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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
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 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."
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 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).
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 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).
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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|
|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
|Art of War||兵法||hyou hou / hyouhou / hyo ho / hyoho||bīng fǎ / bing1 fa3 / bing fa / bingfa||ping fa / pingfa|
|fuu rin ka zan|
fu rin ka zan
|fēng lín huǒ shān|
feng1 lin2 huo3 shan1
feng lin huo shan
|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
|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
|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|
|hǎi jūn lù zhàn duì yuán|
hai3 jun1 lu4 zhan4 dui4 yuan2
hai jun lu zhan dui yuan
|hai chün lu chan tui yüan
|United States Marine Corps||米海兵隊||bei kai hei tai|
|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
|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.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
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.
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