As far as the course and what I got out of it, the thing that was most impressive about him was his strategic thinking and emphasis on it. That was a big thing for him, thinking in advance about how to win, which I think is a big reason he's successful as a politician. I'm an appellate lawyer now, and the thing that he emphasized — I'll butcher the quote now — I think it's from The Art of War, is "He who chooses the terrain will win the battle." It was probably Cruz's own phrasing that he adapted from Sun Tzu to make the point he was trying to make. It was his way of talking about the importance of framing the issue in a way that works to your advantage. On appeal, you're asking the court to answer a legal question. You can do a lot to get the answer that you want by strategically wording the question that you're asking. That was the point Cruz was trying to make with his reference to Sun Tzu. And you can see how he does this in the debates too, by the way. When he's asked a question, he'll quickly reframe it so he's saying something that works to his advantage. All politicians try to do this, of course — but it's usually clear that they're just dodging or refusing to answer the question. Cruz is better at it. He can make it seem like he answered the question, even when he didn't. Or he can make you think it was the wrong question to begin with.
Cosmopolitan magazine interviewed one of Ted Cruz's law students, Jason Steed, who back in 2008 took a law class taught by Cruz at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. At this time Cruz has yet to run for public office. Two main things discussed were how he seemed destined to be in public office and that he really liked Sun Tzu's idea of, "He who chooses the terrain will win the battle" to gain advantage. Below is an excerpt of the article:
Link to Cosmopolitan article: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a56785/ted-cruz-law-professor/
Sun Tzu's Blog
For readers of Sun Tzu's Art of War