Nowadays, more and more people are interested in the way of using stratagem. Referring to stratagem, the Art of War cannot be ignored, which was written by Sun Wu (Sun Zi), a well known general during the late Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C.-476 B.C.) some 2,500 years ago. Sun Zi and his The Art of War still have a profound influence over 2,500years since his death.

The Life of Sun Zi

Sun Zi was born into minor nobility in what is now Shandong Province. The name Sun Tzu is an honorific title bestowed upon Sun Wu. The word Wu, meaning "martial" or "military", is same as the word in "wu shu" or "martial art". The only surviving source on the life of Sun Zi is Shi ji (the book of history) written by Si ma Qian (a famous historian in ancient China). According to Shi ji, Sun Zi was a member of minor Chinese aristocracy, the shi, descendants of nobility who had lost their dukedoms during the consolidation of the Spring and Autumn period.

King He lv of Wu hired Sun Zi as a general in approximately 512 B.C. Sun Zi presented his ideas about military strategy to King He lv and the sovereign was impressed. When asked whether its principles can be applied to anyone, Sun Tzu replied, "Yes." In order to test his ability, the sovereign asked him to train a harem of three hundred sixty concubines. As a result, he successfully transformed those 360 court women into trained soldiers in just one session. With Sun Tzu as general, King He lv captured the capital city of Ying to defeat the powerful Chu state in 506 B.C. They then headed north and subdued Qi and Qin. Not surprisingly, Sun Tzu's name quickly spread throughout the land and among the feudal lords. By the Han dynasty, his reputation as a wise and respected military leader was well-known.

Sun Zi's victories inspire him to write the Art of War. He and his military treatise are still still the most revered in the world.

The Art of War

The original name of this masterpiece was Sun Zi Ping Fa (Pinyin: Sun Zi Bing Fa). It presents a complete philosophy for managing conflicts and winning clear victories. The Art of War is a systematic guide to strategy and tactics for rulers and commanders. It is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare, it has long been praised as the definitive work on military strategies and tactics of its time.

The book discusses various maneuvers and the effect of terrain on the outcome of battles, and emphasizes the importance of gathering accurate information about the enemy's forces, dispositions and deployments, and movements. Four main themes or factors stand out in the Art of War: (a) a prudent and cautious attitude toward war, such caution described as "kingly deportment"; (b) the use of guile or stratagem in order to bring about a favorable tactical situation, ideally an ambuscade; (c) the interplay and interaction of contradictions as found in the Yin and Yang principle; and (d) considerable attention and stress on various tactical and combat formations and the attack and defense of walled cities. The Art of War has been one of the most popular works on military strategy in history. The work was included in the ancient Chinese civil service examinations and in the syllabus for potential candidates of military service examinations in many East Asian countries.

The book was not only popular among military theorists, but also among political leaders and business management. Many famous leaders have draw inspirations from the work, such as Napoleon, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, and the General Douglas MacArthur and so on. Knowledge of Sun Zi reached Europe shortly before the French Revolution in the form of a summary translation by Father J. J. M. Amiot, a French Jesuit priest. The works of Sun Tzu have been widely known in the United States since the mid-1970s. Diplomat Henry Kissinger has made reference to Sun Tzu and the principles for the conduct of warfare have been the subject of serious study in U.S. military circles for many years.


So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles.

If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.

If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

Therefore one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful.

All warfare is based on deception.