"The Art of War" was written originally in 500 BC. At that time, one of the greatest minds for military strategy, Sun Tzu, wrote down a few notes to help his clients. The book lists important information to consider when planning a military action. Sun Tzu first advised avoiding war. It isn't cost effective, and […]
Sun Tzu lived in China during he years of 500 BC. He was born in 544 BC. At birth, his name was Sun Wu. Sun being his family name, and Wu, his actual name. Tzu was an honorific bestowed on him later, meaning general. Sun Tzu came from a long line of military advisers. His education was extensive, but, instead of following the dictates laid out for him by past generations. He was a follower of Tao and used the art of zen to color his strategy in the art of war.
Not only was Tzu a general, but also a philosopher and he studied military history. Throughout China and Asia, Tzu is a legend. His tactics of warfare have been told and retold for untold generations of man. He was a very serious man, who dressed in the simple gray robes of a monk.
The Sun's were a family of military advisers for generations. He would have used the lessons handed down to him from his ancestors and added his own observations. He was an adviser to King Helu of Wu in the late sixth century BC, beginning around 512 BC. His victories inspired him to write a book of lists on the lessons he had learned to achieve victory in war. His book was one of the most widely read books in China during the years of 481 BC and 403 BC, the Warring States Period. A time of constant war among seven nations of Eastern China.
In his book, The Art of War, he gives advice and outlines the best ways to achieve victory and success. Sun Tzu taught that the best strategy for war is to avoid fighting. First, try to find a peaceful solution to a conflict. But, if a fight is inevitable, attack first from a place of superiority. A general must achieve discipline of his troops immediately and keep it.
Although Sun Tzu advises against any show of anger by a commander, he was apparently well-known for his often stern temperament. There is a story of his job interview. Before the King of Wu would hire Sun Tzu, he decided to give him a test. The king instructed Sun Tzu to train his harem of 180 women as soldiers. He lined them all up into the formation, taught them the steps necessary to follow simple commands of a military exercise, then he placed the two of the king's favorite concubines as the company commanders. When he ordered the two women to face right, they giggled. This was not acceptable. As a general, Sun Tzu told the king, he must make his orders clear and concise. Once again, he gave the order, and once again, the women giggled. He then ordered their executions. When the king protested, Sun Tzu simply said that if soldiers understood the commands and didn't obey, it was their fault and they must be punished. Once a general was appointed, his duty is to follow orders and carry out his mission, no matter who protests, even if it is his sovereign.
The two women were executed, two more women were promoted into their positions, and Sun Tzu's orders were obeyed.
As a military mind, Sun Tzu was exemplary. His book is still being used for advice on strategy to this day. The lessons hold up to modern warfare. Whenever an army followed his advice, they were victorious, but, whenever they didn't they ultimately lost, not only the war, but, credibility.
Throughout history, many of the most influential military men in Asia have been influenced by Sun Tzu's Art of War, including the Chinese Communist leader, Mao Zedong. It was credited with affecting the unification of Japan and was honored by the samurai.
During the conflicts America fought against Asian countries, Sun Tzu's writings were brought to the attention of military leaders. Today his book is listed on the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program. The brilliance of Sun Tzu's strategies live on and continue to influence generations.