Important Lessons From Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War”

War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will. —Carl von Clausewitz, “On War”

I have recently finished reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The book is more than 2000 years old and the fact that it is still read and widely appreciated today makes it all the more respectable. On Amazon, in the review comments one said “this book is recommended for all MBA students,” which made me think about its relevance in today’s world and in the contemporary survival of the fittest jungle competitive business environment.

Why would I read a book about how war should have been waged 2000 years ago?

The above quotation (alongside knowledge of evolutionary biology and of social interactions) illustrates the importance of understanding war and its various forms. Since the above definition means war can apply to pretty much anything (business and politics being the best examples), war becomes an extremely important field of study.

Added to this is the fact that the book has quotations that apply universally to any day and age and in many fields. Granted, the book sometimes has material that only applies to ancient warfare, but it is still a worthy book and those passages not only offer historically interesting material, but they also shape the mentality of the reader into a more strategic one.

What the book has to offer


All warfare is based on deception

And adaptation I might add, having read the book. This is very effective when applied in that if you are fully honest with your business/political opponent(s), then you will be crushed because you will have lost the upper hand since your moves surprise no one.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem 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.

Don’t think of this literally as having a bunch of spear or sword-armed man ready to assault our enemies; think that when you can make a move to get power in an organization or over someone then you mustn’t show it until the deed is done.

For example, if you have a great idea on how to start your own business and leave your firm, would you really divulge that to your current employers? Would you tell them that you’ve made a plan on how to compete and out-perform them in the next three years? Of course not; you would seem dependent on the job that they offer you until you drop out of work, and even then you would try to make them think your business is struggling, until the time when you would have more market share than them.

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

This works brilliantly when you are dealing with another person individually and you want them to lose social power by forcing them to start an argument and losing it.

“Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs”.

This may now sound nice but it is best in life to profit from others and use their resources (financial, emotional etc.) to your advantage, mostly because if not then others will profit from you by asking you to help them with money or a personal problem etc.

There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:
(1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
(2) cowardice, which leads to capture;
(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
(4) a delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame;
(5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble

(1), (3), (4) and (5) might as well have been said by any psychologist in 2015, since having a big ego will actually constitute a big part of one’s downfall. Excessive concern for others will result in one’s kindness being taken for weakness and thus one will be exploited (5), while (1) can even lead to imprisonment.

The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.

Oh Sun Tzu, if only today’s politicians could hearken unto you! Yet woe betide us all, for our wellbeing they eschew!

How does it apply to game?


Game can be seen as a type of warfare; after all, you want to use whatever means necessary to get a girl to willingly let you have sex with her (“compel her to fulfill your will”). In the western world, this can imply displaying dark triad personality traits. Thus, game is some sort of war where your objective is clear and where victory, like in war, depends not only on your abilities and strength but also on circumstances and on the cunning of your “enemy.”

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.

Applied to game, you want to seize the girl’s attention and then ensure that you obtain her attraction; afterwards, you need to quickly escalate before she loses interest.

Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy—this is the art of retaining self-possession.

If you are in a relationship, you will notice some girls tend to occasionally throw a temper tantrum; some girls crave drama, which is fine. However, you must remain “disciplined and calm” and use that tantrum to show your high value by not caring and not allowing yourself to be provoked into mindless discussions or heated arguments.

Also, use it to convince your girl of stuff that she would otherwise not listen to (such as red pill concepts: telling her that her erratic speech and behavior is unnecessary, unimpressive and unpleasant).

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.

Indeed, the pinnacle of game is to have girls actively try to make you sleep with them rather than having to get rejected, flaked on, cockblocked etc. If that’s not possible then you want to at least aim to get the bang without having to work too much.

Bonus quotes without the commentary

I will now post a few quotes that you can reflect on.

In war, practise dissimulation, and you will succeed.

The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources. Move not unless you see an advantage.

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.


This book is a gem in terms of knowledge and in terms of applicability to modern times. The conclusion is, buy it and read it (and re-read it if necessary) and conquer your surroundings.

Read More: Sun Tzu, The Art of War on Amazon

55 thoughts on “Important Lessons From Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War””

    1. Here’s a 49th Law of Power – Power sources are to be discredited, ridiculed, shunned and criminalized (such as free energy and anti-gravity) if you can’t control the meter.
      Hence, wars for oil and environmental pollution.

      1. The second greatest industrial sabotage of the 20th century was outlawing industrial hemp.
        The first was what Morgan and Company did to Tesla.

        1. What about the suppression of anti-gravity?
          All you need are two opposing magnets set in counter-rotation to each other, and you can nullify gravity. No fuel necessary.

    2. ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ is easier to read than The Art of War, well explained and the rules contained within are subject to a large amount of discussion online. I have a feeling it will be considered a classic in generations to come.
      The 50th Law and The Art of Seduction are also good reads.

        1. No problem.
          I would add that I think its critical that people who read these books read them over and over again. I first read the LoP years ago and I still feel as if I have only internalised a third or so of Greene’s Laws. Since 2013, I’ve tried to read the LoP at least a few times a year so I can internalise as much as possible.

        1. It pushed me to go out more, leave my “comfort zone” and pursue. Court attention while being aloof. Take chances and be more aggressive, even when conventional knowledge would tell me to be conservative. It mainly helped me when it came to getting free drinks/food in the clubs and going home with women; didn’t help me at work too much.

  1. “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.” That is what is best in life.

    1. WRONG! What is best in life is to take your enemies whole and convert them to your cause. Any who will not convert are crushed. Any who lament the crushing of a non-convert are crushed for sedition. A word on conversion. Make brother fight brother to the death. A brother who kills his own brother to convert has made a great sacrifice to become part of the cause. Pit eldest daughter against mother in a fatal knife fight, the winner has shown reason enough to e converted. True, under these guidelines a General only converts half a conquered people, but these converts are tested. This swells the ranks and the questions of prisoners and non-combatives.
      Nice “Conan” quote. Still embodies “Alpha” in the old school.

        1. Hey Baldur,
          Yeh, there is that also. A life of quiet contemplation and community works should be embraced by more young men today. It beats what most young men spend their time doing nowadays.
          As for me, i spend too much time at “fightclub” so only martial monasteries would give me the outlets i need in order to feel like i am improving myself.
          Any advice on what monasteries are best for what type of person or what helps one differentiate a “holy order” from God from a “schizophrenic auditory hallucination?”

      1. CapitalXD, im just curious…were you channeling Thulsa Doom in your statement there? Because that would actually be kind of hilarious lol

  2. 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.

    1. I think you’re forgetting the part about controlling the banks and printing money so you can buy votes, and hiring underage hookers and video so you can blackmail people.

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  3. “Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated. You must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent.”

      1. I disagree: I think they’re even more powerful now because the Internet makes everyone into easily-accessed sheeple. Yes, the minority might stray off to sites like this one for a dose of a countervailing point of view, but the internet has made us excellent at processing information while simultaneously really shit at retaining or comprehending it. The very existence of social herding sites like Twitter proves it.

  4. I think the idea is to let your enemies get off balance so that they expose and over-commit themselves while your own balance remains centered (a la Putin).
    Waging war based on deception only works if your enemy doesn’t know you engage in deceit (which is why Mossad/Israel is screwed)

    1. “I think the idea is to let your enemies get off balance so that they
      expose and over-commit themselves while your own balance remains
      centered (a la Putin).”
      That’s Miyamoto Musashi, not Sun Tzu, specifically the technique of “To Hold Down a Pillow”. In essence, suppress your enemy’s useful behaviours while encouraging their useless ones, and when the moment is right, strike.

      1. Another excellent read that applies to all facets of life similar to Art of War: the Book of the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.

        1. My suspicion with texts of this kind is that when these guys wrote manuals of this kind, they were really compacting a huge amount of information into a phrase or two. The principles themselves might not have *direct* application, but it’s when you give thought to them and serious meditation over time that they unpack themselves.
          Josh Waitzkin talks about this kind of thing in “The Art of Learning” when he describes how he approached old Tai Chi Chuan texts. In it he mentions reading the principle “When the opponent moves, I move first” in one text. It was only after a lot of thought, training, and internalisation that he started to realise that the text was not talking about gazumping an opponent or gaining the initiative — it was really about controlling the fight entirely by psyching out the opponent and making him move as you wanted him to: that you are always moving ahead of the enemy, always controlling the fight, always with a strategy that gives you the initiative before the fight begins. Consider how, in most high level combats of most kinds, it’s the competitor who dictates the tone of the battle that wins it. “When the opponent moves, I move first” = “I move first, and thus the opponent moves according to my desire.”

        2. Musashi even say’s repeatedly in the book “You must knew this well” which he states take years of constant dedication to something. Of course with the paragraphs he writes it might not take you years to understand but if you read the book now and the say read it again in 2 years the same paragraph may be understood in a different way now. I think books like these are meant to be studied the majority of your life.

    2. Not true. Deceit can take many forms, and any leader knows that other leaders also engage in deceit. The key is to make the opposing leader and constituents believe that what you mean as deceit is truth. This can become a complex game with many decoys, red herrings, or false decoys and false red herrings, etc…
      Obviously, skills and capability come into play, but deceit is important for strategic advantage and confusing the enemy to the point that they cannot predict your moves.

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  5. Paraphrasing here: “There are generals that know how to win, but lack the ability to win.”
    This applies to game. There are those of us that learn the ins and outs of game, but because women don’t find us attractive, we’ll never succeed in getting the püh.

  6. I read that book 20 years ago and I still sear the phrases go through my mind as they pertain to business, building and recreation.

  7. I read that book 20 years ago and I still hear the phrases going through my mind as they pertain to the business, building or recreation I’m involved with at the time.

    1. I’m not even English, but that’s pretty much the default view towards Englishwomen centuries after Gwenhwyfar’s death, which crystallized two-three centuries later during the Viking conquests of England.
      Yes, that’s the basis of “English people descended from Vikings.”

  8. Hi Titus,
    I think RoK should do a weekly post on a different passage from “Art of War,” and how it applies to modern game. The book isn’t very long, but I’m sure countless articles could be written on the same passage and the various ways to apply and interpret said passage to game.
    From “Art,” I particularly like the advice. One General (many Generals voices are recorded in “Art” ) gives about taking cities whole before moving in your troops and controlling the population. I applied this to gaming young virgin girls in SE Asia. Granted my language skills are remedial at best but better than most travelers. I understand more words that I hear native speakers use because it sparks a memory. When I speak I have nothing to help my memory along.
    Back to the point, before deflowering the girl I would build myself up with So much DHV, cocky funny, a few well placed negs (you don’t need any negs for SE Asian girls on the norm, but I was working a plan) , finding ways to make her quality herself ever time she spoke when she wasn’t answering a question I asked, almost constant Kino, and just enough provider game to let the girl know if they were with me money was no issue. After a few dates the city had fallen. Each girl was asking to spend the night, they let me pull off all their clothes and we slept naked after some play (these were real virgins, not “everything but ” virgins. Any play we did was genuine enthusiastic sexual exploitation on her part, with some helpful hints from me, naturally).
    When I did flood her conquered city with my troops, taking rule of her hymen was, everyone of them, exponentially better than virgins I had popped the first chance I got.
    Some of these girls are still in my overseas harem. Most took what they learned from me and married men much more wealthy and less demanding than me. It came as little surprise to me that most of the girls who got married didn’t fuck their husbands until the wedding night. Each girl using what I had taught them to ensnare a desirable man with just the aura of fucktoydom they exude.
    My hat off and my knee bent in respect to Sun Tsu. Good article Mr. Vibius.

    1. Hi CapitalXD,
      Thanks for the feedback; I want to say that whilst I agree we could (should) have more posts about quotes from “Art” and perhaps other books related to game and self-improvement, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. However, I noted this and if I finish reading any such books (48 laws of power, 33 strategies of war, book of 5 rings etc.) I will happily publish a post on those in the future (if time and conditions allow it).
      I’m really glad you applied Sun Tzu to girls already 🙂 it seems to work amazingly
      TItus Vibius

  9. Good stuff. I have not read this (or 48 laws of power) but I will soon. This reminds me of what my cousin (serving two life sentences) told me. Yeah yeah, getting advice from a convict isn’t the best idea, but I think he has a good point with what he said.
    Paraphrase: He said that human nature is to tear each other down. The old misery loves company thing. To add to this, my professor in business (a millionaire who teaches cause he just loves teaching) said almost the same thing which is uncanny.
    People will be quick to discourage you and take advantage of you even if they think they have your best interest at heart. You have to keep a lot of stuff secret. Never let anyone into your mind.
    It’s just human nature. It is how we all are. So if you do not look at all aspects of life as a battle to be won or beaten in, then you will come up short almost all the time.
    Great article.

  10. I was born in China.I happened to read The Art of War in ancient Chinese when I was 15 years old.I consider this book as poetry composed by a brilliant strategist in a great patriarchal society 2000 years ago.

  11. Sun Tzu also argues at protracted war will bankrupt the country.
    Applied to game, don’t be afraid to take a prospect off your list if you’re investing too much time and getting nowhere. It is simply too much hassle.

  12. You can get this on Amazon’s Kindle app for free. It is a book that should be at your fingertips at all times.

  13. I’m reading Julius Evola’s The Metaphysics of War – after all if you don’t think like a warrior how can you act like one?

  14. I also suggest the book of the five rings by miyamoto musashi. It takes a couple reads to understand but is well worth it. He basically relays the same messages as sun zu but on a more introspective level than sun zu who was catering more towards generals in armies and national leaders. The Nordic pagan’s Havamal is a pretty good read too. It’s a little weird because of most of the translations wordings but the book is basically over 300 maxims about daily life, how to treat people, and even one about how to handle women. They actually agreed with most of the things that are considered “red pill” . The early cultures definitely knew their stuff. Makes me often wonder if humanity is actually dumber instead of smarter or perhaps it’s been that way since the modern era and very few people actually go out and understand the world for themselves the majority are just content with whatever bullshit is being pushed current social trends.

  15. The Art of War is a masterpiece indeed, but I find much of its application beyond its intended subject rather forced and contrived, and thus of not much use beyond feel-good re-affirmation of what one already knows.

  16. I remember reading the Art of War when I was 14 years old. Good times. Had to re-read it more recently to understand it better.

  17. This reminds me of the book:
    The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The audiobook is also on YouTube.

  18. This most definitely applies to game , especially the last 3 bonus quotes without commentary

  19. Ahh the Art of War. One of my personal favorites, along with Machiavelli’s “The Prince”
    I read it during my late teens, and it opened my eyes to a whole new level of interpersonal perception that has only increased exponentially since.
    If The art of war teaches you how to be successful in warfare, the Prince teaches you how to remain successful in the spoils of war. They are both essential reads for the XY male thinker.
    One of the adages contained therein still sticks in my mind: “to win without fighting is best.”
    Basically, having to go through the same effort as your opponent in wafare essentially means you are doing something wrong. Long drawn out warfare only succeeds in granting the so called victor a pyrrhic victory. History has shown that the side with greater mobility, greater adaptability, greater field intel and the will to not just fight, but win, is typically the side that emerges victorious.
    Fighting should therefore encompass more than just a want to fight…but a need to win through a knowledge of how to destroy the enemy…utterly, absolutely, and totally.
    This is why we were so victorious in WW2. Patton is one of the greatest generals of US history precisely because he maximized potential and minimized risk. Add to that the fact that he was a red pill Alpha male and you can see why his enemies feared him.
    Conversely, we got our ass kicked in vietnam because of the exact opposite. We went to fight but not to win, because it was a political war that was being waged on Capitol Hill, using the soldiers as chess pieces. Our failure to understand battlefield conditions and the enemy’s will to persevere proved mortal to our campaign there as well.
    Red pill thinkers become quite formidable once they possess a fundamental mastery of strategy, in business, relationships, and of course traditional warfare…thanks in no small part to timeless tomes such as The Art Of War.

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