Mastering the Art of War

An old scroll says, “those who are contemptuous of cultured people have no way to win the hearts of the people completely; and those who are contemptuous of the common people have no way to get people to work for them. I military operations it is essential to strive to win the hearts of the heroes to make the rules of rewards and punishments strict. One must include cultural and martial arts of hard and soft techniques.


Enjoy social amenities and music; familiarize yourself with poetry and prose. Always put humanity and justice before wit and bravery.


In stillness be as quiet as a shark in the deep, and in action be as swift a tiger on the hunt.

Dissolve enemies’ collusion; break down their strengths. Dazzle the people with your banners; alert people with your gong and drums.

Advance like a typhoon and stand firm like a mountain. Strike and crush with shattering force. Be as elusive and powerful as the tiger.

Press the enemy and contain them; lure and entice them. Confuse them and seize them; be humble to make them proud. Be familiar yet distant; weaken the by lending strength.

Give security to those in danger; gladden those who are afraid. If people oppose you exam their reasons, and if they have grudges let them express them fully.

Retain the strong and sustain the weak. When there are prizes won distribute them accordingly.

Never take an opponent lightly and nor overrate your own strength. Do not be conceited about your abilities and doubt your subordinates.

Do not let personal favor congeal into authority.

Plan before acting; fight only when you know you can win.

Do not keep the spoils of was for your own possession and gain.

If generals can be like this, people will be willing to fight when the give orders, and the enemy will be defeated before any blood is shed.

This is, in part, what it means to master the Art of War.

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