It doesn’t matter what style of martial arts you practice you should always be on the lookout for knowledge. An excellent source of knowledge can be found in books and since we are in the age of technology and media you can find quality books and videos everywhere. Whether you practice karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, or muay thai you should be trying to add to your set of skills to make yourself a complete martial artist. Every good martial artist knows that it’s not only your body that you must strengthen, but also your mind and spirit. Reading books on martial arts philosophy can help you develop your own philosophy and lead you down the path of the warrior. Here is a list of books that every martial artist should read. This list contains books on philosophy, striking, and grappling. As you make your way through this list don’t become consumed with the titles of the books or the style of martial arts. Focus on the individuals techniques and the messages and use them to complete yourself. Your goal should be to learn as much as you can so that you are not someone who does martial arts, but someone who IS a martial artist.
Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams: This is an excellent book that will sharpen your martial arts skills and take you to a whole nether level. Every time you read it you will get something different from it. There is no instruction on specific techniques, but more of a focus on some of the aspects that many overlook. This book is relatively small and is a quick read. You won’t be disappointed if you pick this book up.
Karate-Do by Gichin Funakoshi: This autobiography by the great master, Gichin Funakoshi, is a must for every student of karate. This book is a very easy read and each time you look at it you can learn something. Sure most people might not like it since it is an autobiography, however students of any art will be able to learn from the lessons and life experiences of Funakoshi.
The Way Alone by Loren Christensen: This is one of my favorite books and I frequently pull it out for motivation and when I need to pick my training up a bit. It is inevitable that you will have to train on your own at some point in your martial arts career and this book will help you out a lot. This book covers the mental and physical aspects of training and gives you tips to come up with great training routines.
Fighter’s Fact Book by Loren Christensen: Another great book by Loren Christensen is the Fighter’s Fact Book. This book is very practical and has tons of applications for self defense, work out tips, and ideas, plus loads of other information to help you with your training. Loren Christensen is an excellent author with a lot of martial arts knowledge. Every book of his that I have read I liked and I think you will too.
Bas Rutten Book of Combat Vol 1 & 2 by Bas Rutten: Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student of martial arts these books will be beneficial to you. These two volumes are massive are packed with with a wealth of knowledge. Some consider these books the bible of mma and it is no wonder why. These are a must have in your library as you can go back to them over and over again.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Theory & Technique: This was the first jiu-jitsu book I picked up and I learned a lot from it. The Gracies give you a history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as a perspective on the sport today. This book also gives you step by step instruction on a multitude of techniques. This is a great reference book and will help you understand some techniques before you get a chance to practice them.
Mixed Martial Arts Instruction Manual/ Striking by Anderson Silva: Silva is a world class striker and in his instruction manual you will go over different strikes. This book covers all the stuff you need to know like stances, foot work, elbows, punching, kicking, knees, counter attacks, and the clinch. Silva’s book is a great manual for the beginning martial artist.
I’m sure that there are loads more books that every martial artist should read and like you I am still trying to discover them and absorb the material. The point I am trying to make is read everything that you can. If you truly want to be the best martial artist possible then you have to be learning all the time.