If your opponent is of choleric temper, irritate him.
A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame.
If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.
Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.
Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.
If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.
If fighting is sure to result in victory, than 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.
Balk the enemy's power; force him to reveal himself.
Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men.
What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.
The value of time, that is of being a little ahead of your opponent, often provides greater advantage than superior numbers or greater resources.
So the principles of warfare are: Do not depend on the enemy not coming, but depend on our readiness against him. Do not depend on the enemy not attacking, but depend on our position that cannot be attacked.
Who can determine where one ends and the other begins?
The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.
If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.
If there is disturbance in the camp, the general's authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.
Should the enemy forestall you in occupying a pass, do not go after him if the pass is fully garrisoned, but only if it is weakly garrisoned.
To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.
The control of large numbers is possible, and like unto that of small numbers, if we subdivide them.
If the enemy opens the door, you must race in.
One who sets the entire army in motion to chase an advantage will not attain it.
For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.
Should one ask: 'how do I cope with a well-ordered enemy host about to attack me?' I reply: seize something he cherishes and he will conform to your desires.
Too frequent rewards indicate that the general is at the end of his resources; too frequent punishments that he is in acute distress.
For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage in action, the covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man has no fear of death.
When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move. Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Those who do not know the plans of competitors cannot prepare alliances. Those who do not know the lay of the land cannot maneuver their forces. Those who do not use local guides cannot take advantage of the ground.
Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
One who speaks deferentially but increases his preparations will advance. One who speaks belligerently and advances hastily will retreat.
Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.
It is more important to outhink your enemy, than to outfight him
The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict unnecessary.
When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.
A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
Kill one, terrify a thousand.
The ultimate in disposing one's troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.
If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children; they are useless for any practical purpose.