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Even If It Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality

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...charmingly eccentric memoir detailing a bassist's marital arts journey.--KIRKUS REVIEWS ...a story about honest, integrity, and hope...wildly entertaining.--DANNY KAVALDO, WORD-RENOWNED FITNESS TRAINER ...for the little guys in the small towns...for self-believers...for fighters.-- ZACHARIAH BLAIR, LEAD GUITARISTS, RISE AGAINST ...never-surrender ethos that make guys like ...charmingly eccentric memoir detailing a bassist's marital arts journey.--KIRKUS REVIEWS ...a story about honest, integrity, and hope...wildly entertaining.--DANNY KAVALDO, WORD-RENOWNED FITNESS TRAINER ...for the little guys in the small towns...for self-believers...for fighters.-- ZACHARIAH BLAIR, LEAD GUITARISTS, RISE AGAINST ...never-surrender ethos that make guys like this lifers.-- MIKE GITTER, VP OF A&R, CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS This is the true story of a rock and roll musician who takes up taekwondo at forty years old. Doni Blair, bassist for the Toadies, knows he's past his physical prime, but he's determined to push himself and pursue his dream of becoming a martial artist--even if it kills him. As a kid Doni was obsessed with ninjas and kung fu movies. He and his brother took up taekwondo--there was no ninja school in Sherman, Texas. Classes were expensive, especially considering their parents' tenuous employment status and fondness for alcohol. The family lived like "white-trash gypsies," Blair writes, adding that he got good at moving furniture at three in the morning. The Blair kids loved taekwondo, but the family just couldn't afford classes. Doni walked away from martial arts. Thirty years later, he's walking back. "I'm not a kid anymore," he writes. "I'm a middle-aged man trying to come to grips with being a middle-aged man. I'm not as fast as I used to be. It takes longer for the injuries to heal. I have to eat more bran." Doni discovers the road to black belt is rough and, well, weird. He meets martial seekers of every sort. He has run-ins with a teenage savant who seems determined to break the author's leg. He drives a van full of seven-year-olds for the dojang's after-school program. They puke everywhere. Even If It Kill Meis smart and funny, introspective and irreverent. It blends rock and roll and taekwondo--two of the coolest things in the world.


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...charmingly eccentric memoir detailing a bassist's marital arts journey.--KIRKUS REVIEWS ...a story about honest, integrity, and hope...wildly entertaining.--DANNY KAVALDO, WORD-RENOWNED FITNESS TRAINER ...for the little guys in the small towns...for self-believers...for fighters.-- ZACHARIAH BLAIR, LEAD GUITARISTS, RISE AGAINST ...never-surrender ethos that make guys like ...charmingly eccentric memoir detailing a bassist's marital arts journey.--KIRKUS REVIEWS ...a story about honest, integrity, and hope...wildly entertaining.--DANNY KAVALDO, WORD-RENOWNED FITNESS TRAINER ...for the little guys in the small towns...for self-believers...for fighters.-- ZACHARIAH BLAIR, LEAD GUITARISTS, RISE AGAINST ...never-surrender ethos that make guys like this lifers.-- MIKE GITTER, VP OF A&R, CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS This is the true story of a rock and roll musician who takes up taekwondo at forty years old. Doni Blair, bassist for the Toadies, knows he's past his physical prime, but he's determined to push himself and pursue his dream of becoming a martial artist--even if it kills him. As a kid Doni was obsessed with ninjas and kung fu movies. He and his brother took up taekwondo--there was no ninja school in Sherman, Texas. Classes were expensive, especially considering their parents' tenuous employment status and fondness for alcohol. The family lived like "white-trash gypsies," Blair writes, adding that he got good at moving furniture at three in the morning. The Blair kids loved taekwondo, but the family just couldn't afford classes. Doni walked away from martial arts. Thirty years later, he's walking back. "I'm not a kid anymore," he writes. "I'm a middle-aged man trying to come to grips with being a middle-aged man. I'm not as fast as I used to be. It takes longer for the injuries to heal. I have to eat more bran." Doni discovers the road to black belt is rough and, well, weird. He meets martial seekers of every sort. He has run-ins with a teenage savant who seems determined to break the author's leg. He drives a van full of seven-year-olds for the dojang's after-school program. They puke everywhere. Even If It Kill Meis smart and funny, introspective and irreverent. It blends rock and roll and taekwondo--two of the coolest things in the world.

37 review for Even If It Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    You don't have to be a forty-year-old bass player living in Amarillo, Texas, to relate to Donivan Blair. Nor do you have to know anything about taekwondo. Because who among us hasn't had a dream they had to surrender? Who hadn't looked wistfully back at a beloved childhood hobby? And most importantly, who hasn't embarked on some journey to learn a skill, and then wondered if they were doing the right thing? I suspect the Texan references might not make as much sense to someone who isn't as famili You don't have to be a forty-year-old bass player living in Amarillo, Texas, to relate to Donivan Blair. Nor do you have to know anything about taekwondo. Because who among us hasn't had a dream they had to surrender? Who hadn't looked wistfully back at a beloved childhood hobby? And most importantly, who hasn't embarked on some journey to learn a skill, and then wondered if they were doing the right thing? I suspect the Texan references might not make as much sense to someone who isn't as familiar with the area, but in all other ways, Blair does a good job of explaining simply. He's charting a path from ignorance to knowledge, after all, and sharing it as he goes in a diary style, personal, confessional, and funny. It's a quick read, but with some philosophy to give it a solid core. If you're curious why someone would take such a challenge on, or deciding whether to make changes of your own, I'd recommend this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather Bieber

    If you're a fan of the Toadies, read this. If you're a fan of martial arts, read this. If you're a fan of clever writing, read this. I may be biased because I lived in Amarillo and personally know Doni (we were coworkers a decade ago and we've stayed in touch), but everything he wrote is honest and entertaining. What more do you want from a memoir? If you're a fan of the Toadies, read this. If you're a fan of martial arts, read this. If you're a fan of clever writing, read this. I may be biased because I lived in Amarillo and personally know Doni (we were coworkers a decade ago and we've stayed in touch), but everything he wrote is honest and entertaining. What more do you want from a memoir?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Derek Porterfield

    Things have felt a lot tougher than usual lately. I’m not alone in feeling this way and I’ll admit that the existential dread serving as a constant companion throughout 2020 has made for some generalized lethargy. Or I’m just lazy. Regardless which of those is true, my friend has written a phenomenal book that I sincerely hope you pick up as a pick-me-up. Especially if you happen to have stumbled onto this while doomscrolling. You deserve a break, and Doni can give you one. Just trust me. articles-2 Things have felt a lot tougher than usual lately. I’m not alone in feeling this way and I’ll admit that the existential dread serving as a constant companion throughout 2020 has made for some generalized lethargy. Or I’m just lazy. Regardless which of those is true, my friend has written a phenomenal book that I sincerely hope you pick up as a pick-me-up. Especially if you happen to have stumbled onto this while doomscrolling. You deserve a break, and Doni can give you one. Just trust me. articles-20171017-donovan-1.jpg I bought “Even if it Kills Me” expecting it to be a fun little story about the man, the myth, the legend, Doni Darko….er, Blair. What I did not expect or prepare for, was the inspirational rollercoaster of a journey his story took me on. I’ll expand on this but the tl;dr is BUY THIS BOOK NOW. Simple. It’s so much more than a typical rock star memoir. At its core, this is a book about a musician. A successful musician at that. I love music. I love books. This is obviously right up my alley. Like any good superhero origin story, we learn about Doni’s upbringing and struggles as a punk teen through his always witty and often hilarious prose. The honesty he brings to the page is refreshing and brutal. This doesn’t read as a self-aggrandizing embellishment as much as a survival story. His love of taekwondo and pursuit of his passions on a road to eventual success is a hard fought journey. He’s grown not by luck and timing as much as grit and perseverance. It’s a story that throughout its short 175 page length repeatedly reminds you that you are capable of incredible things. You’re 30 and wanting to learn a new skill? Read this. Lost your way in this misanthropic existence we call life? SAME. Pick this book up. Feeling undermotivated and tired of Netflix asking if you’re still watching? Yea, this book is for you. If you set down this blue covered talisman and don’t immediately start to chase your dreams, you lack soul. I wanted to read a book about a musician I like. I wanted stories about the road and touring, and I got all that, but so much more. The wealth of extra wisdom hidden in these pages brings this autobiography to an entirely new plane. I want EVERYONE to read this. If you hate music and taekwondo and don’t even realize Doni is the best damn bassist this side of the prime meridian, you will STILL find this book to be enriching and motivating and important. I cannot over-hype this story. It is remarkable what Doni accomplished with this book and I hope to see more autobiographies emulate his candid, gut wrenching, honesty. You owe it to yourself to buy a copy, and if you know a punk teen that might be in need of some direction in life, this is the very first thing they should read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    As someone who went back to martial arts later in life, there's a lot I can relate to in this book. Anxiety about being the old guy in the class and getting my butt kicked by a bunch of teenagers? Check. Limping home at night with a myriad of bruises and pulled muscles? Check. A conversation with the wife about whether or not said injury should warrant a trip to the emergency room? Check. This book was an easy, engaging glimpse into the adventure that is martial arts. I fully enjoyed the trainin As someone who went back to martial arts later in life, there's a lot I can relate to in this book. Anxiety about being the old guy in the class and getting my butt kicked by a bunch of teenagers? Check. Limping home at night with a myriad of bruises and pulled muscles? Check. A conversation with the wife about whether or not said injury should warrant a trip to the emergency room? Check. This book was an easy, engaging glimpse into the adventure that is martial arts. I fully enjoyed the training anecdotes, and part of me wishes the book was made up entirely of those little stories. The book wandered a bit in the middle with trips down memory lane about his family, but the overall effect was to make the story more relatable. The author was honest about his experiences and didn't shy away from discussing his insecurities, his temper, and his feelings toward his martial art contemporaries.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Babs

    Loved Doni's book! Loved the relation I felt to wanting to get back into former interests with gusto and finding ways to marry the life we live now to a past life, with charm, wit, and philosophy in between. Would recommend! Loved Doni's book! Loved the relation I felt to wanting to get back into former interests with gusto and finding ways to marry the life we live now to a past life, with charm, wit, and philosophy in between. Would recommend!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna Marie

    Donivan decides that he wants to get a black belt in Taekwondo because as a child he wanted to be a ninja. He's a bassist in the band Toadies but feel that he needs to return to TKD. But he's not a kid anymore, his body doesn't handle it well. Donivan decides that he wants to get a black belt in Taekwondo because as a child he wanted to be a ninja. He's a bassist in the band Toadies but feel that he needs to return to TKD. But he's not a kid anymore, his body doesn't handle it well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily Reznicek

    Doni writes with a humorous and self-deprecating voice that makes his journey through martial arts approachable to those of us who know nothing about it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Palmer

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sean Ferrin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyson Taylor

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Stanley

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dwadrum

  13. 4 out of 5

    R.L. Bailey

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Palmer

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary-lynn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Blake A Reedy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Larry

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brune

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  22. 5 out of 5

    BH

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tina Horne

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becca

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aseelah Muhammad

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  32. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  33. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  34. 5 out of 5

    electric

  35. 5 out of 5

    Jakki

  36. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy Riesenberg

  37. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

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