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A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,413 ratings  ·  144 reviews
In 1999, after a series of wildly adventurous jobs around the world, Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he’d spent it all. It occurred to him that, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession: fighting. Within a year, he was in Bangkok training with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai ki ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published July 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Khurram
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The only way a fighter could truly suffer is not fighting" Ryu Street Fighter Alpha 3. I know this quote is from a video game but it has always stuck with me and I think it sums up the message in the book brilliantly; also I love that game almost as much as I like this book. This book is excellent. It ticks all the boxes the subject is excellent, why people fight, excellent research from fighters, teacher, and even philosophers, covering the topic from all angles.

Sam Sheridan graduated from Har
...more
Lee
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not sure I like how the narrative flows throughout each of the chapters (seems to jump from one unconnected story to another), but I do like how Sam investigates the various fighting styles and seems to train with such enthusiasm. I think that Sam had a great idea by personally studying the different fighting styles, and I admire his perseverance. There was a bit on dog fighting that I didn't care for very much, and it didn't seem to make as much sense to me - the idea (I think) was that fig ...more
David Karpel
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Currently training in TKD and Krav Maga,as are my kids, and I constantly recommend martial arts to others. So when I saw the spine of this book poking out of a shelf at the thrift store, I was immediately intrigued.

Hooked from page one. Takes a you inside various arts, including MMA, muay Thai, BJJ, Tai Chi, describing the many intricate facets of each. His personal story and the perspectives of the practitioners gives the book heart and insight you don't get from magazine articles or watching
...more
Cody Lasko
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I guess I’ll go ahead and say it, this is one of the best non-fiction reads I’ve ever come across. Bias for the fight game and martial arts pushes this all the way into the territory of love.

I love this book.

Sam lives it and eloquently digs straight to the heart of fighting (pun meant thoroughly!). And the experiences to be vicariously had through this weaving story are tremendous to say the least.

Amazing for fight fans. Great for those interested in a quasi adventure tale, and good for those
...more
Matthew
Scratch. That's how dog trainers tell if their dogs have guts -- gameness -- in a fight. Dogfights run thus: the dogs go at each other to the point where they can't find any grips, or when one begins to turn away, to look for an escape. Then the trainers separate them, bring them about 14 feet apart behind 'scratch' lines. The dog that turned has to scratch, which means the trainer releases him first. If he goes for the other dog, he's still in the game. If he refuses to fight, he's lost.

I'm si
...more
NinjaK
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting tour across several continents. We follow the author on his personal journey through the world of professional fighting. I appreciate the author's willingness to try out a variety of styles and really get deep behind the scenes of professional fighting; and his own participation offers a unique perspective on the sport for laypeople.

The book is, by some necessity, male-oriented. I think there were 3 women mentioned in the entire book, and they were mostly throwaway comments, with
...more
Reynolds
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm a fight fan, and I love reading about different fighters, their mentality, and various fighting systems/techniques. But this book is in desparate need of an editor. I've heard the publishing industry has cut back on things like editors, and this book shows it. There is a serious lack of organization, the structure is horrible, it's at least 75 pages too long, if not more. An experienced editor could have made a really good book out of this - the material is obviously there. Compare this book ...more
Mona
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the most part, this was a great book and I identified with a lot of it. I don't mind that it jumped around from combart art to combart art or place to place. You got an understanding of all the things that Sheridan had experienced. I did not enjoy the dogfighting/cockfighting section and skipped over most of it. I get that he wanted to explain the concept of gameness but I think it could have been done in another way and perhaps without trying to justify the dogfighting as much as he did. Ot ...more
Beth McLoughlin
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I've been doing muay thai for a few years now, which was why I was curious to read this book. Sheridan starts his journey through the world of fighting in Thailand, where I went at the end of last year to train, and follows it to Brazil for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, spending time with US boxer Andre Ward and his trainer Virgil Hunter along the way.

There are moments of anti-climax, when Sheridan or the fighters he is hanging out with can't fight because of injury, but then the reality for most athlet
...more
Frankie
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I would've given a higher rating, but i had a real problem with the dog fighting section. Still not sure i understand why it was included in this. Well, no, i understand why it was there, i just don't understand "why". IF that makes any sense outside of my head. ...more
Stu
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The first half was great, but the chapter on dog fighting was awful and the chapter on being on a Hollywood film added nothing. Kind of soured the experience.
Christos
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the beginning of the book. Up to the part where he left Thailand and started exploring MMA. It seemed like this was a real effort to explore martial arts in depth and share the experience with the world. However, i could not get over how self involved this author became progressively in the course of the book. He tries to convince his audience that this is a genuine exploration of different martial arts with the goal of becoming a fighter. But that is not the case. He only has a couple ...more
Antoni
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book as it goes through the life of Sam Sheridan, and his fighting experiences. The book starts out with a 1st person interpretation of Sam Sheridan as he moves to Thailand to pursue a career in fighting. There he learns the discipline and responsibility of becoming a fighter and even wins his first fight. As time goes on and his visa expires he moves back to the United States and finds jobs in crazy places and even ends up working with a research team in Antarctica for som ...more
Jan
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I typically plan which books to read. This time I just picked up a book to browse it a bit, and before I knew it I was halfway through it.

I have always been interested in martial arts. The author actually went and did some serious study and fought some real fights, muay thai and MMA. He talks to and trains with some top fighters around the world and learns what makes them tic. He investigates what makes people (men, mostly) engage in a fist fight and brutalize other men they don't even dislike.
...more
Theo Kokonas
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A must-read if you've got even a passing fascination in the martial arts. There were parts of the book which were real page-turners and kept me reading until really late.
The general structure of the book was a little disjointed; the directions the author took seemed to coincide with where his funding opportunities led rather than where the story would logically go. I found the final chapter somewhat weak because of this; however the chapters that really gripped me more than made up for this. Fu
...more
Allison
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, mem-bio
Readers experience a gamut of emotions following the author of this perfectly-titled book, exploring why fighters fight, why spectators watch fights (humans, dogs, even roosters), and even what makes for interesting cinematic fighting. It's really an ethnography of fighting, written primarily for an audience of people who already love fighting. The journey is colored with convincing versimilitude, but its the big ideas in the concluding chapter that make this a satisfying read. ...more
Tony
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I earned a black belt in taekwondo back when I had surging testosterone levels. But it takes more than simply brute force to put oneself through the martial rigors. Discipline, courage, dedication make an appearance too.

The author does well recounting his extended forays into a number of fighting styles while reflecting on what it takes to put yourself out there (and literally, in there - the ring, the microcosmic war zone) in a test of corporeal wills.
Xavier Chao
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solid read

This book offered a down to earth perspective into the world of fighting and why people choose to pursue it. The author does a good job of offering opinions and insights without Jargon or pretentiousness
John Higgins
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
great for its time,around the time mma and the ufc etc were newto the world,his travels and the peoplehe trains withand meets make for an ineresting read,if youre into the history of mma/combat sports in the western sense then go for it
Z W
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
If the dog fighting chapter wasn’t in it, I would give it 4 stars.
Paolo
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Interesting look into different aspects of martial arts, but badly in need of an editor.
Joe Baker
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
An entertaining dive into the global world of combat, and attempts to uncover why humans continue to fight for sport.
Rudolph
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Deep content but layered with parts that can be derivitive.
Garrett Goss
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Haynes
Mar 18, 2021 rated it liked it
This was just okay.
Tyler Wampler
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is ok. Interesting enough if you like MMA or other fighting sports. Sam has an easy to read/relatable writing style that I did enjoy. There was a chapter about dog fighting that I didn’t relate to and felt over glorified. Honestly wish I would have just skipped that chapter all together. My favorite parts of the book were set in Thailand when Sam was immersing himself in Muy Thai kickboxing and Thai culture.
Steve Vetter
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sam is a very talented writer/thinker and this is a very good book to read and gain fascinating insights towards what it truly takes to step into the cage and face your demons. Such a clear, honest and illuminating journey into the very essence of professional fighting and the myths and brutal honesty that one man (or woman) must face to participate in the ultimate challenge that we all secretly wonder and fantasize about. Great book. Courageous man!!
Jake
A Fighter's Heart has spent years on my "I need to read this" shelf without me ever actually reading it. Having finally done so, I'm very glad I did.

A Fighter's Heart is the story of Sam Sheridan's exploration into what it is that makes competitive fighters tick. Along the way, he explores Muay Thai, Boxing, Brazilian Juijitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, and (of all things) Tai Chi. He also explores dog and cock fighting, spends some time in a Buddhist monastery, and does a little bit of stunt fighting
...more
Todd Mitchell
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jared
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
First off, I'm a UFC and MMA fan. I didn't know anything about the book before I started, so I judged it by its cover: assuming it was the autobiography of an amateur MMA fighter. I glanced through the book's few photographs to see if I recognized him (I didn't) and then I started reading the book...

(view spoiler)
...more
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Book Review 1 4 Mar 08, 2015 07:59PM  
Disregard the last persons post, This Book is GREAT 1 4 Aug 08, 2011 08:34AM  
the author is a jackass 3 30 Aug 08, 2011 08:31AM  

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148 followers
After high school Sam went into the Merchant Marines, then quit and spent some time traveling Europe. He went to Harvard, also working a summer on the largest cattle ranch in Montana. Immediately after graduating, Sam took a job on a private sailing yacht for 18 months all the way to Australia. From there Sam went to Thailand, where he lived in a Muay Thai camp and fought, featuring on National Ge ...more

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