Sun Tzu's Methods

First Western Translation

Competitive Arenas: 

Many of the historical problems with understanding Sun Tzu's work can be trace back to its first Western translation. A Jesuit missionary, Father Amiot, first brought The Art of War to the West, translating it into French in 1782. Unfortunately, this translation started the tradition of mistranslating Sun Tzu's work, starting with the title, The Art of War (Art de la guerre).

Text in China

Competitive Arenas: 

Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) wrote the original text of The Art of War shortly before 510 BC. During most of the past two thousand years, the common people in China were forbidden to read Sun Tzu's text. However, the text was preserved by China's nobility for over 2,500 years. Unfortunately, it was preserved in a variety of forms. A "complete" Chinese language version of the text wasn't available until the 1970s.

Summary of Chapters

Competitive Arenas: 

In thirteen chapters, Sun Tzu wrote a remarkable concise work that defines a sophisticated science in a deliberative manner. Though the book itself is written in a highly condensed form, where each stanza plays a key role in the development of its ideas, we can summarize its content in three sentences. For more detail on each, click on articles below.

The first two chapters and the final one (the work is written in a circle) concentrate on positional


Timeline of Sun Tzu's Era

Competitive Arenas: 

The following timeline shows the major political and military events of the "Spring and Autumn" period of China during which Sun Tzu lived before the unification of the Chinese empire under the first Chinese (Qin) emperor. We provide it to illustrate the dynamic environment of the period that led to the writing of The Art of War. The map shown is China at about  about 500 BC.

Man of mystery: Sun Tzu's life or what we think we know

Competitive Arenas: 

Strategy as a science began 2,500 years ago with the writing of The Art of War. Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) wrote the original text of The Art of War shortly before 510 BC. "Sun Tzu" means simply "Master Sun" in Chinese. His surname was Sun, but his first named was Wu (not to be confused with the state Wu of the time, a different Chinese character).


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