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孫子兵法 is the full title of the most famous book of military proverbs about warfare.
The English title is "Sun Tzu's The Art of War."
The last two characters have come to be known in the west as "The Art of War" but a better translation would be, "military strategy and tactics," "military skills" or "army procedures."
Note: Sometimes the author's name is Romanized as "Sun Zi" or "Sunzi."
It's written the same in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and Korean Hanja.
The first chapter of Sun Tzu's Art of War lists five key points to analyzing your situation.
It reads like a 5-part military proverb. Sun Tzu says that to sharpen your skills, you must plan. To plan well, you must know your situation. Therefore, you must consider and discuss the following:
1. Philosophy and Politics: Make sure your way or your policy is agreeable among all of your troops (and the citizens of your kingdom as well). For when your soldiers believe in you and your way, they will follow you to their deaths without hesitation, and will not question your orders.
2. Heaven/Sky: Consider climate / weather. This can also mean to consider whether God is smiling on you. In the modern military, this could be waiting for clear skies so that you can have air support for an amphibious landing.
3. Ground/Earth: Consider the terrain in which the battle will take place. This includes analyzing defensible positions, exit routes, and using varying elevation to your advantage. When you plan an ambush, you must know your terrain, and the best location from which to stage that ambush. This knowledge will also help you avoid being ambushed, as you will know where the likely places in which to expect an ambush from your enemy.
4. Leadership: This applies to you as the general, and also to your lieutenants. A leader should be smart and be able to develop good strategies. Leaders should keep their word, and if they break a promise, they should punish themselves as harshly as they would punish subordinates. Leaders should be benevolent to their troops, with almost a fatherly love for them. Leaders must have the ability to make brave and fast decisions. Leaders must have steadfast principles.
5. [Military] Methods: This can also mean laws, rules, principles, model, or system. You must have an efficient organization in place to manage both your troops and supplies. In the modern military, this would be a combination of how your unit is organized, and your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).
Notes: This is a simplistic translation and explanation. Much more is suggested in the actual text of the Art of War (Bing Fa). It would take a lot of study to master all of these aspects. In fact, these five characters can be compared to the modern military acronyms such as BAMCIS or SMEAC.
CJK notes: I have included the Japanese and Korean pronunciations but in Chinese, Korean and Japanese, this does not make a typical phrase (with subject, verb, and object) it is a list that only someone familiar with Sun Tzu's writings would understand.
風林火山 is the battle strategy and proverb of Japanese feudal lord Takeda Shingen (1521-1573 A.D.).
This came from the Art of War by Chinese strategist and tactician Sun Tzu (Sunzi).
You can think of this as a sort of abbreviation to remind officers and troops how to conduct battle.
風林火山 is literally a word list: Wind, Forest, Fire, Mountain.
The more expanded meaning is supposed to be...
"Swift as the wind, quiet as the forest, fierce as fire, and immovable as a mountain"
"As fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and immovable as the mountain"
"Move as swift as the wind, stay as silent as a forest, attack as fierce as fire, undefeatable defense like a mountain"
"Move swiftly like the wind, stay silent like the forest, attack fiercely like fire, take tactical position on the mountain"
See Also: Art of War
生活法 is a Japanese and Chinese title meaning, "art of living" or "way of life."
This can also be translated a few other ways, such as, "rule of life" and "the act of living."
The "art" title kind of comes from the fact that the last character is the same as the book, "The Art of War." So when you write your book, this is the title for, "The Art of Life," in Chinese and Japanese.
This is the Chinese way to express "Marine." (as in a member of the Marine Corps). It is not country-specific, so it could be the Royal Marines, U.S. Marines, Chinese Marines, etc.
In Australian English, they would translate this as "Naval Infantryman."
Breaking down each character, this means:
"ocean/sea military/arms shore/land fighting/war/battle corps/team/group person/member." Note that the first two characters presented together but outside of this phrase mean "navy" (sea military).
This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Hunt foxes stealthily, [and] hunt wolves openly [just as they themselves do].
Figuratively, this means:
Different opponents require different appropriate strategies.
This is a suggestion that you should know your enemy, and know that each enemy is different, that therefore requires a specialized approach (attack).
See Also: Art of War Military
米海兵隊 is the Japanese way to write "United States Marine Corps" or simply "U.S. Marines."
Breaking down each Kanji, this means:
"rice (American) ocean/sea soldiers/army/military corps/regiment/group."
This title will only make sense in Japanese, it is not the same in Chinese! Make sure you know your audience before ordering a custom wall scroll.
If you are wondering about the rice, America is known as "rice country" or "rice kingdom" when literally translated. The Kanji for rice is often used as an abbreviation in front of words (like a sub-adjective) to make something "American." Americans say "rice-burner" for a Japanese car, and "rice-rocket" for a Japanese motorcycle. If you did the same in Japanese, it would be exactly the opposite meaning.
Note: I have not verified this but I've found this title used for U.S. Marines in Korean articles, so it's most likely a normal Korean term as well (but only in Korean Hanja).
This proverb is from Sun Tzu's (Sunzi's) Art of War. It means that if you know and understand the enemy, you also know yourself. There is a secondary four characters that come after this in the Art of War (not included here) which suggest you cannot lose a battle when you follow this philosophy.
In a very literal and somewhat-boring way, this can also be translated as, "Estimate correctly one's strength as well as that of one's opponent."
Nothing could be more true. When I was in the Marine Corps, we trained for years for combat that often lasts only hours.
This Chinese proverb also reminds me of a common phrase used in the military to describe combat: "Weeks of total boredom, punctuated with five minutes of shear terror."
This may have some roots in Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Though I can not find this passage in his writings.
On the subject of the Art of War, if you have a favorite passage, we can create a custom calligraphy scroll with that phrase.
This is an entry from the 10th section within the Earth/Terrain chapter of Sun Tzu's Art of War.
This is often translated as, "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
This is from Sun Tzu's (Sunzi's) Art of War. It means that if you know and understand the enemy, you also know yourself, and thus with this complete understanding, you cannot lose.
This proverb is often somewhat-directly translated as, "Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without defeat."
It can also be translated as, "If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can come out of hundreds of battles without danger," or "Know your enemy, know yourself, and your victory will not be threatened."
This poem was written almost 1200 years ago during the Tang dynasty. It depicts traveling up a place known as Cold Mountain, where some hearty people have built their homes. The traveler is overwhelmed by the beauty of the turning leaves of the maple forest that surrounds him just as night overtakes the day, and darkness prevails. His heart implores him to stop, and take in all of the beauty around him.
First before you get to the full translation, I must tell you that Chinese poetry is a lot different than what we have in the west. Chinese words simply don't rhyme in the same way that English, or other western languages do. Chinese poetry depends on rhythm and a certain beat of repeated numbers of characters.
I have done my best to translate this poem keeping a certain feel of the original poet. But some of the original beauty of the poem in it's original Chinese will be lost in translation.
Far away on Cold Mountain, a stone path leads upwards.
Among white clouds peoples homes reside.
Stopping my carriage I must, as to admire the maple forest at nights fall.
In awe of autumn leaves showing more red than even flowers of early spring.
Hopefully, this poem will remind you to stop, and "take it all in" as you travel through life.
The poet's name is "Du Mu" in Chinese that is: .
The title of the poem, "Mountain Travels" is:
You can have the title, poet's name, and even Tang Dynasty written as an inscription on your custom wall scroll if you like.
More about the poet:
Dumu lived from 803-852 AD and was a leading Chinese poet during the later part of the Tang dynasty.
He was born in Chang'an, a city of central China and former capital of the ancient Chinese empire in 221-206 BC. In present day China, his birthplace is currently known as Xi'an, the home of the Terracotta Soldiers.
He was awarded his Jinshi degree (an exam administered by the emperor's court which leads to becoming an official of the court) at the age of 25, and went on to hold many official positions over the years. However, he never achieved a high rank, apparently because of some disputes between various factions, and his family's criticism of the government. His last post in the court was his appointment to the office of Secretariat Drafter.
During his life, he wrote scores of narrative poems, as well as a commentary on the Art of War and many letters of advice to high officials.
His poems were often very realistic, and often depicted every day life. He wrote poems about everything, from drinking beer in a tavern to weepy poems about lost love.
The thing that strikes you most is the fact even after 1200 years, not much has changed about the beauty of nature, toils and troubles of love and beer drinking.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Art of War||兵法||hyou hou / hyouhou / hyo ho / hyoho||bīng fǎ / bing1 fa3 / bing fa / bingfa||ping fa / pingfa|
|Sun Tzu - Art of War||孫子兵法|
|son shi hyou hou|
son shi hyo ho
|sūn zǐ bīng fǎ|
sun1 zi3 bing1 fa3
sun zi bing fa
|sun tzu ping fa
|Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis||道天地將法|
|dou ten chi shou hou|
do ten chi sho ho
|dào tiān dì jiàng fǎ|
dao4 tian1 di4 jiang4 fa3
dao tian di jiang fa
|tao t`ien ti chiang fa
tao tien ti chiang fa
|fuu rin ka zan|
fu rin ka zan
|fēng lín huǒ shān|
feng1 lin2 huo3 shan1
feng lin huo shan
|Way of Life|
Art of Life
|shēng huó fǎ|
sheng1 huo2 fa3
sheng huo fa
|hǎi jūn lù zhàn duì yuán|
hai3 jun1 lu4 zhan4 dui4 yuan2
hai jun lu zhan dui yuan
|hai chün lu chan tui yüan
|Hunt Foxes with Stealth, Hunt Wolves in the Open||闇打狐狸明打狼|
|àn dǎ hú li míng dǎ láng|
an4 da3 hu2 li ming2 da3 lang2
an da hu li ming da lang
|an ta hu li ming ta lang
|United States Marine Corps||米海兵隊||bei kai hei tai|
|Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself||知彼知己||zhí bǐ zhí jī|
zhi2 bi3 zhi2 ji1
zhi bi zhi ji
|chih pi chih chi
|Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour||養兵千日用兵一時|
|yǎng bīng qiān rì, yàng bīng yì shí|
yang3 bing1 qian1 ri4 yang4 bing1 yi4 shi2
yang bing qian ri yang bing yi shi
|yang ping ch`ien jih yang ping i shih
yang ping chien jih yang ping i shih
|Sun Tzu: Regard Your Soldiers as Children||視卒如嬰兒故可以與之赴深溪視卒如愛子故可與之俱死|
|shì cù rú yīng ér gù kě yǐ yú zhī fù shēn xī shì cù rú ài zǐ gù kě yú zhī jū sǐ|
shi4 cu4 ru2 ying1 er2 gu4 ke3 yi3 yu2 zhi1 fu4 shen1 xi1 shi4 cu4 ru2 ai4 zi3 gu4 ke3 yu2 zhi1 ju1 si3
shi cu ru ying er gu ke yi yu zhi fu shen xi shi cu ru ai zi gu ke yu zhi ju si
|shih ts`u ju ying erh ku k`o i yü chih fu shen hsi shih ts`u ju ai tzu ku k`o yü chih chü ssu
shih tsu ju ying erh ku ko i yü chih fu shen hsi shih tsu ju ai tzu ku ko yü chih chü ssu
|Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose||知彼知己百戰不殆|
|zhí bǐ zhí jī bǎi zhàn bú dài|
zhi2 bi3 zhi2 ji1 bai3 zhan4 bu2 dai4
zhi bi zhi ji bai zhan bu dai
|chih pi chih chi pai chan pu tai|
|Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu||遠上寒山石徑斜白雲生處有人家停車坐愛楓林晚霜葉紅於二月花|
|yuǎn shàng hán shān shí jìng xiá bái yún shēng chù yǒu rén jiā tíng chē zuò ài fēng lín wǎn shuàng yè hóng yú èr yuè huā|
yuan3 shang4 han2 shan1 shi2 jing4 xia2 bai2 yun2 sheng1 chu4 you3 ren2 jia1 ting2 che1 zuo4 ai4 feng1 lin2 wan3 shuang4 ye4 hong2 yu2 er4 yue4 hua1
yuan shang han shan shi jing xia bai yun sheng chu you ren jia ting che zuo ai feng lin wan shuang ye hong yu er yue hua
|yüan shang han shan shih ching hsia pai yün sheng ch`u yu jen chia t`ing ch`e tso ai feng lin wan shuang yeh hung yü erh yüeh hua
yüan shang han shan shih ching hsia pai yün sheng chu yu jen chia ting che tso ai feng lin wan shuang yeh hung yü erh yüeh hua
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
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There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
Some people may refer to this entry as The Art of War Kanji, The Art of War Characters, The Art of War in Mandarin Chinese, The Art of War Characters, The Art of War in Chinese Writing, The Art of War in Japanese Writing, The Art of War in Asian Writing, The Art of War Ideograms, Chinese The Art of War symbols, The Art of War Hieroglyphics, The Art of War Glyphs, The Art of War in Chinese Letters, The Art of War Hanzi, The Art of War in Japanese Kanji, The Art of War Pictograms, The Art of War in the Chinese Written-Language, or The Art of War in the Japanese Written-Language.
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