Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review for The Fighter Within by Christopher Olech

4.5/5 Ninja Stars for The Fighter Within by Christopher Olech

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the publisher for review purposes

Title: The Fighter Within: Everyone has a Fight, Insight into the minds and souls of true champions
Written By: Christopher Olech
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Cover Price: $15.95 $11.17(US)

  For a while now, there seems to be an ideological war of sorts between MMA fighters and traditional martial artists with both sides believing their methodology is superior to the other.  MMA proponents claim that they get to test it in the ring in live conditions, while TMA acolytes say that the ring isn't a self-defense situation.  To be honest they're both right, and their both wrong, but that's a post for a different day.  The reason I bring the argument up, is that even though it has been shown over and over to me to not be true, I have this mental stereotype of MMA fighters as...well... big, dumb, clumsy brutes.  I know its not an accurate description by any means, but its still stuck in my head.  Most likely as character assassination from other traditional martial artists.  If you have anywhere near that idea, then I would highly recommend this book, as it blows those unfair expectations out of the water by describing the drive, commitment, and yet intellect required to be top contenders in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.


    The author, Christopher Olech mixes in anecdotal stories, interviews, and personal experience in the world of MMA to bring you a picture of what type of a person reaches the top of the sport.  He starts off with a little biographical information which share threads through out the book with the other fighters and coaches that he talks to.  He interviews many of the sport's champion fighters, and the coaches that gave them the edge to become champions.  He does this in a very storytelling, conversational way which lends itself to being a good reading book.


    Christopher Olech is a definite fan of MMA.  It bleeds through into his writing.  You can't help but get excited with him as he's telling the story of driving 10 hours straight to interview his MMA idols.  However, unlike being a superfan of some other sport, like football (American style, not futbol) being a fan of MMA allows you to participate in the sport at a competition level, which Mr. Olech does.  In fact, I think being able to go onto the mat with these top athletes simultaneously brings them closer to us mortals, and allows us to appreciate their physical genius.
    I think the most important part of this book is how it shows the intellectual side of the top fighters in the world.  It shows just how much dedication and spirit they've dedicated to this endeavor.  I, at least, now put much more stock into the preparation of MMA competition than I did before.


    The only criticism I could give for this book, and I know I'm being nit picky here, is that the interviews ended up being a little out of my range of interest when the author would ask about their food intakes.  Which I'm sure if you're an up and coming fighter is really interesting, and important.  However, I'm not the intended audience for that portion of the interview.


    Because of this book, I've changed many of my views on MMA, and MMA fighters.  In fact, I've actually gone on Youtube, and watched some of the fights he talked about in the book, and am starting to see more of the artistry and skill of the martial art, rather than the raw fighting skills I could see before.  So on that note, I say thanks for broadening my understanding.  I'm going to give this book 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I don't know what a 5 out of 5 book would look like, but I think this book is a little to specialized in its audience to garner such an honor.  However, Mr. Olech's enthusiasm carries the reader into the book, and his knowledge and storytelling carry you the rest of the way through to a deeper understanding of the sport and its champions.  If you've got even a passing interest in MMA, or MMA athletes, or even sport motivation, then this is a great book to pick up.

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