Wu Ziwas written by Wu Qi (?-381BC), a famous strategist, military theorist, and innovationist at the beginning of theWarring States Period(475-221BC) and who hailed from today's Dingtao County of East China'sShandong Province.
It is said there were other two books on the art of war by Wu Qi, but both were lost, hence leavingWu Zias the only existing book carrying Wu's military thoughts. The earliestWu Ziedition dates to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The book analyzes that there are five reasons for wars -- desire for fame, want of profit, accumulated evils, civil strife, and famine -- and five kinds of troops -- righteous, strong, firm, violent, and rebellious; the book also pays much attention to war preparedness.
In managing state affairs, the book holds the view that both civil and military aspects should be given enough attention to strengthen and solidify the governance of the feudal ruling class. Discipline and the impartial meting out of rewards and punishments are considered essential in winning a war.
The book considers rigid military training critical for soldiers to master various fighting skills, so as to improve the battle effectiveness. The book also suggests soldiers should be arrayed to different teams to optimize the army according to their different strength and skills.
The book also states a good general should command both military and civilian forces, have both toughness and gentleness characteristics, and boast the five qualities of reason, preparedness, decisiveness, abstention, and restriction. Before attacking the enemy, the general should first ascertain the strength of the opponent, and then choose the best opportunity to launch the strike. With the changing situation of the war, the general should also change the ways of fighting accordingly, the book adds.
Despite having only about 5,000 words, the book still boasts very rich content. It is another military canon with a complete system, full of insights, penetrating thoughts, and significant theoretic values afterSun Zi Art of War, occupying a paramount position in ancient Chinese military history.