Read This

It’s somewhat difficult to wrap your brain around the image of an MMA fighter hitting the gym hard, coming home with black eyes and bruised knuckles, and then settling into the easy chair with a good book. However, the power of the written word is undeniable. It teaches, it motivates, it changes lives.

We asked a panel of mixed martial artists what book made them a better fighter. The answers were as diverse as the fighters themselves: we got everything from fiction to the Bible to comics to one MMA champion’s bestselling autobiography on the list.

FORREST GRIFFIN “The diet portion of Vision Quest by Terry Davis helped me diet.”

FRANK SHAMROCKThe Book of Five Rings by samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi [circa 1645]. It’s a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts.”

JAMIE VARNERWrestling Sturbridge by Rich Wallace is a typical underdog story. The main character never gave up on his dream and that’s how it made me a better fighter. It taught me never to give up on your dream no matter what’s in your way. Obstacles are put in front of you just so you can overcome them. You fall down; you pick yourself back up.”

TIM BOETSCH “The one book that sticks out in my mind is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. I remember reading that book in high school and becoming highly motivated to be the best athlete I could be. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a bodybuilder like Arnold, but I could never convince myself that flexing in front of a crowd with nothing but bikini briefs on was a good idea.”

CLAY GUIDABecoming the Natural by Randy Couture because it shows how human he is—just like us. His struggles in life and how he adapts to them and always tried to keep a level head in his athletics and competition is inspiring. We are all very similar in what cards we’ve been dealt, but some individuals play their hands in a more positive light, like The Natural.”

RANDY COUTUREThe Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman gave me perspective to deal with the adversity of competition.”

ROB MCCULLOUGHRich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki helped shape who I am today as a fighter and person. It was the first time I was drawn into a book that really made sense and it seemed like it was speaking directly to me. [After reading the book] I set financial and personal goals and started moving in a direction to help achieve those goals. I laid down a foundation for my future, and two years later, I bought a home in Huntington Beach where I grew up, won the WEC Lightweight title, and started my own clothing company,”

NATHAN QUARRY “In Marvel Comics The Thing vs. The Intergalactic Boxer (two-inone annual number 7), the Boxer beats every superhero but the Thing. Only the Thing follows the rules and he fights with every ounce of heart. He gets beat, but the Boxer knows he could never beat the Thing’s heart and spares the Earth. The Thing was never the toughest or most skilled, but he had heart for days and that’s what I’ve always tried to be like.”

JOSH GRISPI “Probably the only book I read is the Bible. It helps me to be a better person, giving me words of wisdom. I’d have to say that any problem I have, I can find a verse in the Bible to help me figure out the situation. It’s basically a guide of how we are supposed to act even though it is pretty impossible for people to do. As for fighting, there are tons of fighters in the Bible who have defeated the odds, so if they can do it then I know I can.”

ERIC SCHAFERBody for Life by Bill Phillips is a followup to his Sports Supplement Review, which was also great. I remember these books from back in college, and while not specific for MMA, they give me a great understanding of supplements, diet, exercise, and basic stuff like eating six small meals, avoiding simple carbs, and how many supplements don’t work.”

JASON “MAYHEM” MILLERRingside and Training Principles by Margaret Goodman and Flip Homansky is a book written for boxing. A lot of it doesn’t really apply to mixed martial arts, but as far as the way the business works, I got more of a total view of how the fight world works. As far as being a businessman, it helped me a ton.”

DEMIAN MAIATransformando Suor Em Ouro is a book by Bernardinho, coach of the Brazilian men’s volleyball team. He took the national team to win the Olympic games and the volleyball world league many times. The name of the book translates into something like, ‘Transforming Sweat Into Gold.’”

NATE MARQUARDT “I think Gold Medal Mental Workouts for Combat Sports by Dariusz Nowicki is a great book for fighters. The author is a sports psychologist who was the chief coordinator of psychological preparation for all Polish Olympic teams training for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.”

JON FITCHZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

DIEGO SANCHEZ “The Bible because of the scriptures for battle. For example, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

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