3 Martial Arts Books That Changed the World | The Best of All Time

Martial arts books have been published as long as mankind has been fighting–and that’s a long time! As different combat styles were developed, men and women wrote the basic tenets and virtues of their art.

From The Art of War to Ultimate Flexibility to Bruce Lee’s work on Jeet Kune Do, books have helped to preserve the essence of the arts, which can often be lost as they are passed down from generation to generation.

Throughout time, some of these books have influenced the world of martial arts to a great degree. While it would be impossible to rank the best books on this subject, today we will look at three such books that each changed the world of martial arts.

Jiu-Jitsu University

Saulo Ribeiro—six-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion—is world-renowned for his functional jiu-jitsu knowledge and flawless technique. In Jiu-Jitsu University, Ribeiro shares with the public for the first time his revolutionary system of grappling, mapping out more than 200 techniques that carry you from white to black belt. Illuminating common jiu-jitsu errors and then illustrating practical remedies, this book is a must for all who train in jiu-jitsu. Not your run-of-the-mill technique book, Jiu-Jitsu University is a detailed training manual that will ultimately change the way jiu-jitsu is taught around the globe.

A Recent Amazon Review: “This book has been a fantastic find. I had no previous martial arts experience prior to joining the jiu jitsu gym I currently attend. I regularly attended classes twice a week for over a year. However, I started to get discouraged and felt like I was stagnating and making the same mistakes over and over. I also felt like I was missing something. I came across this book and decided to order it and I have been thrilled with the progress I have been able to make. I go over chapters as often as possible and I feel like I have been able to close so many gaps in my defense that I didn’t even know I had. Maybe this was because I didn’t go to class enough but I’m more inclined to think that it is more because my coach simply doesn’t cover some of the more basic stuff because he doesn’t want to bore the higher belts. Regardless, the higher belts have a much harder time submitting me and I have begun to develop my offensive game (at last!!) because I am confident in my defense. If you feel like you are stagnating in your jiu jitsu buy this book and READ and STUDY it. Lots of great pictures and illustrations, as well as explanations.” -Dave

About the Authors: Saulo Ribeiro and Kevin Howell

Saulo Ribeiro (born July 2, 1974), brother of the equally famous Xande Ribeiro, is a 5th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After earning a black belt in Judo, he began his training of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro under Royler Gracie, the son of Hélio Gracie, at the famous Gracie Humaitá. Saulo received his black belt in BJJ on November 27, 1995. Less than 2 years later, he won his first MMA fight. He also won the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship five times, in an equal amount of varying weight classes. Ribeiro, along with his jiu-jitsu achievements, is a lawyer and judge and now head instructor at the world-famous University of Jiu-Jitsu based in San Diego, CA.

Kevin Howell is a political science professor based in Huntington Beach, CA. He holds a brown belt in judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi’s Go Rin no Sho or The Book of Five Rings, is considered a classic treatise on military strategy, much like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Chanakya’s Arthashastra. The five “books” refer to the idea that there are different elements of battle, just as there are different physical elements in life, as described by Buddhism, Shinto, and other Eastern religions. Through the book Musashi defends his thesis: a man who conquers himself is ready to take it on on the world, should need arise.

To learn a Japanese martial art is to learn Zen, and although you can’t do so simply by reading a book, it sure does help–especially if that book is The Book of Five Rings. One of Japan’s great samurai sword masters penned in decisive, unfaltering terms this certain path to victory, and like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War it is applicable not only on the battlefield but also in all forms of competition. Always observant, creating confusion, striking at vulnerabilities–these are some of the basic principles. Going deeper, we find suki, the interval of vulnerability, of indecisiveness, of rest, the briefest but most vital moment to strike. In succinct detail, Miyamoto records ideal postures, blows, and psychological tactics to put the enemy off guard and open the way for attack. Most important of all is Miyamoto’s concept of rhythm, how all things are in harmony, and that by working with the rhythm of a situation we can turn it to our advantage with little effort. But like Zen, this requires one task above all else, putting the book down and going out to practice.

A recent Amazon review: Less of a read, more of a guide. One that should be read over and over. If you practice the teachings in conjunction with the book, you will find that not only your fighting skills will benefit, but overall awareness, well-being, wisdom, etc. will be enhanced. Just because sword fighting is a lost art form does not mean that it should be studied less or does not apply to many other art forms or forms of combat. My only issue with the book is that it should be longer. However, perhaps that is the point. Since every word has immense substance, and though there are little, every inch should all be taken heavily.

About the Author: Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵?, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent, and unique double bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 60 duels. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and in his final years authored the The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書 Go Rin No Sho), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition

Vividly illustrating the techniques of a legendary innovator, Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method is a definitive examination explains how to survive attacks on the street, increase training awareness, and develop body movements. Originally compiled as a four-volume series, this revised edition breathes new life into a classic work with digitally-enhanced photography of jeet kune do founder Bruce Lee in his prime, a new chapter by former Lee student Ted Wong, and an introduction by Shannon Lee. This renowned compendium once again reclaims its place as an integral part of the Lee canon and a necessary addition for collectors and martial arts enthusiasts alike.

A recent Amazon review: This is the fourth volume in the Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method series. I strongly suggest you read the previous three volumes(Self-Defense Techniques, basic Training and Skill in Techniques)to better understand this book. For most of my life I have seriously trained in numerous martial arts and (Judo, Karate, Jujitsu, Kobudo, Kenjutsu, Krav Maga, Combatives and Police Defensive Tactics) many weapon systems. I have also been interested in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, having trained with someone who was a student of a Jeet Kune Do instructor many years ago.

This excellent book focuses on improving your basic Jeet Kune Do skills covered in previous volumes. The first two chapters explain simple and compound attacks, feinting with the leading hand, timing, straight left to the body, proper use of the backfist, hook punch and uppercut. The next two chapters cover attacks with kicks, showing how to lead with the shin and knee kicks, powerful side kick, how to feint with a kick, the hook, spin and sweep kicks. Defense and counter methods are also taught showing how to counter-attack using various methods such as stop-hit with punch or kicks. The final chapter teaches how to use speed, attitude, and how to deal with mechanical and intelligent fighters.

In conclusion, this book along with the other three volumes will give you a solid basic background which when combined with training under a certified Jeet Kune Do instructor, will make you a better fighter.

About the Authors: Bruce Lee and M. Uyehara

Bruce Lee was an iconic figure in martial arts who pioneered the concept of jeet kune do from his physical training, personal research, and formal education in philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle. Lee also trained in Wing Tsun (Wing Chun) under Grandmaster Yip Man. He acted in several motion pictures, including The Big Boss, Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, and Way of the Dragon. He is the author of Tao of Jeet Kune Do. M. Uyehara is an aikido practitioner and the founder of Black Belt magazine. He served as the owner for more than 30 years and studied jeet kune do under Bruce Lee. He lives near Honolulu, Hawaii.