The Art of War and Its Influence

In China’s Spring and Autumn period, Chinese people had a kind of martial spirit who had courage and combat power to protect their territories. There were lots of famous Chinese generals emerging in this period. During the Spring and Autumn period, there was no central government to control each ancient Chinese state, meaning that each Chinese state had its own regime and could occupy weaker state to consolidate its territory. As a result, there were lots of wars happening in the Chinese nation. Therefore, Sun Tzu became the first person in Chinese history to integrate military strategies into a book.

Not only does Sun Tzu’s art of war record ancient Chinese military strategies and military theories, but also it considers politics as the primary factor in determining the victory or defeat of the war and summarizes the principles of the war. Moreover, the book uses dialectics to judge the trend and direction of warfare. For instance, Sun Tzu believed that everything was changing in war, and it was necessary to make more flexible changes according to the changes of the enemy. This way of thinking predicted the outcome of a war.

Later in 663, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” spread to the Korean peninsula. This was the first recorded introduction of Sun Tzu’s Art of War to another country. After, “The Art of War” was introduced to Japan. Since then, Sun Tzu’s Art of War has gone through several stages in Japan, from the secret collection, gradual disclosure, and dissemination to research and development. And It played a vital role in every battle of the Japanese Sengoku period. For example, Takenaka Shigeharu, a famous strategist during the Warring States Period in Japan, used the tactics of “The Art of War” to defeat Oda Nobunaga in the first battle of his life. Even the famous Japanese daimyo Takeda Shingen printed Sun Tzu’s Art of War theory on his army flag.

In 1772, French priest Joseph-Marie Amiot translated “The Art of War” into French. Moreover, it was published in Paris, thus creating a precedent for disseminating “The Art of War” in Western languages. Over time, “The Art of War” has become famous worldwide. Many institutions and associations worldwide have begun to study and explore this book.

Today, the military theory of “The Art of war” is still extremely advanced. “The Art of war” has become a must-read for every military academy. Moreover, the military thought of “The Art of War” has been widely used in international strategic games. In 1978, inspired by Sun Tzu’s Art of War, SRI presented a new Soviet strategy to the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department. With the advent of nuclear war, the general policy of the United States towards the Soviet Union should be to subdue the enemy by not allowing the armies of both sides to go head-to-head. The implementation of this strategy won the United States the initiative in the international strategic game.

All in all, “The Art of War” integrates China’s military theory for hundreds of years, and it is also an essential part of China’s excellent traditional culture. Although this book was born in ancient China, the military thinking of this book is never out of date. It taught commanders how to command an army, but it also taught commanders that everything changes in the war. Thus, or the initiative of war and game. Therefore, the role of this book in the military field is irreplaceable.

Wenshu (Kevin) Hou