Sun Tzu - The
Art of War
by Richie Egan
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In this mind map - The Art of War You will find:
- About the book
- Chapter summaries
- About Sun Tzu
- Military applications
- Non-military applications
Name: Changqing (長卿), better known as
Sun Tzu or Sunzi
Ancient Chinese high-ranking military general,
strategist and tactician
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.
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
Sun Tzu's victories then inspired him to write The Art of War
Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be
avoided whenever possible
Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of
positioning in military strategy
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
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
Planning works in a controlled environment; but in a changing
environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations
The Art of War
Attributed to Sun Tzu
It presents a philosophy of war for managing
conflicts and winning battles
It is a masterpiece on strategy and frequently cited
and referred to by generals and theorists
The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of
which is devoted to one aspect of warfare
It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military
thinking, business tactics, and legal strategy
The book was first translated into the French language in
1772 by French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot
The first annotated English language translation was
completed and published by Lionel Giles in 1910
Chapter 1: Laying Plans/The
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.
Chapter 2 Waging War/ The
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.
Chapter 3: Attack by
Stratagem/The Plan of Attack
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.
Chapter 4: Tactical
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.
Chapter 5: Energy/Directing
explains the use of creativity and timing
in building an army's momentum.
Chapter 6: Weak Points &
Strong/Illusion and Reality
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.
explains the dangers of direct conflict and how
to win those confrontations when they are
forced upon the commander.
Chapter 8: Variation in
Tactics/The Nine Variations
focuses on the need for flexibility in an army's
responses. It explains how to respond to shifting
Chapter 9: The Army on the
March/Moving The Force
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.
Chapter 10: Terrain/Situational
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.
Chapter 11: The Nine Situations/
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.
Chapter 12: The Attack by
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.
Chapter 13: The Use of Spies/The
Use of Intelligence
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.
All war is based on deception.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but
what none can see is the strategy out of which victory
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
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do
all I can?
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.
For them to perceive the advantage of defeating
the enemy, they must also have their rewards.
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.
He who knows when he can fight and when he
cannot, will be victorious.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
If you are far from the enemy, make him believe
you are near.
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
The Art of War was part of the syllabus for potential
candidates of military service examinations
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
During the Vietnam War, some Vietcong officers studied
The Art of War, and reportedly could recite entire
passages from memory.
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
Finnish Field Marshal Mannerheim and general
Aksel Airo were avid readers of Art of War
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
staff duty officers are obliged to prepare short
papers for presentation to other officers on their
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
The book is widely cited by KGB officers in charge of
disinformation operations in Vladimir Volkoff's novel Le Montage.
The strategy of deception from The Art of War was studied
and widely used by the KGB
"I will force the enemy to take our strength for
weakness, and our weakness for strength, and
thus will turn his strength into weakness"
Much of the text is about how to fight wars
without actually having to do battle
It gives tips on how to outsmart one's opponent
so that physical battle is not necessary
It has found application as a training guide for many
competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat
Business books applying its lessons to office
politics and corporate strategy
Many Japanese companies make the book required
reading for their key executives
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
The Art of War has been the subject of law books and legal
articles on the trial process, including negotiation tactics and
NFL coach Bill Belichick is known to have read the book and
used its lessons to gain insights in preparing for games
Brazilian football coaches Luis Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto
Parreira are known to have embraced the text
Scolari made the Brazilian World Cup squad of 2002 study
the ancient work during their successful campaign