News From The 36th Chamber

Wu Wisdom: Different Methods of Learning

Teddy Stratis



The following is an excerpt from the Tao of Wu.

When I started making music, I knew nothing about making music. I didn’t know any music theory; I didn’t know where C was on the piano. Since then, I’ve studied music. I’ve become a Hollywood soundtrack composer, writing music for eighty-piece orchestras. But as soon as I started learning, in 1997, something in me changed. I used my new knowledge to create Wu-Tang Forever, but it’s not as critically acclaimed. What does that tell you? To me, it tells you to cultivate the novice inside you. Attack each chamber as a novice.

It’s important to try new things, things you don’t know how to do. With chess, I feel like I might have been better before I started studying. I realize that studying has given me a pattern. Before I started studying, I had no pattern—you never knew what I’d do. When I was practicing with a computer recently, I got up to 1650, that’s pretty good. That means I have only 350 to go to get to the master level. But I got some advice to study a certain opening—I studied it for a whole year. It was Josh Waitzkin. He’s a master, he told me to study this certain opening, and I did for a year. But all of a sudden it seems that I’m using that opening and I’m losing with it. Bad opponents, I wipe ’em out. But good opponents sometimes they’ll beat me with that opening.

The opening is called the King’s Indian Attack. I know it by heart. I used it against a Sicilian. It goes: 1) E4, the opponent responds C5, white moves; 2) D3, the opponent 8) white goes rook E1.

That’s the position. The opening I described would be best against the French opening, which is used by many masters. But most club players play Sicilian, which is why I put it in that order. Sometimes it’s wise to do an early queen E2, which is a very protective move.

Too many people coast through life, doing only what they know how to do. I always go back to the basics. After Wu-Tang won a Grammy, I began to formally study music—learning theory, how to read music, how to play guitar and piano. But now I try to erase what I know to increase myself. A new piano book I have is called Beginning Keyboard: Grade One. A new chess book I’m reading is titled My First Chess Opening. It’s for kids.

Additional Reading: My First Chess Opening

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16 comments


  • Gt

    Gr8 Insight & Inspiration


  • Luis Mercaco

    Rza!thank you let’s get this show started,bring it back home, Peace Lord!!!


  • Chandra

    I am a visual artist. My greatest professor had us complete an exercise where we were instructed to create from our own childhood mindset. Going back and trying to be free from all you have learned, which can sometimes become your boundaries, in an effort to get in touch with your raw creative self. It was one of my favorite exercises. The journey of learning can often take us back to our purest self. Rza, you create from that space and what you learn only maximizes your rawness which is your true gift. Thank you!


  • Thomas Adam

    Normally now i would sleep. ‘cause Im in Europe. But i had a Dream.: I was on top of a skyscraper and found no way down. I started thinkin about either i learn how to fly or i die- NO . This only a dream, but i always realize i have to learn. Either in mind or phisicly. My best way of studyin’ is that, Listen.


  • Deborah

    Crazy that you just posted this since I just read the seventh pillar of wisdom in your book last night. I left off at Love and Happiness in the conclusion, so these words stood out to me immediately. I connected with your events of ODB. I literally teared up in the metro because I’m witnessing the same events with my cousin ! This is a pay it forward lesson that I truly thank you for writing this book !!! I wish I can catch you at the pallidum in LA but they sold out and now it’s twice the resale value. I hope this message gets to you !! Wisdom and knowledge son ! THE WU TANG NATION !!


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