Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
War is based on deception.
Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities...It is best to win without fighting.
The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.
We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.
The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.
Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.
The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.
Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
The art of using troops is this: when ten to the enemy's one, surround him; when five times his strength, attack him; if double his strength, divide him; if equally matched you may engage him; if weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing; and if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him for a small force is but booty for one more powerful.
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.
If you are near the enemy, make him believe you are far from him.
If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.
To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
￼A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
￼Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!
Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
￼Do not interfere with an army that is returning home. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.
Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.
Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.
Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?
If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.