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.
The 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.
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.