Why learn The Art of War?

Sun Zi Bingfa

Sun Zi Bingfa (known as Sun Tzu’s Art of War) the military classic written more than 2500 years ago has influenced not just military, but political and business leaders and is required reading those who desire to be at the top of their professions.

Strategic thinking is important not just to the 0.1% to 1% but to all of us. China is an economic powerhouse and enroute to superpower status, multinationals wish to understand the mindset of the Chinese. So they are learning how the Chinese think – they are looking at four schools of thought in China.

These are the four main schools of thought they are studying. The:

Confucian School (儒 家 ru jia), typified by the works of  Confucius  (孔 子 Kong Zi) and Mencius (孟 子Meng Zi).

Taoist School (道 家 dao jia), typified by the works of Lao Zi  (老 子) and Zhuang Zi (庄 子).

Legal School (法 家 fa jia), typified by the works of Han Fei Zi (韩 非 子) and Guan Zi (管 子).

Military School (兵 家 bing jia), typified by the works of  Sun Zi (孙 子), Huang Shi-gong (黄 石 公), Wu Zi (吴  子) and Wei Liao Zi (尉 缭 子).

Among the four schools of thought, the Military School is my favourite. Within the Military School, Sun Zi Bingfa (Sun Tzu Art of War) to me is a very deep, profound piece of philosophy that speaks to all.

If we look at our lives – they are like a battle, a war.

What I have learned from Master Tzu:

  1. True leadership is influence not position – a persons rank is a position. The true leader is a coach and a teacher who simply opens the door. Be a coach.
  2. Opponents are a tool to learn from, to better yourself and help those around you to stand stronger and wiser. Learn from your opponents.
  3. The meaning of life is a process of detachment from life itself – the more detached you become the more free you will be. Be wealthy without things.
  4. Morality is defined by the tribe you live in; it’s subjective. Nature is not moral. Nothing is “morality.” You define your own morals. Learn from your darkness.
  5. Aspire to greatness by rising above your identity – whether it is tribal, religious, racial or whatever. This is your life. Be honest with yourself.

I teach small groups and individuals The Art of War alongside MindMapping techniques to think creatively about who they are and where they are and identify how they can move forward.

There is no formal structure to how I coach, as I learn from those who consider themselves my students. We learn as a group and share ideas. Life itself teaches many things if we simply stand back and observe without ego, without attachment.

Why Art of War?

I have been studying different books on military strategy, philosophy, politics – and The Art of War was probably the very first book I read but didn’t take seriously as it was 2,500 years old and I thought to myself that this is of another time, place, generation and people.

The more I studied different books the more I realised that most of these teach the principals of The Art of War by Master Tzu. Today business executives, military strategists, corner shop managers, city planners and government analysts with responsibility for marketing, branding, implementing strategy study this short book to help them release their own creativity to help themselves and those they work with. My belief is that this book should be required reading by all those who wish to embrace their own lives with more confidence.

The 13 Chapters teach us about ourselves and those around us on different levels of our understanding. What do you think when you read the simply the chapter titles?:

1. 始計 Shiji Laying plans

2. 作戰 Zuozhan Waging war

3. 謀攻 Mougong Attack by stratagem

4. 軍形 Junxing Tactical dispositions

5. 兵勢 Bingshi Energy

6. 虛實 Xushi Weak points and strong

7. 軍爭 Junzheng Maneuvering

8. 九變 Jiubian Nine variations in tactics

9. 行軍 Xingjun The army on the march

10. 地形 Dixing Terrain

11. 九地 Jiudi The nine situations

12. 火攻 Huogong The attack by fire

13. 用間 Yongjian The use of spies


Why do I do what I do?

Because I am alive and I want to. When we assist others in moving out of their limiting boxes, we make a genuine connection that is gratifying. We should not ignore our own needs and sacrifice all of our time and energy for others but to seek a balance.  My balance is The Art of War and it taught me that I will be there for others if they need me and help them with ideas on how they can move forward – if thats really what they want to do. But I will not be used as a doormat for those that just use and abuse either myself or others. We are all at war – whether within ourselves or with others in life and we need to be able to navigate this life by preserving our own sanity and dealing with the insanity of those around us.

As humans we must support and inspire one another without wanting anything from them – this is part of natural law, natures law, the laws of creation if you must. This way we get more support and inspiration in return and our lives become an easier flow.

Many who focus on jealousy or refuse to share resources, get fewer resources in return – true wealth lies within our minds and how we translate that to what is just outside us is the key. This is my contribution – The Art of War by Master Tzu.

Everything around us was once a thought in someones mind – who then made it a reality – Master Tzu teaches us to confront our greatest enemy – ourselves. So refuse to feel guilty – whoever you are or whatever your position in life, look at how you can learn from where you are and the experiences you have had. This is not to say do not acknowledge where you have done wrong or were wronged, but rather – its time to rise up and take charge of your own life.


Mohammed Abbasi


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