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Chess is essentially a form of the Martial Arts

Kung-Fu is the term used to describe the Chinese Martial Arts, and its literal meaning is "work done". (pronounced 'Gung-Fu')

That is to say, it is the amount of work that you have put into something and the level of achievement you have attained.

Thus, if you hear a character in a Hong Kong action movie say that a person's Kung-Fu is strong, it is a direct comment on the amount of knowledge and training that the martial artist has absorbed, and not simply a remark about his/her natural fighting skills.

In the same way, a chessplayer's strength is not only an expression of their natural talent, but of their level of 'Kung-Fu'.

The chessboard and its rules represent the world we live in, and reflect the limited movements and ideas we are permitted to express within that matrix - similar to the limitations imposed on the martial artist by his own physiology and the laws of physics. It is a manifestion of both the Yin and the Yang - that which has form and also of the shifting nature of the formless.

It is the arena in which each chessplayer must learn what they can and cannot do - to explore the paths that are open to them and learn which ways are treacherous or impassable on their long journey towards the goal of enlightenment and self-improvement.

This striving, in combination with the person's natural inherent mental and emotional qualities, and possibly those of his/her teachers, is what determines a player's 'fighting style'...

...because in Chess, just as in Kung-Fu, there are many schools of thought, which in turn lead to many different systems and styles of fighting.

In both these mental and physical disciplines you will find many Masters with many students, all of whom appear outwardly to be engaged in the relentless pursuit of combat and the domination of others - but in reality, their ultimate quest is to be found in the search for truth, knowledge, wisdom and the mastery of one's self.

To concIude, if you wish to become a better chessplayer, maybe you should take a look at the philosophies and quotations of that supreme martial artist and most remarkable human being, Bruce Lee.

You may be surprised at what you will learn...


  • 11 months ago


    Speaking of chess yoga ...


  • 11 months ago


    I couldn't agree more. Wise people eventually realise being a good player is secondary in importance to being a good human being. As Bruce Lee points out, the measure of a person's achievement is their level of happiness and fulfilment.

    For all their intelligence, many chessplayers are not happy people. I'd much prefer if some of them did more of their 'Kung-Fu' on spiritual development, instead of lusting after 'fool's gold' - i.e. - the satisfaction of the ego, power, status, etc.

  • 11 months ago


    Very insightful and well-written!   This reminds me of a recent post in which I mention chess as a type of yoga we can use to become more aware of, and work on, our mental/emotional strengths and weaknesses.

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