“Fear is the Mind Killer” is now available!

My book, Fear is the Mind Killer: How to Build a Training Culture that Fosters Strength and Resilience, is now available in both paperback and ebook editions!

Mockup of Fear is the Mind Killer showing the front and back covers

This project began almost exactly two years ago, over a sushi lunch with Guy Windsor. As we were catching up, he casually asked my why I hadn’t written a book yet. I didn’t have a good answer for him, and the seeds of Fear is the Mind Killer were planted.

I started writing in July 2017, finished the first draft in March 2018, the second in August 2018, and the third at the end of last year. In 2019, I sent it off to a copy editor (the excellent Eva van Emden), and began working on layout. I’d built a paperback before, but ePUB was new to me, and part of the process was taking a couple of online courses to fill in knowledge gaps and make sure that my understanding of InDesign was up-to-date. My colleague Courtney Rice put together a fantastic cover design in April, and I wrapped up layout and set everything up with my distributor and printer, IngramSpark, at the start of May.

And now it’s here!

I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me on this long road. Guy Windsor, first and foremost, for the initial kick in the pants and accountability throughout the writing and publishing process. My fellow coaches at Valkyrie WMAA: David Randy Packer, Courtney Rice, Justin Ring, Jordan Both, and Phil van Humbeck. My colleagues in the martial arts and self defense communities, especially Maija Soderholm, Rory Miller, John F. Irving, Jessica Finley, and Andrew Somlyo. My beta readers Ash Banks, Paige Knorr (who’s also a great proofreader), Eva Sadowski, and Josef Sadowski. My drill playtesters Mike Cherba, Ken Dietiker, Edward Hines, Nicholas McWilliams, Alex Spreier, Tanya Smith, Dan Weber, and Shanna Zak. And finally, my supporters on Patreon, who helped make all of this possible.

You can order Fear is the Mind Killer from any of the following retailers:

You can also ask your local bookstore or library to bring in a copy. To order larger quantities for your school or organization, or to buy a copy directly from me, please contact me.

Read on for the publisher’s description and some pretty stellar initial reviews…

How do we cultivate inner strength?

Martial arts and self-defence are about so much more than physical skills. Learning to fight is a catalyst for growth. It makes our students stronger, more confident, and more resilient — at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Too often, the students who need that strength the most struggle to find it.

Learn how to build a training environment that helps all of your students grow. Help them face their fears, grapple with failure, test themselves, and come out far more capable than before.

Fear is the Mind Killer covers the fundamentals of designing a healthy training culture, from policy-writing and classroom strategies, to building drills and stress testing. You’ll get a primer on the science of motor learning and motivation, and learn how to work more effectively with under-served populations, including women and survivors of violence.

This system-agnostic guide gives you the tools you need to assess your existing school environment and make sure that it’s serving the needs of all of your students, or to build a new school that is accessible, ethical, and effective. It will help you ask the right questions and find the answers that make the most sense for you and your community.

You know what your students need. Here’s how to get it to them.

We are at the beginning of a renaissance in self-defense and martial arts training. The focus is shifting, and must shift, away from egotistical instructors and received wisdom or dogma. Teaching is about the student, and all of us instructors have to focus on that simple fact. We need to learn how to reach each individual student, regardless of how much or how little they resemble us. We need to help them find and refine the tools that they need for their problems. We need to be facilitators in growing each student’s strength, understanding and resilience. Kaja Sadowski’s Fear is the Mind Killer is the best manual available on how to do that, in particular on creating an environment where the people who most need the skills (and are least likely to seek out instruction) can feel comfortable enough to grow into their natural strength.

Rory Miller, Chiron Training

Once a decade, or less often, a book comes along that changes the game. This is that book. In it, Sadowski lays out the theory and practice of creating training environments that nurture student growth by building an emotionally safe environment for practising physically dangerous things, and a physically safe environment for practising emotionally dangerous things. How to push them, how to let them fail usefully, and how to make sure that every student gets the support they need to handle the stresses of effective training. Drawing on her experience of running a martial arts school, and helping train police officers, she lays out the foundations for truly effective practice: how to put your students under realistic levels of combat stress without breaking them, and without the instructor turning into a caricature of a drill sergeant. It is perhaps the most important martial arts book of the 21st century so far. If there is one book I wish I’d read before founding my school, it’s Sadowski’s Fear is the Mind Killer. There is no better resource for creating effective and ethical training environments.

Guy Windsor, Consulting Swordsman