The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

Reviewed by David StanleyThe Art of Learning

You may be familiar with the book and film “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” In Searching, Fred Waitzkin tells the story of three years in the life of his son Josh, as six year old Josh becomes a dominant player in the world of youth chess. In Searching, we see the story of a small boy as told through the eyes of his father.

It is rare that an individual becomes a world champion in any activity.  Yet Josh, born in 1976, has reached the top twice. Josh has worn the world champion’s medal as an adult in the martial art of  Tai Chi Chuan, (this is not the Tai Chi of the elderly in a park at dawn in Beijing) plus his youth chess championships. In near full-time training at the moment, Waitzkin may win another championship in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

But there is far more to Josh Waitzkin than his extraordinary skills in chess and the martial arts. Josh says it best:

“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.”

In 2007, Josh wrote and published The Art of Learning, his memoir and a guide to teaching one’s self, and one’s children, the skills necessary for success at any age, in any field.

Josh uses his life stories as the background for sharing his skills at meta-cognition; learning how to learn. He is an exceptional narrator. You’ll feel your heart pound in your chest as he describes his chess and Tai Chi Chuan battles. You will also read, and re-read, how his disciplined methods of planning, execution, and analysis create the platform for excellence in any field.

Every athlete, and every profound thinker, has had moments of unique clarity; the Zone. Every month, I read in a different magazine an article which gives someone’s secret for getting to the zone. Through his application of psychology, and physiology, plus his willingness to fail in the name of success, Waitzkin shows us how he reaches his personal pinnacle of excellence. Josh delineates the exact schedules and procedures that he has used in his competitions, physical and mental, so that you can also achieve a ‘Zone Moment’ whenever called upon.

The Art of Learning is not merely a how-to manual. It is story-driven narrative of an exciting life filled with commitment, passion, love, and discipline. What Josh Waitzkin has to offer, parents can take to heart for themselves, and most of all, they can teach it unto their children.

Mr. Waitzkin has grown into a man committed to improving the lives of others. Take a moment and visit his foundation’s latest work;  The Art of Learning Project.

In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin has a complete winner. It is a book I read, and re-read, at least once a year. Buy this. Apply just 10% of what Josh has on offer to you and your kids. Watch your life change. No kidding.

 3 Nods. Absolutely, positively do not miss.

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The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at

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