Talk:Sun Tzu

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Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak


This is a quote commonly attributed to Art of War, but I haven't noticed it in any translations. It appears to be derived from the "All warfare is based on deception" line from Chapter I, but it is far from a literal translation --Thisisbossi (talk) 04:05, 14 December 2016 (UTC)Reply

i get what you mean, I've been looking for it for ages, but it's more likely a boiled down, shortened version of "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...", which is the teaching 18 of chapter one. 16:50, 8 May 2023 (UTC)Reply

Every battle is won or lost before it is fought


I notice that "every battle is won or lost before it is fought" appears absent both from the article and the discussion. It's frequently invoked and attributed to Sun Tzu--could someone add something on it? I'm not even remotely qualified to do so myself. --, 2/11/2014

Misattributed Quotes


The following alleged Sun Tzu quotations are inventions. There is nothing in Sun Tzu akin to what is stated here; in fact, most of this is quite silly and completely contrary to the Sun Tzu admonitions. --D.G. Jones, 2005

  1. "The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know."
  2. "He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious."
  3. "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
  4. "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
  5. "Too frequent rewards indicate that the general is at the end of his resources; too frequent punishments that he is in acute distress."
  6. "A leader leads by example not by force."
  7. "A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates."
  8. "To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy...Keep your Friends close and your Enemies closer."
  9. "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across."

It's really stupid how some quotes are repeated more than once, maybe you should pick one variation and stick with it? -- 08:21, 18 May 2007 (UTC)Reply

Why should that be? When a statement is translated in many ways, especially from ideograms, there is no "authoritative" translation, and many people might search for a widely quoted variant of an assertion that is not listed. Better to list many major variations, than to behave as if there is only one should be presumed to be "ideal". ~ Gandalf 08:30, 18 May 2007 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for confirming this. I was completely at odds to some of the quotes, for anyone familiar with military texts, Sun Tzu among many other military thinkers and leaders believed in fate and determination from the correct application of theory, the state of the opponent's and one's own power, and a code for the general and a code for the soldier to follow, rather than the Machiavellian type of intuition that evokes for an evolution of opportunism that brought great historical consequences as it dominated over the classical and medieval ethical doctrines.
That is the reason the quote opportunities multiply as they are seized is contrary to Sun Tzu principles. First and last ones you list there are as you say silly. Second and 4th quotes are just strange. 5th was a surprise though; even though I think it has a small chance to be related to Sun Tzu now, I had thought it a variant of one of Sun Tzu's quotes. 6th is stupid with all due respect to the inventor, and to 7th and 8th, they seem more like movie quotes than anything from a military thinker. --AC, 2012


  • The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know.
  • The art of giving orders is not to try to rectify the minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts.
  • 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.
  • Show him there is a road to safety, and so create in his mind the idea that there is an alternative to death. Then strike. --Tu Mu, Ch. 7 (p. 110 in Samuel B. Griffith edition) For "golden bridge," see 'misattributed,' below.
  • Do what you say, don't say what you do.

eText for Verification


I have placed the link to the eText of The Art of War for the purpose of verification. Although some quotes are from different translations. If you refer to the eText's introduction it says that being this work is so old it is hard to truly attribute to Sun Tzu himself. Being that some of the initial translations are considered to be of poor accuracy. --Jascha

"Make an uproar in the east, strike in the west."


I see this quote attributed to Sun Tzu here and a paraphrase is used in "Arcarsenal" by At the Drive-In, although it is not attributed to Sun Tzu in the song. I have searched through The Art of War for the quote but it doesn't seem to be in there in any form. Is this not a genuine Sun Tzu quote or is it from some other, more obscure piece of writing? --Editor510 (talk) 21:48, 29 June 2018 (UTC)Reply

"Let your plans be dark and impenetrable like night and move like a thunderbolt."


Chapter 7: maneuvering. verify 22:01, 15 December 2021 (UTC)Reply