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Inspiring quotes by Sun Tzu on the art of war, leadership, strategy, patience and love.

100 Inspirational Quotes By Sun Tzu That Will Help You Take On The World

Quick Facts

Famous As
Ancient Military General, Strategist & Philosopher

Born On
544 BC

Died On
496 BC

Died At Age
48

Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period. Best known as the author of the highly influential work of military strategy, ‘The Art of War,’ he is credited to have had tremendous impact on both Western and Eastern philosophy. His military strategy has been praised and employed throughout East Asia since it came into being and it popularly received a boost in the 20th century after it was put to practical use in Western society as well. A legendary historical figure, his works continue to influence not just modern warfare, but also culture, politics, business, and sports. Due to the seminal nature of his work, he is considered to be one of the greatest war leaders and strategists to have ever existed. Read on to learn new things about how to empower yourself so that you can courageously fight your enemies to emerge victorious!

Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.

- Sun Tzu

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity

- A Arte da Guerra, Sun Tzu

The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.

- Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

- Sun Tzu

Know yourself and you will win all battles

- Sun Tzu

Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- Sun Tzu

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.

- Sun Tzu

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.

- Sun Tzu

You have to believe in yourself.

- Sun Tzu

Who wishes to fight must first count the cost

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.

- Sun Tzu

One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

One mark of a great soldier is that he fight on his own terms or fights not at all.

- Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteoousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders'.

- Sun Tzu

Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The wise warrior avoids the battle.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.

- Sun Tzu

If quick, I survive. If not quick, I am lost. This is "death.

- Sun Tzu

Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm

- Sun Tzu

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight

- Sun Tzu

Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.

- Sun Tzu

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

- Sun Tzu

The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- Sun Tzu

Great results, can be achieved with small forces.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive,knowing yourself enables you to stand onthe defensive.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Wheels of justice gind slow but grind fine

- Sun Tzu

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.

- Sun Tzu

Never venture, never win!

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Be where your enemy is not.

- Sun Tzu

If his forces are united, separate them.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

- Sun Tzu

He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.

- Sun Tzu

Mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.

- Sun Tzu

Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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 Art of War, Sun Tzu

Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

He who advances without seeking fame, Who retreats without escaping blame, He whose one aim is to protect his people and serve his lord, The man is a jewel of the Realm

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.

- Sun Tzu

Do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Conform to the enemy's tactics until a favorable opportunity offers; then come forth and engage in a battle that shall prove decisive.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The Art of War is self-explanatory

- Sun Tzu

It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Disorder came from order, fear came from courage, weakness came from strength.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

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.

- Sun Tzu

If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is weak.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Order or disorder depends on organisation; courage or cowardice on circumstances; strength or weakness on dispositions.

- Sun Tzu

It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.

- Sun Tzu

Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Conceal your dispositions, and your condition will remain secret, which leads to victory; show your dispositions, and your condition will become patent, which leads to defeat.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

- Sun Tzu

When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.

- Sun Tzu

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

- Sun Tzu

By reinforcing every part, he weakens every part.

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The worst calamities that befall an army arise from hesitation

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.

- Sun Tzu