Self Defense/The Art of War



Which translation of "The Art of War" do you recommend?

ANSWER: I actually have two I like. One by Samuel Griffin with commentaries by other historical Chinese Generals.

The other is by Thomas Cleary, and is Sun Tzu by himself

Another book you might want to consider finding is 36 Strategies

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QUESTION: Aside from the commentaries by other Chinese Generals and Sun Tzu by himself are there any other differences between Samuel Griffin and Thomas Cleary's translations? I just want to get one book. Also who is the author of 36 Strategies?

I haven't gone through line by line looking for translation differences. But I always recommend you pick up at least two copies of any translation (especially from Asian languages) because context and interpretation is important.

A native speaker might understand that both meanings (interpretation/translation) apply to a particular word.

But as a Westerner reading a translation you won't get that unless you read both. (Take for example the translation of "Thou shalt not kill" in the original Aramaic the word does mean kill, but it has far more connotation of 'murder.' So the difference between "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit murder." Subtle but important difference there -- especially when it comes to things like self-defense, war and lawful use of force.)

The 36 Strategies is from -- we think -- the 6th century China (Southern Qi) So it's been around for a while

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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