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The Fighter's Mind: Inside The Mental Game (2010)

The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game (2010)
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Rating
4.08 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0802119352 (ISBN13: 9780802119353)
languge
English
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publisher
Atlantic Monthly Press
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The Fighter's Mind: Inside The Mental...
The Fighter's Mind: Inside The Mental Game (2010)

About book: Unlike others sports books I've read where the author is a "fly on the wall", Sam Sheridan places himself not only in the story while profiling these world class athletes, but he trains with them. As a reader, when Sam writes about going to Thailand to train muy Thai he takes me with him and I feel like I'm the one training in Thailand (minus the jet lag and knees to the face). This isn't just a book profiling famous fighters, it's a book uncovering what is going on behind those eyes, which otherwise in the ring or on the mat would be enough to send most of us back under our childhood beds looking for safety. As a fight fan and someone who trains several times each week in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) I found myself studying the stories rather than just observing them. Sam profiled some top-of-class figures in the fight game (Dan Gable, Freddie Roach, Marcelo Garcia, Renzo Gracie, Andre Ward, Randy Couture, and more) and his interviews skipped the "how do you train, what keeps your motivated" which have all been asked too many times, and he asked things like, "what's it feel like to break someone's will?". My favorite interview was that of Josh Waitzkin, the chess prodigy who was the inspiration for "In Search of Bobby Fischer". The lessons and mental acrobatics he learned and mastered in chess as a child he uses today in hand fighting (which sounds really lame actually) and BJJ as a brown belt (which ain't no joke, son). I was particularly enthralled when Waitzkin shared how he analyzed his chess opponents by watching them get caught in a rain storm. If they ran for cover, they were "Control Players" and if they just rolled with it they were "Chaos Players". Once he knew that, while playing chess he would throw them off their games by introducing chaotic or controlled patterns. Conclusion: If you're a fight fan or a psychology fan (without a queasy stomach) check this book out. There's a good chance you'll enjoy learning about one of your favorite fighters. This book could also provide you insight on how to get a psychological edge over your opponents if you're a fighter yourself. The Fighter's Mind is a book about competition fighters, mostly mixed martial arts fighters, and how they think about their sports. While the book includes an ultra-marathoner and a chess champion turned martial artist, it is mostly MMA guys, but with an open mind, anyone interested in excellence can take something away from this book.First, though, let me caution the reader about the book. There are no simple answers to metnal toughness, no summation paragraphs of 12 easy tools. Those books are out there. This one is more a compilation of stories from other people who have sought it themselves. There are lessons to be learned. Some contradict each other, but it leaves room for the reader to exercise. Second, this is a book on collegiate and professional sport fighting. Martial artists and self-defense enthusiasts may be disappointed by all the talk about getting into the ring or on the mat. It is about dedicated prize fighters. What this means is that there is a knowledge that the figting is primaily done in a controlled situation and people train extensively for it. The lessons here may or may not be as useful for someone wondering how to deal with a road rager at a highway rest stop. Third, the author, Sam Sheridan, does not claim to have the answer and does not come up with consistency across the people he interviews. But it is those interviews that make the book worthwhile.The chapter with Dan Gable would make this book worthwhile to any collegiate or Olympic wrestling fan. It is interesting to here Gable talk abotu how some guys can make up for a lost workout or two. It is disappointing that he gives so few clues as to how they do it. Maybe the real lesson in this chapter is how the intensity that can make one great also can force someone to go too far. Gable was a dominant wrestler and coach, so don't read too much into the above sentence before you read the chapter.Reading how Josh Waitzkin went from chess to competitive tai chi (who knew there was such a thing?) to jiu-jitsu was interesting. He talks about how to read opponents in chess and fighting and how to draw out an opponent by using the opponent's strength.There is a predictable chapter on the Gracies and a good one on Randy Couture approaching fighting as problem solving, but one of the best is the chapter on Pat Miletich and his fighter, Rory Markham. In this chapter he talks about what happpens to a fighter when he loses. Since we can't all be Marciano-like undefeated champions at the struggles we enter, this is an important chapter. "The defining moment for a fighter isn't victory, but the way he deals with defeat," Sheridan writes, and in this chapter, he has some ideas on how to practically handle it. I think that athletes in individual sports could draw alot from this book. Fight fans and team sport athletes would probably enjoy it as well. Just don't come looking for easy answers, because Sheridan makes it clear that there aren't any.
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Reviews
Tiger1249
A friend gave it five stars, but I forgot that we are very different people :) Not for me.
jessye
cool book about pain and perseverance. Interesting view of top athlete's mind.
MiyoKatsune
End wasn't that strong but interesting perspective and insight throughout
heej12
Great book. Very inspirational. One of the best books I've ever read.
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