Reading books can cut your learning curve in half.
Human beings are unique in their ability to learn from the mistakes of others. Regarding the learning ability of humans, Richard Dawkins said that "survival machines that can simulate the future are one jump ahead of survival machines who can only learn on the basis of overt trial and error. The trouble with overt trial is that it takes time and energy." Are you actively trying to learn from the mistakes of others?
Books are one of the best ways to "simulate the future" because you are quite literally downloading information from greater minds into your brain. While reading, you get a sense for how the person might have thought and how they liked to express themselves. You're syncing their thoughts closer with your own.
There are many Technique books in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that will teach you everything from Closed Guard sweeps to Heel Hook transitions and I believe those are in a different genre than what many are searching for in a martial arts book. In this article, I will share some of my favorite books regarding martial arts philosophy, lifestyle, and history. Learn from some of the greatest in the martial arts:
1. The Zen Way to the Martial Arts by Taisen Deshimaru
Master Deshimaru was the last surviving student of the last living Samurai. Written in the 1920s, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts was written by the students of Master Deshimaru to ensure his wisdom was passed down through the generations.
This is an exceptional book if you want to learn about old-school martial arts philosophy. Learn how the Samurai lived, thought, trained, and how they approached teaching and thinking about Judo, meditation, and traditional martial arts.
2. Judo Heart and Soul by Hayward Nishioka
The first book about the martial arts I ever read, Judo Heart and Soul is filled with knowledge from Black Belt Hall of Fame member and Multiple time Judo champion, Hayward Nishioka. In this book, Mr. Nishioka shares insightful stories, metaphors, and practical training surrounding Judo. If you are looking for deep meaningful lessons combined with old-school approaches to training, this book is for you.
My first Judo coach told me to read this book over and over again until I memorized the words. I tried my best ;) I still have that first copy and I flip through the book all the time. Each page provides new insights. A must read!
3. Falling Hard by Mark Law
Judo is the father of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and one of the most effective martial arts in the world. In the book Falling Hard, by Mark Law, receive a richly detailed look at the history of Judo. You will learn the stories of all the greatest champions in Judo and also read about how the best teams in the world structure their randori sessions, strength and conditioning, and lifestyle.
Mark Law also provides some relateable struggles as he jumps into the sport of Judo. A middle aged author when he starts, Mark falls in love with Judo and tells his story of how Judo has started changing his life.