Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

      International Master Joshua Waitzkin was the highest ranked player for his age in the US for over ten years and eight-times National Champion in his youth. In 1998 at the age of 21, he took up Tai Chi Chuan. Within four years he was competing in Taiwan in the semi-finals of the World Championships. Two years later, in 2004, Waitzkin became World Champion in Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands competition. This achievement in such a short period of time is truly remarkable.
      Waitzkin also did excellent lectures in the old Chessmaster  program and had an amazing ability to explain the nuances of the position as well as the psychological side of things.  In 1999 he retired from competitive chess.
       The average rating of this book on Amazon was 4.5 (out of 5) stars.  He writes about pivotal moments in his chess career such as at the US Junior Championship final and the final round of the World Tai Chi Championship.   The World Tai Chi Championship was held in Taiwan, where many of his opponents were trained in martial arts from early childhood. The odds of successfully competing against them were overwhelming.
       For various reasons his main focus became martial arts and he recognized many similarities about the learning process involved in both chess and martial arts.  At the same time he believed what he learned could be applied to many disciplines in life.
       His descriptions of the process of learning and adopting the right attitude could be used in any area.   He discusses learning theories, intimidation and conditioning.
       I would place this book in the ‘self-help’ category and it could be helpful for some because a positive attitude never hurts.


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