- 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.
- 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
- What is essential
in war is victory, not prolonged operations.
- He who knows when
he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.
- Hence to fight
and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme
excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
multiply as they are seized.
inferiority and encourage his arrogance.
- If you know your
enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred
battles... if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be
imperiled in every single battle.
- 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.
- What the ancients
called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning
- The more you read
and learn, the less your adversary will know.
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.
- Treat your men as
you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest
- 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.
- He who is prudent
and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Strategy without
tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the
noise before defeat.
- 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.
- There is no
instance of a nation benefiting 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 fight and
conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence
consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
- To see victory
only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of
- 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
- If your opponent
is of choleric temperment, seek to irritate him.
- To know your
Enemy, you must become your Enemy.
- Build your
opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
- One defends when
his strength is inadequate, he attacks when it is abundant.
unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with your enemy.