15 Profound Quotes from Military Leader Sun Tzu

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15 Profound Quotes from Military Leader Sun Tzu

Few names in military theology are more respected than Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu is famous as the author of “Art of War” and a Chinese military strategist, philosopher, general, and writer. His book is said to have greatly impacted Western and East Asian philosophy and military tactics. As a revered figure, it’s only right to look at some of his most profound quotes and see if we can also benefit from his wisdom. 

Don’t Fight

Sun Tzu knows sometimes you don’t need to fight.
©"[Prototype 1] Sun Tzu - The Art of War [AUDIOBOOK] [WWW.ETOILE.APP]" by eXploration Etoile is licensed under PDM 1.0. - Original / License

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

If there is one thing Sun Tzu hopes to get across, it is that sometimes the best way to win is not to fight.

No Battle

Abstract fantasy silhouette design art of group of ancient warriors firing arrows with bows at the battlefield with fire blast battle in the background
Winning a fight often means not fighting at all.

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

Sun Tzu was a fan of not fighting, which was the quickest way to victory for all parties.

Count the Cost

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If you are the person who wants to go to battle, you have to consider the consequences.
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“Who wishes to fight must first count the cost.”

Sun Tzu was not a fan of war unless necessary.

Avoiding Battle

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Warriors will look to avoid any battle whenever possible.

“The wise warrior avoids the battle.”

Once again, it’s clear Sun Tzu avoided battle at all costs.


If you have opportunities, you have a better chance of winning.
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“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

The more opportunities you have, the more you can accomplish.

Convincing Enemies

Battle of Decin 2024, Middle Ages, battle reconstruction
Stop your enemy from attacking before everyone loses.
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“Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.”

The more you convince your enemy not to attack, the more his morale will erode.

Treating Men Good

Sun Tzu
If you are a good leader, your soldiers will follow you anywhere.

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

Sun Tzu was one of the first military leaders to praise treating soldiers as well as possible.

Art of War

the historical portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte on background of the battlefield
If you can avoid battle, something should be said about not fighting.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Sun Tzu makes it a point to continue emphasizing his desire not to see war unless it’s the only option.


'Ignorance is bliss'. A idiom, Poster.
Ignorance is not bliss. It can actually be the cause of your defeat.
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“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”

If you go into battle blindly, you are certain to lose.

War is Important

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While peace is what everyone desires, sometimes war is the only option.
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“The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road to either safety or to run.”

Unfortunately, war is essential in certain cases for people to survive.

Decision Making

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Decision-making is exactly like chess, where every move has an impact.
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“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to destroy its victim.”

Sun Tzu was well aware of the importance of decision-making and how it could impact the outcome of a battle.

Don’t Fight

A samurai standing on the battlefield. Sengoku period. Wide image for banners, advertisements.
Don’t fight unless you have something to gain on the battlefield.

“Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.”

In this case, Sun Tzu knew that not moving in battle was the best move without something to be gained.

Know Your Victory

A samurai standing on the battlefield. Sengoku period. Wide image for banners, advertisements.
Sometimes, you have to fight even if you are forbidden from doing so.

“If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding.”

In some cases, those not on the battlefield are the ones you should listen to the least.

Move Fast

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If you move fast, you can beat your enemy before they know what’s coming.

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

Your actions must be swift enough to confuse your enemy to win a battle.

Comparing Armies

Warriors of famous Terracotta Army in Xian China - travel background
Knowing the size of your enemy is important before going into battle.
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“Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.”

Knowing the strengths of your army is the only way to win.

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