Customer Reviews: The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game
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on February 9, 2010
The Fighter's Mind is an incredible look at the mental part of competition and life. Through the lens of combat sports, Sam Sheridan goes around the world in search of answers to various questions about how top personalities think about fighting. The book is laid out in the form of short sections about each of the people that Sam talks to. People like Dan Gable, Freddie Roach, Greg Jackson, Renzo Gracie, and Randy Couture answer Sheridan's excellent questions with thoughtful and insightful responses that are presented in such a way that you get a very good look at how they think about the fight game and what in their lives have made them reach that point.

Sam also covers areas outside of fighting, but areas that are thematically related. He talks to David Horton about endurance running, and he talks to Josh Waitzkin about moving from chess to tai chi to jiu-jitsu. In each section, Sheridan lets the subject be as concise or explanatory as they need to be on the page. He interjects his own experience into the responses, always at the correct time and always with an astute bit to enhance what the passage is about.
I'd say that this isn't just the best combat sports book I've read. This is the best sports book I've read. It's the best psychology book I've read. It is as thorough a meditation on the human passion for fighting and testing oneself as has ever been written. If you are at all interested in mixed martial arts, boxing, traditional martial arts, the human mind, or competition, you owe it to yourself to check this book out. As far as Sam Sheridan's catalogue of modern combat sports goes, I can definitely say that he is the A.J. Liebling of this generation.
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on September 1, 2011
With interviews from some of the best fighters and trainers in mixed martial arts and boxing, The Fighter's Mind is replete with the insights and words of wisdom of the elite in the fight game. The author travels to different top-notch gyms across the country, asking about the mental side of fighting.

With interviews from Frank Shamrock, Freddie Roach, and Greg Jackson and many others, you get to go briefly inside the minds of the best of the best. At about midway through the book, however, you pretty much get the point: if you want to great at fighting (or anything) you need to have a burning desire to be great, an obsession, really. That obsession, coupled with unshakable self-confidence in oneself, is what creates champions (among other things, of course).

The only problem I had with this book is that it kinda lost steam towards the end. After reading about two-thirds of the book, you begin to see the common thread between elite warriors, and it starts to get a little redundant. Ok, work very hard, want it more than anything else, and just believe, never give up...gotcha. And some fighters spoke of fighting in a very philosophical, poetic way that didn't make much sense, or at least not at first. The author goes into that tangentially in the final chapter titled "The Long Koan."

Overall, a decent book. It has all the ingredients to inspire and motivate, even if you have no serious interest in fighting.
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on May 13, 2013
What follows are thoughts that occurred to me while reading The Fighter's Mind by Sam Sheridan.

We are all fighter's. Life is a fight. A struggle. This is what many of us fail to realize. In so many ways we have become quite comfortable, even those of us who are failing in life are doing so comfortably - we are not threatened by starvation or abject poverty - we are "losing" in life amidst the comfort of big screen TV's, take out pizza, air conditioning and material abundance. Many of us are unhappy at the deepest level, but we bury the urge for change. We are propelled by the need to pay our bills and distracted by a cornucopia of novelties, pleasures and escapes. Time keeps ticking as we pass our lives away inside these velvet cages.

What we want and most desire is possible. The cage door is not locked. We want change but fear stepping outside - into the unknown - into the possibility of failure. We are waiting - desperately - for someone to open the door for us, assure us that it is safe, to pave a way toward our dreams with no threat of failure. We believe that change comes from the outside - from someone or something ( a new law, a new leader, a new job, the lottery) - and spend our lives enviously dreaming, waiting, watching and lamenting those "lucky" ones who are living their dreams.

You must be willing to fail in order to grow, to become everything you are capable of being.

Attainment of our dreams and desires requires persistence, heart, courage, conviction, discipline - you have to be willing to FIGHT for it!

That is the essence of life, it is "the fight." It is why I love MMA - no long-term contracts, no security, no pension - pure, raw life. Work hard, fight hard, learn and show up - everyday - and you will grow. If you also have talent, you may even succeed. No guarantees. That is the truth of life. We live in a world that craves security. What a fighter knows is that there is no security - you must forge your heart, mind and body every day in preparation to earn your way.

The utopian dream of a "fair" world runs deep in our minds. We want tenure, pensions, health care benefits - we want to be cared for by our government or employers. Why? So we can live as children. If someone else carries the burden of responsibility - then we are free to focus on our fantasy football league.

Those who truly succeed in this life do one thing before anything else - they accept full responsibility for their lives. The beauty of MMA is that NO ONE can help that fighter when the cage door closes - they are either prepared and ready to do battle - or not. What most of us fail to accept is that this is true of life. We are either ready for what the world is going to hand us - or we are toast. This lack of acceptance of reality has, in my opinion, led to the explosion in mental illness and addiction - people overwhelmed by the world and lacking the tools to deal appropriately either shutdown or hide - its like a collective PTSD.

The fighter's mind is forged through effort, through loss, through discipline and mentoring. The ability to survive - and thrive - begins when we acknowledge what we do not know and willingly engage in the process of learning and accept the long struggle to knowing. You might get your ass kicked a time or three, but learn from it what you need and move on.

Movies have made us believe that we can overcome our demons in 90 minutes. The reality is that it takes years - possibly a lifetime - to defeat the enemies within.

That is the nuts and bolts it all. If you want to succeed - humble yourself, be patient, be willing to accept defeat, be open to learning, be disciplined in the pursuit and remain patient. No magic bullet. No secret trick. Just hard work and dedication.

I have been a member of the mass mind for all of my adult life. As a child I held a sense of honor - I would fight for my principles - I would not think in terms of winning or losing, but of right and wrong, if it was wrong I would step in and take a stand. As an adult I have lived in fear - walking the line of "safety" - unwilling to take a stand - waiting for "someone else" to step in and make changes - to save us (me). I have been depressed, anxious, afraid, confused, angered by "unfairness," resentful, envious and mostly discouraged.

I have decided to change. The Fighter's Mind has helped me see that the fight is worth it. I must surrender the outcome and be at peace with the struggle - to accept it as my foe and become dedicated to its defeat. Embrace the struggle!

It is in the work that change occurs, not in the desire for change. If you are one of those people who has read all of the self-help books but remains mired in defeat - this book is a worthwhile read. You will see that there are no new ideas, no insights that will bring change in your life - it is only disciplined, courageous effort in the face of your demons.We all want an easier way out- and many profit by promising us one - but none exist. The Fighter's Mind provides insight into what it really takes to thrive in life. Read it, and its companion, A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting,and you will have a clear vision of the "struggle" and of what real hard work and dedication look like.

Stay Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.
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on July 28, 2014
Mr. Sheridan abandoned the thrill of the fight for the thrill of the interview in the sequel to "A Fighter's Heart." Surprisingly it lead to a more enlightening and fun experience. The interviews are well thought out, featuring talents ranging from MMA champs and coaches, chess and jujitsu masters, and even olympic champions and ultra-runners. The variety keeps things interesting leading up to a well thought out conclusion. A great read for anyone who competes at anything.
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on June 11, 2014
Sam's fighter series of books is great. It went inside the mindset and structure of a fighters life before it became as popular as it is now (2014). I read his books a few years back, but look back on them fondly now that I'm done with training and competing at a amateur level.
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on January 10, 2013
Sam Sheridan is amazing author. I really enjoyed his book A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting and recommend it to anyone interested in MMA. This book gives you an in depth look into the mental game of fighters. The books also helps you to think differently in life (it does not just relate to fighting but everyday aspects of life). I can't wait till he writes a new book.
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on February 6, 2014
Very similar to a Fighter's Heart, but different side of the training.

Very good book. The author interviews multiple fighters in multiple disciples and talks about their mind game.

The stories in this book not only apply to fighting but to life itself, like the author says, we're all fighting for something.

Definately recommend.
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on September 29, 2011
As Bobola said, this is a must read for those who's hobby/profession is in sports or psychology.

Each chapter Sam generally focuses on lessons learned from interviewing a fighter. Since fighters spend a lot of time with each other, other fighters' advice always find their way in there. Regardless, some chapter's advice is pretty straight forward (out work your competition), yet other chapters provide real gems.

For example, one chapter discusses an experiment on kids. One group was told they were special, that they are intelligent just for who they are. Another group weren't taught they were special, but taught how to incrementally improve. When faced with defeat, the incremental kids bounced back quicker...that the *inheriently special* kids were "brittle". What does that tell you about how to train fighters, how to raise children, etc. in this narcissistic-riddled country.

Finally, the book kept surprising me. I liked that. For example, Frank Shamrock's entrance to MMA was pretty late in his life, plus he initially had an aversion to violence...and yet he overcame all that so QUICKLY that he dominated the sport (probably before his prime!).

So why only four stars? I dunno. It felt like Sam was trying to please too many audiences. There were quite a few passages that I just didn't care about. But to me, four stars means it's a darn good book...and important too.
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on August 22, 2011
I was hesitant at first given my dislike of the authors writing style in his first book, I gave this book a shot and was not disappointed. The author focused less on himself and more on the actual fighters. We didn't have to hear about his constant problems with injury or excuses. This was a much better story of the actual fighters and the mental aspect of their sports.
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on October 17, 2012
This a a great look at the concept of excellence or mastery. The author is a Brazilian jujitsu guy so there is a lot of attention paid to BJJ and MMA which gets boring if you're not also into that but the tenants and principles are well founded and well thought out. There is some repetition in the book but I didn't find it as bothersome as other reviews I've read of it. To me the repetition worked well to further support the points this author was making. There are no great discoveries here just reaffirmation of old principles but they are things we all need occasional reminders of.
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