already started.

    11. The worst tactic is to attack a city. Harassing, cornering a city is only a last resort.

    This quote tells us about ethics in wartime, civilian casualties are never necessary.

    12. If your forces are in order while theirs are in chaos, if you and your forces are in the mood and are demoralized, then, even if they are more numerous, you can go into battle. If your soldiers, strengths, strategy and courage are inferior to those of your opponent, then you must retreat and seek a way out.

    Strategy and courage are two determining factors in being able to win a battle, without these factors on our side it is much more practical to seek to escape.

    13. Maneuvering with an army is advantageous. Maneuvering with an unruly crowd is dangerous.

    To be able to lead an army on the battlefield, it must have been previously disciplined.

    14. Generals who know the possible variables to take advantage of the terrain know how to handle the armed forces. If the generals do not know how to adapt advantageously, even if they know the state of the ground, they cannot take advantage of it.

    The qualities of a general are those which lead him or not to achieve victory, in such an important rank must be very skillful.

    15. Don’t pressure a desperate enemy. An exhausted animal will continue to fight, for it is the law of nature.

    We must allow our enemies a way to escape, because they will surrender much sooner.

    16. Because they perceive the advantages of defeating the enemy, they must also obtain their rewards.

    Rewarding our soldiers is essential to the proper functioning of an army.

    17. Becoming invincible means knowing yourself.

    When we know our faults, we know how to correct them and profit from them in our favor.

    18. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.

    Having our friends nearby will allow us to get to know them better and spot their weaknesses.

    19. Invincibility is a matter of defense, vulnerability is a matter of attack.

    If we know how to defend ourselves, we will never be defeated, because a premature attack weakens us greatly.

    20. Even the best sword if it is submerged in salt water will eventually oxidize.

    Over the years, we all lose our war qualities.

    21. When the enemy is relaxed, make him fight. When you are full, make yourself hungry. Once seated, get him moving.

    Knowing how to sow confusion in our adversary will unequivocally lead him to defeat.

    22. What the ancients called a cunning fighter is one who not only wins, but is distinguished by his victory with simplicity.

    When we have won in a quick and easy way, this victory takes on a lot more value because it is perceived by our opponents as much more fulminant.

    23. Swift as the wind, silent as the forest, raging and devastating like fire, motionless as a mountain.

    Sun Tzu tells us in this quote about the qualities of any good army.

    24. The possibility of insuring ourselves against defeat is in our hands, but the possibility of defeating the enemy is provided by itself.

    We can all get locked into a battle during a battle, but this way we will never achieve victory.

    25. Go get your soldiers while you look for a baby; so they will be willing to follow you into the deeper valleys; take care of your soldiers as you take care of your beloved children and they will happily die with you.

    The treatment you give your soldiers will be what you receive from them. One of the most famous Sun Tzu phrases.

    26. If your enemy is on the move, give him no respite. If its forces are united, eat as a separator. Attack him where he is not prepared, he appears where he does not expect you.

    We must anticipate our enemy so that he cannot foresee our attacks.

    27. The wheels of justice turn slowly but turn well.

    Justice sooner or later achieves its goal.

    28. Reinforcement messages everywhere, you will be weak everywhere.

    Using our soldiers effectively is something that can be very difficult.

    29. Who knows when to fight and when not to win will win.

    Knowing how to engage in battles is something that many of us don’t know how to do, we have to fight on our own when the conditions are right for us.

    30. One who can change his tactics according to his opponent and thus achieve victory can be called a captain born of the horn of the sky.

    Knowing how to adapt to our opponents is a quality that must certainly have all this great captain.

    31. Good warriors bring adversaries upon them, and they are by no means drawn from their strength.

    We must not let our enemies lead us on their ground, because we will be defeated in this way with absolute certainty.

    32. The primary colors are only five, but their combinations are so endless that we cannot all see.

    Knowing how to differentiate our soldiers on the battlefield is of vital importance to any general.

    33. Great results can be achieved with small efforts.

    Even with the smallest acts, we can have an effect on our opponent’s army.

    34. Whoever arrives first on the battlefield waits for the fresh arrival of the enemy to fight. Whoever arrives late, the battlefield must hurry and arrive in battle exhausted.

    A great quote that tells us about the importance of punctuality, which we can use in all aspects of our life.

    35. Don’t sit downstream. Do not walk against the current or against the wind.

    When we establish a battle, we must take advantage of the atmospheric elements in our favor.

    36. To be violent in the beginning and to come to fear the soldiers themselves is the height of ineptitude.

    We will receive the treatment from our soldiers that we have previously earned.

    37. Always remember danger when you are out of danger and chaos in times of order, stay alert to danger and chaos until they are in good shape, and avoid them before they fall. present; this is the best strategy of all.

    We have to be careful and act when the waters are calm, that way we will be much more efficient.

    38. The courageous can fight, the prudent can act as a sentinel, and the intelligent can study, analyze and communicate. Everyone is helpful.

    We are all useful in war because we bring out the best in ourselves for the common good.

    39. A government should not mobilize an army out of anger and military leaders should not provoke war out of anger.

    When we have started a feud, it must be by our own thoughts and not by the fruit of our momentary feelings.

    40. If your strength is ten times that of your opponent, turn him over; if they are five times higher, attack it; if they are twice as high, divide them.

    Using the right tactics in every situation is somewhat of vital importance to achieving victory.

    41. If the enemy is safe at all points, prepare for his attack. If you have superior strength, avoid it.

    A good escape over time can prevent us from major ills, we must know how to withdraw.

    42. The art of war is based on deception. Therefore, when he is able to attack he must pretend incompetence; when the traps move, they appear to be inactive.

    If our enemy underestimates us, we will have defeated him before he realizes it.

    43. If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of hundreds of battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory you achieve, you will also suffer a defeat. If you don’t know the enemy or yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

    Knowing our weaknesses and our opponent’s weaknesses will lead us safely to victory or defeat.

    44. If combat ensures victory, then you must fight, even if the governor forbids it; if fighting does not ensure victory, then you should not fight even on the orders of the ruler.

    Great battles are fought before they begin, for without proper preparation we will already have lost before we go to the battlefield.

    45. So only a brilliant ruler or a wise general who can use the smartest for espionage can be sure of victory.

    Wisdom is the most powerful weapon that a human being can have, because with it he can anticipate any problem that may arise.

    46. ​​Strategy without tactics is the slowest path to victory. Tactics without strategy are noise before defeat.

    Any strategy that is worth it will be achieved through the tactics needed to train it.

    47. There are five characteristics that are dangerous in generals. Those who are ready to die may lose their lives; those who want to preserve life can be taken prisoner; those who are given over to irrational passions can be ridiculed; those who are very puritanical can be dishonored; those who are compassionate may be disturbed.

    Our emotions can be used against us by our adversary, we must not be carried away by them.

    48. Give the enemy what he hopes to receive; so they will be able to discern and confirm their hypotheses. With this, you will get the same enemy to act with predictable response patterns that will keep their strategists and armies busy. In the meantime, you will have to wait for the moment to act in an unpredictable way.

    Giving a bait to our enemy to act in a certain way is a tactic that in chess is called gambit, widely used in the military world.

    49. The victory usually goes to the army, which has better trained officers and men.

    Preparations before a battle are 90 percent successful.

    50. You have to believe in yourself.

    Trust is absolutely necessary, without it we will never be able to defeat a motivated enemy.

    51. The inhabitants form the basis of a country, food is the happiness of the people. The prince must respect this fact and be sober and austere in his public spending.

    As leaders, good management can lead us to the highest level of personal success, otherwise we risk losing all that we have achieved in our promotion.

    52. If you make sure your opponents don’t know the time and place of the battle, you can still win.

    Any lack of information about your opponent can be used against him.

    53. It is necessary to reflect and deliberate before making a decision.

    Thinking carefully about our movements is extremely important, especially when we risk human lives.

    54. As a general rule, during an invasion, the more the invaders penetrate into foreign territory, the stronger they become, to the point that the native government can no longer expel them.

    The speed of an invasion is a determining factor in its success, as this quote explains very well.

    55. Do not pursue enemies when they claim to be retreating, nor attack expert troops.

    We must not fall into the traps that our opponent has prepared for us, this can be a decisive factor in our victory.

    56. An army prefers heights and avoids lowlands, appreciates the light and hates the dark.

    The environmental conditions in a battle are crucial, if we use them to our advantage we can gain a clear advantage over our opponent.

    57. The quality of the decision comes down to beating a hawk in time, which allows it to attack and destroy its victim.

    Being bold is something that can be of great benefit to us in battle.

    58. If spies are not treated well, they can become renegades and work for the enemy.

    In spy war, they can switch sides at the most unexpected times.

    59. Prisoner soldiers must be treated well if they are to fight for you in the future.

    Adding loyal men to our ranks is essential to the growth of our army.

    60. The psychology of soldiers is to resist when surrounded, to fight when they cannot be avoided, and to obey in extreme cases.

    Soldiers must prioritize military orders over their own security to make the battle happen.

    61. Where there are great rewards, there are courageous men.

    The valiant man must be pleasantly rewarded, in this way he will always act in our favor.

    62. One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the greatest skill. Submitting to the army of others without a battle is the greatest skill.

    Knowing how to win a battle before it begins is the quality of an invincible general.

    63. Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?

    Knowing how to instill fear in our opponent will weaken him and lead him to act more predictable.

    64. Those who are not fully aware of the disadvantages of using weapons may not be fully aware of the advantages of their use.

    Everything has advantages and disadvantages, you have to know when some are more numerous than others.

    65. He who is careful and expects an enemy who is not, will be victorious.

    Anticipation is something that will lead us to unequivocal victory, because with it our enemy will not be able to react to our tactics.

    66. Show them a way to save their life so that they are not ready to fight to the death and you can take the opportunity to attack them.

    Knowing how to guide our enemy to the trap we prepared before is something widely used in combat.

    67. He who designs a tactic to achieve it triumphs, seizes his opportunity, accepts his weaknesses and recognizes his strengths.

    Knowing how to start a battle by measuring all the aspects that make it up is the quality of any good general.

    68. Never be attacked with anger and with pressure. It is advisable to take the time to plan and coordinate the plan.

    Preparation is vital before embarking on a fight, otherwise we are lost.

    69. Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

    As a result, a battle unfolds, opportunities arise and multiply.

    70. Defense is for times of scarcity, attack for times of plenty.

    We have to attack when we are stronger and better prepared.

    71. May your plans be as dark and impenetrable as the night and when you move it falls like lightning.

    The enemy must never know how and when we will act.

    72. The enlightened leader is attentive and the good general is prudent.

    This quote tells us the two most important qualities in a leader and a general, arguably Sun Tzu knew very well what he was talking about.

    73. A leader sets an example, not by force.

    Our example will be the largest flag we can carry, so that others can follow us into battle.

    74. I know extremely mysterious, even to the point of the absence of sound. This way you can be the director of your opponent’s fate.

    Lying can be a good trick during war, because with it we can confuse our opponent.

    75. The supreme excellence consists in breaking the resistance of the enemy without fighting.

    There are many techniques to break the spirit of our enemy, when our enemy considers us invincible, he will surrender before engaging in battle.

    76. If your opponent is angry, try to irritate him. He pretends to be weak, so he becomes arrogant.

    Knowing how to use the emotions of our enemy against us will give us a great opportunity to achieve victory.

    77. Thus, in war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after victory has already been won, while the defeated strategist fights first and then seeks victory.

    Whoever knows how to prepare for battle will come to victory before at least facing his opponent.

    78. Anger can become joy and anger can become pleasure. But a nation can never be rebuilt and life cannot be reborn.

    The military actions we take can change the world forever, for time cannot turn back.

    79. It must be weighed and deliberated before making a movement. He conquers those who have learned the art of deviation.

    Distraction is something that, on the battlefield, can allow us to defeat our adversary or be defeated by him.

    80. Hence the saying: know the enemy and know thyself, and there will be no doubt about your victory; know Heaven and Earth, and your victory will be fully assured.

    Information is vital in all aspects of a war because it is the basis of the best strategies and tactics.

    81. To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.

    Knowing how your enemy thinks and acts will allow us to anticipate his movements.

    82. All men can see the tactics, but what no one can see is the strategy that causes victory to evolve from these observations.

    Not everyone is able to anticipate a convoluted strategy on the battlefield.

    83. The lowlands are wet, causing disease and making fighting difficult.

    The type of terrain in which the fighting takes place can be crucial to the proper functioning of our army.

    84. On the day of the declaration of war, the borders are closed, the safe conduct is broken and the passage of emissaries is prevented.

    When war breaks out, it affects all aspects of society.

    85. Speed ​​is the essence of war.

    Speed ​​is a key quality in any large army, because with it our adversary will not be able to anticipate our movements.

    86. The prudence and steadfastness of a small number of people can tire and dominate even many armies.

    A small group of properly trained people can wreak havoc, even in much larger ranks.

    87. In military matters, it is not necessarily more advantageous to be superior in force, but only to avoid acting with unnecessary violence; it is enough to consolidate your power, to make estimates on the enemy and to manage to gather troops; that’s all.

    The way we act with our army will or will not lead to victory, even when everything looks good, the turns can be changed.

    88. Practice martial arts, calculate the strength of your opponents, make them lose their mind and direction, so that even if the enemy army is intact, it is useless: it is to win without violence.

    Getting into the mind of our opponent to lose confidence is something that can be of great benefit to us.

    89. Success in war is achieved by taking care to constantly adapt to the enemy’s goal.

    Anticipation is everything in the art of war, anticipating our opponent’s moves and using them to our advantage.

    90. It is only when you know all the details of the state of the terrain that you can maneuver and fight.

    Knowledge of the terrain is crucial in any battle, it allows us to be much more effective in combat.

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