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The Art of War › Quotes

The Art of War Quotes

Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
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.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
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.
In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
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.
The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.
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.
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: 1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. 2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. 3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. 4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. 5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.
Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.
When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
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 colours, 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 flavours than can ever be tasted.
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.
When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.
who wishes to fight must first count the cost.
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.
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.
What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.
If your opponent is of choleric temper,  seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.
Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
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.
Great results, can be achieved with small forces.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be unless.
Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.
Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull.  Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.
If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.
mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy.
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.
It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.
He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
Never venture, never win!.
If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
If his forces are united, separate them.
Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.
Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.
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.
who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits.
the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
Conform to the enemy's tactics until a favorable opportunity offers; then come forth and engage in a battle that shall prove decisive.
When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
He who advances without seeking fame, Who retreats without escaping blame, He whose one aim is to protect his people and serve his lord, The man is a jewel of the Realm.
Those skilled at making the enemy move do so by creating a situation to which he must conform; they entice him with something he is certain to take, and with lures of ostensible profit they await him in strength.
If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is weak.
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.
the worst calamities that befall an army arise from hesitation.
Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.
if you fight with all your might,  there is a chance of life; where as death is certain if you cling to your corner.
Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.
do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat.
Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.
Conceal your dispositions, and your condition will remain secret, which leads to victory;  show your dispositions, and your condition will become patent, which leads to defeat.
You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst. [One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man.].
The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality.
Deep knowledge is to be aware of disturbance before disturbance, to be aware of danger before danger, to be aware of destruction before destruction, to be aware of calamity before calamity. Strong action is training the body without being burdened by the body, exercising the mind without being used by the mind, working in the world without being affected by the world, carrying out tasks without being obstructed by tasks.
You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.
Whether in an advantageous position or a disadvantageous one, the opposite state should be always present to your mind.
When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy.
The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;.
We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.
By reinforcing every part, he weakens every part.
It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.