Friday, September 10, 2010


I glanced upon a book when I was in grade 3. I was vacationing then in an uncle’s house in a province of North Cotabato. It has a dark or almost black cover with a sort of rising sun emblem on the center, with great similarity to that of the Miss Saigon logo. The book’s title; The Art of War. The author, Sun Tzu

My understanding back then, was that the book probably speaks of war. And with an Oriental sounding author, it is probably a war that involves martial arts.
Where the protagonists and antagonists would kick and scream and fly with their swords and daggers and bows and arrows and everything. The kind that I used to see every Sunday morning on RPN 9.

I could remember that back then, I actually opened few pages and read some phrases. I am not sure anymore what happened after, but all I can remember was that it did not caught my attention. I left it, went outside and play along with my cousins.

It was only when I was in college that I got interested on the book. It is during my “knowledge hunt” that I have decided to look what this book has to offer. This was the time that I got interested to “classic”, such as Newton’s Principia, or Boyles’ Theory on Gasses.

Sun Tzu is a Chinese general, circa 500 B.C., sometime referred to as Sun Wu, and Sun Tzi. I even mistaken Sun Tzu for Lao Tze, the founder of Taosism. Primarily for the fact that the most fundamental of Sun Tzu's principles for the conduct of war is that "All warfare is based on deception". Another key Sun Tzu principle is that "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. Now, these principles bear the basic characteristics that are taught in Taoism by Lao Tze.

During the time that it was written, China was basically made of warring states. It is during this time that there is a high demand for military leaders and armies that would go from different leaders selling their military skills. The book covers a variety of different aspects of warfare including laying plans, waging war, terrain, energy, maneuverings, and even the use of spies.

The applicability goes beyond boundaries and breaks cultural barriers, as not only the Chinese that were influenced by the book, but other nations as well. The works of Sun Tzu have been widely known in the United States since the mid-1970s. Diplomat Henry Kissinger has made reference to Sun Tzu and the principles for the conduct of warfare have been the subject of serious study in U.S. military circles for many years. The Art of War as applied to business, sports, diplomacy and personal lives has been popularized in American business and management texts. Sun Tzu may be the most frequently quoted Chinese personality in the world today.

For me, it is all about understanding human conflict in every ways possible. People are afraid of what we don’t understand. If we are afraid, we tend to make erroneous judgment. If we fully understand the nature of things, in this case conflict, only then that could we truly be prepared for its resolution.

The teaching takes a rational approach to the problem of conflict, as oppose to emotional one. It is taught that conflict can not only be resolved, but more importantly, and preferably, it can be prevented.

It pinpoints that greed and anger are the fundamental causes of failure, while the emotionless or detached fighter will win. Not the hot headed, not the one seeking vengeance or the ambitious fortune seeker.

Finally, though the title of the book may be associated with violence or attack, the book is actually an advocate of preventing it. This echoes the idea of combat as a last resort. The ideal situation is to winning without fighting. If it is done, then ultimate victory is achieved.

However, Sun Tzu is smart. Sun Tzu was very aware that war should be the last resort but if you were going to "do war" then you should do it properly and ruthlessly to ensure victory.
hasta la vista, loco

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