Sun Tzu was an expert Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher from the Spring and Autumn period of China (546-403 B.C.). His most famous work The Art of War is considered a masterpiece on strategies of war and philosophy applied to politics, business, culture and sports. While you may not be commanding any armies of your own, perhaps these quotes can give you good perspective on coaching a team, leading a business or leading yourself in martial arts training. In any case, The Art of War is a must-read for martial artists beyond just these 6 quotes.
6- “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
This quote encompasses so much more than just competitive martial arts. Never allow yourself to succumb to the chaos of a competition or challenge, seek the solution and the opportunity for victory. To be overwhelmed by the chaos of a sparring match will defeat your best efforts. Seek the solution to victory in any adversity.
5- “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.”
Only work to invest your time in effort in opportunities that allow for victory. Don’t throw a flurry of haymakers in hopes for a possible KO when you can better use your energy in a well-thought-out combination. Set specific goals in mind for every movement against your problems or opponents.
4- “There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.”
There are only so many ways to throw a punch, set up a combination or go for a takedown. However, the combination of those methods of attack is uniquely executed every time. There may only be so many tools at your disposal, but when they work in constant, varying style, you get to the real artistry of martial arts.
3- “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”
This quote relates closely to the previous. If you have a winning formula in sports, your opponent will be very well aware of your A game. Don’t just stick to one winning formula because it’s worked successfully in the past. The most dangerous competitors are those that can take a victory by a variety of methods.
2- “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
Even the most skilled of competitors is useless without an iron will. In self defense scenarios, the best way to defend yourself is to never have to fight in the first place. If you are able to avoid a fight entirely, you have truly won.
1- “Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.”
Adapt to every scenario and condition. Constantly evolve your martial arts skills and mentality to be prepared for and challenger or challenge. Always work to improve and innovate your competitive strategy.