We’ve talked about five ways to get better at BJJ off the mats. Yes, they’re great tips for much of the BJJ community, but without self-study, trainees and athletes can only get so far. Besides mapping game plans and visualizing, reading the best jiu jitsu books is a must for improvement.
We’ve hand-picked the eight best jiu-jitsu books that every martial artist should read. These BJJ books not only confer greater insight into the art, but they also provide readers a reminder of what the sport is all about.
Indulge your autodidactic tendencies with these eight great BJJ books!
1. A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Stephan Kesting
Stephan Kesting is one of the most popular BJJ black belts on Youtube. Known for his Grapplearts Youtube channel, Stephan Kesting is a master at providing tutorials and guides. And he puts his powers of succinctness in written form in his book!
A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a must-read for the beginner who needs more direction in their mat game. The book provides illustrated explanations of positions in BJJ and a succinct guide to the most high-percentage submissions and transitions — many of which are on Kesting’s Youtube channel!
Intermediate and advanced athletes will also benefit from the explanations in A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Kesting lays out often-overlooked details in positions and submissions seasoned veterans of the mat game will appreciate.
A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a must-have for BJJ athletes of all skill levels.
2. Jiu-Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro
Not many BJJ books present information in a way that speaks to certain belt levels. One of the few that accomplishes this is Saulo Ribeiro’s Jiu-Jitsu University.
Jiu-Jitsu University is a masterpiece of BJJ authorship by Professor Ribeiro. In this book, Ribeiro explains and demonstrates over 200 techniques. The book presents these techniques by belt level, allowing the reader to see progressions and regressions depending on need.
The book also presents what the professor sees as “the most common errors in BJJ.” He presents each mistake and guides readers on actionable ways to address or correct these errors.
Saulo Ribeiro’s insights on training focus make Jiu-Jitsu University a gem of wisdom for the BJJ practitioner. He outlines what the trainee should focus on at each step of the jiu-jitsu journey. For this reason, Jiu-Jitsu University is an excellent read for athletes of all skill levels.
3. 5 Rules for White Belts by Chris Matakas
The hardest step in learning jiu-jitsu is the first. 5 Rules for White Belts is the perfect companion to the journey!
5 Rules for White Belts is an excellent primer for beginners in an academy or on the fence about joining one. Chris Matakas outlines the five key principles in the book meant to guide white belts as they start BJJ.
Concise in the presentation of concepts, the book is a brief 100 pages long. The brevity of the book makes it accessible to white belts and a useful guide for more experienced athletes.
4. Breathe: A Life in Flow by Rickson Gracie and Peter Maguire
Sometimes, we need examples to see what to aspire to in the sport. A book that kindles the fires of learning and inspiration is Gracie and Maguire’s Breathe: A Life in Flow.
Breathe: A Life in Flow is by Rickson Gracie and Peter Maguire. Gracie is one of the pioneers of BJJ and MMA. In its pages, readers can learn about Rickson Gracie’s BJJ journey and his early MMA battles. Rickson Gracie also writes his recollections of family and the tutelage of Helio Gracie.
Breathe: A Life in Flow is a captivating glimpse into the mind of one of the sport’s pioneers — and if that isn’t reason enough to get the book, how about this? Jocko Willink wrote the foreword!
5. Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain by Mark Johnson
It’s easy to glamorize BJJ, but Mark “Westside” Johnson brings back the human aspects of the mat game in Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain.
Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain is Mark Johnson’s refreshing take on BJJ. Johnson writes about his reflections on Jiu-Jitsu, detailing real human struggles fought in the academy and the mind.
Non-technical in its presentation, Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain contains anecdotes that hit close to home. Johnson writes about the difficulties of every BJJ athlete, from tending to injuries to gas during rolls!
Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain is a refreshing and down-to-earth reminder of what BJJ is all about. It’s the perfect book for all BJJ athletes who need a breather from drills and sparring.
6. The Cauliflower Chronicles: A Grappler’s Tale of Self-Discovery and Island Living by Marshal D. Carper
Marshal D. Carper details his adventures in The Cauliflower Chronicles: A Grappler’s Tale of Self-Discovery and Island Living. In the book, Carper goes in-depth about the time he left home to move to Hawaii. He gets into the details about his decision to move and his training at BJ Penn’s BJJ Academy in Hilo, Hawaii.
More than a collection of memoirs, The Cauliflower Chronicles shows how jiu-jitsu’s benefits go beyond improved fitness and confidence. The book presents BJJ as a bridge to connection and self-discovery.
7. Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed: A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Hottest Martial Arts by Eddie Bravo
Everyone who knows anyone in jiu-jitsu knows the master of the rubber guard himself — Eddie Bravo. Famous for pioneering no-gi jiu-jitsu, Eddie Bravo unleashes his mastery of the art in his book, Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed.
Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed is a rich encyclopedia of no-gi jiu-jitsu techniques. In its pages are illustrated guides on positions and techniques that aren’t in classic BJJ. From his Rubber Guard to the Truck, the moves in the book are as endless as Bravo’s imagination.
Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed is excellent for any student looking to push the boundaries of their mat game.
8. Opening Closed Guard: The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil by Robert Drysdale
There’s no doubt that Robert Drysdale is one of the best black belts in the world, but in Opening Closed Guard: The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, Drysdale displays his inner historian and journalist. In it, he lays breadcrumbs that readers can follow to the true origins of jiu-jitsu in Brazil.
Robert Drysdale spreads out the results of his research and interviews into a factual narrative that demystifies the art. Opening Closed Guard clarifies many myths and misconceptions about the emergence of BJJ, from its early rules to its adoption in the country.
For a deep dive into the mat game’s roots, no other book comes closer than Drysdale’s Opening Closed Guard.
Strengthen Your Body and Sharpen Your Mind With The Best Jiu Jitsu Books!
Reading is to the mind what drilling is to your muscle memory. Sharpen your skills and your mind with these BJJ books, and you’ll be adding training time without setting foot in the academy!