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Even if it Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality

Even if it Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and Roll, and Mortality


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Benjamin Franklin Award SILVER WINNER - 2017
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 Kills Me is 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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594395390
Publisher: YMAA Publication Center
Publication date: 10/01/2017
Pages: 234
Sales rank: 1,174,525
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Donivan Blair is the bassist for the rock band the Toadies. Over the past twenty-five years he has recorded seventeen albums and toured the world. Spoiler alert: He holds a first-degree black belt in taekwondo. Donivan Blair lives in Amarillo, Texas, and trains in a shed behind his house.

Table of Contents

Preface: Going Back xi

First Glass 1

Searching for a School 7

The Local WTF Affiliate 11

Training Nights 15

Somewhere Else 21

The Dao of Armadillo Eggs 27

Garage Days Revisited 33

Sparring with Owen 39


Amarillo Belt 47

Unity or Something Like It 51

Vasectomy: The Best Decision I Ever Made 55

Midlife Crisis 63

Lost in Translation 67

OCD: Better Than Coffee Any Day 71

A New Twist 75

Don't Call Me a Rock Star 79

In My Shed, Where I Belong 85

Have You Ever Had to Use It? 91

On Practicing 99

Wheel of Torture 107

"Strategery" 111

'Cause a Guy Reads Comics He Can't Start Some Shit? 115

Leaving 121

The Drop-In, Part 1: Denton 125

A Man's Got to Know His Limitations 131

Reality Check 135

Let Me off This Damn Bus 141

The Drop-In, Part 2: Los Angeles 147

Blair vs. the Frigidaire 151

Insomniac Boxing 157

Ouch: A Brief Résumé of Pain 163

Students Take the Lead 167

I Had a Dad 173

Martial Spirit 179

Reflections before the Big Test 183

Black-Belt Test 187

Fear 193

New Year's Resolutions 197

So Long 201

We Fight On 209

Acknowledgments 217

About the Author 219

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