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.


Bruce Lee, Ip Man, and Wing Chun Kung Fu

What is Wing Chun Kung Fu?

From Wikipedia: Wing Chun is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilising both striking and grappling while specializing in close range combat.

Grandmaster Yip Man and Bruce Lee

Yip Man and Bruce Lee

Yip Man and Bruce Lee

Wing Chun gained considerable notoriety in part because of Bruce Lee. Lee trained under Master Yip Man (Ip Man) who taught the following core principles:

1. Remain disciplined – uphold yourself ethically as a martial artist

2. Practice courtesy and righteousness – serve the community and honor your family

3. Love your fellow students or classmates – be united and avoid conflicts

4. Limit your desires and pursuit of bodily pleasures – preserve the proper spirit

5. Train diligently and make it a habit – never let the skill leave your body

6. Learn to develop spiritual tranquility – abstain from arguments and fights

7. Participate in society – be conservative, cultured and gentle in your manners

8. Help the weak and the very young – use your martial skill for the good of humanity

9. Pass on the tradition – preserve the Chinese arts and its Rules of Conduct

The moment I engaged in combat with an opponent, my mind was completely perturbed and unstable. Especially after a series of exchanging blows and kicks, all my theory of gentleness was gone. My only thought left was somehow or another I must beat him and win.

“My instructor, Professor Yip Man, head of the wing chun school, would come up to me and say: ‘Relax and calm your mind. Forget about yourself and follow your opponent’s movement. Let your mind, the basic reality, do the countermovement without any interfering deliberation. Above all, learn the art of detachment.’

-Bruce Lee

Learn Wing Chun From Sifu Chuck O’Neill

There is now a video-based course on the art of Wing Chun from Sifu Chuck O’Neill–a 3rd generation instructor from the great Grandmaster Yip Man. (Yip Man => Moy Yat => Nelson Chan => Chuck O’Neill).

This is the most thorough and comprehensive video course available, and right now, you can get your copy at a discounted price by following this link: ==>> Wing Chun Online Course

Watch These Testimonials:

“Hey Sifu Chuck. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve recently bought two of your videos, Chi Sau 1 and 2. As a matter of fact, I just finished watching the first video and I have to say that you do a great job explaining each drill. I especially like that you introduce, review, and add a final key point. I also learned a lot from the last few drills (Jip Sau/Jup Sao) because in my classes, we have never done anything like that and looking ack I feel like I could have benefited and accelerated my Chi Sao training.” Edgar Ong, New York, NY

“I was interested in learning at least the basics of Wing Chun, but I travel extensively for work which makes it almost impossible to participate in instructor lead training. Though I was prepared to be disappointed, I purchased the Sil Lim Tau and Chi Sau videos. I found them to be extremely well presented and very easy to follow with lots of repetition and explanation… I couldn’t be happier. Thanks!” T Purlman

“Dear Sifu Chuck, I really appreciate you making something like this available. After learning the first Sim Lim Tao form from you, picking this second video (Chum Kiu Form) up was a no-brainer! I’ve taken live classes, but the instructors were always too busy to offer individual form critique, which I find more important than simply striking in combinations. Your videos give me the opportunity to repeat forms over and over while you explain the details of why and how. Thank you so much!” John Anderson

Learn more about Sifu Chuck O’Neill’s Learn Wing Chun Online now!

Learn How to Choose a Bo Staff for Traditional or XMA Forms

Learn How to Do a Basic Bo Staff Release


How To Choose the Best Traditional or XPT Bo Staff

The bo staff,  joong bong (Korean), bang (Chinese), or kun (Okinawan), is a long slender wooden weapon used in Japanese martial arts.

How is a Bo Staff Made?

Bo staffs are traditionally made of wood with several different types commonly used. Typically a hard or flexible wood may be used, like red oak or white oak, although bamboo and pine wood, which is much softer, have been used. Rattan wood is the most common species used in traditional bo staffs.

Traditional bos are round, square, hexagonal, or octagonal and relatively long. The standard length is 6 ft (1.8 m), but some are made up to 9 ft (2.7 m) in length. These weapons are made to be strong and durable as they were traditionally created for combat and had to hold up against multiple strikes.

XPT or Extreme Performance Training has brought about a new type of bo staff, which is much lighter and flashy. These bos are made for competition forms and not for fighting. Extreme bos are usually tapered so they are thicker in the center than on the ends. They are also coated in glossy paint or a reflective film to create a flash effect when manipulated quickly.

How Do I Choose the Correct Bo Staff?

Choosing the right bo staff will depend on the following 3 factors:

  1. Length: In today’s competition circuits such as NASKA (North American Sport Karate Circuit) or ATA (American Taekwondo Association), a general rule of thumb is to select a bo staff that is about as long as you are tall. However, if this staff is for XPT or Creative forms, you may want to settle on one that is 2-4 inches shorter.

    Here is world champion bo staff competitor, Jackson Rudolph to talk about selecting the right length.

  2.  Weight: A heavy bo is good for traditional forms or strength training and are typically less expensive. These staffs are weapons and should be used under the supervision of a trained instructor. Lighter bos are used in Extreme and Creative weapons competition. These staffs are made of light weight wood such as bamboo or lotus, and some are even made of graphite.
  3. Style: Competitors who are performing both traditional and creative forms will want at least 2 different bo staffs. Any traditional form should utilize a heavier, wooden bo. When performing a traditional kata, a martial artist will often wear a traditional, heavy, white gi. When doing so, you may want to consider a darker stained bo staff to stand out with higher contrast against your uniform. This bo staff from Century Martial Arts is perfect for traditional forms. For creative forms, look at purchasing a bo with a flashy foil design to really highlight your performance. The Jackson Rudolph Signature Bo from Century is a great staff for CMX.

No matter which bo staff you choose, always keep it protected with a quality PVC case. We prefer the hardness of the PVC case rather than a soft bag to  better handle the long road trips without ever breaking your weapon.

World Champion Bo Staff Forms

It is so inspiring to see others who have achieved the pinnacle of excellence perform. Here are a couple bo staff forms to keep you inspired:

Grand Champion Traditional Bo Staff Form by Sammy Smith

Sammy is a third degree “Black Belt” in Tae Kwon Do as well as a “Black Belt” in Kenpo Karate. She trains six days a week, about two to three hours a day . She has taught classes to students both younger and older than her. She can often be seen helping fellow students learn the bo staff, nunchakus and kamas. She knows more than 60 Kenpo and Tae Kwondo katas (a series of forms). She is also a certified Hyper Martial Arts Instructor and teaches a weekly competition team classes at Epic Martial Arts.  She is also a full time student at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, majoring in exercise science. (Source: sammysmith.org)

Grand Champion Extreme Bo Staff Form by Jackson Rudolph

Jackson now holds 30 World Titles across ISKA, NASKA, and WKA and has won the ISKA World Title 4 times back to back. Jackson is a professional model and actor and has done work for companies such as Sunny Delight, Sylvan Learning, Big Time Toys, Lifeway, Target and others. (Source: hypermartialarts.com)


How To Do A Basic Bo Staff Release | Jackson Rudolph

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Advanced Training:

A basic release is essential to any advanced CMX weapons form as it is used in several tricks such as a 360, 720, or other insanely awesome moves. Here’s how to perform a basic bo staff release with your right hand:

  1. Start with the bo in your left hand, thumb up. From here, you are going to rotate the bo down and behind your back. From there, your right hand is going to meet your left behind your back. Notice in the video that any time your hands meet behind the back, your thumbs are facing each other.
  2. From here, you will bring the bow around with your right hand, rotating so that your right thumb is facing down. Bring the bow in front of your body to begin rotation for the toss.
  3. Rotate your hand as you hold the bow all the way over until you palm is facing up, which will be a 270 degree wrist rotation. From there, the momentum of the bo will cause it to continue to rotate onto your thumb, which you will use to push the staff into the air.

As you practice step-by-step, you will notice that there is no rotation on the bo when you get to the point of release, and that is because there is no momentum due to stopping before the toss. Rotation speed will increase as you get more comfortable with the movement.

The purpose of starting this move with a pass behind the back is to increase the speed of rotation, which is what you want for an amazing toss.

As you practice this technique, be sure not to grab down at the bo staff. It’s a very good way to smack your bo into the floor! Remember to keep your left palm up and let the bo fall into your hand. Gravity is your friend, and the bo will fall back down. You don’t have to reach out and grab it.

Once you get a good feel for the release, you can start to get more creative with it by catching it behind your back, behind your head, inserting a 360 degree spin, or other creative element.

Remember that if you can develop a feel of the weapon to where that weapon is an extension of your body, you will always have complete control over it. So if you can just practice for half an hour a day with your weapon, twirling it around, and just playing with it, you will find yourself more and more comfortable in attempting tricks of greater difficulty.

For great tips on choosing the right bo staff, be sure and check out Karate Kid Dojo.

Check out the Jackson Rudolph Signature Bo Staff from Century Martial Arts

Jackson is a 43-time sport karate world champion and 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In addition to being a member of the world renowned Team Paul Mitchell Karate, he is a Hyper Pro Athlete for Hyper Marital Arts, and a professional athlete for Century Martial Arts.


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