Teachings of Sun Tzu – A Shorter Version:

In Three Simple Quotes (With Explainations):

1.We must know when to fight and when not to fight: So we must avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak.


This flows directly from the win all without fighting. If we want to win all without fighting, then we should avoid strength and attack weakness to achieve victory. Attacking our opponent’s weak points are much more effective and efficient use of resources; it shortens the road to victory and increases the value of victory. Success can be accomplished in say attacking the weakest enemy troops or destroying critical war-making resources, launching pre-emptive attacks, striking boundary points, or delivering psychological attacks. Key is to know the weaknesses and when to the attack. Strength against strength the preferred method of warfare remains embedded within the military leaders’ minds and this weakens both sides over time regardless if one of them becomes victorious.

2.We must know how to deceive our enemy: We must appear weak when we are strong, and strong when we are weak.


This is the tactic of deception. If we are strong, we have to look weak and if we are weak, we must appear strong. We should never show our position to the enemy, if we are far we must make him think we are close so the enemy will focus on us, instead of his duties. If we are really close we must make him think we are so far away to prepare any attack.

We can know all the strategies and tactics but if we are not a good leaders, or humble we will fail. We should be wise sincere, humane, courageous, but also strict both on ourselves and those under our command. We should lead by example not force. Soldiers will follow anywhere, even death so long as we show true leadership. Our concentration must be focused on developing our character as a leader, this will increase trust and ease commanding and maximising the potential of those we command.

3.We must know our strengths and weaknesses: If we know the enemy and know ourself, we need not fear the result of a hundred battles.


If we understand ourself and our enemy, we will win any battle. But if we understand ourself and not our enemy, we may or may not win. And now the most important if we understand neither ourself nor our enemy, we will likely lose every battle. “Understand” means being aware of strengths, weaknesses and motivations – both our own and the enemies.

The following quotes in bold are from The Art of War followed by similarish quotes from others in italic:

  • “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.”
  • The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surrounding. – Kakuzo Okakura
  • “All warfare is based on deception. Hence when able to attack we must seem unable. When using our forces we must seem inactive. When we are near we make the enemy believe we are far away. When far away we must make the enemy believe we are near.”
  • “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
  • “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” ― André Malraux
  • “If he is superior in strength, evade him.”
  • “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “Attack him where he is unprepared. Appear where you are not expected.”
  • “Desperation can make a person do surprising things.” ― Veronica Roth
  • “The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.”
  • “Anger is stupid, and stupidity will kill you more surely than your opponent’s blade.” ― Patricia Briggs
  • “There is no instance of a country having benefitted from prolonged warfare.”
  • “There are perhaps many causes worth dying for, but to me, certainly, there are none worth killing for.” ― Albert Dietrich
  • “Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
  • “A fine glass vase goes from treasure to trash, the moment it is broken. Fortunately, something else happens to you and me. Pick up your pieces. Then, help me gather mine.” ― Vera Nazarian
  • “The worst strategy of all is to besiege walled cities.”
  • “To be under occupation, to be under siege, is not a good inspiration for poetry.” – Mahmoud Darwish
  • “One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.”
  • “There’s always someone who knows something.” ― Stephen King
  • “In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won.”
  • “There was a saying that a man’s true character was revealed in defeat. I thought it was also revealed in victory.” ― Alison Goodman
  • “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack: the direct and indirect.”
  • “Leadership must embody servanthood, for without it leadership will become the embodiment of our selfish agendas. And leadership of that sort will lead us to places that none of us want to go to.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “An army may march great distances without distress if it marches through country where the enemy is not.”
  • “Our fear of fear is often our greatest fear.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “Military tactics are like water. For water, in its natural course, runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So, in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak.”
  • “Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.” ― Wallace Stevens
  • “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move fall like a thunderbolt.”
  • “How well you run determines whether or not you will win or lose.” ― Sunday Adelaja
  • “Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.”
  • “The pondering heart is a thankful heart.” ― Todd Stocker
  • “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our readiness to receive him.”
  • “When you are out of control, someone is ready to take over.” ― Toba Beta
  • “The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.”
  • “The strong-minded rise to the challenge of their goals and dreams. The weak-minded become haters.” ― Steve Maraboli
  • “If it is to your advantage, make a forward move. If not, stay where you are.”
  • “Time passes so fast. Make time to be still.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

Remember, it doesn’t matter how much power or money we have – we will all die one day.

Mohammed Abbasi

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