Sun Tzu - The Art of War

Take a look at the hugely influential book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. All the main plots and applications are broken down into a mind map.

Get Started. It's Free
or sign up with your email address
Rocket clouds
Sun Tzu - The Art of War by Mind Map: Sun Tzu - The Art of War

1. Sun Tzu

1.1. Name: Changqing (長卿), better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi

1.2. Ancient Chinese high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician

1.3. He has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as an author of The Art of War and through legend.

1.4. Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn Period of China (722–481 BC) as a military general serving under King Helü of Wu

1.5. Sun Tzu's victories then inspired him to write The Art of War

1.6. Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible

1.7. Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of positioning in military strategy

1.7.1. The decision to position an army must be based on both objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective beliefs of other, competitive actors in that environment

1.7.2. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions

1.7.3. Planning works in a controlled environment; but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations

2. The Art of War

2.1. Attributed to Sun Tzu

2.2. It presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles

2.3. It is a masterpiece on strategy and frequently cited and referred to by generals and theorists

2.4. The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare

2.5. It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, and legal strategy

2.6. The book was first translated into the French language in 1772 by French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot

2.7. The first annotated English language translation was completed and published by Lionel Giles in 1910

3. Chapter summaries

3.1. Chapter 1: Laying Plans/The Calculations

3.1.1. explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership, and management) and seven elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory. Habitual deviation from these calculations will ensure failure via improper action. The text stresses that war is a very grave matter for the state, and must not be commenced without due consideration.

3.2. Chapter 2 Waging War/ The Challenge

3.2.1. Waging War/The Challenge explains how to understand the economy of warfare, and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.

3.3. Chapter 3: Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack

3.3.1. defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities.

3.4. Chapter 4: Tactical Dispositions/Positioning

3.4.1. explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.

3.5. Chapter 5: Energy/Directing

3.5.1. explains the use of creativity and timing in building an army's momentum.

3.6. Chapter 6: Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality

3.6.1. explains how an army's opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy in a given area.

3.7. Chapter 7: Maneuvering/Engaging The Force

3.7.1. explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.

3.8. Chapter 8: Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations

3.8.1. focuses on the need for flexibility in an army's responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.

3.9. Chapter 9: The Army on the March/Moving The Force

3.9.1. describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others.

3.10. Chapter 10: Terrain/Situational Positioning

3.10.1. looks at the three general areas of resistance (distance, dangers, and barriers) and the six types of ground positions that arise from them. Each of these six field positions offer certain advantages and disadvantages.

3.11. Chapter 11: The Nine Situations/ Nine Terrains

3.11.1. describes the nine common situations (or stages) in a campaign, from scattering to deadly, and the specific focus that a commander will need in order to successfully navigate them.

3.12. Chapter 12: The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack

3.12.1. explains the general use of weapons and the specific use of the environment as a weapon. This section examines the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack, and the appropriate responses to such attacks.

3.13. Chapter 13: The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence

3.13.1. focuses on the importance of developing good information sources, and specifies the five types of intelligence sources and how to best manage each of them.

4. Best quotes

4.1. All war is based on deception.

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

4.3. 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.

4.4. Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?

4.5. 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.

4.6. For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.

4.7. 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.

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

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

4.10. 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.

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

4.12. If fighting is sure to result in victory, than you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.

4.13. 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.

4.14. If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.

4.15. If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.

4.16. In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.

5. Military applications

5.1. The Art of War was part of the syllabus for potential candidates of military service examinations

5.2. In Japan, a daimyo named Takeda Shingen (1521–1573) is said to have become almost invincible in all battles without relying on guns, because he studied The Art of War

5.3. During the Vietnam War, some Vietcong officers studied The Art of War, and reportedly could recite entire passages from memory.

5.4. General Vo Nguyen Giap successfully implemented tactics described in The Art of War during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu ending major French involvement in Indochina and leading to the accords which partitioned Vietnam into North and South

5.5. Finnish Field Marshal Mannerheim and general Aksel Airo were avid readers of Art of War

5.6. The Department of the Army in the United States, through its Command and General Staff College, has directed all units to maintain libraries within their respective headquarters for the continuing education of personnel in the art of war

5.6.1. staff duty officers are obliged to prepare short papers for presentation to other officers on their readings

5.7. The Art of War is listed on the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program. It is recommended reading for all United States Military Intelligence personnel and is required reading for all CIA officers

5.8. The book is widely cited by KGB officers in charge of disinformation operations in Vladimir Volkoff's novel Le Montage.

5.9. The strategy of deception from The Art of War was studied and widely used by the KGB

5.9.1. "I will force the enemy to take our strength for weakness, and our weakness for strength, and thus will turn his strength into weakness"

6. Non-military applications

6.1. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle

6.2. It gives tips on how to outsmart one's opponent so that physical battle is not necessary

6.3. It has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat

6.4. Business books applying its lessons to office politics and corporate strategy

6.5. Many Japanese companies make the book required reading for their key executives

6.6. The book is also popular among Western business management, who have turned to it for inspiration and advice on how to succeed in competitive business situations

6.7. The Art of War has been the subject of law books and legal articles on the trial process, including negotiation tactics and trial strategy

6.8. NFL coach Bill Belichick is known to have read the book and used its lessons to gain insights in preparing for games

6.9. Brazilian football coaches Luis Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira are known to have embraced the text

6.10. Scolari made the Brazilian World Cup squad of 2002 study the ancient work during their successful campaign