Sun Tzu Chinese Calligraphy

We have many options for Sun Tzu (Sunzi) phrases or proverbs on a wall scroll or portrait in Chinese calligraphy.

  1. Sun Tzu - Art of War

  2. Art of War

  3. Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis

  4. Furinkazan

  5. Attack When The Enemy Has Low Morale

  6. Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself

  7. Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose

  8. Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles

  9. Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour

10. Sun Tzu: Regard Your Soldiers as Children


Sun Tzu - Art of War

military strategy, tactics, and procedure
China sūn zǐ bīng fǎ
Japan son shi hyou hou
Sun Tzu - Art of War Vertical Wall Scroll

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.


See Also:  Military | Warrior

Art of War

China bīng fǎ
Japan hyou hou
Art of War Vertical Wall Scroll

兵法 means "Art of War." It also part of the title of a famous book of tactics by Sun Tzu. 兵法 could also be translated as "military strategy and tactics," "military skills" or "army procedures." If you are a military tactician, this is the wall scroll for you.


See Also:  Military

Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis

China dào tiān dì jiàng fǎ
Japan dou ten chi shou hou
Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis Vertical Wall Scroll

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.

Furinkazan

military strategy
China fēng lín huǒ shān
Japan fuu rin ka zan
Furinkazan Vertical Wall Scroll

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

Attack When The Enemy Has Low Morale

China bì qí ruì qì jī qí duò guī
Attack When The Enemy Has Low Morale Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Avoid [your enemy's] fighting spirit [and] attack [when] his [morale is] declining.

Figuratively, this means: Avoid the enemy when his morale is high. and strike him when his morale is flagging.

Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself

China zhí bǐ zhí jī
Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself Vertical Wall Scroll

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."

Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself

Japan te ki o shi ri o no re o shi ru
Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself Vertical Wall Scroll

This is the Japanese version of "know your enemy, know yourself." There is a longer version of this proverb which adds, "...and you can win 100 battles."


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose

China zhí bǐ zhí jī bǎi zhàn bú dài
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose Vertical Wall Scroll

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."

Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles

Japan teki o shi ri o no o shi re ba hya ku sen aya u ka ra zu
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles Vertical Wall Scroll

This is the longer/full Japanese version of this proverb. This means, "Know your enemy, know yourself, and you will not fear a hundred battles."

Others will translate this as, "Know thy enemy, know thyself, yields victory in one hundred battles."


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour

China yǎng bīng qiān rì, yàng bīng yì shí
Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour Vertical Wall Scroll

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.

Sun Tzu: Regard Your Soldiers as Children

China shì cù rú yīng ér gù kě yǐ yú zhī fù shēn xī shì cù rú ài zǐ gù kě yú zhī jū sǐ
Sun Tzu: Regard Your Soldiers as Children Vertical Wall Scroll

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."




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Sun Tzu - Art of War孫子兵法
孙子兵法
son shi hyou hou
sonshihyouhou
son shi hyo ho
sonshihyoho
sūn zǐ bīng fǎ
sun1 zi3 bing1 fa3
sun zi bing fa
sunzibingfa
sun tzu ping fa
suntzupingfa
Art of War兵法hyou hou / hyouhou / hyo ho / hyohobīng fǎ / bing1 fa3 / bing fa / bingfaping fa / pingfa
Art of War: 5 Points of Analysis道天地將法
道天地将法
dou ten chi shou hou
doutenchishouhou
do ten chi sho ho
dotenchishoho
dào tiān dì jiàng fǎ
dao4 tian1 di4 jiang4 fa3
dao tian di jiang fa
daotiandijiangfa
tao t`ien ti chiang fa
taotientichiangfa
tao tien ti chiang fa
Furinkazan風林火山
风林火山
fuu rin ka zan
fuurinkazan
fu rin ka zan
furinkazan
fēng lín huǒ shān
feng1 lin2 huo3 shan1
feng lin huo shan
fenglinhuoshan
Attack When The Enemy Has Low Morale避其鋭氣擊其惰歸
避其锐气击其惰归
bì qí ruì qì jī qí duò guī
bi4 qi2 rui4 qi4 ji1 qi2 duo4 gui1
bi qi rui qi ji qi duo gui
biqiruiqijiqiduogui
pi ch`i jui ch`i chi ch`i to kuei
pichijuichichichitokuei
pi chi jui chi chi chi to kuei
Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself知彼知己zhí bǐ zhí jī
zhi2 bi3 zhi2 ji1
zhi bi zhi ji
zhibizhiji
chih pi chih chi
chihpichihchi
Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself敵を知り己を知るte ki o shi ri o no re o shi ru
tekioshirionoreoshiru
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose知彼知己百戰不殆
知彼知己百战不殆
zhí bǐ zhí jī bǎi zhàn bú dài
zhi2 bi3 zhi2 ji1 bai3 zhan4 bu2 dai4
zhi bi zhi ji bai zhan bu dai
zhibizhijibaizhanbudai
chih pi chih chi pai chan pu tai
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles敵を知り己を知れば百戦危うからずteki o shi ri o no o shi re ba hya ku sen aya u ka ra zu
Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour養兵千日用兵一時
养兵千日用兵一时
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
视卒如婴儿故可以与之赴深溪视卒如爱子故可与之俱死
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
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.


All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

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.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

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.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

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.