After dominating the chess world for a decade, Josh Waitzkin turned to Tai Chi Chuan and ultimately became a World Champion. How did he conquer two disciplines that seem so different? He explains: 'I've come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess. What I am best at is the art of learning.'
The Bottom Line
From embracing defeat to honing personal triggers that help you break through, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his path to victory — in chess and martial arts.
As a child, Josh Waitzkin was the American chess prodigy — ever since he won his first National Chess Championship at the age of 9. He would continue as the highest ranked player in his age group for many years, winning eight national championships and becoming an International Master at only 16. The Oscar-nominated film Searching for Bobby Fischer was based on Josh’s journey to his first national championship victory.
Many years later, when Josh began training in the Tai Chi martial art of Push Hands, he realized that his experiences in competitive chess could fuel his progress in the new endeavor. This realization — that the art of learning has commonalities across disciplines — became the inspiration for The Art of Learning.
Combining his strategic mindset from chess mastery with high-level Tai Chi training, Josh began to excel in his new art form, eventually becoming a Push Hands World Champion. In The Art of Learning, Josh shares his time-tested approach to mastering a skill or discipline — lessons that are applicable to most any profession or pursuit of excellence.
II. Inner Strength Is the First Step to External Achievement
III. The Hidden Advantages of Adverse Circumstances
IV. Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset
V. Mastery Is Rooted in the Fundamentals
VI. To Perform at Your Peak, Learn to Rest Efficiently
VII. Create a Personal “Presence” Trigger
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