Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. He is the original author of ‘The Art of The War’, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.  EliteColumn brings you the 11 hand-picked Sun Tzu quotes from the ancient book for your inspiration.

55 best Sun Tzu Quotes

Sun Tzu Quotes (1)

  1. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu

2. “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu

3. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

4. “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

5. “If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.” – Sun Tzu

6. “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (11)

7. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” – Sun Tzu

8. “A wise general makes a point of foraging of the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

9. ”The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

10. “All war is deception.” – Sun Tzu

11. “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

12. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (10)

13. “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” – Sun Tzu

14. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – Sun Tzu

15. “Do not press an enemy at bay.” – Sun Tzu

16. “The skillful employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man.” – Sun Tzu

17. “For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.” – Sun Tzu

18. “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (9)

19. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu

20. “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu

21. “Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.” – Sun Tzu

22. “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu

23. “It is more important to out-think your enemy, than to outfight him” – Sun Tzu

24. “Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (8)

25. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” – Sun Tzu

26. “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

27. “You have to believe in yourself.” – Sun Tzu

28. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” – Sun Tzu

29. “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.” – Sun Tzu

30. “Sweat more during peace: bleed less during war.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (7)

31. “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

32. “The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict unnecessary.” – Sun Tzu

33. “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.” – Sun Tzu

34. “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu

35. “Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.” – Sun Tzu

36. “The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” – Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu Quotes (6)

37. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

38. “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” – Sun Tzu

39. “One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” – Sun Tzu

40. “The art of giving orders is not to try to rectify the minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts.” – Sun Tzu

41. “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” – Sun Tzu

42. “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (5)

43. “Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”  – Sun Tzu

44. “Who wishes to fight must first count the cost” – Sun Tzu

45. “Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness.” – Sun Tzu

46. “If the enemy know not where he will be attacked, he must prepare in every quarter, and so be everywhere weak.” – Sun Tzu

47. “Those who win every battle are not really skillful – those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.” – Sun Tzu

48. “If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (4)

49. “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

50. “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.” Sun Tzu

51. “Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.” – Sun Tzu

52. “Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.” – Sun Tzu

53. “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” – Sun Tzu

54. “If his forces are united, separate them.” Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (3)

55. “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tzu

56. “Using order to deal with the disorderly, using calm to deal with the clamorous, is mastering the heart.” – Sun Tzu

57. “Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.” – Sun Tzu

58. “He wins his battles by making no mistakes.” – Sun Tzu

59. “Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.” Sun Tzu

50. “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes (2)

51. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

52. “When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.” – Sun Tzu

53. “Every animal with blood in its veins and horns on its head will fight when it is attacked.” – Sun Tzu

54. “Those skilled in warfare move the enemy, and are not moved by the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

55. “Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.” – Sun Tzu

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