Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I played chess recently against a 13 year old and, let me tell you, it's not that much like Jiu Jitsu for me.  Sure, your moves are all interrelated and you have to think and be intuitive at the same time.  And, yeah.  A game plan/strategy is essential and there really is a progressive knowledge base that is critical to the game.  But, in the end, I wasn't able to choke the sh*t out of my opponent. Maybe, metaphorically, but that just isn't the same.

Chess is indeed like Jiu Jitsu for all the reasons I denoted above and many more.  The two often get compared to one another, and that's a true compliment to BJJ.  The concept of overcoming the bigger, stronger opponent using leverage and a better strategy is something the GM, Helio Gracie emphasized tremendously.  And, it applies to chess as well.  Go figure.

No one, in our opinion, exemplifies these concepts better that our friend Adisa Banjoko and his HHCF, i.e., Hip Hop Chess Federation.  These guys embody the idea and put it in motion by teaching chess and BJJ to inner city/underprivileged youth.  And that kicks ass.  They teamed up with CRTL Industries to make a sweet film and you should watch it.

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking a lot about the similarities between chees and jiujitsu lately. Now, I'm not a world class competitor in either but the more I train in jiujitsu the more I see the similarities. Take closed guard as an example. If I'm on the bottom I'm not going to attack straight away. I simply can't launch an effective attack initially because my opponent has good posture and is limiting my upper body movement. First, I must set up proper grips. I elevate my hips as much as possible to work my guard up the back. This to me is similar to developing a solid base of attack and defense by creating a solid pawn structure. At this point I have risked nothing, I have increased my ability to attack and have increased pressure on my opponent. Assuming my opponent counters with a King's pawn style opening (i.e. good base, grip center lapel and drive arm post into sternum, etc.) I must take a slower measured approach just like a closed King's pawn game. I can revise my grips in such a way to break my opponent’s lapel grip. This is similar to strategically positioning my knights or bishops. Next, I break grip and break posture. Check. My opponent must address the threat. As in chess, when you are checked you must reply. At this point I am one "tempo" ahead of my opponent, I have superior position and my opponent is one move behind me. I can anticipate how my opponent is going to react. Perhaps forearm across my trachea to make space? Tactically a good move but if I am anticipating it and set up my grips properly a few moves ago I can arm drag. My opponent was forced to move in a way that could be anticipated and capitalized upon. Take the back from arm drag. My opponent has essentially overextended his pieces to protect the king. By taking the back I have removed key pieces from the board. However, unlike chess my opponent can recapture his pieces so I must again move with deliberateness. From the back I again establish pressure with proper lapel grips, good body position and hooks. Very much like setting up a position in chess I have to do this in a specific order or my opponent will be able to escape. We are at the endgame now. Setting up a good cross lapel grip and controlling which way my opponent can turn is like setting up my rook on a specific file or column to limit the movement of the king to a specific region on the board. The body placement and hooks are supporting pieces to further limit movement. Eventually I can close in with all the pieces until no movement is possible like a bow and arrow choke. Like chess I win by making movement impossible for my opponent. Checkmate. I didn't do it with any one specific move or even chaining several moves together. I did it by establishing superior position, slowly creating pressure, capitalizing on my opponents predictable defenses, establishing an even more superior position, creating even greater pressure and finally finishing. Looking at jiujitsu in this way has taken me from performing individual moves to moving strategically. Combining attacks with advancing position and creating pressure all in concert with the understanding that they must all be used together to win against a skilled opponent.