Review: George St-Pierre - 'The Way Of The Fight' / by Steve Russell

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I didn’t know what to expect with GSP’s debut autobiography: “George St-Pierre: The Way Of the Fight”. I’ve become quite a fan of autobiographies recently and have already absorbed quite a few MMA specific tomes, written by (and I suppose you could use that term loosely) respected fighters such as Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, Brock Lesnar and the like. But none so revered as Canada’s own; George St-Pierre. 

Going into this book, I had my predetermined ideas as to what to expect; recounting highlighted fights, a little backstory and, hopefully, a little insight in to the mind of this very talented fighter. Thankfully, GSP instead chooses to take us on an intimate journey into his psyche with a, virtually, no holds barred account on his attitude towards fighting and his life. I say ‘virtually’ as there are elements and aspects within this book that GSP openly states he will not discuss, primarily anything revolving around his fear triggers. You would be forgiven to believe this as a relative ‘cop out’, however I personally found his honesty quite refreshing. 

You may be wondering as to how an autobiography by an MMA practitioner, let alone one of the best in the world, would fit into a site like AniFest - but look at it through this prism instead: what could be more rooted in Asia than the form, tradition and discipline that is exemplified in martial arts?

This book is probably one of the most honest accounts of a fighters life that I have so far read. At least, in a way that isn’t consistently braggadocios, a trapping that most athletes (MMA or otherwise) seem to find themselves falling into. GSP is unafraid in exploring elements of his personality on the page, allowing us a personal and frank dissection of what makes GSP function the way he does. What’s so brilliant about the way he does this is the simple fact that he obviously does not care whether he comes off well or not. He speaks of his disconnect with other people, especially whilst training for a fight, and his inability to find what most people consider ‘normal’; such as a house, wife, dog, etc, to be exactly that: normal. His chosen lifestyle and life decisions have led him onto a distinctly unique and individual path and, with the assistance of a few guest writers, chooses to tumble down it headfirst. 

Some may consider the usage of ‘guest’ writers as a lazy way to pad out a book with asinine observations, but they would be wrong. But bringing in those who know GSP best; notably his own mother and his main coaches, we get to see yet another dimension to the athlete GSP. Having that other viewpoint on the same situation or story really does add a wonderful element to each chapter, giving it a distinct ‘flavor’.

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The book itself is broken down into only a few major chapters spanning his childhood, early career and his journey into superstardom. GSP never comes across as conceited or arrogant, although at times his voice can come across as almost clinical, or cold. Coming into this book looking for a purely fight focused 320 pages will leave people disappointed. Instead, approach this as it is seemingly intended: as a self help/improvement book. It’s an odd way to view a book so plainly titled “The Way Of The Fight”, but it really is the best way to view it as GSP goes so far beyond simply recounting his favorite fights or training techniques. 

My personal favorite aspect from reading “The Way Of The Fight” came in the way he so seamlessly integrates wonderful zen and Eastern philosophies throughout, creating almost instant inspiration as he goes. 

The only real flaw I can highlight from my time reading this book is GSP’s unfortunate habit of repeating himself. He will recount the same theory, or attempt to expound upon it, frequently and it can be something that may grate a few readers during their time with the book. This gripe aside however, this book is filled with some great moments and memories from one of the very best fighters, arguably pound-for-pound, in the world. 

This book goes beyond simply being about fighting, although it is obviously a major component. This is a book about one mans personal mindset and outlook at the world, and his resolve to try and constantly better himself every day he draws breath. 

GSP is an inspirational human being, and a wonderful representative of the still relatively new sport that is Mixed Martial Arts. “The Way Of The Fight” is a great read for fight fans, with enough substance and life lessons to engage those who are simply curious or looking for a good self help/self improvement book.

Steve Russell // @stevetendo

★★★★☆