Founded by award wining lecturer and author Adisa Banjoko, the HHCF is dedicated to providing an inclusive setting for individuals to interact, play and develop life strategy skills with people they perceive as mentors.
“Despite the school system’s best efforts and intentions, and the efforts of overworked parents, the past generations have suffered from lack of suitable education and essential resources required for a successful life,” states co-founder Adisa Banjoko. “We recognize that chess, martial arts and hip-hop unify people from multiple cultural, religious and social backgrounds. These black and white squares do not care what color you are or if you are rich or poor. The only thing they ask is that you come with your strategy, your patience and your skills.”
Along with recreational activities, the Hip Hop Chess Federation also provides life strategy workshops and sponsor-supported education scholarships. Studies show chess provides invaluable life lessons such as patience, personal accountability, focus, emotional intelligence and understanding the consequences of one’s actions before one acts.
After nearly two years in the making, the Hip Hop Chess Federation launched its nationwide tour on February 23, 2007 in San Jose, CA. Rappers, movie producers, mixed martial art (MMA) fighters and other entertainers volunteered their time to support the community, including world renowned DJ QBert, international chess Master Vinay Bhat, Casual from the legendary Hip-Hop group Hieroglyphics, award-winning filmmaker Kevin Epps and martial artists champions Denny Prokopos and Alan “Gumby” Marques. These names drew crowds from all over California, and overflowed the Martin Luther King Library beyond capacity.
“The inaugural event was so far beyond our expectations. We knew that the goal of expanding the minds of today’s youth could be reached through such an event, but I was amazed at the response during and after the tournament,” Libiran adds. “We’ve received requests from New York, Chicago, Texas and even London to bring the tournament to their cities. It is amazing, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.”
BJPenn.com sat down with Adisa and talked about his chess and jiu jitsu programs, reminisced about training with BJ and members of the Penn family, his organization, and issued a challenge to MMA fighters.