The Seven Military Classics (traditional Chinese: 武經七書; simplified Chinese: 武经七书; pinyin: Wǔjīngqīshū; Wade–Giles: Wu ching ch'i shu) were seven important military texts of ancient China, which also included Sun-tzu's The Art of War. The texts were canonized under this name during the 11th century AD, and from the time of the Song Dynasty, were included in most military encyclopedias. For imperial officers, either some or all of the works were required reading to merit promotion, like the requirement for all bureaucrats to learn and know the work of Confucius. There were many anthologies with different notations and analyses by scholars throughout the centuries leading up to the present versions in Western publishing. The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty commented on the seven military classics, stating, "I have read all of the seven books, among them there are some materials that are not necessarily right, ... and there are superstitious stuff can be used by bad people." Members of the Communist Party of China also studied the texts during the Chinese Civil War as well as many European and American military minds.
According to Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-chün Sawyer, who created one of the latest translations, the Seven Military Classics include the following texts:
- Jiang Ziya (Taigong)'s Six Secret Teachings
- The Methods of the Ssu-ma (also known as Sima Rangju Art of War)
- Sun Tzu's The Art of War
- Wu Qi's Wuzi
- Wei Liaozi
- Three Strategies of Huang Shigong
- Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong
There are no other known variations of the Seven Military Classics anthology with alternating members but the constituent works themselves have had many multiple versions, especially the Art of War, which has had at least several dozen different translations to English in the 20th Century alone.
- Van de Ven, Hans J. (2000). Warfare in Chinese History. BRILL. p. 7.
- Gawlikowski, Kzysztof and Michael Loewe. (1993). "Sun tzu ping fa," in Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide, Michael Loewe,ed., Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China, p.449.
- Sawyer, Ralph D.; Mei Mei-chün Sawyer (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. Westview Press.
- McNeal, Robin. Conquer and Govern. 2012:124.
- Read the Seven Military Classics on Google Books