In today’s world, learning is a very multifaceted activity. Classes are, of course, the absolute best way of learning. There’s no substitute for going to regular class. The structure of class means you get to learn new stuff, try them out and then engage in sparring with multiple different opponents. In addition, there are also open mats, private lessons, DVDs and YouTube videos and online forums. However, there’s one learning tool that is just as important as all of the above, yet people today seem to have forgotten about it. BJJ books play an ever-important role in the development of grapplers, which is why we shouldn’t shy away. Unlike real-time classes, live sparring, and video instructionals, BJJ books bring something completely different to the table.
While you can’t actually learn martial arts from books, you can learn a lot about them. BJJ books provide information on the Gentle Art that you can’t really obtain otherwise. The thing with books is that they do not have to be a source of learning specific techniques. On the contrary, BJJ books are there for the greater picture of BJJ as well as extremely specific subjects. Books are crucial in the development of high-level grapplers. that said, every grappler should have an essential BJJ book collection right next to their DVD collection. This is the only way of truly covering all the bases and using every available learning tool to better yourself.
Learning From BJJ Books
While learning about a martial art from a book might sound like old school as it gets, stops and think about it. There’s a reason why BJJ books still keep coming out, even in the digital age. Back in the day, before all the DVDs, digital instructionals, podcasts, and YouTube, BJJ books were the only source of knowledge outside of the Academy. And even then, books on the subjects were quite scarce, given the subject matter and how recent BJJ is as a martial art.
The first thing to understand about learning from books is to manage expectation. This is especially true for younger generations, who are used to digital instruction way more than a written one. As you’ll see further on, BJJ books tend to focus on a bunch of different subjects, despite all of them being specific for the art. As such, you’ll need to choose the subject that pertains to you most at the moment. For example, if you’re a complete beginner, something about the history, meaning and overall structure of Jiu-Jitsu should be you’re after. Conversely, if you’re an advanced competitor, perhaps looking into BJJ concepts will benefit you more than choosing a book that explains techniques. Even biographical books, outlining people’s experiences in the art can have significant learning impact on you at a certain point of your grappling journey.
Finally, remember that learning via books does not mean carrying around a 500-page paperback with you at all times. While for most, a real book is preferable, there’s nothing wrong with digital books. Just get your whole collection in E-book format and you can have it with you everywhere you go. To that extent, even audio books might have a place, but not many BJJ related ones are available in this format.
The Top BJJ Books For Your Collection
Today, unlike a decade or so ago, the choice of BJJ books is huge. that, of course, means that the quality is also somewhat diluted. Since there’s no real overview, even a fake black belt could come out with a book nowadays. This means that you might end up paying for information that has nothing to do with actual Jiu-Jitsu. To that extent, we’ll try to help you reduce the clutter as much s possible. To that extent, we’ll outline the 8 best of the best books that every grappler should have in their collection.
Before we get into the actual book choices, let’s try and define the characteristics of the “perfect book”. First and foremost, the author must know what they’re talking about. A renowned coach/competitor, regardless of the belt, needs to be the author. Furthermore, the language needs to be understandable for grapplers of all levels. Next, it is preferable for the book to be available in both digital and hardcopy versions. Finally, the books need to be as extensive as possible, containing information prudent to beginner and advanced students alike.
While the perfect book might not exist, we managed to put together the perfect BJJ books collection for you. Read and enjoy!
1. Mastering Jiu-jitsu by Renzo Gracie, John Danaher, and Carlos Gracie Jr.
Surprise, surprise. The number one title you need to acquire for your BJJ books collection is a piece by John Danaher. It seems that escaping the eccentric Jiu-Jitsu savant is impossible. Well at least if you want to really become world-class. This time, however, Danaher features as part of a very, very good collaboration between real Jiu-Jitsu masters. Joining him in this volume are Renzo Gracie and Carlos Gracie Jr. The three of them produced one of the masterpieces of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when the written material is the topic.
“Mastering JuJitsu” is as close to the perfect book as you can get. It features everything you need to know about Jiu-Jitsu, broken down by three of the greatest coaches ever. The book features chapters on strategy, tactics and even specific technical instructions. What really makes this book stand out is the fact it offers a very precise explanation of the “phases of combat”. This means it focuses on everything, from primary engagement, through takedowns to finishing on the ground.
The book also covers an in-depth history of Jiu-Jitsu as well as profiles of some of the most prominent fighters as well as studies of their game.
2. Jiu-Jitsu University – Saulo Ribeiro
Saulo Ribeiro is a household name when it comes to BJJ. He already has a huge DVD set bearing the name “Jiu-Jitsu University”. What most people do not know, is that there’s also a book with the same title, predeceasing the video instructional by some time. If you truly want to understand Saulo’s concepts of BJJ, you need to acquire the book first, and the video material later on.
The “Jiu-Jitsu University” is all about simplifying BJJ for people who have no idea what it is. Beginners need to have this book as soon as they get their first Gi. It is an essential guide to what lies ahead on the mats. The book has a very specific methodology. It begins with explaining how to survive an offense or attack, before you transition into solid defense, and ultimately, launch your own, unstoppable offense. This book is all about the fundamentals of BJJ, along with a lot of the Ribeiro brothers’ philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu.
Something this book offers that you won’t find in any other title is the detailed breakdown of the BJJ belts. Saulo goes over every belt, explaining requirements, expectations and what to focus on. A true must-have for everyone!
3. The Gracie Way: An Illustrated History of the World’s Greatest Martial Arts Family by Kid Peligro
This one is also a must-have, purely because of its historical value. There’s no point in doing anything if you do not know the story behind it. And this book delivers the whole story behind the family responsible for the grappling addiction of today. The book features a very systematized overview of the Gracie family. Everyone, from Helio down to Ryron and Rener have their own chapter in the book. It goes over everything there is to know, from early beginnings, through the formation of the IBJJF and Gracie Barra, to the state of BJJ in recent times.
The book is also full of pictures from crucial moments in the development of the sport of BJJ as we know it today. It’s not just one for the history buffs, but a real gem that must be a part of your BJJ books collection.
4. Drill To Win by Andre Galvao
This one is a real staple. No matter for how long (or short) you’ve been involved in BJJ, you’ve heard of this one. And you’ve also most likely heard of the author. Andre Galvao is one of the top grapplers of all times. He is the man behind one of the most successful BJJ competition names – Atos Jiu-Jitsu. Galvao is also a multiple time world champion, both in IBJJF and the ADCC. This rich competitive pedigree of his is enough to make him an authority in the field. So when he writes a book about how to succeed in becoming a real grappling machine, there are no questions it is quality material.
“Drill to Win” is the ultimate guide to BJJ drills for competitors. Andre demonstrates how to correctly approach drilling and how to keep it fun while you’re doing it. He connects techniques into drills, ranging from beginner level to highly complicated advanced ones. The key thing you’ll learn from this book is how to recognize which parts of a technique are the most important to pay attention to. When you’re able to do that, you’ll know exactly what you need to drill to win.
5. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Globetrotter: The True Story About A Frantic, 140-Day Long, Around-The-World Trip To Train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Christian Graugart
Remember those experience-based books we talked about? Well, it’s time to include one in our ultimate BJJ books collection. And there’s hardly a better example of grappling experience and true Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle philosophy than that of a BJJ Globetrotter. Christian Graugart ran into a real emotional roller-coaster that drove him to start an incredible around-the-world journey based on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He traveled the world in about six months, focusing on nothing but BJJ during his trips. All the lessons, both good and bad, that he learned helped him shape his own BJJ philosophy which is he goes over in-depth in the book.
In case you are unaware, Christian started a whole movement named “BJJ Globetrotters” after his traveling experience. The Globetrotters travel the world to train BJJ and also organize highly entertaining camps at incredible locations. Learn how it all came to be and perhaps you’ll find an inspiration for your Jiu-Jitsu journey.
6. Advanced Jiu-Jitsu by Marcelo Garcia:
Who wouldn’t like to learn from Marcelo Garcia? Be it at a seminar, private, video instructional or a book! Well, as far as this final one is concerned, you can easily achieve it. Garcia has a book out, very appropriately named “Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”. In all honesty, I find that Garcia, much like Danaher is not a coach for complete beginners. he is one to guide advanced students into becoming the best version of themselves. This is exactly what his book is going to do for you.
Marcelo’s book is a highly technical one, which i why it is intended for advanced students. It covers more takedown techniques than any other book in our collection. Moreover, it features both attacking, defending and countering while on the feet. As it progresses, the book goes over a bunch of submission setups, all highly recognizable as Marcelo Garcia signature moves. Actually, when it comes to back attacks, this book should be the first choice learning tool!
7. BJJ Techniques To Defeat Bigger Stronger Opponents by Dan Faggella
Finally, one for all the “tiny” grapplers out there, me included. All of us smaller framed grapplers need a way to deal with heavier and stronger opponents, which often times, means everyone else in the gym. Dan Faggella is the hero of smaller grapplers, thanks to his blueprint for not only surviving but beating the bigger guys.
The most important thing Dan teaches in his book is the mindset. How you approach rolling/competing against bigger guys will determine your success. On top of that, he goes deep into the conceptual side of BJJ and how you can neutralize the obvious advantage bigger opponents have. Furthermore, he outlines numerous techniques that are real giant killers. A particular section to pay attention to is the guard passing one.
8. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Master Book by Helio Gracie
Helio Gracie’s book is probably the most comprehensive one ever produced when it comes to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. here’s a lot of important information in it with more than 1300 full colored pictures and explanations on techniques, Helio’s diet and much more. According to the fact that Helio is a creator of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu combat system, this one is a must-have if you’re into Gracie JJ, Helio and everything surrounding it.