Sun Tzu and the Art of War | Biography, Military Strategist, Chinese General, Facts

Highlights of Sun Tzu:

Occupation General and Military Strategist
Born 544 BC
Died 496 BC
known for Wrote theĀ Art of War

Biography of Emperor Sun Tzu:

Early Life

The early years of Sun Tzu are poorly understood. During the Spring and Autumn period of Ancient China, he was initially named Sun Wu and was the son of an aristocracy. He developed a keen interest in combat and joined the ranks of the mercenary army. Sun Tzu earned a reputation as a capable military commander over time.

The King’s Test

The Wu King observed that Sun Tzu was a capable administrator. For a test, he brought Sun Tzu to his palace. 180 of his concubines (women) were to be trained by Sun Tzu to be soldiers. Sun Tzu split the women into two groups and gave two of them leadership roles. Then he gave them an order. The women simply laughed. The two chiefs were put to death by Sun Tzu. Two more women were later given leadership roles by him. When he gave the order again, the women followed it exactly.

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Army Commander

As his understanding of combat increased, Sun Tzu started to develop his own ideas and tactics for fighting. As generals serving the King of Wu, he put several of them to the test. Sun Tzu led the state of Wu to many triumphs throughout their conflict with the strong Chu state, including the conquest of the Chu capital city of Ying.

Art of War

Sun Tzu published the Art of War, a treatise that contained his military philosophies. This became of the most well-known texts on war strategy ever written. The book is divided into thirteen chapters. Each one outlines tactics for a particular facet of warfare.

  1. Plans Laying
  2. Declaring War
  3. The Attack Strategy
  4. Positioning
  5. Directing
  6. Weak and strong points
  7. Maneuvering
  8. The Nine Alternates
  9. The Army in Motion
  10. Terrain
  11. Nine Terrains
  12. assault with fire
  13. Utilizing Spies

Sun Tzu opposed going to war. He advised averting conflict wherever feasible, but he also believed that a swift victory in any conflict was preferable. He thought that even the victor in protracted warfare suffered suffering.

Popular Phrases from the Art of War

You must become your opponent in order to know them.

Leaders do not take charge they lead by example.

To defeat an opponent without engaging in combat is the pinnacle of warcraft.

Attack your opponent when he is unprepared and show up unexpectedly.

Whoever knows when to fight and when not to fight will prevail.

The basis of all conflict is dishonesty.

A skilled combatant not only succeeds in winning, but thrives at it.

The most crucial factor in a battle is incredible speed; one cannot afford to miss an opportunity.


Military leaders from a variety of countries, including China, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, and the United States, have studied The Art of War throughout history. During the Chinese Civil War, Mao Zedong studied the book and employed its tactics to overthrow the Kuomintang.

In many military schools today, The Art of War is still taught and regarded as a key text. It is in the list of suggested readings for U.S. Military Intelligence professionals and is essential reading for CIA officers. Even in disciplines other than warfare, such as commerce, administration, athletics, and politics, the book has been utilized to educate strategy.

Sun Tzu: Interesting Facts

The Taoist principles and ideals are prevalent in the Art of War.

Most Asian martial arts theories are based on his teachings.

According to him, a general must possess the following qualities: wisdom, truthfulness, compassion, strictness, and courage.

In 1905, The Art of War saw its initial English translation. In 1782, it was translated into French.

It is not a particularly long book, The Art of War. It is available online for free download and is in the public domain.

The Sun Bin’s Art of War is a well-known book on military tactics that was written by Sun Bin, a Sun Tzu ancestor.