Chess Icon Josh Waitzkin on The Art of Learning

Lawrence Fishburne in Searching for Bobby Fischer

In 1993, a film featuring Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen and Lawrence Fishburne called Searching for Bobby Fischer dropped and brought the story of a young chess genius named Josh Waitzkin. Josh Waitzkin is arguably the biggest American chess icon since the reclusive Bobby Fischer disappeared into the fog.

However, after the movie came out, a young Josh Waitzkin was turned off from the chess community. His life journey took him to Slovenia , Brazil and other lands in search of his true self. After becoming a two time world champion in Tai Chi he authored a book called The Art of Learning.

I highly recommend The Art of Learning to everyone on the planet. If you are a young person over the age of 13- you need this book. If you are a parent who is dedicated to the authentic enlightenment of your child- you need this book!

It has changed the way I approach my children in regards to learning, loving and pursuing self perfection. I caught up with Mr. Waitzkin recently and our conversation is below.

AB: You new book The Art of Learning is insightful beyond words. It covers your journey through chess and into martial arts. Who did you write this book for?

JW: Thank you, man. I wrote this book to be true--I can't say I had a specific audience in mind other than thoughtful human beings. It's been an interesting road. Some fantastic highs, some brutal lows, countless lessons along the way. I have fallen into quite a few pitfalls over the years and hopefully the book will help others avoid them. I believe I've also figured out some creative ways to unchain the learning process. It was my ambition to tell a raw, honest story and to create a framework, a solid foundation from which people can launch into the pursuit of Quality in a highly personalized manner. This is not a book for people looking for a cookie cutter mold. I don't believe in easy answers to complex questions. We all have our unique paths. This book is the story of mine. I hope it has broad application.

The Real Josh Waitzkin refining body and mind

AB: You have a fantastic way of describing your emotions and you are a great story teller. A lot of chess books can be boring. Yours reads like a action movie. How did you develop that gift?

JW: That's a great compliment--means a lot to me. Well, my father is a wonderful writer and he's been teaching me his art since I was a young boy. He always taught me to dig into the heart of the story. To speak from the essence, the core. And never to write about what I don't know deeply. I made the decision early that if I was going to write this book it would come from the heart. The years that inspired TAOL were the first few years of my martial arts training, when I was experiencing the translation of all my chess knowledge into a physical discipline. Everything was about hidden connections that emerged when you plunged deep into the moment. I tried to write the book in that manner. I tried to dig deep.

AB: Many people still dream of you coming back to chess, getting your Grandmaster status and taking out the planet? Is there any chance that'll ever happen?

JW: Probably not. I'm on another track right now and am very excited about it. But you never know.

AB: I know your main focus is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu now. You just got back from watching the World Championships in Los Angeles . What were some of the things you learned while watching the best of the best on the mat?

JW: It was a beautiful thing-- probably the most exciting sporting event I have ever watched. The art has evolved to such a wildly high level.

For more information on The Art of Learning visit,

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