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08-05-2003, 08:45 AM
Hi everybody,

some things have been written about this issue, but no thread - at least none that I could find - has primarily adressed the similarities between Aikido and the fascinating game of Chess.

I am aware that the Japanese game of Go might have more in common with the spirit of Aikido, than Chess - but unfortunately in Sweden Go is not that common (and just being able to play over the I-net gets dissatisfying in the end) and therefore Chess is the board game I've settled for.

Ideally, chess would act as a non-physical way of improving mentally and spritually in an "ego-quenching", estethic and harmonious way that my Aikido could eventually benefit from.

What I would like to hear some opinions about is: Do you consider chess practise as beneficial for - and if you do, in which ways - your Aikido?

Thanks to all "forumers" for many hours of interesting - and inspiring - reading.


Dave Miller
08-05-2003, 09:34 AM
I had a sensei who used to say that karate was just "chess at 90 mph." :)

I imagine the same would apply to Aikido as well.

08-05-2003, 10:53 AM
Hello Magnus,

for Go in sweden - have you checked out http://www.abc.se/~m9742/Go/SwedGoInfo.html and the links leading from there?

I am not a chess-player but I am an addicted go-player. Are there resources (maybe threads on aikiweb - I couldn't find any) about Aikido and Go?

Actually I came to Aikido via Go - the game of harmony ;-)



08-05-2003, 11:21 AM
In a not-very-related-but-perhaps-somewhat-related manner.

Josh Waitzkin (who was the subject of the semi-non-fictional movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer") is an international master at chess. He started studying tai chi chucan with William Chen in 1998. Since then, he's won numerous national and intenational championships in push hands...

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
08-05-2003, 11:55 AM
I think aikido and judo (when applied properly) are very similar in strategy.

Given that your opponent is a biped, their recovery attempts (next move) after the beginning effects of kuzushi are always predictable.

If you have enough proper practice under your belt then you'll have way more sensitivity and awareness to where the possiblilities are for their foot to land next.

As in chess or go, you should then have one (or more) answers available in order for you to keep the sente (the lead). I usually feel that I have at least eight different directional possibilities that lead into waza every time uke makes a choice about where to put their foot next.

As you gain more experience, you will gain more and more sensitivity and acuity in your pattern recognition skills. This data base of patterns that you recognize gives you the ability to stay in the lead.

Of course, at the same time, you need the physical skills in fundamentals such as posture, movement, distance, timing, etc. to take uke's center/balance at first touch and keep the connection during the dynamic exchange. Uke should be trying to get the lead back at some point in your practice so that you get lots of practice in problem solving. If your practice style is that uke is a "throw toy" and doesn't have the right/obligation in your practice agreement to take the sente back when possible, then ignore most of what I just wrote.

Imagine playing a chess game with an opponent that intends to lose. This works well in drills (kata), but at some point there needs to be a real "game". That's what randori should be. Just like a chess or go match. Do it slowly and then as you gain skill, take it to "speed chess" if you want.

08-05-2003, 01:24 PM
Here are some more equally valid comparisons, courtesy of yours truly :


Aikido is like a game of cards. Although your chances of prevailing in a real fight with it are quite random, they can be increased with skill.

Aikido is like a stereotypical woman. It's about sensitivity and curves.

Aikido is like Adolf Hitler.

Aikido expands your awareness, and Adolf Hitler expanded a battered up Germany into an economic superpower.



Doug Mathieu
08-05-2003, 01:39 PM

Here is a thought.

If we want to connect playing chess with Aikido then before the game one of the players would agree to be the "attacker" consequentley getting the first move and is now uke.

The other player becomes nage and defends himself. The goal of his defense is to put uke in a position not of check mate where his chess piece is in an attack position on ukes king but rather nage positions his pieces such that uke's king cannot move without going into check and the rest of his pieces are neutralized so he effectively has to concede. All this done while keeping his and ukes loss of pieces to a minimum.

I have played some chess and I think the above would be really hard but then trying to apply Aikido and stay true to its goal of harming the attacker as little as possible is very hard too compared to other philosphies of defense.

It could be very interesting to see if playing like this would help develop the Mental outlook we stive for in Aikido.

I can see nage choosing chess moves where rather than remove one of uke's pieces he instead picks another move that lets the piece "live" and advances his stratgey at the same time.

Could be really cool.

08-05-2003, 01:57 PM
I hope there are not too many similarities between Aikido and Chess, because I hopelessly suck at the latter.

08-05-2003, 02:08 PM
More seriously, I have found a couple of elements of comparison.

- Chess strategy recommends to control the center of the board. I suggest being at the center of the "dynamic sphere" has something to do with it.

- 'Check' and the threat of capture play the same part as the threat of atemi in Aikido : it forces the opponent to move in the desired direction.

- Mobility is essential to win at Chess, and being cramped is the equivalent of locks, pins and control.

- Victory does not reside in the number of pieces captured but in taking a decisive advantage over the opponent.

08-05-2003, 02:17 PM
Magnus, check out this website and download the June Newsletter. There is an article in there called "aiki-chess". It talks about some of the things you are inquiring about.


In Aiki,

08-05-2003, 04:31 PM
Well, I think that aikido could be seen as a way of approaching conflict on the real world. Chess, on the other hand, is a world where there are two sides, and a set of rules (hopingly) knew by both.

In chess, as in the real life when you have a conflict, there are many ways of approaching the game. So the question could be "Can I use an aikido-like approach to handle a game of chess?

In my opinion, yes, you can. There has been even world champions (like Karpov or Petrosian for instance) as well as very strong players whose approach to chess is to build a strong position and then start "leading" the other side, giving it less options until itīs dead lost. But I think thatīs not really the point.

I think the best and real way of having an "aiki" approach to chess is, like in a real life conflict, by keeping your ego out of it. In chess this translates into donīt thinking of winning, donīt trying to "destroy" your opponent, just doing which plan-moves you think are best given the position. Forget about playing against a player, just play chess with the position, not against anything, just with the position. This way, if you focus properly, you will make the best play you can.

Of course, this goes a lot against competitive chess, not because you canīt win (I think this way if you can do it you will play stronger than with any other "more competitive" approach) but becouse somethimes what the position tells you is not what you want to hear. For instance, you know this or that ending is a dead-draw, but you "need" to win to get a price. Then you let this idea to come in, and you play an inferior but trickier continuation (like a feint for those of you that donīt play chess but amazingly had managed to read up to this point :)) and three things could happen: that the game is a draw after all, that you loose becouse your inferior continuation was inferior after all (this is justice in chess lol), or that your oponent makes a mistake and you win an undeserved price. But as much as those young but eager to win chessplayers tells, for me this is not chess, this is... something else.

08-05-2003, 04:37 PM
By the way, this was my first post and sorry for itīs lenght. Also english is not my mother tongue so no, I didnīt wrote it with my toes :).

Thanks for all those great posts and forums.

08-05-2003, 05:35 PM
The Chess game has its own Aiki rules

For example:

Attacking first wont necessary get you win the game, counter-attacking is very powerful when done correctly.

Openings favor that many ways to approach the game from the initial, players game have to be different, players personality is reflected on every game. (know people for its style).

So ej. When the Player faces one sensible inferior one, the Aiki is not to destroy its army, but to make it to surrender, or better, to use controlled force that will lead to a even game.

There have been Masters on "even" games for example that Petrossian above mentioned, who at his time was about to win Worlds Championship the guy barely won at his chess statistics but also he barely loosed any game

he climbed very high that way.

One can see people playing, defensive, ofensive, positional, tactical, exchange, combination, free king, sacrifice, natural, fixed etc.

When talking about begginners, club and semi-pro players there is more room for to talk about Aiki and for to make tricks to happen, at High level tournaments are so Damm hard the oponents are all great skilled the error margin is very little. Have you heard that when two sword masters have a challenge, both die, or one die and the other gets severily wounded, same.

Chess game Well played let you (barely exposed):

Control your emotions, same winning or loosing.

Teach how to attack and to defend properly without rush and loosing control.

Know how to work and maintain the Center, the use of diagonals open files and flanks.

The use of locks and unlocks skill.

Learn good timming to make combinations.

The sense of "underdevelopment" and "overextension".

Develop certain vision for to know wich decision make at determined situation.

Learn how to maximize resources when low, and how to deal with critical situations.

Above all teach you some martiality, galant attitude and humblenness. (the latter because some people beat you so bad)

This is vey somere, a true Master could laugh on this, but it is my kind contribution.


08-05-2003, 08:10 PM
One aspect I like about playing good chess is that every move you make should ideally force your opponent to make the move you want.

In other words, when a valuable piece is threatened, you either move it to safe location where you can threaten an opponent's piece, or, misdirect, and buy time by ignoring and threatening another piece -- that may buy you some moves to save your original piece under attack.

I like the "chess at 90mph" idea, but I'd hate to make to chess sound so trivial. :)


08-05-2003, 10:16 PM
At 90mph theres no time for planning, lack of deep but increases the skill of decision making, escaping quickly from trouble, inventing tactical tricks for to win the game.

Every martial practicioner should know how to play well or at least to learn the principles.

Awesome interesting this modality you know.


08-06-2003, 05:23 AM
There is the book Samurai Chess: Mastering the Art of the Mind (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0802775497/ref=lib_rd_ss_TBCV/002-7348936-8591220?v=glance&s=books&vi=reader&img=20#reader-link). It is written by Raymond Keene IGM/6th kyu and Michael Gelb 3rd dan aikido.

I glanced at it, but didn't really look at it, since I gave up chess for aikido. It (chess) was taking up too much of my life.

There is a ruthless seeking of truth, disregarding tradition, that is done in chess. This is could serve you well in aikido.

On the other hand, the "fashionable" opening study that you find in chess is also less fruitful for the individual, than the steady focus of studying certain limited items that you find in aikido.

08-07-2003, 04:25 AM
Thank you all a lot for your replies, they have made it clear that there truly exists many similarities between Chess and Aikido.

Interesting to read about Josh W (mentioned by Jun), since he is featured in the highly recommendable program "Chessmaster 7000".

I can also recommend the article suggested by Joe - very inspiring for chessplaying aikidokas!

I just HAVE to read "Samurai chess"!.



08-07-2003, 11:40 PM

ChessMaster started if I remember well from 5000 last is 9000 it is a very strong program, tutorials, voice, drills, thosands of world games,enciclopaedia, problems classroom, rated, counseling, have such beatiful boards.

I like Fritz alike (very strong), not having the beatiful interfaces from ChessMaster but it comes builded with a very funny voice at several languages that challenges and make serious and silly commennts during the game.

Therere many others: Junior, Hiarcs, Comet, Chess Milleniun, Chess Wars, etc.

Yes that Book Samurai Chess looks deep ideas, very interesting.