Art Of War Essay, Research Paper
As we are to think of China as the greatest peace-loving nation on earth, we are in some danger of forgetting that her experience of internal wars that no modern state can parallel. Her long military records stretch back to a point at which they are lost in the mists of time. She had built the Great Wall and was maintaining a huge standing army along her prolonged frontier centuries before the first Roman legionary was seen on the Danube. Her history is marked by the countless rebellions that stir up the unforgettable wars that the clash of arms and masters of minds determine the new dynasties. And during this continuous belligerency, Art of War is found.
When we consider the phrase Art of War, we no doubtfully relate to Sun Tzu’s manuscript, Art of War. But Art of War is not merely a writing itself, it is a branch of study that long existed before Sun Tzu’s work. If we to translate directly the meaning of Art of War, it is in fact a law of orders in military organization, not an aesthetic master piece. Therefore in any military state where there are orders, we can say that it is practicing the art of war.
However, Sun Tsu’s work is creditable enough to receive the name, Art of War. Thus making him the predominant father of the study of war. Early in the 500s BC, during the competition of many dissociated warlord states, Ho Lu of the Lu Kingdome was the first to notice and utilize Sun Tsu’s overwhelming ability in military leadership. Sun Tsu demonstrated his ability by winning every single battle he fought in. He, then, made Lu Kingdome the mighty among the others. The Art of War is not only a guide on the battleground, it is the combination of the studies of human mind, political ideas, philosophy, geography and natural science. Sun Tsu’s work later becomes the essential wisdom for scholars, for military leaders and for sovereign due to its extensive applicability and wide range of studies.
Although not directly illustrated, a great majority of Art of war is the battle of intelligence, which bring upon the study of human psychology. Sun Tsu continuously states that to only attack when the defeat of enemy is certain, and the decision of this certainty is the basis of the art of war. The estimation before hand is the most crucial part of war. With accurate estimation one can wisely choose, to war or not to war, to withdraw or to deploy, to siege or to besiege. Good estimation is determined by ones ability of observing the adversary; logically analyzes the adversary’s action and reaction for example, if soldiers are seen leaning on their spear, it indicate that the soldier are tired and if the enemy soldier are wildly consuming their food imprudently, it is an indication of a final battle is soon to happen. Not only it is important to understand the adversary, but ones ability of understanding oneself is equally or more important. To understand the enemy is a challenge but to understand oneself is even a greater challenge. But for who that can achieve this, who is resolved to win the war.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Sun Tsu also stated that to play the war-game is to make the enemies to do what you want them do, to go where you want them to locate, to control them without their recognition. Who is capable of this is the master of the war. However to practice this mastery requires the use of enemy’s strength and weakness. Attack the weakness in every aspect to destroy it and also attack the strength to make its power unbalanced. When the enemy is proud, make them overconfident, when the enemy is numerous, make them disperse, when the enemy is hesitated, control them with a bait, these are few of the infinite ways of manipulating the weak and strong points of the adversary. And all these tactics are evolved from study of the human natural emotion, mood and behavior.
Sun Tsu is succinct in his writing, but it still does provide a lucid explication. He uses short distinct sentence to structure the entire book, each with only a limit of less than seven Chinese characters. Often, he uses four character phrase couplets or triplets or more to express his ideas. And so often, these phrases later become popular sayings to describe situations of the same case as the phrase describes. He also enrich his work with long list of situation which usually are metaphoric, for example, he uses dragon to describe power and mountain to describe stableness. Along with the lists of situations, he also rendered a list of solutions for each situation. Although Art of War was written in the 500BC, it successfully eluded from religious and mythical influence. Sun Tsu only adopted symbols and metaphors to provide a vivid description rather than relating his idea to religious contents. However, Sun Tsu did not advocate his ideas with definite literal support, such as historical backgrounds and preceding experiences. Yet, it is a errorless philosophical masterpiece that was proven in subsequent wars.
Whats the purpose of Sun Tsu’s work, Art of War? A guide to win the war. But does Sun Tsu believe in peace? Yes! Through out the thirteen chapters of his work, he repeatedly emphasized on peace rather than war. He said that war is extremely expensive and it will diminish the nation’s resources and cause poverty upon the citizens of the states, thus decreases their loyalty and supports. He also said that to create a situation, that the enemy has no position to invade, is the best defense, which is also the best offense. Therefore if both sides of the warring state put themselves in defense, than war is evaded.
Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy (chapter 4)
Since the first appearance of Art of War, voluminous amount of commentaries emerged through out the next two millenniums. One of the commentary Si Mah family was a famous historian who devoted two generations completing a long eclectic history of china since the beginning of recorded time. His writing on the legacy of Sun Tsun was particularly meticulous which made his works a credulous source for later historians. But if we are to observe Art of War in actual practice, we will have to resort to the famous era of the Romance of three Kingdoms. It is a time of warfare of elegance, it is also time where obtrusive honors and abstruse intellects play the saga of three clashing kingdoms. During this time, an eminent military leader, Kong Ming, extrapolate Sun Tsu’s ideas to an artistry that win him the title of the one of the greatest military minister ever lived. Sun Tsu’s ideas were not mere applied in war, it was also utilized in the economical world, board games, etc? Many new books and new critiques are still written nowadays, thus demonstrating the interminable thought of Sun Tsu.