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The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence [Kindle Edition]

Josh Waitzkin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

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.

Product Description


"We all remember the portrayal of Josh Waitzkin in "Searching for Bobby Fischer." He was a very impressive child who continues to impress with "The Art of Learning." Through a unique set of experiences, Waitzkin has formed an original and outstanding perspective. From chess to Tai Chi, he provides tools that allow all of us to improve ourselves every day." -- Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee

About the Author

Josh Waitzkin, an 8-time National Chess Champion in his youth, was the subject of the book and movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer. At 18, he published his first book, Josh Waitzkin's Attacking Chess. Since the age of 20, he has developed and been spokesperson for Chessmaster, the largest computer chess program in the world, currently in its 10th edition. Now a martial arts champion, he holds a combined 21 National Championship

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1148 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (8 May 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BORI118
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,757 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, but probably not a life changer. 20 Jun. 2008
I should start off by saying that I quite liked this book, but that it's probably not one I'd return to again and again.

Firstly, the good: the book is very well written; Waitzkin comes across as a likable character, and quite humble for someone who has so obviously been a high achiever in his chosen field. He does offer some good insights, in terms of being aware of the individual's underlying nature when learning and not trying to force onself down a path that contradicts that. Plus, the stories used to illustrate his points are largely engaging.

Where I think the book was disappointing, for me at least, was that a great deal of the observations about what makes a top performer (learning from mistakes, concentrating on gaining a deep understanding etc.) are, if not self-evident, then at least variations on things that have been written about elsewhere.

nevertheless, definitely worth a look.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!!! Was not what I expected! 21 Mar. 2010
By Ekowi
This my first review ever on Amazon after probably almost a decade as a customer and dozens of books. I saw this recommended to be read by beginners to financial trading. I couldnt see the connection but it appeared to be an interesting book and I had a 16 hour return flight coming up.

I'm not going to wax lyrical about the content because other reviews have done that already. Suffice to say that if there is a discipline, job, or art that you are really keen to excel in and are truly drawn to - you will begin to see a clear road to achieving your goal and start to be much more aware of your innate powerful abilities. And be wonderfully entertained while your subconscious is being reprogrammed!

I plan to re-read it several times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and interesting read 4 Feb. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Review courtesy of

Joshua Waitzkin was national chess champion in the U.S. 8 times, inspiring the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer," and more recently has earned two world champion titles in Pushing Hands, the martial arts version of Tai Chi. It's fair to say that he knows something about learning.

Waitzkin introduces a few vague lists of principles, but in essence argues the key to excellence is the gradual mastery of fundamental principles, over time interlinked into complexity and integrated into our subconscious. The key to such learning is to take the small things you learn and `chunk' them into larger ideas in your memory, ensuring efficient storage and retrieval. As a result, an expert martial artist and a beginner actually perceive different things. A complicated strike may be made up of six parts, but an expert perceives it as one moderately fast attack. The beginner, on the other hand, sees six different moves, all blindingly fast. Mastery of the fundamentals can actually change not just how you perform an event but also how you perceive an event.

Once you've achieved this chunking of basic concepts into complicated ones, he argues, you start achieving the deeper mastery critical for progress, and the correct decision can even seem intuitive. Studies of chess grandmasters, for example, have shown they do not see many moves farther ahead than weaker players. Instead, they have an intuition on which moves may be best, and so though they study the same number of possible moves, they study better quality ones.

Given Waitzkin's success, the book is certainly inspirational, and mixed in with the story of his life are a few seeds of wisdom. The book won't rock your world, or at least it didn't rock mine, but it is an easy read and at times insightful.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Author Josh Waitzkin has mastered two complex, esoteric disciplines: chess and tai chi, a martial art. He won national chess titles as a youth, and national and world championships in "push hands," or partner tai chi. In this book he presents his theories about learning and high level performance, using as a case study his own rise to excellence in highly competitive sports. Even without the theoretical speculation his story is engaging - but his theories make the book useful to anyone trying to learn a new skill. getAbstract recommends it to those who wish to raise their level of performance, find out about mind-body connections or enjoy a good story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENCE 2 July 2014
By Jet Lagged TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent book on the subject of excellence and peak performance, viewed through the prism of Waitzkin's own experiences and achievements.

Josh Waitzkin achieved fame when his father's book "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was made into a film.

In addition to his chess achievements, Josh went on to become a highly proficient martial arts expert. This is a guy who has walked his talk - par excellence. What can I say except "RESPECT!"

This book here under review also features his interesting take on the chess training methods of Mark Dvoretsky. It is the first time in print I have seen these methods intelligently questioned. ( Dvoretsky was at one stage a guest of the Waitzkins in New York).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think about how you learn 16 July 2013
By Wizzle
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Others have criticised this book as being more of a biography than a book which tells you how to learn. Although the book is presented in the narrative of the authors life, I think anyone who has attempted to learn a particular game or skill can very much relate to what the author is saying, its very easy to draw parallels between what is described in the book and your attempts to get good at something.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 14 days ago by L morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading!
I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it interesting & inspirational. Autobiographical and a self hep book in one. Inspired me to go to a Tai Chi class next week!
Published 20 days ago by Michael Brewer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A very interesting book
Published 1 month ago by Barbara Streek
2.0 out of 5 stars Book is more of a biography than ideas about learning
The author has made clearly a book that is his own biography. The catchy title ahs got nothing to do with the actual content.
Published 1 month ago by akmar
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read.
Published 2 months ago by Yvonne Sanders-Hamilton
2.0 out of 5 stars This book does not teach the art of learning...
This book does not teach the art of learning. It is anecdotal. 'I did this, I did that'. A semi interesting autobiography, but little practical value as a how to hands on manual. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Colin Reed
4.0 out of 5 stars Really funny
Not exactly what one would think, a good read, useful information and some really good humour here and there to boot!
Published 3 months ago by Shawn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, well worth a read
Published 4 months ago by Stephen
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5
Enjoyed the read was entertaining and insightful especially when performing your best amidst distractions and annoyances, the only thing I thought he was behind on when it comes to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Harry Twain
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice true story
More of a novel where you learn things along the way.
Published 6 months ago by TomU
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