The art of war

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, 600 BC.

A leader leads by example not by force.

風 Swift as the wind

林 Quiet as the forest

火  Conquer like the fire

山 Steady as the mountain

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.

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

Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

All warfare is based on deception.

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

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.

To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.

Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.

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.

If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him.

There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.

One defends when his strength is inadaquate, he attacks when it is abundant

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled 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 imperilled in every single battle.

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

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

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.

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.

A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.

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.

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

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.

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.

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

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.

And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.

Too frequent rewards indicate that the general is at the end of his resources; too frequent punishments that he is in acute distress.

The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.

Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy’s fate.

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.

The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.

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.

Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, 600 BC.

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