Key Passages

for your consideration and contemplation.

These selections can be helpful as slogans: lines, phrases or entire passages that can help you recall insights and advice from the Art of War that can lead to skillful actions when in the chaos of battle.

Chapter 1

These are the victories of the military lineage. They cannot be transmitted in advance.

Attack where he is unprepared. Emerge where he does not expect.

Chapter 2

The wise general looks to the enemy for food. One bushel of enemy food equals twenty bushels of mine.

The military values victory. It does not value prolonging.

Chapter 3

The superior military cuts down strategy.

One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Subduing the other’s military without battle is the most skillful.

Knowing the enemy and knowing oneself, In one hundred battles no danger.

Chapter 4

Victory can be known. It cannot be made.

One skilled at battle takes a stand in the ground of no defeat.

The victorious military is first victorious and after that does battle. The defeated military first does battle and after that seeks victory.

The skilled can make themselves invincible. They cannot cause the enemy’s vincibility.

A victorious military is like weighing a hundredweight against a grain.

Chapter 5

When in battle,
Use the orthodox to engage.
Use the extraordinary to attain victory.

The extraordinary and the orthodox circle and give birth to each other, As a circle has no beginning. Who is able to exhaust it?

The fight is chaotic yet one is not subject to chaos.

One’s form is round and one cannot be defeated.

The rush of water, to the point of tossing rocks about. This is shih.
The strike of a hawk, at the killing snap. This is the node.

And so one skilled at battle Seeks it in shih and does not demand it of people.

Chapter 6

To go one thousand li without fear, go through unpeopled ground.

To attack and surely take it, attack where they do not defend.

To advance so that one cannot be resisted, charge against the empty.

The skilled general forms others and yet is without form.

The ultimate in giving form to the military is to arrive at formlessness. When one is formless, deep spies cannot catch a glimpse and the wise cannot strategize.

Do not repeat the means of victory, But respond to form from the inexhaustible.

Water determines its movement in accordance with the earth. The military determines victory in accordance with the enemy.

Subtle! Subtle! To the point of formlessness.

Chapter 7

Not employing local guides, One cannot obtain the advantage of the ground.

Chapter 8

Occupy the feudal lords with tasks.

Do not rely on their not coming. Rely on what we await them with.

Do not rely on their not attacking. Rely on how we are unable to be attacked.

Chapter 9

When it has rained upstream, the stream’s flow intensifies. Stop fording, wait for it to calm.

In the military more is not better.

Chapter 10

Know the other and know oneself, Then victory is not in danger

Know earth and know heaven, Then victory can be complete.

Chapter 11

If it accords with advantage, then act. If it does not accord with advantage, then stop.

It is the nature of the military that swiftness rules. Ride other’s inadequacies. Go by unexpected ways. Attack where he has not taken precautions.

Being an invader—
Deep then concentrated,
Shallow then dispersed.

Concentrate strength in one direction.

Attain both hard and soft.

Chapter 12

If it is not attainable, do not employ troops. If it is not in danger, do not do battle.

Chapter 13

Foreknowledge cannot be grasped from ghosts and spirits, Cannot be inferred from events, Cannot be projected from calculations. It must be grasped from people’s knowledge.

How you can learn more

We present the Rules of Victory and the Simple Rules in a variety of settings, including: