The Tim Ferriss Show: Josh Waitzkin Interview (#2)

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ABOUT JOSH WAITZKIN

Joshua Waitzkin is an American Chess Competitor, Tai Chi Push Hands World Champion, and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under 9-time World Champion Marcelo Garcia. He won the U.S. Junior Chess Championship in 1993 and 1994. The movie Searching for Bobby Fisher is based on his early life.

Josh moved away from Chess after being put on the spotlight early in his life and wanted to explore the art rather than win all the time. He took up Tai Chi Push Hands and became a World Champion. He condensed his learning strategies and wrote a book called ‘The Art of Learning‘. He moved into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has a BJJ Academy in New York City.

Apart from this, Josh runs a non-profit organization and is a consultant for top-performing people in the world of Finance.

QUOTES FROM JOSH WAITZKIN FROM THE EPISODE

  • “To be world-class (in any art) is to express the core of being through the art”
  • “I’ve learned even more deeply the importance of the lesson that there are many paths to greatness”
  • “If you’re at a much higher level than someone, you can always seem mystical because you’re doing things which are outside of their conceptual scheme”
  • “I’ve built a lifestyle around being true to myself”
  • “Listen deeply, internally to the core of your being and build your game plan from there. Trust your gut and then build a lifestyle around listening to that.”

REASON FOR WRITING ‘THE ART OF LEARNING’

  • Josh Waitzkin conceived of the idea of the book two years into his Martial Arts training
  • When Josh moved from competitive Chess to studying it to meditation to studying East Asian Philosophy and then into Tai Chi Chuan and its martial application which is Push Hands, he began to experience that his level in Chess began to translate directly into the Martial Arts.
  • Once when Josh was two years into his Tai Chi training, he was giving a Chess Exhibition in Memphis, Tennessee where he was simultaneously playing 45-50 boards and about 40 minutes into the simultaneous games he began to feel that he was riding the energetic wave of the game like he was in his Tai Chi Push Hands training. He wasn’t playing Chess and thinking in Chess language but was playing beautiful Chess without consciously thinking about it. He had a realization where the barriers between the art of Chess and Martial Arts dissolved in his mind and that was when he had the idea of writing the book, ‘The Art of Learning’
  • He spent 5 years of taking notes to deconstruct what he was doing intuitively into something that could be replicated systematically

FOUR DIMENSIONS OF JOSH WAITZKIN’S LIFE

  1. His relationship with his son, Jack which is the most important for him
  2. His Non-profit Organization run under the JW Foundation which is ‘The Art of Learning Project’ that runs hundreds of programs in the USA and Internationally focusing on Individual and Thematic relationship to learning. The Organization works closely with Parents and Teachers to make this possible.
  3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School (The Marcelo Garcia Academy) that he began with the 9-time World Champion, Marcelo Garcia in New York City
  4. Consulting Business where he works with people in the Finance world focusing on the last 1% of the learning process which is his specialty

THOUGHTS ABOUT MARCELO GARCIA

  • Both Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin are admirers of Marcelo Garcia and his Grappling skills
  • Josh Waitzkin calls Marcelo the Michael Jordan of the Grappling World
  • Josh Waitzkin says that Marcelo Garcia may be the most Kinesthetically overdeveloped person he has ever come across
  • Josh Waitzkin talks about how he could catch a lot of World Class Players with his repertoire of shots from Tai Chi Push Hands but with Marcelo Garcia, he could not recollect being able to catch Marcelo with one move more than once
  • Josh Waitzkin attributes Marcelo Garcia’s ability to look at multiple transitions from one position in BJJ to his way of training where he isn’t looking to dominate his training partner, rather is working on transitions all the time to see new things he can attempt
  • Josh Waitzkin compliments Marcelo Garcia for his ability to turn off and turn on his focus at will. He recounts the time during a Semifinal of the World Championship when people were looking for Marcelo and he was sleeping on the Bleachers and they woke him up and he stumbled to the ring for his match and turned his focus on intensely at will.

KEYSTONE HABITS RECOMMENDED BY JOSH WAITZKIN FOR PEOPLE IN THE FINANCE WORLD

  1. Meditation
  2. Ending the day with High-Quality Work
  3. Leaving something left at the end of the day to tap into the creative process at the beginning of the next day
  4. Learning to Turn Off (Stress Recovery throughout the day)

JOSH WAITZKIN’S FAVOURITE BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE

PEOPLE LIVING/DEAD FROM WHOM JOSH WAITZKIN WOULD LOVE TO TAKE ADVICE

  • His friend Dave (without the last name) from the Finance world
  • Gandhi
  • Lao Tzu
  • Buddha
  • His Mother

OTHER QUOTES FROM THE EPISODE

  • “If you’re studying my game, you’re entering my game and I’ll be better at it than you.” – Marcelo Garcia
  • “Music is the space between the notes.” – French composer Claude Debussy
  • “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” – Cus D’Amato
  • “When in doubt, leave it out.” – Tim Ferriss on Writing

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