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Josh Waitzkin knows what it means to be at the top of his game. A public figure since winning his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine, Waitzkin was catapulted into a media whirlwind as a teenager when his father's book Searching for Bobby Fischer was made into a major motion picture. After dominating the scholastic chess world for ten years, Waitzkin expanded his horizons, taking on the martial art Tai Chi Chuan and ultimately earning the title of World Champion. How was he able to reach the pinnacle of two disciplines that on the surface seem so different? "I've come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess," he says. "What I am best at is the art of learning."

In his riveting new book, The Art of Learning, Waitzkin tells his remarkable story of personal achievement and shares the principles of learning and performance that have propelled him to the top—twice.

With a narrative that combines heart-stopping martial arts wars and tense chess face-offs with life lessons that speak to all of us, The Art of Learning takes readers through Waitzkin's unique journey to excellence. He explains in clear detail how a well-thought-out, principled approach to learning is what separates success from failure. Waitzkin believes that achievement, even at the championship level, is a function of a lifestyle that fuels a creative, resilient growth process. Rather than focusing on climactic wins, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his everyday method, from systematically triggering intuitive breakthroughs, to honing techniques into states of remarkable potency, to mastering the art of performance psychology.

Through his own example, Waitzkin explains how to embrace defeat and make mistakes work for you. Does your opponent make you angry? Waitzkin describes how to channel emotions into creative fuel. As he explains it, obstacles are not obstacles but challenges to overcome, to spur the growth process by turning weaknesses into strengths. He illustrates the exact routines that he has used in all of his competitions, whether mental or physical, so that you too can achieve your peak performance zone in any competitive or professional circumstance.

In stories ranging from his early years taking on chess hustlers as a seven year old in New York City's Washington Square Park, to dealing with the pressures of having a film made about his life, to International Chess Championships in India, Hungary, and Brazil, to gripping battles against powerhouse fighters in Taiwan in the Push Hands World Championships, The Art of Learning encapsulates an extraordinary competitor's life lessons in a page-turning narrative.

Topics: Sports, Martial Arts, Games, Success, and Creativity

Published: Free Press on May 8, 2007
ISBN: 9781416538868
List price: $13.99
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The Art of Learning is an excellent book. It has been criticized for its lack of practical value, but to me that seems like a non-issue. The book digs into the underlying principles instead of offering shallow tips and tricks, and most of all inspires one forward. The thing about learning is that it's not just about technique - it's more about wanting to learn, about integrating learning into one's way of life. Being the best in the world is no use if the training leaves one unhappy and too exhausted to continue. This is one of the many central points that Josh makes in the book, as he describes his way to work hard without making it feel like working hard.The practical advice that Josh actually gives is also sound. He talks about building on a strong foundation of internalized fundamentals, and working hard with incrementally building one's skills. He reminds to always work at the edge of one's capabilities and to not to get stuck in the comfort zone. These are all important and widely applicable principles. There's also interesting talk of how to practically turn one's emotions into strength and how to approach stressful situations, an issue that every one of use struggles with.The book is also a story of how one exceptional young man came to find greatness, and very inspirational as such. Josh has a way of describing chess and martial arts battles that makes the situations come alive in the head of the reader, and the vivid images serve to spice up the book and make it more memorable. There are great personalities among Josh's friends, foes and teachers, each giving the book a bit more character. All in all, this is certainly one tale nobody should miss.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting book and very well written. I enjoyed much of his techniques on approaching learning. Curiously, I found many of the names for his learning techniques to be very non-intuitive and took away from his discussion.Still, at least one-third of the story is biographical story with which he tells of his life. This was more than I expected. I was also hoping for more reference to learning and chess and less about how much the movie affected his life and his techniques into martial arts.Not for everyone, the book is still an enjoyable look into one frame of what it takes to be "the best" in something.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The Art of Learning is an excellent book. It has been criticized for its lack of practical value, but to me that seems like a non-issue. The book digs into the underlying principles instead of offering shallow tips and tricks, and most of all inspires one forward. The thing about learning is that it's not just about technique - it's more about wanting to learn, about integrating learning into one's way of life. Being the best in the world is no use if the training leaves one unhappy and too exhausted to continue. This is one of the many central points that Josh makes in the book, as he describes his way to work hard without making it feel like working hard.The practical advice that Josh actually gives is also sound. He talks about building on a strong foundation of internalized fundamentals, and working hard with incrementally building one's skills. He reminds to always work at the edge of one's capabilities and to not to get stuck in the comfort zone. These are all important and widely applicable principles. There's also interesting talk of how to practically turn one's emotions into strength and how to approach stressful situations, an issue that every one of use struggles with.The book is also a story of how one exceptional young man came to find greatness, and very inspirational as such. Josh has a way of describing chess and martial arts battles that makes the situations come alive in the head of the reader, and the vivid images serve to spice up the book and make it more memorable. There are great personalities among Josh's friends, foes and teachers, each giving the book a bit more character. All in all, this is certainly one tale nobody should miss.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting book and very well written. I enjoyed much of his techniques on approaching learning. Curiously, I found many of the names for his learning techniques to be very non-intuitive and took away from his discussion.Still, at least one-third of the story is biographical story with which he tells of his life. This was more than I expected. I was also hoping for more reference to learning and chess and less about how much the movie affected his life and his techniques into martial arts.Not for everyone, the book is still an enjoyable look into one frame of what it takes to be "the best" in something.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

The Art of Learning is an excellent book. It has been criticized for its lack of practical value, but to me that seems like a non-issue. The book digs into the underlying principles instead of offering shallow tips and tricks, and most of all inspires one forward. The thing about learning is that it's not just about technique - it's more about wanting to learn, about integrating learning into one's way of life. Being the best in the world is no use if the training leaves one unhappy and too exhausted to continue. This is one of the many central points that Josh makes in the book, as he describes his way to work hard without making it feel like working hard.The practical advice that Josh actually gives is also sound. He talks about building on a strong foundation of internalized fundamentals, and working hard with incrementally building one's skills. He reminds to always work at the edge of one's capabilities and to not to get stuck in the comfort zone. These are all important and widely applicable principles. There's also interesting talk of how to practically turn one's emotions into strength and how to approach stressful situations, an issue that every one of use struggles with.The book is also a story of how one exceptional young man came to find greatness, and very inspirational as such. Josh has a way of describing chess and martial arts battles that makes the situations come alive in the head of the reader, and the vivid images serve to spice up the book and make it more memorable. There are great personalities among Josh's friends, foes and teachers, each giving the book a bit more character. All in all, this is certainly one tale nobody should miss.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting book and very well written. I enjoyed much of his techniques on approaching learning. Curiously, I found many of the names for his learning techniques to be very non-intuitive and took away from his discussion.Still, at least one-third of the story is biographical story with which he tells of his life. This was more than I expected. I was also hoping for more reference to learning and chess and less about how much the movie affected his life and his techniques into martial arts.Not for everyone, the book is still an enjoyable look into one frame of what it takes to be "the best" in something.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The Art of Learning is an excellent book. It has been criticized for its lack of practical value, but to me that seems like a non-issue. The book digs into the underlying principles instead of offering shallow tips and tricks, and most of all inspires one forward. The thing about learning is that it's not just about technique - it's more about wanting to learn, about integrating learning into one's way of life. Being the best in the world is no use if the training leaves one unhappy and too exhausted to continue. This is one of the many central points that Josh makes in the book, as he describes his way to work hard without making it feel like working hard.The practical advice that Josh actually gives is also sound. He talks about building on a strong foundation of internalized fundamentals, and working hard with incrementally building one's skills. He reminds to always work at the edge of one's capabilities and to not to get stuck in the comfort zone. These are all important and widely applicable principles. There's also interesting talk of how to practically turn one's emotions into strength and how to approach stressful situations, an issue that every one of use struggles with.The book is also a story of how one exceptional young man came to find greatness, and very inspirational as such. Josh has a way of describing chess and martial arts battles that makes the situations come alive in the head of the reader, and the vivid images serve to spice up the book and make it more memorable. There are great personalities among Josh's friends, foes and teachers, each giving the book a bit more character. All in all, this is certainly one tale nobody should miss.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting book and very well written. I enjoyed much of his techniques on approaching learning. Curiously, I found many of the names for his learning techniques to be very non-intuitive and took away from his discussion.Still, at least one-third of the story is biographical story with which he tells of his life. This was more than I expected. I was also hoping for more reference to learning and chess and less about how much the movie affected his life and his techniques into martial arts.Not for everyone, the book is still an enjoyable look into one frame of what it takes to be "the best" in something.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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