105 Sun Tzu’s Quotes On The Art Of War, Love, and Life

Use these Sun Tzu quotes like a sword against your next personal battle.

There is a way to shut out negativity from your mind, and these Sun Tzu quotes can show you how to turn your mind into your most powerful weapon.

The Art of War will train you to master your mind and defeat any battle that comes your way!

Tell us your favorite Sun Tzu quote in the comment section below.

What are the benefits of reading these Sun Tzu quotes?

Life can regularly be tough, lonely, or throw wrenches in our carefully devised plans.

There are experiences we struggle to find meaning in and can take a toll on our:

  • mind
  • body
  • spirit

Whether good or bad, we should embrace the experiences we go through in life.

One of the most influential Chinese military generals and Taoist philosophers, Sun Tzu, explains the importance of looking within to defeat negativity and mental anguish that creeps into existence.

Below you will find our inspirational, and wise Sun Tzu quotes from various sources over the years.

Whatever personal battles you encounter in your life, use these Sun Tzu quotes to overcome them.

Also, check out our list of insightful Chesty Puller quotes from the most decorated Marine in American history.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Explore our complete collection of motivational quotes here.

Inspirational Sun Tzu Quotes about Power and Life

1. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about power and life

2. “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can

You will also enjoy our article on history quotes.

3. “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the enemy

4. “Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about keep your friends

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5. “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu

Inspirational Sun Tzu Quotes about Power and Life

6. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the art of war

You will also enjoy our article on marine quotes.

7. “Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes on let your plans be dark

You will also enjoy our article on Lao Tzu quotes.

8. “If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes to believe in yourself

9. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about Victorious warriors win first

10. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about there is also opportunity

11. The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the general who wins the battle makes many calculations

12. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes on strategy

13. “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about victory

You will also enjoy our article on arrogant quotes.

14. “Do not engage an enemy more powerful than you. And if it is unavoidable and you do have to engage, then make sure you engage it on your terms, not on your enemy’s terms.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about enemy more powerful than you

You will also enjoy our article on spy quotes.

15. “If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the mind is willing

16. “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust

Also, read these thought-provoking 48 Laws of Power quotes that will lead you to success.

Famous Sun Tzu Quotes

17. “Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise, for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.” – Sun Tzu

Famous sun tzu quotes

18. “A wise general makes a point of foraging of the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

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wise sun tzu quotes

19. “”The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

Inspirational sun tzu quotes

20. “All war is deception.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes on all war is deception

21. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the greatest victory

22. “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

Motivational sun tzu quotes

23. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

24. “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu

More sun tzu quotes

Sun Tzu quotes to make you wiser

25. “It is more important to out-think your enemy than to outfight him” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes to make you wiser

26. “Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” – Sun Tzu

Top sun tzu quotes

27. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes to fight and when not to fight

28. “Do not press an enemy at bay.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes to make you wiser

29. “The skillful employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man.” – Sun Tzu

sun tzu quotes about the skillful employer of men will employ the wise man

30. “For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.” – Sun Tzu

31. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” – Sun Tzu

32. “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” – Sun Tzu

Motivational Sun Tzu Quotes

33. “Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.” – Sun Tzu

34. “The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict unnecessary.” – Sun Tzu

35. “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.” – Sun Tzu

36. “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu

37. “You have to believe in yourself.” – Sun Tzu

38. “When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.” – Sun Tzu

39. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” – Sun Tzu

40. “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu quotes to inspire you

41. “Sweat more during peace: bleed less during war.” – Sun Tzu

42. “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu

43. “Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.” – Sun Tzu

44. “The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” – Sun Tzu

inspirational sun tzu quotes

45. “When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.” – Sun Tzu

46. “Who wishes to fight must first count the cost” – Sun Tzu

47. “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” – Sun Tzu

48. “One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” – Sun Tzu

49. “The art of giving orders is not to try to rectify the minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts.” – Sun Tzu

50. “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” – Sun Tzu

Check out these quotes by famous people about life, love, and success.

Sun Tzu quotes that will expand your mind

51. “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”― Sun Tzu

52. “Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness.”― Sun Tzu

53. “If the enemy know not where he will be attacked, he must prepare in every quarter, and so be everywhere weak.”― Sun Tzu

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54. “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”― Sun Tzu

55. “Those who win every battle are not really skillful—those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.”― Sun Tzu

56. “If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.”― Sun Tzu

57. “Every animal with blood in its veins and horns on its head will fight when it is attacked.”― Sun Tzu

58. “Know the enemy, know yourself and victory is never in doubt, not in a hundred battles.”― Sun Tzu

59. “The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.”― Sun Tzu

60. “Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.”― Sun Tzu

61. “Using order to deal with the disorderly, using calm to deal with the clamorous, is mastering the heart.”― Sun Tzu

62. “Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.”― Sun Tzu

63. “The victorious army is victorious first and seeks battle later; the defeated army seeks battle first and seeks victory later.”― Sun Tzu

64. “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”― Sun Tzu

65. “He wins his battles by making no mistakes.”― Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu quotes to enlighten you

66. “It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.” – Sun Tzu

67. “All wars are won or lost before they are ever fought.” – Sun Tzu

68. “Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.” – Sun Tzu

69. “If you are strong, appear weak. But if you are weak, appear strong.” –
Sun Tzu

70. “Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.” – Sun Tzu

71. “Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.” – Sun Tzu

72. “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.” – Sun Tzu

73. “The height of strategy is to attack your opponent’s strategy.” – Sun Tzu

74. “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins but excels in winning with ease.” – Sun Tzu

75. “Correct your mistake as soon as you have found it.” – Sun Tzu

More Sun Tzu quotes and sayings

76. “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

77. “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” – Sun Tzu

78. “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” – Sun Tzu

79. “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” – Sun Tzu

80. “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” – Sun Tzu

81. “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” – Sun Tzu

82. “The wise warrior avoids the battle.” – Sun Tzu

83. “One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or fights not at all.” – Sun Tzu

84. “Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.” – Sun Tzu

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85. “Great results can be achieved with small forces.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu quotes that will make you think

86. “I have heard that in war haste can be folly, but have never seen delay that was wise.” – Sun Tzu

87. “The PEOPLE being regarded as the essential part of the State, and FOOD as the people’s heaven, is it not right that those in authority should value and be careful of both?” – Sun Tzu

88. “First make yourself unbeatable, then go to war.” – Sun Tzu

89. “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu

90. “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.” – Sun Tzu

91. “Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.” – Sun Tzu

92. “He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu

93. “Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.” – Sun Tzu

94. “When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.” – Sun Tzu

95. “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” – Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu Quotes That Motivate You On How To Succeed

96. “A leader leads by example not by force.” — Sun Tzu

97. “Winning isn’t enough. The acme of all skill is to defeat your enemy before taking the field.” — Sun Tzu

98. “If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.” — Sun Tzu

99. “Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.” — Sun Tzu

100. “A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return.” — Sun Tzu

101. “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” — Sun Tzu

102. “If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.” — Sun Tzu

103. “Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.” — Sun Tzu

104. “Let your rapidity be that of the wind, your compactness that of the forest.” — Sun Tzu

105. “Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” — Sun Tzu

What other Sun Tzu quotes would you add to the list?

In searching for significance in our lives, either through religion or other practices, we find that our deepest understanding does not stem from teachings or things we have read.

Rather, we find it within our own being and how we manage those events.

Moments of stress and grief are likely, but knowing how to react and combat them makes us more stable.

Use these Sun Tzu quotes as valuable reminders of the importance of self-perseverance and astuteness and meditate on accepting your own nature and the possibilities of life.

Which of these Sun Tzu quotes was your favorite?

Do you know of any other Sun Tzu quotes that should be added to the list?

Tell us in the comment section below.

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  1. Mikey

    April 1, 2023 at 6:48 AM

    Some of the quotes I read are not even from Sun Tzu LOL. “Love your enemies”, never read that anywhere, read his book from start to finish. “Friends close, enemies closer” quip, that’s from the Godfather movie. 😀

    • Danielle Dahl, Managing Editor

      April 3, 2023 at 12:56 PM

      Thanks for pointing that out. You are correct that the “love your enemies” quote is not attributed to him, and we will get that fixed! However, “friends close, enemies closer” is attributed to him quite often as Sun Tzu emphasizes the importance of gathering intelligence and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both one’s own army and the enemy’s army. By closely monitoring the enemy’s movements and actions, a commander can anticipate their next move and respond accordingly. Thanks for sharing and we hope you enjoyed the article.

  2. Chris L

    July 20, 2020 at 10:12 PM

    “Ayyyy, is-a perfect Lotsa mooshy rings some runny ketchup and a teeny huge bit of corn syrup” -sun tzu

  3. Richard Burgess

    October 20, 2019 at 5:27 AM

    “When the mouse dances with the Elephant, the mouse must know all moves the elephant may make, well in advance.”
    ~~ Sun Tsu’s small friend, Mao tse ~~

  4. Michael Cenkner

    October 6, 2019 at 10:20 AM

    btw, I think “keep your enemies close and your friends closer” is NOT actually from Sun Zi. He doesn’t use the word “friend,” as far as I can recall.

    There is a whole chapter on using spies effectively which I guess is amazingly insightful about human psychology.

  5. Michael Cenkner

    October 6, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    Thanks for these, nicely chosen.

    I like also “Don’t fight uphill,” or “Don’t climb mountains to fight your battles”

    “Courage and cowardice are a matter of momentum”


    “Although I have seen wreckless haste in war, I’ve never seen wise delay.”

  6. Tom McNassor

    September 21, 2019 at 8:10 PM

    I love this wisdom. I confronted a man in the park. The man was loitering and drunk. I advised the man to leave the park. The man left the park, but not with out insulting me and threatening me.

  7. Dawn Pope

    June 11, 2019 at 2:23 AM

    Thanks Norbert – You have a quote for almost all circumnstances. I appreciate your hard work

  8. C.R.D. St.

    April 28, 2019 at 11:16 AM

    “The proper blend of: fury and patience,
    combined with enough wisdom, courage and
    faith in one person make best use of the

    How many U.S.A. people at this moment can
    you describe as such?”

    Carve on the wood that is your self.

    C.R.D. St.

  9. Bronks

    April 1, 2019 at 5:31 AM

    I don’t recall Sun Tzu mentioning friends. So I asked Google, and the phrase ‘keep you friends close, but your enemies closer’ is (first mentioned) by Michael Corleone in the movie Godfather 2.

  10. Claudine Gary

    September 13, 2018 at 11:45 AM

    If you are planning on going to battle
    pick a hill to die on

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