His birth name was Sun Wu, but he is famously known as Sun Tzu, an honorific which means ‘Master Sun’.
Sun Tzu - statue in Tottori, Japan
Even though it is not known when, exactly, he lived, it is generally believed that this Chinese general, strategist and philosopher lived from 544 – 496BC. Sun Tzu was also the author of the ancient Chinese book on military strategy and tactics, ‘The Art of War’, with each of the 13 chapters focusing on one aspect of warfare.
'The Art of War' - classic bamboo book from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor
Its fame and impact was such that even the common people knew it by name, and it has influenced, not only the military thinking of the East and West, but also business tactics and legal strategy, among other things.
‘War’ quotes these may be, but I think a case can be made for their relevance to living a courageous, honourable life, whether one is a soldier or not.
‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’
‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.’
‘He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.’
‘The general who advances without coveting fame, and retreats without facing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.’
‘Pretend inferiority, and encourage his arrogance.’
‘The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.’
‘Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.’
‘A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame.’
‘There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefitted.’
‘The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.’
( Pictures aken Mar 2010 at Old Sarum)