Looking for the best Sun Tzu quotes? Then look no further.
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China.
He is best known for being the author of the book, The Art of War. The famous book covering military strategy has a great impact on Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking. In my opinion it is an essential leadership book to add to your reading list.
Sun Tzu believed that the best victory is that which required no battle. His work focused on alternatives such as stratagem, delay, the use of spies and alternatives to war itself, the making and keeping of alliances, the uses of deceit and a willingness to submit, at least temporarily, to more powerful foes.
Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure. Today his work continues to influence and inspire many competitive endeavors in the world, including culture, politics, business and sports, as well as modern warfare.
In this collection I’ve compiled the best Sun Tzu quotes on The Art of War. Enjoy!
Sun Tzu Quotes On The Art Of War, Leadership, Love & Life
1. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu
2. “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu
3. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” – Sun Tzu
4. “If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.” – Sun Tzu
5. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
6. “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu
7. “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
8. “Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.” – Sun Tzu
9. “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu
10. “The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” – Sun Tzu
11. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu
12. “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu
13. “Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.” – Sun Tzu
14. “Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tzu
15. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
16. “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” – Sun Tzu
17. “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.” – Sun Tzu
18. “Do not engage an enemy more powerful than you. And if it is unavoidable and you do have to engage, then make sure you engage it on your terms, not on your enemy’s terms.” – Sun Tzu
19. “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu
20. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu
21. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu
22. “It is more important to out-think your enemy, than to outfight him.” – Sun Tzu
23. “Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” – Sun Tzu
24. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” – Sun Tzu
25. “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” – Sun Tzu
26. “You have to believe in yourself.” – Sun Tzu
27. “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
28. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” – Sun Tzu
29. “Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.” – Sun Tzu
30. “Who wishes to fight must first count the cost.” – Sun Tzu
31. “One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” – Sun Tzu
32. “A leader leads by example, not by force.” – Sun Tzu
33. “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” – Sun Tzu
34. “Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.” – Sun Tzu
35. “He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu
36. “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” – Sun Tzu
37. “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.” – Sun Tzu
38. “The expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.” – Sun Tzu
39. “The wise warrior avoids the battle.” – Sun Tzu
40. “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
41. “It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.” – Sun Tzu
42. “There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” – Sun Tzu
43. “Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.” – Sun Tzu
44. “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.” – Sun Tzu
45. “Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.” – Sun Tzu
46. “If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.” – Sun Tzu
47. “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
48. “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.” – Sun Tzu
49. “Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.” – Sun Tzu
50. “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.” – Sun Tzu
51. “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear 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
52. “Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price.” – Sun Tzu
53. “Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow.” – Sun Tzu
54. “One mark of a great soldier is that he fight on his own terms or fights not at all.” – Sun Tzu
55. “You cannot know if you will be successful or not. You can only prepare for battle and it must be done with all of your heart and with all of your consciousness. In that manner, you will have an edge.” – Sun Tzu
56. “If the enemy opens the door, you must race in.” – Sun Tzu
57. “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” – Sun Tzu
58. “Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” – Sun Tzu
59. “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
60. “However desperate the situation and circumstances, don’t despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness. When surprised, take the enemy by surprise.” – Sun Tzu
61. “Correct your mistake as soon as you have found it.” – Sun Tzu
62. “The value of time, that is of being a little ahead of your opponent, often provides greater advantage than superior numbers or greater resources.” – Sun Tzu
63. “Every battle is won before it is fought.” – Sun Tzu
64. “A warrior who is prepared to fight must also be prepared to die.” – Sun Tzu
65. “Don’t flail against the world, use it. Flexibility is the operative principle in the art of war.” – Sun Tzu
66. “He who knows things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his battles. He who knows them not, nor practices them, will surely be defeated.” – Sun Tzu
67. “Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.” – Sun Tzu
68. “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small. The difficult things in this world must be done while they are easy, the greatest things in the world must be done while they are still small. For this reason sages never do what is great, and this is why they achieve greatness.” – Sun Tzu
69. “When one treats people with benevolence, justice and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.” – Sun Tzu
70. “Weak leadership can wreck the soundest strategy; forceful execution of even a poor plan can often bring victory.” – Sun Tzu
71. “Great results, can be achieved with small forces.” – Sun Tzu
72. “Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.” – Sun Tzu
73. “You can prevent your opponent from defeating you through defense, but you cannot defeat him without taking the offensive.” – Sun Tzu
74. “The successful person has unusual skill at dealing with conflict and ensuring the best outcome for all.” – Sun Tzu
75. “What is of the greatest importance in war is extraordinary speed: One cannot afford to neglect opportunity.” – Sun Tzu
Did you find these quotes by Sun Tzu inspiring?
What are your favourite Sun Tzu quotes? Let me know in the comments and please share this post to help and inspire others.
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