Select Page

Art of War Quotes

A list of quotes by Chinese Philosopher Sun Tzu (孙子 in Chinese) in his groundbreaking work “The Art of War.”  

  1. “Quickness is the essence of the war.” – Sun Tzu
  2. “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” – Sun Tzu
  3. “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” – Sun Tzu
  4. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
  5. “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.” – Sun Tzu
  6. “You have to believe in yourself.” – Sun Tzu
  7. “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” – Sun Tzu
  8. “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”
  9. “If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.” – Sun Tzu
  10. “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu
  11. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” – Sun Tzu
  12. “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.” – Sun Tzu
  13. “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” – Sun Tzu
  14. “Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.” – Sun Tzu
  15. “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” – Sun Tzu
  16. “If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.” – Sun Tzu
  17. “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
  18. “Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” – Sun Tzu
  19. “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” – Sun Tzu
  20. “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” – Sun Tzu
  21. “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
  22. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu
  23. “Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men.” – Sun Tzu
  24. “He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.” – Sun Tzu
  25. “A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.” – Sun Tzu
  26. “The opportunity 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
  27. “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.” – Sun Tzu
  28. “A leader leads by example, not by force.” – Sun Tzu
  29. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
  30. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu
  31. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu
  32. “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 must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” – Sun Tzu
  33. “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tzu
  34. “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” – Sun Tzu
  35. “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu
  36. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu
  37. “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.” – Sun Tzu
  38. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu
  39. “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
  40. “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu
  41. “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu
  42. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – Sun Tzu