Friday, April 21, 2017

Complex Magazine on Kendrick Lamar aka Kung Fu Kenny!!


Article by Shawn Setaro:

At Coachella, Lamar started his set by unveiling a short film titled The Damn Legend of Kung Fu Kenny that was modeled after the kung fu films of the 1970s. Similar imagery, including the phrase "Kung Fu Kenny" spelled out in Chinese characters, appeared in the "DNA" video. The moniker itself seems to be inspired by Don Cheadle's character in Rush Hour, who goes by Kenny:

  Full link to COMPLEX

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

HHCF John O'Connell Team Takes 2nd at Mechanics Institute Tournament!!!

We must congratulate the HHCF Chess Team at John O'Connell for taking 2nd place at the Mechanics Institute Tournament. For those that don't know Mechanics is the OLDEST chess club in America. We will be visiting them next week. Many photo to come!!! We must give Coach Moskowitz a standing ovation for her dedication to the thriving chess scene at OC. 

HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu Team Get Gold and Silver at American Cup!!



Just wanted to congratulate Young Skywalker (in the black on the photo to the left) for getting the GOLD  and Megatron ( in white gi on the right) for getting his SILVER medal at the American Cup in San Francisco.

I want to make sure to thank our wrestling coach Andrew and our other BJJ coach Sammy for all of their help in the preparation for the tournament. We must also acknowledge our head coach Alan "Gumby" Marques, Trevor and Chuck of Heroes Martial Arts. They are our brothers in arms. We appreciate all the insight they gave us in preparation for the event. The HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu Team is proud to be under the banner of Heroes Martial Arts.

As a coach, you get a lot of anxiety in your head about how your students perform. They were both amazing. Not only in action, but in action.

Our team has gotten  a few more students on deck and you will see more of them in the coming the neat future. Lastly, I want to thank all the amazing parents who entrust their kids with the HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu curriculum. They showed immense clarity of mind before, during and after the match. We are actively enrolling kids, teens and adults right now. So far every student who has competed has won a medal. It is not about medals for us. At HHCF in fact, it is the LAST thing we compete for. We compete to represent the art of jiu-jitsu. We compete to share the strategic clarity of mind we get from chess. We play to finish. We never lose. We only win or learn. To join us call  888-588-4418.


What Are You Willing to Sacrifice in Chess and Life?

Scene where Larry Fishburne's character "Vinny" plays a young Josh Waitzkin in Searching for Bobby Fischer


You're dealing with a king not a kong out here/ You're a pawn, but we can get along out here!
- Jidenna, Chief Don't Run



These days mainstream TV has been pushing a lot of chess on the screen. Television shows like Fresh Off The Boat, Luke Cage and The Get Down all made chess references in the last two seasons. My boy Mike Relm even called me to tell me the movie Get Out had some references to chess and mma in it.


While a lot of popular players inside chess like to talk about the likeness of chess to life, very few of them are able to share consistent connections. It also hard to do it effectively and consistently. We all know it makes sense to make better decisions in our life. We all want to. Many of us struggle to. However, looking at the life of chess players like Paul Morphy or Bobby Fischer (who both went insane) or others like Mikhail Tal (who was an amazing thinker but was not the best at taking care of his health) make it hard to argue that playing chess alone ensures a good life ahead.


Nevertheless, American chess icon Josh Waitzkin's’ The Art of Learning is one of the best testaments to the relationship between life and chess. It makes looking at the way one can incorporate chess themes in your life digestible. This is important. Especially for someone like me, who is not a world class chess player.


The Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) is one of the only organizations dedicated to the chess and life strategies theme. We were founded on the idea to keep the connections between life and chess easy to understand and share with casual players.


One of my favorite examples of chess and life is found in the classic game from 1858 by American chess legend Paul Morphy in his game against Count Isouard and The Duke of New Brunswick called “The Opera House Massacre.” It was played in Paris at an Opera House. The Count and The Duke took turns moving the black pieces.


operahouse1.jpg


Move 12 for black is a pivotal point in the game. I always ask my kids (almost all of them beginners) who is stronger between white and black. I often get the response that black is stronger. My thought is that black is a better defender of their king, but they have zero active attacks going on. Meanwhile, white has more pieces active in the battlefield. In chess as in boxing, good defense is important, but it is equally important to making sure you have deliberate attacks happening as often as possible.

operahouse3.jpgoperahouse2.jpg


Moves 16 shows white running the queen to the back rank.  It looks like checkmate at a glance. That is only because many beginners forget to use their knights laterally. They tend to only move them forward and back. These two images are so crucial tactically and philosophically for us in HHCF. We talk about the importance of two things:


1) Morphy had clarity of vision. He saw the truth in the positions he played. One of the biggest problems in life is trusting yourself. Before many of us make a decision, we ask a friend or two “Is this a good idea?” Sometimes they agree, other times they don’t. Other times the response from friends is mixed. Very few of us can laser in on what we see and act from a place of inner conviction. Chess helps us teach ourselves to trust in the reality of what we see. It helps us form a habit of taking the best actions based off of that clarity of vision. One of the best ways to really make a habit of knowing if it IS what it looks like it is- is to play chess.


2) Sacrifice. The word sacrifice is defined as “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”  Sacrifice  is something you must give up or risk- for a greater good (we hope). We have to recognize though that anything you sacrifice is only worth it, if you win! So then let’s ask, “Where are the sacrifices we need to make to achieve our life goals?” Ask anybody (but especially kids) what they want to be, or do, and you get a lot of passionate responses.


Right now, there is a kid on a football team. Let us call him Rashad. If  is truly a top tier player he is spending a ton of time in the gym, studying his playbook, studying film, working hard to make sure his grades are up to par so there is no question about his eligibility. The entire time that is happening Rashad is missing out on school parties, on trips to the amusement park, on online shenanigans etc. Over the course of his high school journey, there are many social events he misses out on.


However, in senior year we see he gets a full football scholarship to a top tier university. Everyone at the school is so excited.  Very few of his fellow students, friends or family realize the years of sacrifice it took to get that opportunity to come to life. “Rashad is so lucky!” they say. Never considering all the years of study and effort it took to get “lucky”.


operahouse4.jpg


The question for my class (and my question for you today) is what is the queen sacrifice in your life right now? The queen is powerful, dynamic and brings terror to her opponents on sight. No person lightly gives her away. One only sacrifices her, if they are clear that victory is sure. Training yourself to be willing to let go of the queen is so hard. Few of us can do it. I wrestle with it often. But it must be done.


As on the board, so in life. Next time you are thinking or talking about anything major that you want to accomplish. Think about the last three big things you did to actualize that goal. If it is diet related, don’t lie to yourself about the cookies you snuck in last night. If it is financial, don’t forgive yourself for for spending money you could have saved on shoes.


Look for the hard sacrifices you need to make. Look at your personal goals and work to consistently make the sacrifices needed. If you are not making the sacrifices you may be unclear on what you want and why. Look into that. If you are afraid to give everything to get what you want then don’t complain. Until you are ready to put it all on the line you will never reach the level you say you seek. Enjoy your games.

Watch the entire Opera House Massacre played out here: https://www.chess.com/blog/Boogalicious/morphys-opera-house-game

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Community Art Discussion in Oakland April 7!!


Alice Street Symposium Addresses Gentrification, Displacement, and Cultural Resiliency
On April 7, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) will host the Alice Street Symposium on Community Engagement Strategies and Best Practices. The event includes a screening of director Spencer Wilkinson’s “Alice Street Short” documentary film, two presentations, and a moderated panel discussion followed by an audience Q&A. The event’s objective is to facilitate a dialogue between community leaders, arts practitioners, funders, and public officials focusing on community engagement strategies using arts to address issues of gentrification, displacement, and resiliency.
As Oakland’s gentrification epidemic continues, cultural arts practitioners and low- and middle-income residents now find themselves threatened with displacement -- which creates an opportunity for common ground with historically-underserved communities of color. “Alice Street” spotlights these issues through a unique perspective – the painting of a massive mural which becomes a connecting bridge between two neighboring yet seemingly-disparate communities, as well as a symbol of the gentrification threatening communities or color and artists, and the struggle for equitable development.
The symposium will further explore key issues and themes of the film: the role the cultural arts play in resiliency efforts of historically-underserved communities; community responses to concerns and threats of displacement; the impact of new development on ethnically-diverse neighborhoods; how murals transform and reshape blighted neighborhoods; the importance of community engagement efforts in public art projects; and how public art can be a connecting link to a city’s cultural history. This event will engage and inform at-risk populations, culture keepers, arts advocacy organizations, and policymakers by identifying and sharing cultural resiliency best practices as part of anti-displacement efforts which seek to mitigate the negative impacts of gentrification.
Presentations by CRP founder/Executive Director Desi Mundo and Roy Chan of the Chinatown Oral History Project will share stories of cultural resiliency and the evolution of community engagement models. Chan will focus on Tai Chi practitioners in Maidson Square Park who have faced constant threats of displacement and Oakland Chinatown’s long history of resiliency in the face of land grabs by the city of Oakland, developers, and BART. “With Oakland's recent push for new development such as the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan, this story highlights ever more the importance of sustaining cultural identity in long-standing ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown,” Chan said.
Mundo will relate the evolution of CRP’s community engagement model and the development of their pavement to policy approach to public art policy over the past decade, as well as how cultural arts practitioners can play important roles in community-based advocacy efforts around equitable development and calls for increased investment in the cultural arts as an economic development strategy. “Without embedded arts advocates within the structural framework of the city, artists have been forced to speak up for themselves and navigate the complex processes to stay afloat, as rental costs increase exponentially,” Mundo said. “The arts are critical tools in the fight against gentrification and the retention of cultural identity. At the core of that is community engagement."
The panel discussion will be moderated by CRP Communications and Policy Director Eric Arnold, and features local historians, culture keepers, artists, and organizers.
The symposium will take place on Friday April 7, 2017 from 12 PM - 3 PM at the Elihu Harris Memorial Auditorium at the State Building and is free to the public. This event is sponsored by the Akonadi Foundation and Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s office. For more information, contact Eric Arnold at escribe68@gmail.com/(510)-681-8213 or visit www.crpbayarea.org and www.alicestreetfilm.com.

Monday, April 3, 2017

HHCF Raw Power Team wins USA National Championship!!!

HHCF "Raw Power" dance team took GOLD at USA Nationals in Anaheim a few weeks back. I'm very sorry for posting so late about this. This is a HUGE deal and I'm so proud of the team. The category was in Senior Contemporary. A lot of our dancers are also chess players.

In that category we did Lyrical Dance, for those who have not seen it looks like rhythmic ballet. The choreography is made to complement the lyrics. The routine was done to Empires POWERFUL. It was so cool. I wish we could show you the video. If you are interested in joining one of the best dance and cheerleading teams in the bay area- hit us up. 888 588 4418.




HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu Representative Takes Gold at Jiu-Jitsu by the Bay!


Congratulations to HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu representative Andrew for winning GOLD in his division at Jiu-Jitsu by the Bay this past weekend. It was a great event with a really tough bracket. There were truly zero slouches in his bracket. Every match was a battle. Andrew is not only a member of our team, he is the wrestling coach and an amazing mentor to our kids. 

He embodies the physical and philosophical attributes that the HHCF Chess and Jiu-Jitsu program teach. He is a young man of immense character. It wasn't until after his second match he told me he had come down with what he thought was the stomach flu. He fought ANYWAY. 

I want to thank my instructor Alan "Gumby" Marques and every member of the Heroes Martial Arts team for being an amazing family. Next week our kids will be competing in SF. We expect to bring our best and nothing less. 


                                                                    Defend the crown! 

When Thugs Cry: An Unknown Tupac Story

Recently the internet started buzzing because of a cool conversation between legendary rapper Talib Kweli and Public Enemy front man Chu...