Tag Archives: Challenge Accepted

The Art of Love

When I first set out on my quest to detail how the principles detailed in Sun Tzu’s Art of War apply to love it was on a impulse. The only thing I had to work with were all the cliché’s about love and war and a very vague recollection of the actual principles themselves that Sun Tzu details in his text The Art of War. That and my ego.

Sun TzuThe Art of War is an ancient Chinese Military Service attributed to Sun Tzu a high ranking military general, strategist and tactician. The Art of War is divided into 13 chapters (or piān), and the collection is referred to as being one zhuàn (“whole” or alternatively “chronicle”)

By dissecting Sun Tzu’s original text, and extracting his core wisdom it is possible to apply these very principles of war to love. The Art of Love. After all Love is a battlefield right? Or is it ‘The battle of the sexes?”.

As I already pointed out in my previous blog Challenge Accepted, both Love and War involve capturing something the other is protecting. In war it’s the enemy’s flag or land or treasure. In dating, it’s the heart … and spoils of war. Something I found quite amusing is that in describing our dating lives,as The Usual Suspects we use terms like ‘Comrades’ ‘Target’, ‘wing-man’, ‘shot down’, ‘grenade’, ‘torpedo’, ‘in the field’, ‘taken hostage’,’reinforcements’ and ‘mission accomplished. All of these are part of war terminology.which makes me think that even subconsciously we have always assumed that war and dating are very similar. Now armed with the principles outlined in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War I can prove it.

1. Detail Assessment and Planning ( 始計,始计)

This is the first and most important principle detailed in the Art of War. Sun Tzu says “If you know yourself and the enemy, you will always win. If you know yourself but not the enemy, sometimes you will win and sometimes you may not. If you don’t know yourself or your enemy, you will probably be defeated.” This principle is really about making an effort to understand women, and how they think. Even more importantly as Sun Tzu points out its about also understanding yourself. That way you can be the guy the women you are attracted to actually want to date. More than just once.

2. The Challenge ( 作戰,作战)

Here Sun Tzu advises that “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without even fighting” As such this piān explains how to understand the economy of warfare, and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.

3. Strategic Attack ( 謀攻,谋攻)

This piān defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities. In the case of dating this might encompass the deployment of ‘Wingmen’ to counter the inevitable ‘Grenade’. This is usually a friend of your ‘target‘, who, for whatever reason  is out to make sure they blows up your chances.

4.Tactical Dispositions/ Positioning (軍形,军形)

This piān explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.

5.Energy/Forces (兵勢,兵势)

This piān is about the use of creativity and timing in building an army’s momentum.

6.Illusion and Reality/Weaknesses and Strengths ( 虛實,虚实)

This piān explains how an army’s opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy in a given area

7.Engaging The Force/Maneuvering ( 軍爭,军争)

This piān explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.

8.Variation of Tactics/Variations and Adaptability ( 九變,九变)

In this piān Sun Tzu stresses the importance adaptability. He focuses on the need for flexibility in an army’s responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully. Again invaluable advice when it comes to matters of the heart.

9.Movement and Development of Troops ( 行軍,行军)

Here Sun Tzu describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others. This piān suggests how to deal ,obstacles, things going sideways and other problems you might encounter while you’re with a ‘target‘.

10.Situational Positioning/Terrain (Chinese: 地形)

This has its roots in the very first piān. It relies heavily on knowing yourself and what you want. Terrain in this instance would be where you “wage your battles”. Your battlefield of choice is determined by your ideal ‘target‘. Once you have established your ideal qualities and characteristics for the woman you want, you’ll have a much easier time deciding on the best places to meet those women. Whether its your local Bar or Bookstore.

11. The nine battle grounds (Chinese: 九地)

In the eleventh piān  Sun Tzu says: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground. These nine detail different circumstances under which battle can occurs. It goes on further to best advise how to fight the battle in the different battle grounds. For example contentious ground is ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side and  serious ground is when an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear.

12. Attacking with Fire (Chinese: 火攻)

Sun Tzu says ‘Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared. Confidence is key. You have to believe in yourself. Need I say anymore. Moving along.

13.Intelligence and Espionage (Chinese: 用間,用间)

Sun Tzu advises that in battle ”It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.” When I cam across this particular gem from Sun Tzu the first thing I thought was dude was clearly referring to the ‘grenades’ and the ‘cock blockers’. The girlfriends who usually sabotage your attempts to win the battle. This also can be viewed again was an expansion of the first principle i.e know your ‘enemy’. No better person to help you understand a woman than, you guessed it another woman. Recruiting a close female friend that can help you win the battle will help your cause.

There you have it. The Art of Love.


‘When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce” – Sun Tzu.

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Challenge Accepted

A permanent fixture on the social calender during the warm summer months is a good old catch up with the Usual Suspects. Friday after work drinks and are a welcome pit stop in the Rat race. During these gatherings the conversation weaves its way through the mundane, the trivial, lingering at banter, all the while getting louder. Reaching its climax in the form a heated exchange with with it’s genesis lying somewhere in our different sporting affiliations. Not to mention the braggadocio tales of our attempts to gain the favour of a fair maiden.

This is all before we retreat into hibernation during the cold winter months. A period when our gatherings are reduced to a plethora of excuses delivered via cyberspace courtesy of Whatsapp and Facebook comments.The conquerors amongst enjoying the spoils of war wrapped up in some human blanket. Only emerging from underneath the covers of these to deliver a a half hearted whinge. ‘Sorry fellas, I couldn’t get a VISA’. Before smugly returning to their warm comforts. But I digress.

A few months ago during one of these gatherings we found ourselves discussing the merits and applications of the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The reverence for the book and its core message was undisputed. As is standard when the social lubricant that is alcohol is oiling the discussion it soon got pretty animated. There were suggestions that its underlying principles have been widely applied to business tactics and legal strategy. That some major cooperations and law firms used it as a manual of sorts. All which seemed reasonable and practical applications. But as is often the case at there is always someone who comes in from left field with outlandish proclamations. This was night was no different. One of the Usual Suspects was so enamoured by the principles in the book and their effectiveness that he rather ludicrously suggested.’If you understand them properly and embed them into your way life , you can get away with anything”. What followed I am pretty sure was an to counter attack to the condescending indulgence at this proclamation. He continued.’ Seriously guys, You can even get away with naked pictures on your phone’ Now he was playing to the braggadocio.That braggadocio that always hangs in the air after a few cold fermented ones. Looking around the room it was hard to argue that his ploy hadn’t worked.

Now, back then The Lawyer was the only one present who hadn’t read the book, and I dutifully volunteered to give him a copy of an audio file ‘I have it somewhere on my hard drive’ I said to him. To which he proceeded to offer up an unsolicited disclaimer that his interest had nothing to do with a desire to get away with naked pictures, but lay with its application to legal strategy. There was no way I was letting him off easy. I took the bait and we got stuck into the banter for the remainder of the night. That did not deter him though. He duly followed up and got the copy of me.


Fast forward to the present day and the book came up again. This time it was just me and The Lawyer and couple of his lawyer colleagues. The other Usual Suspects? You guessed it. They couldn’t get ‘VISA’s.’ Something we drew childish amusement from, even making jibes about how our fellow comrades had become prisoners of war. Truth be told though during this cold winter months we would have happily traded places with them. Again I digress.

Like I was saying we found ourselves discussing its merits in regards to dating. A discussion that we were lost in the middle of before one of the female colleagues interjected ‘The Art of War is not a dating manual guys. Seriously talk to me I am here to help’. What happened next resembled a courtroom scene ( Well thats how I choose to remember it ) The Lawyer now having familiarised with the text now went on to channel Alan Shaw ( Boston Legal). Armed with cliche’s he defended the assertion. ‘All is fair and Love and War’.’ Love is a battlefield’.’The battle of the Sexes’ All he claimed was evidence that there are many parallels between love and war. Based on that an argument can be made that the same principles used in war could just as easily be applied to dating which is a precursor to love. His female colleague a lawyer as well did not give in easily and went on to declare ‘But guys a woman is not an enemy that you need conquer.’ His response ‘Both involve capturing something the other is protecting. In war it’s the enemy’s flag or land or treasure. In dating, it’s the heart. And well other desirable parts.The spoils of war if you like. So while a woman is not any enemy to be conquered, in applying the principles of dating she can be regarded as prize to win over.’ I made a mental note to myself if I ever needed representation this was my guy.

As this back and forth was playing itself out I was increasingly starting to feel marginalised. It was in an effort to get back on the conversation that I found myself channeling my inner Barney Stinson. Next thing I know I shouted ‘Challenge Accepted ”Huh?’ They both simultaneously responded. ‘Challenge Accepted’ I repeated. That still did nothing to remove the confused looks on their faces. So I went on to explain myself. That I accepted their challenge to prove that the Art of War can be used as a dating manual. Thats right I would write a blog about it I continued. I was pleased with myself. I had manoeuvred myself back into the centre of the conversation. The Barnicle would have been proud.

Having got their attention I carried on. ‘By dissecting Sun Tzu’s original text, extracting his core wisdom I would show its 13 core principles could be applied in the dating game’

So Ladies and Gentleman. That is the challenge before. Keep watching this space. I will accomplish my mission and you better believe it will be Lege …. Wait for it …ndary!

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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