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The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game Hardcover – February 2, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sheridan (A Fighter's Heart) examines what contributes toward a successful mental approach in professional fighting, interviewing people such as mixed martial arts icon Randy Couture, legendary college wrestling coach Dan Gable, and tai chi master Josh Waitzkin. The author gains some interesting insights from his investigation. Losing, it turns out, is a crucial component behind a fighter's success. Confidence is fine, but ego is an evil thing, with humility being a great equalizer. Those interested in pugilistic psychology may find some value in Sheridan's reporting; for others, too often the sources' lessons sound similar, and the book frequently drifts into a lengthy, somnolent discourse on fighting styles. Sheridan also can't stay out of his own way; his first-person prose is clunky and long-winded. His misguided attempt to merge elements of memoir and sports journalism derails the book, keeping it from succeeding in either genre. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Starting with the premise, “We are all fighting something,” Sheridan follows his successful A Fighter’s Heart (2006) with a wide-ranging exploration of how great “fighters” succeed. Among those he profiles are 1972 Olympic gold-medal-winning wrestler Dan Gable, ultra-runner David Horton, mixed martial artist Randy Couture, 2004 Olympic gold-medal-winning boxer Andre Ward, and even chess wizard Josh Waitzkin (from Searching for Bobby Fischer). Some are defined not by their victories but by their defeats (boxer George Foreman); others need “killers in the room” (MMA champs); others win by a certain stealth (Ward)—not to mention thousands of hours of training. To explain just why these men do what they do, Sheridan says that fighting, in whatever forms that it takes, forces you to “learn who you are.” Like its predecessor, this book should find an audience well beyond the ring. --Alan Moores
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119353
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. E. Bobola on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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