In the modern world, when video tutorials, Instagram, and TikTok reels are so affordable and paid seminars of famous fighters are not expensive, fewer people think that books are very beneficial.
Still, Jiu-Jitsu fighters are called chess players for a reason. It is about the strategies and mind game, so a strong mind is as essential as a strong body.
I believe that, as other sciences, like Mathematics, or Physics, require reading, writing, and study, knowing and mastering Jiu-Jitsu at a high level also requires strengthening your mind with theoretical knowledge.
Watching 45 minutes or an hour of explanation videos is hard for me. I get tired easily watching the monitor, and books work better for me.
I have nothing against great fighters’ online classes, but some great books can increase your motivation and give you great information in more detail, too, and for some people, it might be even more beneficial.
In this MMAWhisperer book review, I break down the Top 10 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu books along the following considerations:
- Purpose of the book
- Topics covered
- Key takeaways from each book
I will not number them because my subjective opinion about ranking them might confuse you. I will just provide a broad review of the book, and after reading my review, you can decide whether this book is good for you or not.
Table of Contents
- 10. Mastering Jiu-Jitsu – Renzo Gracie
- 9. BJJ Techniques To Defeat Bigger And Stronger Opponents – Dan Faggella
- 8. The Gracie Way – Kid Peligro
- 7. Motivation: Stories On Life And Success From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts – Chuck J. Rylant
- 6. The Fighter’s Mind: Inside The Mental Game – Sam Sheridan
- 5. Breathe: A Life In Flow – Rickson Gracie
- 4. The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 1 -Jean Jacques Machado
- 3. The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 2 – Jean Jacques Machado
- 2. Jiu-Jitsu University – Saulo Ribeiro with Kevin Howell
- 1. 5 Rules for White Belts – Chris Matakas
- Final Thoughts About The Best BJJ Books
10. Mastering Jiu-Jitsu – Renzo Gracie
This book is one of my favorites, especially for Jiu-Jitsu beginners. It does not matter what you look for in a Jiu-Jitsu book. Theoretical knowledge, practical techniques, history, or self-defense, whatever it is, you can find it in Mastering Jiu-Jitsu by Renzo Gracie.
The best part of this book is that the techniques are illustrated and easy to understand.
It’s actually worth gifting it to anyone you know who does MMA as well. It is not the cheapest martial arts gift, but I believe it is worth it.
In this book, various BJJ positions are discussed. This book includes fighting from the clinch, takedowns, ground game, and any position you struggle to escape or attack.
The authors say a lot about the book itself. Renzo Gracie, Carlos Gracie Jr., and John Danaher, three of the best Jiu-Jitsu coaches, share their experience and knowledge, so this book will certainly improve your Jiu-Jitsu journey.
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9. BJJ Techniques To Defeat Bigger And Stronger Opponents – Dan Faggella
The name of this book interested me a lot.
The idea behind BJJ is that by using good technique, smaller guys should be able to defeat bigger and stronger fighters.
However, rolling on the mat makes it harder to defeat a much bigger guy.
Some techniques don’t work well against wider and muscular people, so smaller people need specific strategies. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you will get better as a white belt in BJJ.
Faggella shares all the experience and tactics that more petite guys should know. Also, there is much talk about the mentality and mindset of being a smaller guy in the gym.
Creating weight classes in competitions killed the incentive for people to learn the specific tactics against bigger guys.
Fighters try the same techniques against super heavyweight fighters that they attempt on lightweight fighters, and modern weight divisions effectively encourage it.
So, I believe this book can now be more valuable because in most gyms, people do not talk about changing your strategy based on the size of your opponent, not just their skillset.
Of course, size disparity is a massive problem for self-defense in the streets and even rolling on the mat during practice.
This book can also be very beneficial for women, who sometimes are in the minority and generally have to roll a lot with much larger, stronger opponents.
Also, if you train in a grappling art like Judo or BJJ for self-defense, then knowing how to fight bigger opponents is key.
8. The Gracie Way – Kid Peligro
I believe you can not be good at Jiu-Jitsu if you are not into Jiu-Jitsu.
BJJ is something that I love, and I was interested in how this sport was created and how hard people worked to create one of the most dominant martial arts against bigger and stronger opponents.
The Gracie Way is the book where you will read all the essential facts and stories about the Gracie family. How they managed to turn this street fighting technique into martial arts, and nowadays among the most dominant and demanded sports in MMA
You will hear the stories about what kind of challenges they faced.
For example, how Royce Gracie managed to become a widely famous mixed martial artist in the United States, who made his fighting style, BJJ, famous outside Brazil by winning the first three UFC championships.
This was of course after defeating more muscular and dangerous guys with his great submission games.
It is truly remarkable that Royce showed the world that to become a UFC fighter, you need to know Jiu-Jitsu.
There are also stories about Gracie’s family fighting with one of the most dangerous local drug gangs, so in a word, I do not think you will get bored with this book.
You will feel part of this history, and your connection to BJJ will increase after hearing all these stories. After this book, you will understand that you do not represent the sport, but the idea behind it.
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7. Motivation: Stories On Life And Success From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts – Chuck J. Rylant
I always believed that motivation had a more negative impact on us than positive.
Sure, it can make us start something. But, after having a lack of motivation, we stop, and we just wasted the days, weeks, or months doing something we didn’t finish.
However, sometimes after being overstressed by the everyday challenges, we need extra motivation to keep moving forward. These are the moments when we think that nobody understands what we feel and our struggle is unique.
The truth is what we are feeling on our worst days; someone, somewhere, has already felt it.
This book represents 12 stories of 12 BJJ black belts. They talk about their challenges, their feelings, the worst days, the sacrifices they made, the rewards, what it takes to be successful, and how to stay motivated.
After reading this book, you will understand if this is what you are looking for in life. This is not only about the BJJ, but about life itself.
We start doing something because we feel motivated, but we will face challenges we had no idea existed.
After reading this book, you will think about the rewards you want, the sacrifices you have to make to be successful, what determines success for you, and finally, whether success is something you want in life or not.
But the best part of this book is that this is not only applicable to BJJ but to every career in life.
6. The Fighter’s Mind: Inside The Mental Game – Sam Sheridan
This book is an excellent reminder that everyone is just a human being, and everyone feels the pain the same way we do.
Sometimes when we look at someone successful, we think that they are talented, had a greater background, got lucky, or consider them as someone unique who accomplished something, that we can not accomplish.
The reality is that they kept moving forward no matter what. They were not afraid of challenges and worked hard consistently.
As Rocky says, it’s not about how hard you can hit. Its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
Sheridan interviews many great fighters and gives us information about how they managed to handle their life problems, how they focused for years, their secrets, and how to take so much punishment and keep moving forward.
Different famous and dangerous athletes answer these questions from all around the world.
After reading this book, you will understand that you have the same chances as they had, and everything is up to you.
Life is a challenge, full of ups and downs, and everyone will face it. This book will help prepare you for the task.
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5. Breathe: A Life In Flow – Rickson Gracie
Breathe is more of a documentary book written by Rickson Gracie and offers his memories from the 20th century. This is the period when BJJ developed and became widely famous.
When I first started the book, I did not know who Rickson Gracie is, but as soon as I realized his fighting abilities and history, I decided I needed to know more about him.
Rickson Gracie’s name stands next to fighters like Bruce Lee, Chuck Noris, and Jackie Chan.
This book is an instant New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
The best part of this book is that I realized how much ego and pride could damage us.
I always knew that self-confidence is essential, you have to be ambitious if you want to be number one. It requires lots of self-confidence, but there is a fine line between being confident and being too complacent.
When you are self-satisfied, you stop improving. Lots of great fighters are too self-satisfied and think they do not need to improve and learn more.
This book is a must-read for anyone at any stage of their career.
For example. when I won my first MMA bout in under 1 minute, I thought I was the best. I took the second bout on four days’ short notice, and I ended up with that bout as a draw. I realized then that self-confidence almost made me lose.
This book is critical to me, and I believe it will also find a place in your library.
4. The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 1 -Jean Jacques Machado
If you are looking for a book full of explanations of the techniques, you got lucky because you found it.
In the Grappler’s Handbook Volume 1, Jean Jacques Machado explains every technique you should know in Gi or No-Gi. There are some ideas behind the chokes and the tiny details that make the methods perfect.
You can find information about any position you want, top mount, guard, half-guard, how to finish different submissions, and so on.
After reading this book, you will begin to understand what works for you and what does not.
I believe this book will speed up the process of maturity in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is why I mentioned this book in the Top 10 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu books list.
Maturity is when you stop copying your coach’s techniques move-for-move but develop your own adjustments that make the technique work for you.
This book will guide you in creating strategies for your training or competitions by exposing you to a wide range of techniques that apply to different body types and styles.
3. The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 2 – Jean Jacques Machado
This is another book written by Jean Jacques Machado, but in this book, he focuses on defenses. People often think about how to attack and win the position, but they do not try to improve their defenses.
I believe that knowing defense techniques requires knowing the attacking side at a high level.
When you know all the possibilities your rival can use to defend themself, you can begin the Jiu-Jitsu chess game and switch the attacks with different moves.
There are lots of fighters in the UFC with submission victories but also have 5-6 submission losses, which means that they know exactly how to attack, they know BJJ on a high level but do not know the defense as well.
I highly recommend this book for a well-rounded BJJ game.
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2. Jiu-Jitsu University – Saulo Ribeiro with Kevin Howell
Six time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Saulo Riberio shares his experience in Jiu-Jitsu University. In this book, he covers what you need to learn at each belt level in BJJ.
There are 5 chapters in this book:
- Survival (White Belt) – Discusses all the ways of escaping different positions.
- Escapes (Blue Belt) – Discusses escaping from both chokes and the positions and locks.
- The Guard (Purple Belt) – Discusses all types of guards, butterfly, spider, cross grip, de la Riva, sit-up, reverse de la Riva, and half guards.
- Guard Passing (Brown Belt) – Discusses how to escape from the guards from different positions and pass to the controlling position.
- Submissions (Black Belt) – Discusses and explained the submissions you can attack once you achieve dominant control.
Sometimes, coaches do not have enough time to explain all the details and fix all the mistakes you made during the sparing.
Jiu-Jitsu University addresses the fundamentals of each belt level that can get overlooked during the everyday hustle of BJJ classes.
1. 5 Rules for White Belts – Chris Matakas
This book targets a beginner audience. After all, the hardest part of doing anything is to start doing something.
Generally, we all want to improve faster. It is the rule of life.
Trusting the process is the hardest part of this game. People typically struggle to stay motivated for the months and years required for serious improvement.
When they find the motivation, it lasts for a week or a maximum of a month.
Sometimes it is difficult to see the end result years ahead of time even when achieving it consists of hard work.
Sticking to it requires trusting the process even as it seems improvement is impossible.
In Jiu-Jitsu, I did not remember many guys who quit after achieving a purple belt or brown belt, some people might have a job and family to feed and can not train often, but they do not quit.
Mostly, people who quit are the white belts who could not step up with Jiu-jitsu.
After reading this book, beginners will have a healthier mindset during the training and learn five essential rules, which will help them to remember the techniques they learned and how to use them in practice.
Mataka’s main idea behind this book is to make training sessions more enjoyable, and this book helps BJJ beginner’s worldwide.
Final Thoughts About The Best BJJ Books
These books are great things that can help us to move through life effectively. In everyday life, there is a lot of stress for BJJ athletes, too.
Sometimes, we can feel stuck, think that we are in the same spot and not moving forward or improving, and start questioning everything, even ourselves.
There will be lots of moments like that, and we will face many problems in everyday life, which is where such books help us.
Somewhere, someone already felt the way we are feeling right now, they spend months, and years, to realize some things and overcome the problems with the experience of years.
These books help us to conceptually learn the lessons that great fighters learned in years within several weeks.
It helps us to overcome some challenging moments and leads us to success, whatever success can be for you.
Of course, knowledge can only be as good as application, and ultimately, you have to put what you read into practice on the mats.