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Norman Mailer's The Fight focuses on the 1974 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the two men made boxing history in an explosive meeting of two great minds, two iron wills and monumental egos.
Recommended by Euan Burton
This is a book about the power of collaberation and teamwork, the awe-inspiring energy generated when people combine their creativity and passion, and a fearless desire to lead. Whether waking at 6 A.M. to work out as a high school junior, or spending hours with legendary designer Tinker Hatfield on the intricacies f state-of-the-art shoe design, Michael Jordan has never wavered in his desire to be the best. ""It all started with an appetite to prove. Whether it was competing with my siblings or trying to get attention from myparents, I wanted to show what I could do, what I was capable of accomplishing. I wanted results, and I was driven to find out the best way to get them."" Everyone knows the results. In "Driven from Within," Michael Jordan and those in his inner circle reveal the philosophy that makes it all happen.
Recommended by Peter Gardiner
So, you think you know Joey Barton. Think again. No Nonsense is a game-changing autobiography which will redefine the most fascinating figure in British football. It is the raw yet redemptive story of a man shaped by rejection and the consequences of his mistakes. He has represented England, and been a pivotal player for Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Marseille, Burnley and Glasgow Rangers, but his career has featured recurring controversy. The low point of being sent to prison for assault in 2008 proved to be the catalyst for the re-evaluation of his life.
Recommended by Chloe Cowen
Raised in a desperately poor village during the height of China's Cultural Revolution, Li Cunxin's childhood revolved around the commune, his family and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.
Until, that is, Madame Mao's cultural delegates came in search of young peasants to study ballet at the academy in Beijing and he was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world.
When a trip to Texas as part of a rare cultural exchange opened his eyes to life and love beyond China's borders, he defected to the United States in an extraordinary and dramatic tale of Cold War intrigue.
Told in his own distinctive voice, this is Li's inspirational story of how he came to be Mao's last dancer, and one of the world's greatest ballet dancers.
Recommended by Kate Howey
The journey to the top for the most dominant mixed-martial-arts fighter in history has been filled with challenges. From a childhood marked by speech problems to the painful loss of her father, she grew up repeatedly pushing her mind and body to the limit in order to win. She battled prejudice to become the first female fighter in UFC. Now she is the biggest name in the sport, breaking attendance levels and re-writing the history books with her astonishing knockout victories, most in under a minute. She has also forged a successful Hollywood career as an actor.
In this honest and inspiring book, Rousey relives her greatest fights and shares her secrets for success and mental toughness. She reveals how we can all be at our best, even on our worst days, and how we can turn our limitations into opportunities. It will leave you ready to face your own challenges in life, whatever they may be.
Recommended by Nik Fairbrother
Winning! tells a remarkable story - an unforgettable journey that began in September 1997 and took the English Rugby Team team from the lower ranks of international first-class rugby to the top as World Cup Champions.
WINNING! talks about the team's journey of innovation and discovery and will reveal exactly how it happened, the fundamentals of their success and how these principles can be applied to any human endeavour. Bringing his business management skills to the game, Woodward simplified the entire approach to the structure of the team and created new management systems both on and off the pitch.
Recommended by Darren Warner
LEADING is structured around the key skills that Sir Alex values most highly. It includes subjects we immediately associate with his managerial style: Discipline, Control, Teamwork and Motivation. But it also addresses subjects that are less obvious but no less important when seeking success: Delegation, Data Analysis and Dealing with Failure. Written with the investor Sir Michael Moritz, a longstanding friend of Sir Alex, LEADING is packed with insight, wisdom, humour and honesty. The individual stories inevitably concern themselves with football, and the phenomenal success that came along the way, but the lessons can be applied by anyone. Whether you run a business, teach in a classroom, or work in a small team, LEADING will help you become a better leader.
Recommended by Peter Gardiner, Vince Skillcorn
Everybody knows the record the stuff of almanacs, trade magazines and clipping services. A handful know the man. But only Muhammad Ali knows his life as he lived it.
The Greatest is Ali's own story. For six years he worked, traveled and talked with Richard Durham, a writer with a stunning talent, and the result is mesmerizing in its brilliance, drama, humanity and sheer entertainment. This is no documented scrapbook of wins and losses strung together with anecdotes; nor is it a thin potpourri of locker room gags. This book, like Ali who has incited every reaction except indifference goes straight to the place where responses to him have always been the gut. When the history of the twentieth century is finally recorded, it must include Muhammad Ali. He is "The Greatest."
Recommended by Paul Ajala
At 24 Neil Adams was at the top of his game. He was on the Olympic team, had almost every Judo championship title in the world under his belt and had recently been awarded an MBE. This is not his Olympic Story. This is not a 'good old, glory days' kind of tale. This is about what happens after, when the sponsors have disappeared, when the shine of the medal has dulled into the public's distant memory. When you are left alone to deal with bills and life decisions that suddenly have nothing to do with Judo, BBC Superstars or Glory. This is the story of a man rebuilding his life on and off the mats.
Recommended by Neil Adams
40 Judo Throws is an illustrated junior guide to all the throws of the Gokyo (judo syllabus), written by world champion Nik Fairbrother, 7th Dan. There are step by step tutorials for each technique, and learning is visual, clear and easy. There are also tips from the author on improving your throwing skills.
Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki is widely regarded as one of the greatest exponents of osaekomi of the last decades of the 20th century. This is the first book ever to concentrate purely on osaekomi and as such presents a considerable challenge. The range of the classic holds is relatively small--less that a dozen--but the numbers of variations and methods of application are enormous; and they are changing and developing all the time. In this extremely clear explanation Kashiwazaki deals with the basic holds, the variations, the weaknesses and the escapes. Then--in what is perhaps the most revealing aspect of the book--he presents the applications, the turnovers that enable the judoka to apply the holds.
In 1882 Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) founded Kodokan Judo at Eishoji Temple in Tokyo. It was the culmination of a lifelong devotion to the jujutsu of the past, which he reorganized while taking great care to retain its classical traditions. Historically, martial arts were practiced only by the elite in Japan. Kano, a renowned educator as well as a sportsman, is credited with popularizing the martial arts, and in particular, judo, among people in all levels of society.
Recommended by Darren Warner, Euan Burton
The armlock is one of the most successful groundwork skills of modern judo. This "Masterclass Techniques" study by Neil Adams, one of the finest exponents of the technique of the last twenty years, will ensure its continued dominance. The book provides a detailed study of variations--including ude-gatame and the spectacular flying armlock--which have been developed and successfully used in competition by leading names from the world of judo such as Iaskevitch, Divisenko, Seisenbacher and Great Britain's Karen Briggs.
Recommended by Darren Warner, Kate Howey, Neil Adams
This is the first book ever to be written on the crucial aspect of judo gripping techniques. Adams was widely recognized for his masterly understanding of grips even though his favored grip was eminently classical. In this pioneering volume, he looks at orthodox and unorthodox gripping, attack and defense, gripping strategies, and gripping skills.
Recommended by Chloe Cowen, Darren Warner, Kate Howey, Neil Adams
This book although having some autobiographical content, is essentially a detailed analysis of Yamashita's favourite techniques as described by the great man himself, with a short biography including some of the author's thoughts on some aspects of judo and detailed description of Yamashita's favourite techniques.
o compile this authoritative volume, Syd Hoare, 7th Dan, has drawn on more than three decades of judo experience at the highest level, and an extensive knowledge of the Japanese language and Japanese judo literature. He catalogues and describes more than 100 throwing techniques, 20 holds, 30 armlocks and 40 strangles. Also included are a further 20 techniques which, though now forbidden by modern judo rules for being too dangerous, were originally part of the combat systems as it emerged from its origins in Ju-jitsu.
Recommended by Jo Crowley
In this ground-breaking book, five-times European champion Alexander Iatskevich brings his extensive knowledge to this comprehensive account. Russian Judo considers the history of the style, how it grew out of the varying wrestling traditions of the Soviet Union and its national style, sambo. Iatskevich notes the main techniques which Russian Judo have made so effective in the last decades and which are now accepted as part of the central fabric of judo
Positive attacking in throwing and ground work is at the heart of all the best judo. This is a fundamental attitude of world champions Katsuhihiko Kashiwazaki and Hidetoshi Nakanishi, who are now among the foremost teachers in Japan. But this boldness must be based on a sound technical understanding. Attacking Judo is a new concept in judo publishing based on simple drawings rather than long complex explanations.
Recommended by Chloe Cowen, Kate Howey, Mark Fricker
The quality of the Fighting Judo Kashiwazaki book in terms of its aesthetic beauty is unmatched. The author, a world champion demonstrates throws, holds, pins, turnovers, grabs, and entanglements, and discusses the finer points of mat work. The black and white photography of Terence Donovan makes a huge impact.
Recommended by Chloe Cowen, Euan Burton, Nik Fairbrother, Paul Ajala
Looking for Christmas Judo Gifts?
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It’s a dark time for judo. The future is uncertain, some dojos have been forced to close their doors for good, and for those who have returned to the tatami, judo is a shadow of what it was. Our elite struggle to find motivation for an Olympics that might not take place and all of us, from the small club to larger businesses have taken a heavy financial hit.
But is there also light?
Has anything good come of Covid for Judo? Anything at all?
I put that question to 20 of Great Britain’s leading judo coaches, fully expecting the reply to be a quick, sharp, short – “NO! Nothing!”
The answers surprised me. They shouldn’t have. After all, by nature, judoka are fighters. And by nature, coaches are leaders.
The answers came back quickly. One after another saying: yes, they had found positives…many positives.
You can read the coaches answers in full at the end of the post, but first a quick summary of the main points.
It boosted my spirits and I hope it will boost your spirits too.