Eleven Lessons I Learned from The Art of War, a Chinese Military Treatise

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The art of war is a primitive Chinese military treatise. This work was accomplished by the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. Basically this book is composed of 13 chapters. Each chapter shows us a new path of warfare. We can also relate master sun’s work with our everyday life we all are fighting some sort of war in our lives that we can resolve through using those different lessons and strategies. So when I was reading this book I derived 11 lessons from it. Each lesson is interlinked with the other. Many military leaders as well as political leaders have drawn inspiration from this book.

First chapter is about accountability of war how the leader leads a plan and how he follows each steps wisely. In this chapter according to Sun Tzu the art of war is very important to the state. He has precisely mentioned that the art of war is like a road which can goes towards destruction as well as towards safety it depends on us how we adapt that and its undeniable. According to me if we know at which point we need to use the art of war and which point we don’t then that prevents us from destruction and we’ll move towards safety in the state. He discussed about the five constant factors that governs the art of war that are:

  1. The Moral law
  2. Heaven
  3. Earth
  4. The commander
  5. Method and discipline

So, the moral law basically causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so the follow him blindly regardless of their lives.

  • Heaven symbolizes night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons
  • Earth consists distances, dangers and security, open and narrow grounds the chances of life and death.
  • The commander is someone who stands for wisdom, honestly, benevolence, courage and strictness.
  • Method and discipline this is the most vital factor without this the art of war would be weak and the army will always he in an haphazard manner. The performance of parade of Pakistani army in a proper discipline following a specific method.

These were the five constant factors which govern the art of war without these factors non of the war will be victorious. So Sun Tzu also mentioned that these five factors needs to be familiar to every General, who he knows them will be victorious and those who don’t know them will fail. Those who are at war they need to modify their plan at the perfect circumstances. So, all the warfare is a win-win scenario it based on deception. So without deception you can’t win any sort of battle, Whether it’s related to our daily lives or real warfare. If you’re at war with your boss at work then obviously you will the deception method to win to make your boss comfy with your work. Hence, we can deceive our opponent through staying invisible when you’re able to attack, you don’t need to show your opponent that you ready for war we must seem unable, when using our forces we need to stay inactive, when we are near we need to make the enemy believe that we’re far away, when far away, we must make him believe we’re near. This is the method of deception that sun Tzu had discussed in his book. We can also use this method in our daily lives. Always hit down your enemy where he’s not prepared, always appear at that point where you are not expected. The minor attack by India can be an example of this but our Pakistan air force gave them an unexpected answer. When fighting a battle the one who wins the battle makes many calculation before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes few calculations in advance.

In the second chapter Sun Tzu had motivates the readers that whenever you engage yourself in real fights if the victory is long in coming then the men’s weapons grow dull and the arbor will be damped. If you siege in a town you will exhaust your own strength. If you face such situation then your opponent’s will take advantage of your limits. Then no man, whether wise, will be able to avoid the consequences that has resulted. Thus, we all have heard of stupid haste in wars, but cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. We can link this with business jobs an employee attempts a stupid mistake in haste but he’ll never attempt something with cleverness that’s prolong to come. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. These prolonged warfare of world war 1 and 2 had only caused dreadful destruction non of the country have benefited from prolonged warfare. One thing that a military men or any person who is in some sort of war in his real life anger is the most important ingredient of defeating the enemy. Without anger they will never defeat the enemy.

In the third chapter Sun Tzu said that in the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to colonize the enemy’s territory entirely instead if shattering and destruction it is not so good. When they recapture the enemy’s territory they change the change the entire regime. So, fight and conquer is not always a supreme excellence, supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. Fight is not always important sometimes you avert the resistance if your opponent’s through giving him other sort of answers destruction is not always the supreme excellence. British came to subcontinent and colonized it. They exploit subcontinent completely.

According to Sun Tzu the ideal form of generalship is to resist the opponent’s plans, to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces and attack the enemy’s army in the field the worst policy of all is to flood walled cities (territories). The skillful leader conquer the enemy’s army’s without fighting, he captures their territories without laying siege ( blockade) to them, he subverts their kingdom without prolong operations in the field. This is the method of attacking by stratagem. To start a warfare the forces of both sides need to be equal. Hence, through a stubborn fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force. The Indian aircraft attack can be the best example to explain this point, stubborn Indian attacked Pakistan territory but the craft was captured by our air force.

The general is the defensive wall of the state, if the defensive wall I complete at all point then the state will be strong, if the defensive wall is flawed, the state will be weak. Hence, knowing the enemy and oneself is very important for an excellence victory if you know yourself as well as the enemy then you don’t need to fear the results of hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy for every gained you will only suffer a defeat. If you neither know yourself nor the enemy they you will probably get doomed. If you’re fighting with your boss to raise your salary then knowledge about yourself and your boss will benefit you. If you don’t know your boss then you try a hundred times you will only face failure. If you know non then you Will get succumbed. Basically according to this knowledge is power, more you have knowledge the more you will get power.

In chapter four Sun Tzu tactical deposition is the actual means USD to gain we sort of objectives in war. The good fighter always waits for an opportunity of defeating the enemy, he also puts themselves beyond the possibility of defeat. Basically, securing ourselves against defeat lies in our own hand, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by enemy himself. In politics politician use these tactics to attack the opponent’s once he attempts a stupid mistake the other politician hits him there. One may know how to win any battle without being able to do it.

Defensive and offensive tactics are used by the military men’s and politician’s. Security against defeat implies defensive tactics, ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. According to Sun Tzu the general who is skilled in defense conceals in the most secret recesses of the earth, he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost highest of heaven. Thus on the one hand we’ve the ability to protect ourselves so this way a victory is complete. Moreover Sun Tzu describes the character of a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but standouts in winning with ease. His victory neither bring him reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He win his battles without any haste and mistakes. Making no mistakes makes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that’s already defeated. When two politician are held for the electoral vote caste both will try their best not to make any mistake in haste once a politician have attempt any mistake the opponent will hit him down. The example of PTI and MNL is the best example the MNL was already defeated because of their NAB cases so they didn’t won the electoral elections.

Sun Tzu five method that holds the military men’s success that are:

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  1. Measurement
  2. Estimation of quantity
  3. Calculation
  4. Balancing of chances
  5. Victory

In chapter four Sun Tzu discussed about energy. In all fighting, the direct and indirect method is used.

  • Direct method is used for joining the battle.
  • Indirect method is basically needed to secure ones victory.
  • Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are unlimited as heaven and earth and the unending flow of the rivers.

In battles there are not more than two methods of attack direct and indirect, further these two combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers (operations). In chapter six Sun Tzu describes the weak point and strong points of the fighter, military men’s, politicians. During a battle whoever is first in the battle field and awaits for the enemy will be fresh for the fight, whoever is second in the battle field and has to hurry to the battle will arrive exhausted. The one who reaches the battle field first is always ready for the battle to being the one that reaches later is always exhausted because he won’t be ready for the battle. To conquer a battle one need to be on time.

Reaching the battle field first is your first step towards victory. Knowledge about defense and attack is very important a general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend, and he’s skillful in defense whose opponent doesn’t know what to attack. In the battle field your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy. The most important factor used in the battle field is split up the enemy into fractions. Then the other forces will be many to the enemy’s few. You need to stay like a united body in the battle field don’t let the enemy to split your forces in fractions.

Knowledge about the place and the time of the coming battle, we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight. Obviously, if the pace and timing of the battle is known to the forces they will prepare themselves in a proper way. Victory can be achieved if the place and timing is known to them. If non of both is known to them they will defiantly lose the battle. So like the elections different politicians elected for different bodies know the place and timing of the electoral voting so they prepare they selves for the elections through campaigns. Don’t repeat the same methods of attack which have once gained you victory, but let your methods regulated by unlimited variety of circumstances. Like this in war always hit the one who’s weak not the one who’s strong. The soldiers basically woks out his victory in relation to the enemy whom he is facing. Don’t use the same tactics constantly in warfare there are no constant conditions. According to Sun Tzu the one who changes his tactics according to his foe is the heave born captain.

In chapter seventh Sun Tzu explains maneuvering which means tactical moves or series of moves that improves or maintains ones strategic situation in a competitive scenario or to avoid worse situations. Basically, in war the general receives different commands from the head who have supreme authority. A general can not lead towards war alone head of the state is accountable for everything so his interference is very important. Maneuvering with an army is advantageous, with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous. Military maneuvers ( series if moves) Basically tells us how dangerous direct conflict is and how to conquer when the commander is forced into direct conflict. The stronger men will always be in front while the exhausted ones will fall behind, and on this plan only one tenth of your army will reach to its destination. Every situation differs so when you have decide whether to split your troops in parts or not first study the circumstances. Knowing different variation is one of the most important techniques that can lead you towards success or victory. Who has learnt evasion of deviation (variations) such is the art of maneuvering. The art if studying your opponent’s mood is very important if you know where he’s weak and where he’s strong you will easily win every battle. A clever general, therefore avoids an army when its spirit is keen but attacks it when it is sluggish.

In chapter eight Sun Tzu illustrates the importance of limberness in an army’s responses, according to the shift of circumstances. Make your position unassailable that the enemy don’t approach you easily. The general who understands the advantages that accompany variation of methods knows how to handle ones troops. Where as two general who doesn’t understand these will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account. Where the wise leaders plans is consideration of advantages and of disadvantages will be blended together. When an army is defeated and its leader slay, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. The five dangerous faults that Sun explained in this chapter are:

  • Recklessness
  • Cowardice
  • A hasty temper
  • A delicacy of honor
  • Over solicitude ( sensitive) for his men

These can be removed by:

  • Be careful
  • Be courageous
  • Control your emotions
  • Don’t be sensitive
  • Don’t think a lot for your men’s

In chapter ninth Sun Tzu illustrates a lot about real wars. It tells how we need to fight what strategy we need to use and how we have to move through difficult hills and rivers in a proper sequences these are not important for our real life But one Hong is that's a general don't need to be soft hearted if the general is soft hearted then there will be no discipline and no productivity because of no discipline. During training soldiers coands are habitually enforced, the army will be well discipline if not its discipline will be bad the general also need to show confidence in his men's abilities always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.

In chapter tenth Sun Tzu illustrates the environment types for battle. Sun Tzu advice on the proper approach to warfare in each type of condition. The general need to learn the best strategies to employ in every circumstance because once he makes a decision he might not be able to return so for that he need to have the knowledge of terrain (environment). If you know yourself, you victory will not stand in doubt, if you know heaven and know earth you make your victory complete. Knowledge about every thing is important for victory in the battle. Well success depends on knowing all aspects of the battle. The general cannot trust his men’s strength only hut he must know the enemy’s plan and the battlefield. Knowing one’s enemy oneself and the environment of battle are very important to gain victory. In chapter eleventh Sun Tzu explains the nine situations or variations of ground.

  • Dispersive ground
  • Facile ground
  • Contentious ground
  • Open ground
  • Group of intersecting highways
  • Difficult ground
  • Hemmed-in ground
  • Desperate ground

Here, master Sun discusses the different situations in with the fighter finds itself, instead of explaining the shape of the land. This chapter basically rooms around the enemy’s territory how the army has penetrated the enemy’s territory. The general must consider all of these aspects before wagging towards war. According to this chapter making key alliances is very important. The skilled general is the one who manipulates the enemy’s troops for his own advantage. He most always focus on victory his every move makes he nearer to his goals.

In chapter twelve master Sun describes the strategy to attack by fire. Firstly the general should have the material then he can decide his target. He must consider the climate conditions that will ensure to destroyed the enemy’s position. Hot and windy weather is favourable for natural fire. Fire is more dangerous and destructive than water. If any leader is angry or is very emotional he will act rashly the damage they caused cannot be undone. Perhaps, they should be wise and patient they should chaos what is best for their nation.

In chapter thirteen master sun describes the benefits of spies. If we want to win any warfare so for that we need to have some sort if spies. Foreknowledge is very important for one nations success in warfare. We need to know our opponent from its depth. We need to know their strong and weak point. Sun says that the army need to know about every single information about its enemy’s camp. Sun says the spies should be given some assets for their work for the security of the nation. The general also need to be wise enough to differentiate his spies information. He must be wise to gain knowledge in the first place. The general doesn’tneed to trust his spies blindly they can probably deceive for the lust of money.

Lessons I derived from this book are:

  • Entire war is based upon deception. Example negotiating with boss for higher salary or good post. Or when we’re near to the enemy make him feel that we’re far away from him.
  • Till now no country have ever benefited from prolonged warfare. It has always caused destruction.
  • Calculation before warfare is very important.
  • Anger is very important for wining a battle.
  • Motivation is also important because it leads the entire team towards success. It bonds the general with the forces.
  • Destruction is not always an ideal success recapturing the enemy’s territory is.
  • Knowledge about the enemy and oneself and about the terrain is very important.
  • If you neither know your enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.
  • Firstly prepare yourself for war and wait for the right time. Hit your enemy at that point when he’s not ready.
  • You need to your energy in a proper way. Conserve energy and use it the right way. If you used this energy in a proper way you will always succeed in every situation.
  • Don’t hit your opponent when he’s strong. Wait for his mistake then grasp him.
  • Never attack your enemy hiding from the mountains.
  • Study the circumstances.
  • Every situation differs so you need to think differently in every situation.
  • Make your position unassailable to the enemy.
  • According to this book if you have gained lots of military strategies but you don’t have knowledge so that’s just a waste and you cannot win. We also apply these principles in our real lives.
  • This entire book is about knowledge is power.
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