“Memoirs of A Happy Warrior” Book Review

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I use Grammarly for proofreading because proper grammar makes the world go round, and awful tweets cause natural disasters.

The name of this site is “The Fight Nerd” for a reason – I am a nerd, and I like the fight world. Avid readers of the site know that any chance I get to combine the two things together makes me squeal with high-pitched fanboy glee. Our good friend of the site, Roxanne Modafferi, is a self-proclaimed Otaku, who spent many years living in Japan and expanding her “nerdom” to new levels. More importantly, it’s also where her MMA career began, and it’s this story that the recent TUF member has retold in her first autobiography, “Memoirs of a Happy Warrior”.

Weighing in at about 211 pages long, and chronicles the journeys of a young American girl living in a foreign land and learning about herself through culture shock and discovering parts of her that she never knew existed. This book takes us from 2003-2005, starting the minute that Roxy firsts lands in Japan, all the way up through to her rematch against Jennifer Howe back in the US in the IFC (although we do skip over their first bout and her match against Ana Carolina). Written in the style of a diary with daily accounts of her life, Roxanne’s memoirs of this part of her life are reminisced with great detail and give you the trip of a lifetime that was just one step in her overall journey.

We get the inside scoop on her first fight ever, which was in Smackgirl back in 2003 against Hikaru Shinohara for a grand prize of $200, cutting weight, and plenty of training stories as she finds her way in a very different type of gym culture than in American gyms. However, the book goes beyond Roxy’s fight career, and is an inside glimpse of how an American student adapted to a new environment and slowly blended into this place to become a natural fit. When Roxy first arrives, her Japanese is passable, but as she progresses, so to do the readers, as more Japanese phrases and complete sentences become more commonplace in the writing. It adds to the feeling of being whisked away to Japan, and you can not help but feel immersed in it, as if her experiences become yours.

With Roxanne as your tour guide, you will climb Mt. Fuji, gushing at enormous Anime stores, walking through historic temples and cosmopolitan cities, deal with the trouble of trying to find a hopsital that is open when you are injured, as well as the common frustrations that an exchange student has to deal with. Trying to buy batteries or understanding just what exactly is on that Japanese pizza (and why does it come with mayo?) are among the normalities that Roxy adapted to and overcame. Of course, there were also plenty of more scary occurrences, no matter what country you live in, but try going out with a person whose language you do not speak too well, combined with it being your first date ever! Much like the heroes of her favorite Manga books, Roxanne never gives up and we see her grow over the course of a short amount of time.

The only nitpick I have is the typos that are sporadically found in the book (oddly enough, two of them on page 63, which when said in Japanese is how you pronounce Roxanne’s name). I never like finding these errors in books, and it disappoints me to see a bunch here, but it never takes away from the story, so readers beware, but do not bypass because of that.

You can order the book through Burning Horse Media signed by Roxy for $16, or unsigned for $13, and is definitely worth it. I went to Japan in 2008 for a mere 10 days, and have been dying to go back. Roxy has spent years overseas living, training, and teaching and has plenty of great stories and anecdotes from her time there (spoiler alert: she returned to Japan where she taught English to Japanese students of various ages and did so until being cast on “The Ultimate Fighter”). Roxy’s experiences were once in a lifetime, and I am grateful that she kept such dutiful logs of her days and nights in Japan so that we can live them again with her, and hope that we get a sequel as well to keep telling us her tale.

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