The Genius of Sun Tzu and The Art of War

I have been an instructor of the martial arts for some 30 years. About 25 years ago, a student approached me with the idea of putting on a seminar, applying the principles of the Art of War to the battlefield of the business world.

At the time I declined, choosing instead to focus on teaching self defense. Nevertheless, the idea stuck with me and I began reading and studying the Art of War, which is called “Ping Fa” in Chinese and “Sonshi” in Japanese.

Over the ensuing years I have been struck by the genius of Sun Tzu and his auspicious and adaptable, 2,500 year old work. Although the Art of War was clearly designed to be used in times of all-out war, I have been impressed by the works flexibility and how with a little imagination, the Art of War can be applied to business, interpersonal relationships and life in general!

I am not the only one who has appreciated Sun Tzu’s brilliance over the years. It has been suggested that Napoleon Bonaparte, Carl von Clausewitz and Baron Henri de Jomini were all influenced by the venerable master. In more recent years, Generals John Fuller, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Paul K. van Ripper and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, along with Joseph Stalin, Mao Tze-tung and Fidel Castro all benefited from Sun Tzu’s wisdom.

When it comes to business and Sun Tzu’s masterwork, authors such as Gerald A. Michaelson, Donald G. Krause and the brilliant Chin Ning-chu have all recognized the profitability of applying the Art of War and using its principles of heiho, or military strategy and tactics, to the cutthroat world of the global business battlefield.

Here are just a few of Sun Tzu’s maxims appropriate to the business world, along with my brief comments.

“The successful army first realizes the conditions of victory and only then do they engage in battle.”

In business this also holds true. If you rush your product to market before it has been properly tested you may encounter massive product recalls, along with the inevitable extra expense and customer dissatisfaction that could ultimately bankrupt your company!

“When in battle, engage the enemy using orthodox methods and defeat the enemy using unorthodox methods.”

Unorthodox methods are unpredictable and therefor the enemy/ competition cannot prepare against them. This gives the clever, strategic business person a decisive edge over their opponents.

“Being invulnerable resides within yourself. Being vulnerable resides within the enemy.”

Being invulnerable and undefeatable is entirely up to you. No one else can be responsible for your security and longevity in business, or in life, except you. No one can make your competition vulnerable and thereby open to defeat, except them. Unless they make a mistake, they cannot be conquered!

Our wish is for your continued success.


Nicholas J. Chase