5 Jiu Jitsu Books That You Must Own
By: Daniel Frank
It is true that printed media is rapidly going out of style. The newspaper, the magazine, and the book have become endangered due to the rise of technology and the proliferation of computers. Soon, printed media will be found mostly in museums and antique shops. Before that time leaps upon us there is still a chance to find some fantastic books about jiu jitsu. The following is a list of the top five books about jiu jitsu that do not focus on technique instruction.
1. ‘Choque: Volumes 1, 2, and 3: The Untold Story of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil’ by Roberto Pedreira
‘Choque’ means ‘conflict’ in Portuguese. These books, as a collection, are very academic and are a compilation of direct source material from Brazilian newspapers from the years 1856-1999. The results of a night of fights, an exposition, an opening of an academy, anything related to jiu jitsu, vale tudo, or luta livre is covered in these books. These volumes present the facts as they were described in the press. These books provide an interesting insight into the early workings of jiu jitsu in Brazilian society, a look at little known and forgotten figures in history, and also a background on a fair share of history that has been slanted one way, or another, over time.
2. ‘Jiu Jitsu in the South Zone, 1997-2008’ by Roberto Pedreira
Jiu Jitsu in the South Zone is the story of the author’s eleven year journey, from white belt to black belt. More importantly the book is a compilation of the author’s visits to academies in the Zona Sul [South Zone] of Rio de Janeiro. The author visits various academies such as Master, Gracie Humaita, Alliance, Corpo Quatro, and Carlson Gracie Academy. He also trains with such luminaries as Leka Vieira, Sergio Penha, Murilo Bustamante, George Mehdi, Ricardo de la Riva, and others.
As fantastic as his experiences are traveling to and training at these academies, along with meeting legends in the sport, the real tale comes in the author’s persistence in training and learning from all types of instructors. Not all classes at famous academies are taught by the instructor with his name on the front door. This book is a good demonstration that a willing student can learn anywhere as long as they are open to instruction.
3. ‘A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting’ by Sam Sheridan
Despite the fact that this whole book is not dedicated solely to jiu jitsu, Sam Sheridan’s book makes it onto my list. The author travels around the world, learning various martial arts, in an attempt to train and compete in mixed martial arts. The author spends time learning boxing with Andre Ward. He also trains Muay Thai in Thailand and MMA in the United States, with Pat Militech’s team. Injuries prevent the author from fully enjoying his time spent with the Brazilian Top Team, but he does interact with members on the team and travels with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to Japan to fight in Pride.
Being the only book on this list that is not full engrossed in jiu jitsu, but is still able to make its way onto the list, proves that it is a book not to be missed. The manner in which the book is organized permits the reader to skip sections if they would like to (especially if you find dog fighting as reprehensible as I do) and still not miss out on the overall tone of the story.
4. ‘Training Wheels: How a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Road Trip Jumpstarted My Search for a Fulfilling Life’ by Valerie Worthington For most people, a major life crisis would lead to disasters: financial, emotional, and physical. For Val Worthington it led her on a jiu jitsu road trip. Her book is a mix of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ with a primer on arm bars, rear naked chokes, and tap outs. Her journey begins as her life is unraveling in Chicago, Illinois. Instead of letting that unraveling take control of her completely, she packs up her car and crisscrosses the nation. She discovers old friends, new friends, new academies, and herself. This book is easy to pace through and keeps the reader enthralled throughout. For any jiu jitsu practitioner that has had the desire to travel and do jiu jitsu, it is a must read.
5. ‘The Cauliflower Chronicles: A grappler’s tale of self-discovery and island living’ by Marshal D. Carper
If you thought that the journey from white belt to blue belt was a difficult one, then you should pick up Marshal Carper’s story about his journey. Beginning with a young breakup, Marshal heads out into the unknown in search of a new start with the goal of attaining his blue belt in jiu jitsu one day. Marshal describes the emotions and tribulations that all young grapplers go through while striving to get better in the ‘gentle art’. Not only does the vaunted blue belt beckon, like the Holy Grail, but the adventure and excitement of a new environment, a different culture, and a cadre of strangers drives the reader into burning through the pages to find out what happens next.
These books have and will find their way into digital form. There is still, always, the satisfaction of sitting back and relaxing with a book in your hand as you transport yourself into the events that unfold upon the page. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to read these fine examples of jiu jitsu in print.