the art of war best phrases

The 10 best phrases of the Art of War

THE ART OF WAR is the best and most famous treatise on strategy in the world, which has become a cult book in the world of economics and business. It offers us some valuable principles both in the world of military strategy and in that of business or politics. Despite its age (2500 years), it is a terribly modern book that will help to reflect on any type of problem and to propose the necessary strategies.

phrases of the art of war

Now combat tactics are being taken to another field, that of business. Many officers of the Asian armies had to return to civilian life and chose to form their own companies. Without studies in business, they had to resort to what they knew, the administration of military units, directing their companies as armies, applying the knowledge mainly learned in the Art of War.

Its purpose was to give wisdom to future generals so that they could obtain victory by defeating the enemy in the easiest way possible, which is why it is based on rather psychological tactics, since its fundamental principle is that "every war is a hoax."

Top 10 phrases of the art of war

  1. "The art of war is based on deception."
  2. Be quick as the thunder that rumbles before you can cover your ears.
  3. «You should never attack out of anger and in a hurry. It is advisable to take time in planning and coordinating the plan. "
  4. "Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability in the adversary."
  5. "Disorder comes from order, cowardice comes from courage, weakness springs from strength."
  6. "Good warriors bring adversaries to come to them, and in no way allow themselves to be drawn out of their fortress."
  7. "Do not chase enemies when they feign a retreat, or attack expert troops."
  8. "There are routes that you must not use, armies that must not be attacked, cities that must not be surrounded, lands that must not be fought over, and orders of civil rulers that must not be obeyed."
  9. "If the enemy sees an advantage but does not take advantage of it, it is because he is tired."
  10. "In order to defeat the enemy, the entire military command must have a single intention and all military forces must cooperate."
The best phrases of the art of war, Tzun Tzu

From this single idea it is clear the importance of marketing to position a product before selling it. The product must be sold before manufacturing it, knowing the needs of potential customers, "achieving victory before going into battle." For this reason, the market is a combat ground, where information is key before fighting, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent or as Sun Zu said: "know yourself and know your enemy."

The book describes military tactics and recommendations for victory, not just in battle, but in a long-term contest. At the beginning of the 19th century, many economists saw Sun Tzu as a business guru, since the military tactics he describes are also applicable to the economic and commercial world and, by extension, to most aspects of life. This book inspired great historical figures such as Napoleon, Machiavelli, Mao Tse Tung, Che Guevara, Montgomery, Marchall wtc
I am going to present a well synthesized summary that I found on the internet. Many key phrases in modern business management manuals are practically literal quotations from the work of Sun Tzu (exchanging, for example, army for company, or weapons for resources). Sun Tzu's collection of essays does not exceed 100 pages, distributed in 13 chapters, with a highly condensed exposition. In a few pages it presents suggestions on: philosophies, strategies, tactics, organizational recommendations on the war, among others.

The best phrases of the art of war, Tzun Tzu

Here is a brief summary with the best phrases of each chapter:

Seen as the best strategy book of all time, written dating from the fourth century BC, and applied its wisdom to this day, mainly in the corporate world, but its application goes beyond the military and business, It can be used in daily life, of course, knowing how to interpret the concepts ...

CHAPTER 1: About the evaluation

  • War is of vital importance to the state; it is the domain of life or death, the path to survival or the loss of the Empire: it is necessary to handle it well. Not to reflect seriously on everything that concerns him is to show a guilty indifference with regard to the preservation or loss of what is most dear to us; and this should not happen between us.
  • The art of war is based on deception. Therefore, when he is able to attack, he must appear incapable; when troops move, appear inactive. If he is close to the enemy, he must make him believe that he is far away; if it is far away, pretend to be close.
  • Hitting the enemy when he's messed up. Prepare against it when you are safe everywhere. Avoid during a time when it is stronger. If your opponent has a choleric temper, try to irritate him. If he is arrogant, try to encourage their selfishness.
  • If the enemy troops are well prepared after a reorganization, try to disrupt them. If they are united, sowing dissension among their ranks. Attack the enemy when they are not ready, and appear when they are not expecting you. These are the keys to victory for the strategist.

CHAPTER 2: About the initiation of actions

  • If you are besieging a town, you will exhaust your strength. If you keep your army on the field for a long time, your supplies will run out.
  • I have heard of military operations that have been clumsy and sudden, but I have never seen an expert in the art of war who maintained the campaign for long.
  • Be fast as the thunder that rumbles before you have been able to cover your ears, fast as the lightning that flashes before you have been able to blink.
  • An intelligent general fights to deprive the enemy of his food. Each portion of food taken from the enemy is equal to twenty that you supply yourself.
  • If you use the enemy to defeat the enemy, you will be powerful wherever you go.
  • The most important thing in a military operation is victory and not persistence. The latter is not beneficial. An army is like fire: if you don't put it out, it will consume itself.

CHAPTER 3: On the propositions of victory and defeat

  • Better to keep an enemy intact than to destroy it.
  • Those who make the armies of others surrender powerlessly without fighting are the best masters of the Art of War.
  • You should never attack out of anger and in a hurry. It is advisable to take time in planning and coordinating the plan.
  • A true master of martial arts defeats other enemy forces without battle, conquers other cities without besieging them and destroys other armies without spending much time.
  • Complete victory occurs when the army does not fight, the city is not besieged, the destruction does not last for long, and in each case the enemy is defeated by the use of strategy.
  • If you know others and you know yourself, not in a hundred battles will you be in danger; if you don't know others, but you know yourself, you will lose one battle and win another; if you don't know others or yourself, you will be in danger in every battle.

CHAPTER 4: On the measure in the disposition of the means

  • Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability in the adversary.
  • Invincibility is a matter of defense, vulnerability, a matter of attack. As long as you have not observed vulnerabilities in the order of battle of the adversaries, hide your own attack formation, and prepare to be invincible, in order to preserve yourself. When adversaries have vulnerable battle orders, it's time to go out and attack them.
  • Defense is for times of scarcity, attack for times of plenty.
  • In defense situations, you silence the voices and erase the tracks, hidden like ghosts and spirits underground, invisible to everyone. In attack situations, your movement is fast and your shout is flashing, fast as thunder and lightning, for which one cannot prepare, even if they come from the sky.
  • Everyone praises victory in battle, but what is truly desirable is to be able to see the world of the subtle and realize the world of the hidden, to the point of being able to achieve victory where there is no way.
  • If you are able to see the subtle and realize the hidden, breaking in before the order of battle, the victory thus obtained is an easy victory.
  • When you are able to see the subtle, it is easy to win.
  • A victorious army wins first and goes to battle later; a defeated army fights first and tries to gain victory later.

CHAPTER 5: On Firmness

  • Experts are capable of defeating the enemy by creating a favorable perception in them, thus obtaining victory without the need to exert their strength.
  • Disorder comes from order, cowardice comes from courage, weakness springs from strength. If you want to feign disorder to convince your opponents and distract them, you first have to organize order, because only then can you create artificial disorder. If you want to feign cowardice in order to know the strategy of your opponents, you have to be extremely brave first, because only then can you act artificially shy. If you want to feign weakness to induce arrogance in your enemies, you must first be extremely strong because only then can you pretend to be weak.
  • When an army has the force of momentum, even the timid one becomes brave, when it loses the force of momentum, even the brave one becomes timid. Nothing is fixed in the laws of war: they develop on the basis of momentum.
  • Makes enemies move with the prospect of triumph, so they are ambushed.

CHAPTER 6: On the Full and the Empty

  • Good warriors bring adversaries to come to them, and in no way allow themselves to be drawn out of their stronghold.
  • If you make adversaries come to you to fight, their strength will always be empty. If you don't go out to fight, your strength will always be full. This is the art of emptying others and filling yourself.
  • Appear in critical locations and strike where they least expect it, causing them to come to the rescue.
  • Be extremely subtle, discreet, to the point of being formless. Be completely mysterious and confidential, to the point of being silent. In this way you will be able to direct the destiny of your adversaries.
  • Come like the wind, move like lightning, and the adversaries will not be able to defeat you.
  • When adversaries arrive to attack you, you don't fight them, but instead establish a strategic shift to confuse them and fill them with uncertainty.
  • Make adversaries see as extraordinary what is ordinary to you; make what is extraordinary to you to see as ordinary.
  • If you make the adversaries not know the place and the date of the battle, you can always win.
  • Do something for or against opponents to get their attention, so that you can attract them to discover their behavior habits of attack and defense.
  • Everyone knows how he was victorious, but no one knows how he secured victory.
  • An army does not have a constant formation, just as water does not have a constant shape: genius is the ability to obtain victory by changing and adapting according to the enemy.

CHAPTER 7: About direct and indirect confrontation

  • The difficulty of armed struggle is to make long distances close and turn problems into advantages.
  • If you ignore the plans of your rivals, you cannot make precise alliances.
  • Only when you know every detail of the condition of the terrain can you maneuver and fight.
  • A military force is established by strategy in the sense that you distract the enemy so that he cannot know what your real situation is and cannot impose his supremacy.
  • When a military force moves quickly it is like the wind; when it goes slowly it is like the forest; it is voracious like fire and motionless like mountains. It is fast like the wind in the sense that it arrives without warning and disappears like lightning. It is like a forest because it has an order. It is voracious like fire that devastates a plain without leaving behind a blade of grass. It is immobile as a mountain when quartered. It is as difficult to know as darkness; its movement is like rumbling thunder.
  • The first to make the move is the "guest", the last is the "host". The "guest" has it difficult, the "host has it easy."
  • Do not chase enemies when they feign a retreat, or attack expert troops.

CHAPTER 8: About the nine changes

  • There are routes that you must not use, armies that must not be attacked, cities that must not be surrounded, lands that must not be fought over, and orders of civil rulers that must not be obeyed.
  • Generals who know the possible variables to take advantage of the terrain know how to handle the armed forces.
  • Considerations of the intelligent person always include an objective analysis of benefit and harm. When you consider profit, your action expands; When you consider the damage, your problems can be solved.
  • Tire enemies by keeping them busy and not letting them breathe.
  • Good generals: they commit themselves to death, but do not cling to the hope of survival; They act according to events, rationally and realistically, without being carried away by emotions or subject to being confused. When they see a good opportunity, they are like tigers, otherwise they close their doors. Your action and your inaction are matters of strategy, and they cannot be pleased or angered.

CHAPTER 9: About media distribution

  • Military maneuvers are the result of plans and strategies in the most advantageous way to win. They determine the mobility and effectiveness of the troops.
  • When fighting on a mountain, attack from the top down and not the other way around.
  • An army prefers high ground and avoids low ground, appreciates light and detests darkness.
  • If the enemy's emissaries speak humble words while the enemy increases his war preparations, this means that he is going to advance. When high-sounding words are spoken and ostentatious advance is made, it is a sign that the enemy is going to retreat. If his emissaries come with humble words, send spies to observe the enemy and you will see that he is increasing his war preparations.
  • If the enemy sees an advantage but does not take advantage of it, he is tired.
  • If there is gossip, lack of discipline and the soldiers talk a lot to each other, it means that the loyalty of the troop has been lost. Backbiting describes the expression of true feelings; Lack of discipline indicates problems with superiors. When the command has lost the loyalty of the troops, the soldiers speak frankly with each other about the problems with their superiors.
  • The emissaries who come with a conciliatory attitude indicate that the enemy wants a truce.
  • If enemy troops are facing you with ardor, but are delaying the moment to enter combat without leaving the ground nevertheless, you must watch them carefully. They are preparing a surprise attack.
  • The enemy who acts in isolation, lacks strategy, and takes adversaries lightly, will inevitably end up being defeated.
  • If your plan does not contain a retreat or post-attack strategy, but relies exclusively on the strength of your soldiers, and takes your adversaries lightly without assessing their condition, you will surely be taken prisoner.
  • When orders are given clearly, simply, and consistently to troops, they accept them. When orders are confusing, contradictory and changing, the troops do not accept or understand them. When orders are reasonable, fair, simple, clear and consistent, there is mutual satisfaction between the leader and the group.

CHAPTER 10: About the topology

  • In order to defeat the enemy, the entire military command must have a single intention and all military forces must cooperate.
  • When the laws of war signal certain victory, it is clearly appropriate to engage in battle, even if the government has given orders not to attack. If the laws of war do not indicate a certain victory, it is appropriate not to go into battle, even if the government has given the order to attack.
  • Those who know martial arts do not waste time when they make their movements, nor do they exhaust themselves when they attack. Because of this it is said that when you know yourself and know others, victory is not a danger; when you know heaven and earth, victory is inexhaustible.

CHAPTER 11: On the nine kinds of terrain

  • The speed of action is the essential factor in the condition of the military force, taking advantage of the mistakes of the adversaries, moving along paths that do not wait and attacking when they are not on guard.
  • In an invasion, as a general rule, the further the invaders go into other people's territory, the stronger they become, to the point that the native government can no longer expel them.
  • May the movements of your troops and the preparation of your plans be unfathomable.
  • Ban omens to avoid doubts
  • A skillfully prepared military operation should be like a swift snake that counterattacks with its tail when someone attacks it from the head, counterattacks with its head when someone attacks it from the tail, and counterattacks with head and tail when someone attacks it in the middle. .
  • It is up to the general to be quiet, reserved, fair and methodical.
  • Change your actions and review your plans, so that no one can recognize them.
  • You can win when no one can understand what your intentions are at any time.
  • The main deception that is valued in military operations is not directed only at the enemies, but begins with the troops themselves, to make them follow you without knowing where they are going.
  • Use your soldiers only to fight, without communicating your strategy. Let them know the benefits that await them, but don't talk about the potential harms. If the true is said, your plan will fail. If the soldiers start to worry, they will become hesitant and fearful.
  • The task of a military operation is to pretend to accommodate the enemy's intentions. If you focus fully on it, you can kill its general even if you are miles away. This is called expertly meet the target.

CHAPTER 12: On the art of attacking by fire

  • It is not enough to know how to attack others with fire, it is necessary to know how to prevent others from attacking you.
  • A government must not mobilize an army out of anger, and warlords must not provoke war out of anger.
  • Take action when it is beneficial; otherwise, give up. Anger can turn into joy, and anger can turn into pleasure, but a destroyed people cannot be reborn, and death cannot turn into life. Consequently, an enlightened government pays attention to all this, and a good military command takes it into account. This is the way to keep the nation safe and to keep your army intact.

CHAPTER 13: On Concord and Discord

  • Information cannot be obtained from ghosts or spirits, nor can it be had by analogy, nor can it be discovered by calculations. It must be obtained from people; people who know the adversary's situation.
  • If spies are not treated well, they can become rogues and work for the enemy.
  • You can't get the truth from spies without subtlety.
  • Each issue requires prior knowledge.
  • Whenever you go to attack and fight, you must first know the talents of the enemy's minions, and thus you can face them according to their abilities.
  • A brilliant ruler or a wise general who can use the cleverest for espionage can be sure of victory.
  • Espionage is essential to military operations, and armies depend on it to carry out their actions. It will not be advantageous for the army to act without knowing the enemy's situation, and knowing the enemy's situation is not possible without espionage.
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