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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you game?
I've often wondered why I'm driven towards karate and boxing. Based on Sam Sheridan's fine book "A Fighter's Heart," it seems I'm testing my gameness, enjoying purity of purpose, and examining my life and motives (and at 40, I may have also fallen short developmentally somewhere along the line).

On the surface, Mr. Sheridan doesn't appear to be the fighting...
Published on April 18, 2007 by Erik Olson

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started Strong & Then Gassed
The first chapters of this book with Sheridan's training in Thailand were very good. Unfortunately, the intensity doesnt continue throughout the book. This seemed to be a consequence of the authors injuries but the need to fill space was obvious with two chapters that had nothing to do with "A Fighters Heart".

The first was an ugly chapter on dog fighting...
Published on February 9, 2009 by N. Murphy


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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you game?, April 18, 2007
By 
Erik Olson "Seeker Reviews" (Ridgefield, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I've often wondered why I'm driven towards karate and boxing. Based on Sam Sheridan's fine book "A Fighter's Heart," it seems I'm testing my gameness, enjoying purity of purpose, and examining my life and motives (and at 40, I may have also fallen short developmentally somewhere along the line).

On the surface, Mr. Sheridan doesn't appear to be the fighting type. He grew up in a relatively stable family situation, attended Harvard, and likes to write. But he clearly wanted more excitement from life than cranking out human interest articles at the local bistro. Instead, he joined the Merchant Marines, got into wilderness firefighting, and along the way was bit hard by the fighting bug.

To indulge and understand his compulsion, the author traveled the world to try his mettle in various full-contact martial arts: Muay Thai in Thailand, MMA in Iowa, jiu-jitsu in Brazil, and boxing in California. In addition to testing himself in these potentially harmful venues, he also wanted to seek out other seasoned fighters and trainers for mentoring and instruction. He even checked out animal fighting and action movie stunt work to broaden his perspectives. Finally, Mr. Sheridan concludes his book with an analysis of why humans fight.

I found his detours into the more obscure aspects of fighting quite interesting. For example, he briefly explores the internal arts by studying under a Tai Chi master and engaging in Buddhist meditation at a Thai retreat center. These segues rewarded him with a greater understanding of body mechanics and a sharper mental focus. He even discovered commonalities between the various martial arts, such as the relationship between shadow boxing and kata. Mr. Sheridan's foray into stunt work for actor Paul Walker to understand the lure of action movies was also intriguing. And I enjoyed meeting the many fighters, teachers, and other colorful personalities he encountered.

Despite its superb insights, "A Fighter's Heart" suffers from two shortcomings. First, Mr. Sheridan kept getting injured, so he didn't engage in formal competition very much. Indeed, his physical limitations often relegated him to the role of observer and hanger-on. Also, his journey into the seamy world of dog and chicken fighting was an unwelcome diversion. The sweetest pet I ever owned was a pit bull, and I hate to see them tear each other up for money. To be fair, he made some interesting observations about this darker form of fighting. But I could've lived without it.

"A Fighter's Heart" is not only a fascinating look into various martial arts (and a good travelogue to boot), it's also a window of understanding into why otherwise sane individuals try to hurt each other. After reading this book, I'm more aware of the internal motivations and external forces that drive me towards karate, boxing (and even motorcycle riding). I recommend it to anyone who's curious about his or her own compulsion to face off against someone in the ring.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, February 8, 2007
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In this nonfiction book, Sam Sheridan ventures into the world of mixed martial arts. He is more than a journalist. From a Muay Thai camp in Thailand, to working with Pat Miletich in Iowa, he subjects himself to grueling training. He signs up for fights. He wins, he loses, he gets hurt.

"A Figher's Heart" is memorable, inspiring, and instructive. He points out - being a fighter is all about figuring our who you are, what works for you. It's interesting how that idea comes up again and again throughout the book, whether he is training in Asia or in Brazil. By studying seemingly unrelated arts - Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Chi Gun, the author discovers surprising parallels.

I found it very interesting to read about the psychological aspects of professional fighting. The author covers a wide range of topics - from intreviewing a boxer who had killed his opponent in the ring and how it affected him, to his own experience of preparing for a fight. If you haven't ever made a conscious decision to face crippling injury or even death before - this book will tell you exactly what it feels like, to step into the ring. If you have - it will make you want to buy this guy a beer. The part where he talks about an old injury - that kept haunting him, and maade him unable to continue a fight - almost made me cry.

The author doesn't stop there - he talks about dealing defeat, violence, dog fights, feeling alive, celebrity. This is the kind of book that makes you forget about your stupid day job and your cubicle, and makes you realize how good it is to be a man.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to the athlete, February 12, 2007
While Sam Sheridan's story revolves around fighting, the questions and themes he teases out apply to all athletics, and competition in general. What makes us compete? What makes us suffer? Maybe A Fighter's Heart is even more interesting to fighting fans, but as a non-fighter I can attest that it is enthralling.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started Strong & Then Gassed, February 9, 2009
This review is from: A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting (Paperback)
The first chapters of this book with Sheridan's training in Thailand were very good. Unfortunately, the intensity doesnt continue throughout the book. This seemed to be a consequence of the authors injuries but the need to fill space was obvious with two chapters that had nothing to do with "A Fighters Heart".

The first was an ugly chapter on dog fighting. Despite trying to draw comparisons between man and dog, it doesnt work at all. (In my own opinion, dog fighting seems more for those who dont have the courage to fight themselves.)

The second chapter with no ryhme or reason is the meandering narrative on being extras in a B movie with Miletich's crew. Thoughout it was obvious that Sheridan was searching for some way to end this book.

I would suggest that the author heal up and head back to Brazil or Thailand and get the experiences necessary to conclude this book without more references to Joyce Carol Oates. (The chapter on jiu jitsu was particularly brief since the author managed to get arm-barred by a white belt and disabled to the point of no longer being able to train?)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into why, March 17, 2007
This is a very aptly named book. It is not so much a book on fighting, although there is a lot about fighting in it, but it's a deeper insight into what makes a fighter tick.

I've never understood what makes a fighter tick. Why would someone want to take life and limb into a ring with just the goal of beating someone up? Mr. Sheridan can't answer that question for everyone, but he comes closer than most. It provides a bit of background and understanding for the famous Muhammad Ali quote:

'Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.'

Well, now I understand a little better, but I still don't want to go down the road he took.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic view into the realm of fighting!, March 16, 2007
I couldn't put this book down! Sam Sheridan has done a great job in his sweeping personal study of the Art of Fighting. I say this as someone who has boxed a bit, and know first hand what it takes to step into a ring. But this book is much more than that. It's part travel memoir, part fight diary, and really brings the reader full circle through his journey exploring both the physical, and equally important, mental aspects of combat sports. I highly recommend this book! It's high on my list next to Teddy Atlas' memoir and "The Gloves" by Robert Anasi.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great!, May 29, 2007
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I expected to share in the blood, sweat and tears with Sam as he journeyed through one form of fighting to the next, but with the exception of his experiences while muay Thai fighting, the rest of the book seemed like filler material to me. Without a doubt, Sam's an adventurous guy that has led a life that few lead, but 'A Fighter's Heart' is more about his commentary on fighting than his personal experiences fighting. Although I found the sections on dog and cock fighting as well as the chapter on fictional fighting to be out of place, the most disappointing chapter for me was the one detailing Sam's stint in Oakland. A rather long buildup results in Sam's anticlimactic first and only boxing match that was over in three rounds. At times, it occurred to me that a better title might have been 'A Fighter's Entourage', given that most of what Sam discusses is observations he has made while tagging along with other fighters' crews. I'm sure that Sam is tougher than your average tough guy, but he often came across as a journalist trying to finish a book.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Examining the soul of a fighter, February 22, 2007
By 
Jeff Bee (Newburyport, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This story outlines the young author's quest to understand what makes fighters tick. Following prep school graduation, Sheridan becomes a smoke eater fighting fires in the American West, a merchant mariner, crews on a yacht and winds up in Thailand where he studys Muay Thai boxing culminating in a fight with a Japanese ex-Judo champion.

Bored from the constant training, he travels to Iowa and meets some of the early MMA fighters.

Sheridan writes well with evocative descriptions of fighting techniques and the exotic locales his quest takes him. His exploration involves two segments on dog fighting and cock fighting, taboo subjects in our PETA publicity world. He does not advocate this but instead writes of the complex human/animal relationships of this shadowy world in the US that is popular across Asia.

Sheridan explores these topics as a literate observer and adds to the timeless theme of why men fight. I enjoyed the descriptions of mixed martial arts techniques and the quirky personalities of some of the early UFC stars.

It's not for everyone, but he sheds much light on fighting.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Technical Knockout & Fascinating Journey!, January 26, 2007
If you are a fan of the UFC, Pride or MMA (mixed martial arts), you will devour this book. It provides a fascinating first-person narrative into the world of fighting and the physical/psychological underpinnings of that experience. Harvard-educated Sam Sheridan seems to be an unlikely person to travel such a path, but his tale is literate and thoughtful, devoid of any macho-man posturing.

"A Fighter's Heart" strays toward the end with its foray into dog fighting and cock-fighting, but overall this is a fascinating book. Even with all the high-tech gadgetry than man uses to address conflicts, there remains an elemental fascination with fighting that political correctness cannot purge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why do men fight?, April 10, 2007
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This book is the story of a man's journey through various forms of combat and competition. The author, Sam, tells his story of travelling the world and investigating the culture of fighting positing questions like "Why do people fight?" while discovering things about himself and his own motivations along the way.

Sam's adventures can be relevant even to those who are not particularly interested in martial arts and can appeal far beyond martial arts enthusiasts to anyone who has an interest in the human condition. From the perspective of the author as a student of numerous martial arts philosophies throughout the story, we learn the common denominator of all forms of combat in which humans play a part (even a few involving animals, like dog fighting). The author does not hide the grim reality of injuries that result from participating in these martial arts, as he receives a good deal of punishment in the course of learning, all of the events that transpire are in the spirit of exploration of the common denominator.
Activities the author studies range from Tai Chi to Muay thai to western boxing to Brazilian Jujitsu and beyond. When I began reading the book I was mildly interested in the author's experience studying Muay Thai abroad, my initial motivation for reading the book, but by the end I could appreciate in more depth the motivations of practitioners of violence from MMA fighters to pit bulls.

There are several major appealing factors of this book.
1) It attempts to make hand-to-hand combat relevant even to the non-fighter
2) The sheer scope of styles covered can be a draw to anyone with a general interest in martial arts
3) Even those who do not condone physical combat can appreciate the honesty of of the author in his quest for understanding the fighting spirit
4) The author is a great storyteller, and spins his yarn to engage and relate to the reader

I'm a poor reader, generally speaking, but I could not put this book down once I started reading it. I highly recommend it.

I never too much interest in fighting before a couple months ago, but I recently started doing muay thai (kickboxing) and a friend told me about this book. If you're not a fighter, but have ever wondered why people make such a fuss over these brutal spectacles, this book will give you a peek into the mind of a fighter. If you are a practitioner of combative sports, I think you'll be able to relate to Sam, his questions, and his adventures all the more.
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A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting
A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting by Sam Sheridan (Paperback - January 21, 2008)
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