Book Club with the Boys: “The Way of the Warrior”

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I was intrigued when I first saw The Way of the Warrior on the new-book shelf at the library.

I was hesitant when I saw the simple line drawings dotting the page – because I was looking for a middle-school book club pick and wanted something real and fun but meaty.  Worthy of the time I’d put into reading it and planning the event.

I kept going, though, because of the synopsis – a kids’ book written by a former SEAL, to teach you to be tough?

I’m so glad I did.

In this first book of an illustrated middle grade series by a #1 New York Times-bestselling author, Marc learns to become a Warrior Kid after his uncle Jake, a Navy SEAL, comes to stay for the summer.

Fifth grade was the worst year of Marc’s life. He stunk at gym class, math was too hard for him, the school lunch was horrible, and his class field trip was ruined because he couldn’t swim. And the most awful thing about fifth grade? Kenny Williamson, the class bully, who calls himself the King of the Jungle Gym.
When Marc’s mother tells him that his uncle Jake is coming to stay for the whole summer, Marc can’t wait. Uncle Jake is a for-real, super-cool Navy SEAL. And Uncle Jake has a plan.

He’s going to turn Marc into a warrior.

Becoming a warrior isn’t easy. It involves a lot of pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, swimming, eating right, and studying harder than ever before! Can Marc transform himself into a warrior before school starts in the fall – and finally stand up to the King of the Jungle Gym?

Find out in Jocko Willink’s Way of the Warrior Kid.

Warrior Kid

I loved this book initially because of the anti-bullying stance that it takes because I’ve seen that issue among the kids I work with, and I hate to see people excluding others.  I love the way that author Willink handles it in Way of the Warrior Kid, and I had high hopes that it could help quell any uncertainty we might have in this group.  It’s great on so many other levels, though, and I knew just the guy who could stand in for Willink:  local martial arts master Earl Fuller.

Mr. Fuller worked with a group of my kids in the past, and he was fantastic.  He was even more impressive this time.

Warrior Kid

Mr. Fuller began by sitting down and talking with the boys about his story.  He shared his testimony, his personal experiences with stuttering and being bullied, and with his reasons for turning to martial arts – as well as the incredible success he found down that path.

He didn’t stop there, though.  I don’t know if Mr. Fuller read the book, but he nailed every theme Willink write into the story: healthy eating, personal discipline, respect for authority, goal setting, etc.  He spoke slowly, kindly, and you could tell he really cared about these boys.

Warrior Kid

Then they got to work.  After doing some basic calisthenics and talking about the importance of being strong and physically fit, he taught them basic self-defense moves.  They were the kind of thing to remember if you’re being mugged or attacked by a bully and can’t get away: the sort of thing that you can use to protect yourself.

He showed them how to put their arms up to protect their heads, and then how to use that position to block blows to the head.  He had them practice blocking – isn’t My Little Man into this in the picture above?

Warrior Kid

Mr. Fuller taught them several other kinds of blocks, get-away moves, or ways to distract an attacker long enough to get away.  They practiced a few holds and getting out of them, as well as hot spots to target if they were able to get a blow in themselves – all not to engage someone in a fight, but to get out of one.

Warrior Kid

After Mr. Fuller left, we picnicked while talking about Way of the Warrior Kid. The group agreed that it was their favorite book pick of the year!

Then we moved on to other aspects of the book.  Inside, Uncle Jake asks Marc to write his own warrior code, and so I asked the kids to split into groups and do the same.  They were excited to do so and listed some really good ideas.

Warrior Kid

Last, we watched a video I found online of a reporter challenging Willink to a grappling match so the kids could see what sort of results discipline could lead to – and then we tried the baseline tests that Uncle Jake gave to Marc at the beginning of the summer.  We timed how many push-ups and sit-ups each kid could do in two minutes.  Then we tried out the other exercises that Marc did daily – like burpees, diamond push-ups, star jumps, etc.  They were really hard!

My Little Man came home with a new appreciation for discipline and ideas for ways that he could add some of these exercises into his daily routine.  I love that Willink wanted to inspire kids to set goals and improve themselves, and Mr. Fuller did a great job of bringing that message home in person.  

If you’re looking for a book for your book club, class, or young reader, give Way of the Warrior a read.  It’s definitely worth it.

What are your kids reading this week?


Warrior Kid

What are your thoughts?

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