The Art of War: Withstanding Time


History credits the Chinese General Sun Tzu (circa 500 BC) with authoring a series of essays on the subject of war. Considered to be the earliest known treatises on the subject, Sun Tzu discussed military organization, defensive and offensive strategies as well as tactical maneuvering. Of his many essays his best known work, The Art of War, continues to be a reference for modern military strategists. Sun Tzu's longevity is indebted mainly to Father J. J. M. Amiot, a French Jesuit priest, who brought a translation back to Europe shortly before the French Revolution. The nucleus of Sun Tzu's principles for the conduct of war are: "All warfare is based on deception" and "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting". In addition to Sun Tzu's later western influence, his ideas spread throughout continental Asia and eventually to Japan. The Japanese were quick to adopt Sun Tzu's precepts; eventually adding a few chapters to The Art of War of their own. In the end, Sun Tzu's treatises played a significant role in later Japanese military strategies and history. Although Sun Tzu's work is credited to the Spring and Autumn Period, it is interesting to note the following era was that of the Warring States. Whether or not Sun Tzu's treatises are simply a product of their time or an ominous indicator is difficult to discern. What is clear, however, is the dramatic nature of his subsequential historical impact. "If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt. If you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete", Sun Tzu said. Being one of his most famous sayings, it has urged thousands and thousands of strategists to meticulously analyze their enemies and opponents. A stratagem of timeless value, appreciated by military leaders of all times. The military thought expounded in Sun Tzu's Art of War is abundant, almost touching on all aspects of ancient wars. His thirteen chapters of principles and theories on war have been praised by militarists around the world. But the influence of his tactics has gone far beyond the military field. Today, his military theory is appreciated by businessmen and politicians as well. Highly applicable in the business world, Sun Tzu's Art of War has become a major influence on business strategy, especially in Asia.
Sun Tzu's Art of War is written by Sun Wu and is set in the final years of the Spring and Autumn Period, 770-476 BC It is not only the oldest Chinese military work in existence but the oldest military theory in the world. Sun Wu, also called Chang Qiao, is known to have lived at about the same time as Confucius (the founder of Confucianism) and the Buddha (the founder of Buddhism). "Tzu" means man and was the title for famous men in ancient China. Hence, Sun Wu became Sun Tzu. Sun Wu, who was a native of Qi, caught King Ho Lu's attention with his profound knowledge on military theory. The king appointed him to train a few troops as an experiment. The experiment was conducted with women instead soldiers. The king sent him one hundred and eighty beauties from the palace. Sun Wu divided them into two companies with the king's two favorite concubines as their leaders. He gave them axes and halberds and asked them if they knew their right from their left. The women assured him that they did. Then with the roll of a drum he gave the order "Turn right!Ē The women burst out laughing. Sun Wu said, "If the rules are not clear and the orders are not clear, the commander is to blame". He repeated the instructions a third and a fourth time. Again the beauties from the palace burst out laughing. Then Sun Wu said, "If the rules are not clear and orders are not understood, the commander is to blame. But when orders are clear yet not carried out, it is the officers who are to blame". Then he executed both company leaders. The king protested. Sun Wu replied, "I have been appointed commander, and a general in the field is not bound by orders from his sovereign". Again he gave the orders, this time