The Art of Manliness Podcast Episode #30: A Fighter’s Heart & Mind with Sam Sheridan

by Brett on September 13, 2010 · 28 comments

in Podcast

Welcome back to another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast! In this week’s episode I talk to Sam Sheridan, author of the book A Fighter’s Heart and his new book, The Fighter’s Mind. We discuss why kicking ass requires humility, how failure leads to success, what fighting has to do with manliness, and much, much more.

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A Fighter’s Heart Book Giveaway

I have a copy of Sam’s new book The Fighter’s Mind to give away to one lucky AoM podcast listener. To enter for your chance to win, simply leave a comment or thought about the podcast. That’s it. We’ll pick a winner on Saturday, Sept. 18.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin September 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam Sheridan at a local LA gym a few months back and was able to tell him how much I enjoyed his books. He was a complete gentleman and happy to meet a fan.

Really enjoyed this podcast.

I would recommend both of his books, by the way.


2 Gabriel September 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

If I don’t win the copy of the book I’ll eventually pick up a copy for my slowly growing martial arts/self defense library. This is right up my alley!

3 Matt September 14, 2010 at 1:52 am

Excellent! Sam has a wonderful and much needed perspective on fighting and how integral to ‘manliness’ it is. Especially the bit about identity.

4 Saulius September 14, 2010 at 5:25 am

I’m starting to go to boxing training from next Monday.
It would be great to get this book for extra motivation.

5 David F September 14, 2010 at 6:53 am

Sam never planned to be incredible yet his life and resume leads us to believe he is in fact incredible. Instead, he just evolved to be incredible. I find this equally concerning and impressive – usually you would imagine someone of this caliber would have goals and objectives yet Sam’s incredible journey was quite organic. A natural and progressive incredible. Play it again Sam – well done.

6 Paul H. September 14, 2010 at 9:01 am

A Fighter’s Heart was a great book. I am a big fan of MMA and loved the book. I liked the comparison he makes between video games and fighting. In my Marine Corps years (1998-2002), we were exposed to the Marine Corps Martial Arts program, which is a derivative of many of the martial arts MMA derives from. The skill and determination involved really molds a person’s discipline and perseverance. Great stuff here.

7 alex September 14, 2010 at 9:47 am

finally joining the 21st century, i downloaded itunes just for this podcast. great work!

8 The Lieutenant September 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

Reading A Fighter’s Heart was a motivational boon to my personal life. Sam helped get me into watching and learning martial arts and gave me greater understanding of my own manly urge for adventure. I took that urge and now practice Marine Corps Martial Arts as an officer in the Corps!

9 godsmanq September 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Very good insight on humility….there’s definitely not enough of it today. Excellent points on failure for growth. I’ll be looking for more like this

10 Rob September 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Looks interesting – I look forward to listening to this. I’ve read A Fighter’s Heart and enjoyed it a lot.

Great website. Some really interesting stuff on here.

11 Agatsu September 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I loved his point on “being present”. I have been in martial arts for most of my life and now as a 40 year old training in MMA, I truly understand this concept. When I train, I am not married, have no children, have no mortgage or job. The training is the only thing present. To do otherwise invites serious injury. It may seem extreme, but I consider it to be meditative. When done, I am at peace.

12 Czexican September 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Sound advice from a guy that has obviously walked the walk. One thing that really resonated with me from this podcast is the fact that you only broaden your horizons by doing. So true . . . . .

13 Charles Hackney September 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Sam made the comment that there is a connection between fighting ability and egocentrism (less ego – better fighter), and that it is a chicken-and-egg relationship. This is a great observation. Virtue theorists (like Alasdair MacIntyre) have long held that growth in moral character is a self-reinforcing “upward spiral,” in which eudaimonic activities (such as the martial arts) lead to growth in virtue, and growth in virtue empowers excellence in eudaimonic activities.

Sam’s observation was primarily about humility. Without sufficient humility, the individual has an unteachable attitude, and does not learn from mistakes, making it difficult to advance in one’s training. Recent psychological research has also established a connection between training in the martial arts and increases in self-control. Practicing the martial arts requires physical, mental, and emotional self-control, so the training becomes a venue for the cultivation of this character trait. High levels of self-control have been shown (by researchers like Roy Baumeister and June Price Tangney) to carry benefits over into success in areas of life like academic success, emotional well-being, and interpersonal relationships.

I have not yet read A Fighter’s Mind, but Sam’s previous book, A Fighter’s Heart, contains some outstanding material on the psychology of fighters and the specific kind of self-cultivation that comes from the practice of the martial arts.

14 Matthew Anderson September 14, 2010 at 4:07 pm

This was an interesting interview. I have resisted reading A Fighter’s Heart because it got negative reviews for advocating dog and cock fighting. I wish he would have been asked about it during the podcast. Either way I guess I will reconsider reading it.

15 SkinnyD September 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I like that you focused on the strange dichotomies that exist in fighting – specifically the phenomenon that accomplished fighters who could tear you in half are generally some of the the nicest people you could ever meet.

I’ve had the subject of fighting on the brain for a while now. I don’t like conflict and I don’t like hurting people – I’m a Mr. Miyagi at heart. But I am also an avid Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner. I am hopelessly addicted to BJJ and submission grappling, which is obviously a form of fighting. At our church the other day, one of the leaders pretty much denounced modern cage fighting as senseless violence. It’s understandable that many people see fighting as pure violence and do not understand the civility, sportsmanship and rewarding discipline behind it.

I can honestly say that training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, where I basically learn how to dominate people and break their limbs or choke them, has made me a better person. It’s enhanced my relationships, it’s grown my self-confidence and improved my quality of life. There is definitely something within a fighter’s heart and mind that people on the outside don’t see.

For those of us involved in combat sports, trying to explain why we do it is next to impossible. It’s something people have to experience. I’m very interested to read Mr. Sheridan’s book and see what else he has to say on the subject.

16 Jack Bouchard September 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I liked the way he distinguished fighting from the senseless violence that we often call fighting. There is nothing wrong with two people agreeing to square off and bloody each other up for a couple of rounds, especially when you look at the kind of savagery that happens in street fights. I can see how some would miss the difference (I mean, you’re still hitting each other and trying to cause the other person pain) but it’s a completely different dynamic.

“Mastery of the Art comes when the tiger is seen, but the dragon prevails.” -Ed Parker

17 Charles Hackney September 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm


“At our church the other day, one of the leaders pretty much denounced modern cage fighting as senseless violence.”

That probably means that the leader had been reading this:

This pastor has a differing perspective:

18 Pastor Mack September 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm


Thanks for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it. If a Christian wishes to have issues with cage fighting on Christian grounds, then there are many more sports that would not hold up to scrutiny also. I think many, especially older folks, are just generally uncomfortable with mma because of a lack of exposure and knowledge.


19 Derek Bonta September 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Mr. Sheridan has certainly led a strenuous life thus far – good on em.
As an aspiring writer I have always been amazed at how great authors also seem to live exciting and heroic lives. I have read nothing from Sam yet so I’m not sure if that applies, can’t wait to though, sounds pretty cool.

“I have just been shot, but it takes more
than that to kill a bull moose!” – Theodore Roosevelt

20 Jacob September 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Just found the site. Great stuff guys! Thanks for great content to enjoy.

21 Mohammed Al-Busaidi September 15, 2010 at 3:26 am

I can completely relate to the point he makes about fighting being a protection of free will. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, and I’m somewhat non-confrontational, but I think if my free will is ever compromised due to another’s arrogance, the non-confrontational value that I’m proud of will take a back seat to the instinct of winning a fight or imposing damage to the opponent.

Ofcourse, I’m only speculating here. Perhaps the book could shed better insight on this.

22 Paul Hilchey-Chandler September 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

Very interesting perspective on professional fighting. Certainly opened my eyes to the duality of the fighter mentality.

23 Jeff September 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Interesting interview, and intriguing book.

24 Bearded Warrior September 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I liked his point about learning who you are through fighting. Just like Tyler Durden said, “how much can you possibly know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

25 Rob September 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm

@Matthew A–
I wouldn’t say (having read both books) that they “advocate” for either of these sports. The description in the book was simply a description of the two and the motivations and thoughts of the people involved, while withholding judgment. While I personally find both reprehensible, I didn’t have a problem with the way the material was presented. It’s somewhat graphic (as is the rest of the book), but not glorifying, imho.

26 Robert R September 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I was an amatuer boxer and i can really relate to what Sam is saying. i know how much fighting has taught me about life and im glad someone can put it into words. too bad i cant afford the book right now

27 LVT September 17, 2010 at 3:42 am

Really interesting podcast. What he talks about is pretty true in life.

28 Edwin Zuniga September 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Only comment I have about the podcast is that the volume levels could be a little bit louder. Otherwise, great listening. Thanks!

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