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Could Chess Boxing Defuse Aggression in Arizona and Beyond?

By Andrea Kuszewski for Scientific American

Teleportation, cloaks of invisibility, smell-o-vision, 3D printing, and even holograms, were all ideas first imagined in science fiction—and now are real products and technologies in various stages of development by scientists. While this is common in fields like experimental physics, it isn’t as often that cognitive neuroscience and applied psychology score insights from this fantasy genre.
Chess-boxing, a hybrid sport combining chess and boxing, made its first appearance in the pages of a 1992 sci-fi graphic novel by Enki Bilal,Froid Equator, or Cold Equator. Combining what is described as the number-one physical sport and the number-one thinking sport into one completely new hybrid, chess-boxing was meant to be the ultimate test of body and mind.
In 2003, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh wanted to give that idea life. He saw the potential for an incredibly challenging new sport that would require physical strength and agility, superior problem solving skills, and above all, unbelievable mental discipline and control. No longer just a sci-fi fantasy, chess-boxing is now one of the newest sport fads in Europe, quickly gaining popularity in the U.K. and the U.S.

The most awesome thing about chess-boxing—no, not the sci-fi roots, or the extreme physical skill and mental prowess necessary for dominance—is the brain-changing potential of the sport itself. The specific elements of chess-boxing—the nature of the execution of play as well as the training involved, have some exciting implications for the future of aggression management and preventative treatment of maladaptive behaviors.

The ability to control aggression, emerging from a boxing ring? This may seem unlikely, given that chess-boxing is a contact sport, but let me explain.

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