The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game
By Sam Sheridan
The Fighter's Mind is Sam Sheridan's vastly superior followup to his first book on martial arts, A Fighter's Heart, both of which are available at the YMT library. For this book, Sheridan traveled all over and interviewed a wide variety of fighters and trainers from vastly different backgrounds and focused on mentality around fighting and training. Very insightful look at the mental processes of some top level fighters and trainers, such as Freddy Roach, Kru Mark Dellagrotte, Renzo Gracie, and even a little bit from Jongsanan "The Woodenman" Fairtex.
"Fighting is fifty percent mental." Through the ages, grizzled fighters and veteran trainers have said words to that nature to eager young fighters, to reporters, to anyone who would listen. Tim Sylvia, a former UFC Heavyweight champion said, "Fighting is ninety percent mental, half the time." We've all heard it from a dozen different places.
But what do they mean? Fighting is two guys in a ring or cage smashing each other, the ultimate physical endeavor. It's meat on meat. How could something so physical be more mental than physical? What do all these professionals intend to convey with the word "mental"? Is it an empty cliche?
This book is an attempt to answer that question, a question that appeared simple but began to unfold into peeling layers of complexity. It started as a purely selfish quest; I was curious. After a few months of interviews and talking to great fighters I began to see the universal nature of the answers. The more you look around, the more you see that everyone is fighting something."
Got Fight? The 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat
By Forrest Griffin
Okay, okay, hear me out on this one. I know it's written by a seemingly typical MMA guy, but this book is totally worth checking out. He's pretty much a regular average dude who has enjoyed a decent amount of success in MMA based on working hard, being committed to training, and good old mental toughness. Griffin's self-awareness, his witty, somewhat cynical humour and his informal writing style make this book a quick, easy read. There are some surprisingly poignant anecdotes and also lots of legitimately good advice for average, unathletic people looking to compete in a combat sports like Muay Thai. This book made me giggle, and also made me think.
Excerpt from the inside cover:
" Wondering why you should purchase this book when there are other titles on the shelves written by much higher-caliber fighters? Well, I'm not as good looking as those guys. I'm not as smart as them. I'm also not as athletically endowed. And let's face it, neither are you. Those other fighters are pretty much better than you in every way. But you can aspire of be as good of a fighter as me one day. Why? Because I'm nothing special, just like you."
"I'm not sure if I'm humble, have a really good self-understanding, or just have a tremendous amount of self-loathing. All I know is that I can see what I am as well as what I am not. I realize I've had some good fights, but I have never fought miraculously like Anderson Silva... I've never had a reign of terror like Chuck Liddell. And the reason is simple - I'm not as gifted as those guys. I push my body and mind to their limits in training, but I'm not so delusional that I think I'm the best fighter to have ever walked the planet.
Being honest with yourself is the best way to live life because it keeps you from having massive falls. After all, if you think you are unbeatable, and then get your ass served to you on a platter, your whole world comes crumbling down. That's when the excuses start to flow, but who is buying them? No one. Not yourself, not others. If you can admit to yourself that you simply got beat by a better fighter, it dissolves the lies and allows you to be a happier person.
Although it is depressing to admit to yourself that you will never be the best, it is liberating at the same time. Instead of trying to be better than everyone else, which is existentially arrogant, you can focus on being the best that you can be.... You can take pride in every accomplishment. What more could you ask for?
...If you choose to ignore this advice and treat the world as though you own it, when you do fall, everyone is going to kick you while you're down. If you're humble in defeat, everyone may still kick you, but they won't kick you as much."
See you in the gym.