There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combinationthey produce more hues than can ever been seen.There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations ofthem yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.
Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.
One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful, subduing the other's military without battle is the most skillful.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being, nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.
Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .
Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.
The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.
When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteoousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders'.
There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
Bravery without forethought, causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent, must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.
Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst. [One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man.]
Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.