"...Brilliant creations are often born of small errors." - Josh Waitzkin
EARLY CAREER: CHESS
Josh Waitzkin first caught a glimpse of a chess set while 6 years old and walking with his mother in New York City's Washington Square Park. He was going to play on the monkey bars, and instead he fell in love with the art that would dominate much of his young life. Josh's first teachers were down and out hustlers--street virtuosos who took Josh under their wings and cleaned up their acts when their protégé came to play. The park guys taught Josh their aggressive, intuitive style of competition, which would remain his trademark for years to come. At age 7, Josh began his classical study of the game with his first formal teacher, Bruce Pandolfini.
From age 9 on Josh dominated the US scholastic chess scene. He won the National Primary Championship in 1986, the National Junior High Championship in 1988 while in the fifth grade, and the National Elementary Championship in 1989. At the age of eleven, he drew a game with World Champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition. At age 13, Josh earned the title of National Master. He won the National Junior High Championship for the second time in 1990, and the Senior High Championship in 1991, as well as the U.S. Cadet Championship (under-sixteen). Between the 3rd and 9th grades, Josh also led New York City's Dalton School to win 6 National team championships.
In 1993 Paramount Pictures released the film Searching for Bobby Fischer, based on the highly acclaimed book of the same title written by Fred Waitzkin, documenting Josh's journey to winning his first National Championship. That same year, at 16, Josh became an International Master and the U.S. Junior (Under-21) Co-Champion. In 1994 he won the U.S. Junior Championship and placed fourth in the Under-18 World Championship.
Since 1997, Josh has been the spokesperson, and the architect of the Josh Waitzkin Academy, for Chessmaster: the largest computer chess program in the world.
JOSH'S SECOND ART: TAI CHI CHUAN
At twenty-one, Josh began to transition away from his early career in chess and into the study of the chinese martial art, Tai Chi Chuan with Grandmaster William CC Chen.
He was drawn into the art by his love for eastern philosophy and meditation, and by the desire to begin a learning process anew, as a total beginner, away from the spotlight that constantly followed his chess career. In William CC Chen, Josh found the teacher that he had always searched for, "A great master with the humility and generosity that true ‘Quality’ is all about."
Initially Josh had no intention of competing in the martial arts, but there was no stopping the inevitable. For five years straight Josh was the Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands Middleweight National Champion in both the Restricted Step and Moving Step divisions. In December of 2002, Josh won the Bronze Medal in the Push Hands World Championship in Taiwan. In early November of 2003, Josh won the Gold Medal in the Push Hands division of the World Kuoshu Championships in San Paolo, Brazil. In July of 2004, Josh competed in multiple weight divisions at the National Championships in Orlando, Florida. He won an unprecedented total of 5 National Championship titles in the Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight divisions. Josh’s competitive Tai Chi life came to a dramatic climax at the 7th Chung Hwa Cup International Tai Chi Chuan Championships in Taiwan December 4-5 of 2004, where Josh worked through a brutal field and won the Middleweight World Championship title in Fixed Step Push Hands and became the Middleweight World Co-Champion in Moving Step Push Hands.
THE ART OF LEARNING
In 2007, Josh released his second book, The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, Simon and Schuster; Free Press.
The book is an autobiographical discussion of the learning process and performance psychology, drawn from Josh's experiences in both chess and the martial arts.
In 2008, Waitzkin founded The JW Foundation, an educational non-profit dedicated to an individualized approach to learning, and he currently serves as president of the organization. In addition to consulting internationally on the subjects of performance psychology, the learning process and creativity, Josh is currently focusing on his third art: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Josh is a BJJ black belt under World Champion Marcelo Garcia, the creator of MGInAction.com, and co-founder of The Marcelo Garcia Academy. When he’s not on the mats or with his beautiful wife and baby son, Josh loves free diving, paddle-boarding, skiing, and a good storm.