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Ancient China
Sun Wu



Sun Wu
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.29

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ensemble, infallible, killing, proactively, sacked, standing, treatise, try-out, unyielding, conquest, suicide, latter, execution, successor, molding, invasion
     content words:    Sun Wu, Sun Tzu, Sun Zi, Master Sun, Autumn Period, Wu Zixu, He Lu, When He Lu, But Sun Wu, Since He Lu


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Sun Wu
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Running businesses and conducting warfare are two very different things. Yet, between the two lie many similarities. For one, to succeed, both require good leadership and sound strategies -- neither quality is easy to achieve. But if you are up for the challenge, there is an excellent reference book that you must read. That book, written more than 2,500 years ago, is called The Art of War. Its author was Sun Wu. (As a way to show their respect, Chinese also called him Sun Tzu or Sun Zi, which literally means Master Sun.)
 
2     Sun Wu was a famous Chinese general born around 535 B.C. At the time of his birth, China was at an era known as the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C. - 476 B.C.) During that period, there were many small kingdoms; one of which -- the state of Chen -- was founded by Sun Wu's ancestors. But, unfortunately, because of some internal power struggles, they had to seek refuge in the state of Qi around 672 B.C. After they settled down, they changed their last name from Guei to Tian. (Given the role Sun Wu's forefathers played in molding the state of Chen, they also used Chen as an alternative last name. But they dropped it after they migrated to the state of Qi.) Nearly a century later, the Tian clan rose to become a very prominent family. To reward them for their bravery and loyalty, the emperor of Qi bestowed on them a new surname, Sun. Sun Wu's grandfather was the first in the family to adopt that new last name.
 
3     When Sun Wu was eighteen years of age, he left his hometown for the state of Wu. At first, he did not proactively seek out a position at the royal court there. Rather, he spent most of his days writing The Art of War. In 512 B.C., recommended by Wu Zixu, Sun Wu presented his book to the emperor of Wu, He Lu. Upon reading it, He Lu knew right away that the young man standing in front of him was no ordinary person. Although he wanted to hire him immediately, he still had some reservations. One of his main concerns was that Sun Wu did not have any prior military experience to speak of. To test him, He Lu asked him to train 180 ladies-in-waiting. Knowing very well that this was the golden opportunity he had been waiting for, Sun Wu agreed to the challenge. After dividing the group into two companies, he told the ensemble that they needed to follow his commands. If he asked them to turn left, they had to turn left. If he asked them to turn right, they had to turn right. If he asked them to turn on their heels, they had to turn on their heels. To be sure that the ladies-in-waiting had a good grasp of what was expected of them, Sun Wu explained the rules several times. Then he began the drill.
 
4     The first try-out was a disaster. As soon as Sun Wu issued his first command, the entire group broke into laughter. They thought the whole exercise hilarious. None of them took it seriously. After the giggling died down, Sun Wu patiently went over the rules again. Now thinking everybody was on board, he decided to run another drill.

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