40 Powerful Sun Tzu Quotes from The Art of War

Which are your favorite Sun Tzu Quotes? 

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China.

Most people know Sun Tzu from the world-famous book, ‘The Art of War’. He was also revered in Chinese and the Culture of Asia as a legendary historical figure.

This is a collection of the greatest Sun Tzu quotes from The Art of War:


40 Sun Tzu Quotes

1. “A leader leads by example, not by force.” – Sun Tzu

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

3. “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

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

5. “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

6. “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” – Sun Tzu

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


8th of 40 Sun Tzu Quotes

“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


9. “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

10. “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

11. “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

12. “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

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

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

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


16th of 40 Sun Tzu Quotes

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


17. “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

18. “Quickness is the essence of the war.” – Sun Tzu

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

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

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

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

23. “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


24th of 40 Sun Tzu Quotes

“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


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

26. “Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.” – Sun Tzu

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

28. “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

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


30th of 40 Sun Tzu Quotes

30. “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” – Sun Tzu


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

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

33. “Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men.” – Sun Tzu

34. “If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.” – Sun Tzu

35. “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


36th of 40 Sun Tzu Quotes

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


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

38.”There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

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

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



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