Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Books for Learning Reviewed

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is perhaps one of the fiercest of the martial arts traditions, though it is relatively new on the scene, only having been founded in the early twentieth century. It is predicated on the idea that even someone who is smaller and weaker can defeat opponents who are taller, larger, and bigger through proper technique and leverage. Most notably, if you are smaller in stature, this system helps you to win by getting your opponent on the ground and employing joint-locks and choke-holds to earn a victory. This system shows that even someone who is small can overcome the shortcomings in their nature to earn a victory.

When discussing the foundations of the sport, it is also important to discuss its history. Perhaps the most notable family in the history of the sport is the Gracie family. When the Japanese version of this sport was brought to the West in the late 1800s, Helio Gracie was among the very first students who learned this tradition. However, as time went on, the tradition diverged into traditional Japanese Judo, whereas the version in South America began to take on its own flavor. Once Judo was recognized as an official Olympic sport, BJJ officially took off and became its own distinct and separate entity. Helio Gracie went on to establish the first BJJ school in the early 1900s. He spread the secrets of his techniques to his immediate family, and to this day his descendants bear the Gracie name and continue to dominate the sport.

 

Featured Recommendations

Jiu Jitsu University
  • Jiu Jitsu University
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Covers Common Errors
  • 200+ Moves
  • Price: See Here
Mastering Jiu Jitsu
  • Mastering Jiu Jitsu
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Includes Strategies
  • 250 High-Definition Photos
  • Price: See Here
Motivation
  • Motivation
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Inspiring Stories
  • 3 Formats Available
  • Price: See Here

 

This system is a tradition that has allowed its adherents to sharpen not only their bodies but also their minds. They have not only conquered opponents (who may have been much larger than themselves), but they have conquered their own minds. The fundamental lessons of this sport are that no matter how daunting the challenge may seem, with discipline and training, nothing is insurmountable. You can achieve new heights of strength and mental acuity by following this tradition, which has benefited students from all over the world.

However, just because you’re ready to begin your journey doesn’t mean that you suddenly want to walk into a gym and find a master. Oftentimes, it’s wise to get the lay of the land first before diving into something. When deciding to dedicate yourself to a tradition, it’s wise to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. Reading is an excellent way to do just that. You may be wondering, though, exactly how you’re supposed to find information that you can trust, especially when you consider that there is so much writing out there that is junk or just plain untrue. Luckily for you, we’ve done the sorting so that you don’t have to. You’ll find the best of the best-written works on the topic outlined below.

 

 

10 Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Books

 

 

1. Jiu Jitsu University

This product is written by none other than Saulo Ribeiro and Kevin Howell. This duo tag-teams one of the most highly rated books in the genre. Ribeiro is a fifth-degree black belt in this tradition, and trained underneath Royler Gracie, of the famous Gracies who founded this martial art and are at the head of its most impressive lineage. Howell is another black belt with an impressive lineage of his own. Together they have created a powerhouse compendium of knowledge that is truly as encyclopedic as the name suggests.
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Covers Common Errors
A common problem that people have with products like these is that while they teach you techniques and tell you what to do, oftentimes they gloss over what not to do Knowing the common errors and pitfalls will help you to avoid them; many of those errors are outlined here in this work.

Over 200 Moves
This product contains a huge range of information. Some books contain as few as twenty moves. This book contains literally ten times that number, topping at over two hundred different moves. If you were to master each and every one, you would have a distinct advantage in the ring and find yourself able to overcome many opponents.

Cost and Value
This product has a price that is on the low end of the range when compared to the other items we've included in our list. It is also among the most extensive and is written by someone who trained in the founding lineage of this martial art. The accolades and accomplishments of the authors alone are impressive; when you combine that with the sheer volume of knowledge included, this product is truly full of value.
Pros

Six-time world champ author

Revolutionary grappling system

200 moves

Covers common errors

Practical solutions

Cons

No audio-book

2. Mastering Jiu Jitsu

This book is written by Renzo Gracie, as well as John Danaher. Renzo Gracie is of the famed Gracie family, who founded the sport and whose descendants are among the most accomplished martial artists in the world today. John Danaher is a student of Renzo Gracie and teaches at his martial arts school in New York City. Together, they have crafted a work that contains wisdom that is both ancient and modern. The moves come from both the traditional lineage as it was passed down to them, as well as from Gracie and Danaher's own personal practice.
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250 High-Definition Photos
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And this product has two hundred and fifty of them--and not just regular photos, but high-definition and detailed ones. They help you visualize the information as it is presented in the text so that you can better learn and memorize the movements.

Strategies
Oftentimes a shortcoming of products like these is that they contain extensive information on techniques and series of movements, but they do not provide information on how to use these moves in the larger scheme of the fight. This product contains information to help you use and come up with strategies to give you the upper edge in the ring.

Cost and Value
This product falls on the lower end of the price range when compared the other items we've included on our list. It has many aspects that give it a huge value for such a reasonable price. The sheer volume of high-definition photos help you visualize the information, and the strategic sections help you plan in the ring like a master. The masters who wrote this work know what they're talking about.
Pros

Author Renzo Gracie

Traditional moves

Personal techniques

250 high-def photos

Strategies

Cons

Ideological

3. Motivation

This product is written and put out by author Chuck J. Rylant. Rylant himself is not a martial artist. Rather, this book came from a series of interviews that he had with twelve different black-belt martial artists from this tradition. The expertise in this work comes not from the author, who serves as more of a compiler and editor in this work, but from the twelve different expert martial artists that he tapped in order to help him write this work.
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Inspiring Stories
Sometimes when you're looking to truly understand a martial art, you don't simply want to read a technique or how-to guide. You want to be able to get into the heads of the experts, to know what their triumphs and failures are, and to know exactly what it takes to succeed in this sport. This product gives you just that insight and can be a source of wisdom for your own journey into this martial art.

3 Formats Available
Some people like the feel of a physical item in their hands. Some prefer to read on their device so that they don't have to carry a physical volume around with them. And still, others prefer to read with their ears with the assistance of an audiobook. No matter how you like to read, this product comes in a format that you will enjoy.

Cost and Value
This is by far the least expensive item when compared to the other products that we've assembled here on our list. Some detractors may complain that this item doesn't actually contain any techniques or movements to help them win in the ring. However, if you're looking to get inside the head of accomplished fighters to learn about their own journeys, this product is truly packed with value.
Pros

3 formats available

Motivational reading

Inspiring stories

Mental conditioning

Psychology

Cons

No techniques

4. Mastering the 21...

4. Mastering the 21...
This product is written by Paulo Guillobel, an accomplished martial artist. He has been the World No-Gi Champion, the Pan American Champion, and took second place in the World Masters Championship. He has been studying the martial art for three decades and is currently a teacher and fifth-degree black belt. He runs his own school in California, a gym that has turned out many notable martial artists, including André “Pretzel” Pontes.
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Beginner Friendly
Oftentimes, products such as these assume that the reader has at least a basic operating knowledge of the sport. They make references to teachers and techniques with which they assume the reader is familiar. This volume, though, is extremely approachable for beginners, and even a complete novice can pick up this tome and get a lot out of it.

Accessble Language
Sometimes works such as these can be written in such a way that is full of industry-insider jargon and advanced references. However, this book is written in clear, concise language that gets straight to the point. It doesn't dither or distract with flowery prose. Those with short attention spans will appreciate its direct style.

Cost and Value
This product is extremely inexpensive when compared to the other items that we've included in our list. Though it is inexpensive, don't be fooled into thinking that it is in any way cheap or lacking. It is written in a clear, direct style, and is accessible to even the greenest beginner. For the fighter just getting started, this is truly a great tome to pick up.
Pros

Founding principles

Techniques

Strategies

Beginner-friendly

Accessible language

Cons

Bindings may fray

5. Zen

5. Zen
This product is written and self-published by Oliver Staark, who is a martial artist currently and actively making his way up through the belt system. At last check, he had a brown belt. He wrote the work while he was still a purple belt, specifically for the purpose of assisting blue belts who are looking for motivation and assistance in moving up through the ranks. This item has many strong features, such as the fact that it details not only the psychology of the sport but gives tips for mental conditioning and how to control your mind in the ring.
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Included 30-Day Protocol
Oftentimes products in this genre throw information at you, sometimes hundreds of moves or techniques at a time. However, few of them provide you with a routine that you can do to string them all together. This product, though, does. It includes a regimen to help you improve our skills and move your way up through the belt rankings.

Follow-Through
Many fighters who wind up in this sport oftentimes find themselves hitting a plateau somewhere in their training. They reach a new height, and then they find it difficult to improve any further. This product is specifically designed to help them break through those plateaus and continue on their journey to greater heights and levels of skill.

Cost and Value
This product falls on the lower end of the price range when you compare it to the other items we've included in our list. Some detractors would say that the author isn't even a black belt, and thus isn't credible. However, others would say that this work is written by someone in the thick of it, and thus has an immediate perspective on the kind of information students at that level need. The low price is also offset by an even lower price for the eBook edition.
Pros

Multiple formats

Mental conditioning

Psychology

Follow-through

Included 30-day protocol

Cons

Lack of detail

6. The Guard

6. The Guard
This work has two authors, the first of whom is Joe Moreira. Joe Moreira was awarded his black belt in 1984 and has studied under some of the most prestigious masters in the sport. The second author is Ed Beneville, who is a third-degree black belt, and who has teamed up with Moreira on numerous occasions to write an extensive series of training books for this martial art, of which this work is the second.
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Guard Pass Counters
This duo has written numerous works teaching different aspects of the sport, and this edition focuses on guard pass counters. When you find yourself in the ring, your opponent is going to come at from any range of movements and scenarios. Being able to have the knowledge of this technique will help you prevent your opponent from getting the upper hand.

11+ Forms
Some products only include a small amount of information within the text, preferring to have a larger quality body of information for a smaller number of forms. This product blends both quantity and quality; from its sheer size, it includes detailed information about eleven separate forms for you to learn.

Cost and Value
Some may complain that the cost of this item is simply too high. It is true, that it is the most expensive item when compared to the other products we've included on our list. However, it is a beautifully photographed and illustrated work. It is essentially a martial arts textbook. And as anyone who has gone to college knows, textbooks cost money.
Pros

Expanded edition

Illustrated guide

Guard pass counters

Chokes

11+ forms

Cons

Price

7. Essential Brazilian

7. Essential Brazilian
This work is written by Mark Walder. Walder is a martial artist who was promoted to black belt by none other than Rolls Gracie himself, just prior to Gracie's untimely death. He was among the first students inducted by Gracie. Having studied at the feet of the grand master himself, this author's lineage is as close to the origin of the sport as anyone living. That expertise comes out in the pages of a truly exceptional volume.
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250 Color Photos
When you're working with the written word, sometimes it can be hard to be sure that you're understanding the information correctly, especially if you're a visual learner. This product clears up any misunderstandings by included over two hundred separate full-color photographs.

Fully Illustrated Guides
Being able to follow through the movements exactly is vital when you're attempting to learn martial arts techniques from a book. Simply written descriptions just don't cut it. This product contains fully illustrated guides to help you step-by-step through the techniques and forms.

Cost and Value
This product is one of the least expensive items when compared to the other products that we've included on our list. It manages to hold a lot of information inside something with such a low price. For visual learners, this book is truly a blessing and is worth every penny you'd spend on it.
Pros

250 full-color images

Illustrated guides

Step-by-step instruction

Submission techniques

Arm locks

Cons

Limited formats

8. Black Belt Blueprint

8. Black Belt Blueprint
This work is written by author Nicolas Gregoriades. Nicolas Gregoriades is a martial artist who has an impressive list of titles and championships; he has won many competitions and is well-decorated. Gregoriades has been involved in martial arts since the age of seven and was awarded his black belt a decade ago from Roger Gracie's academy in 2004. He has established the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood, an organization that has several affiliated academies in different areas of the world.
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Holistic Approach
Oftentimes, writers in this genre get fixated on one or two aspects: one kind of form, or a specific kind of technique. This pigeon-holing makes their students narrow-minded and can lead them to miss important lessons. This volume takes a holistic approach to the sport to help broaden the mind and bring true understanding.

Training Methods
This volume doesn't just give you lists of techniques or patterns of footwork to follow. It also gives you hands-on, practical advice on how to take your training into your hands in order to get to the next level. The training methods included are tested, tried, and true.

Cost and Value
This product falls into the middle of the price range when compared to the other products that we've included on our list. It definitely has a unique approach to the subject matter, giving you a holistic understanding of the forms and techniques, as well as a training regimen and techniques. This product is definitely high on value.
Pros

Trained by Roger Gracie

Detailed information

Holistic approach

Underlying concepts

Training methods

Cons

No advanced information

9. The Gracie Way

9. The Gracie Way
This book is written by author Kid Peligro. Though the name may be confusing, it is not written by anyone in the Gracie family. Rather, it is a document of their journey as one of the world's most famous martial arts families. It details the history of the sport from its inception all the way up to the modern day through detailed investigative journalism and a huge amount of supporting documents and visuals. If you're looking to learn the history of the sport, this is a great place to start.
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Historical Photos
One of the best ways to learn the history of any sport is to look at the visual records that were around at the time. This product does just that, providing a huge array of historical photographs that help you feel as if you're in the moment, experiencing history alongside the Gracie family.

Gracie Family
This is the most recognizable name in the world of this martial art. The founders are legendary, and today the children of this family continue to be some of the most highly-achieving martial artists of modern times. If you're looking to learn the secrets behind this family's success, the information is all here.

Cost and Value
This product has a middling to high cost when compared to the other products that we've included on our list. It has several great features that make it hard to pass on, though. It is the only historical compendium included in this list, and indeed, it is one of the only historical compendiums on this sport--and is easily among the most extensive.
Pros

Gracie family

Historical biography

Historical photos

BJJ founders

Inspirational story

Cons

no techniques

10. Gracie Submission Essentials

10. Gracie Submission Essentials
This product is written by none other than Helio Gracie himself, along with Royler Gracie. Both of these names are legendary in the world of this sport, and for good reason. Helio is the grand master and founder of this lineage, and Royler carries on the Gracie name by being one of the most decorated martial artists in the history of the sport. Together they tag team to create one of the most impressive works on the subject.
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Submission Essentials
The whole point of fighting an opponent in the ring is to dominate them and ultimately get to victory. This product contains the Gracie secrets to their submission techniques. You'll be an expert in ground fighting and will have your opponents tapping out in no time.

Gracie Author
This lineage speaks for itself. Who better to write about the intricacies and secrets behind a technique than the founder of the lineage itself. No one knows the techniques and methods better than the person who invented them. This information comes directly from the source; it's almost like having the grand master present with you to walk you through.

Cost and Value
This product is the second most expensive item when compared to the other items we've included on our list. Despite the high price tag, many wouldn't hesitate to spend that much. The fact that these tips come straight from the founder of the martial art makes them, in many ways, priceless. Luckily this deeply valuable information is available to those who are willing to pay a slight cost.
Pros

Gracie author

Submission essentials

Devastating combinations

Mental training

Firsthand advice

Cons

price

 

This is perhaps one of the most exciting of the recent lineages to come onto the world stages. It is known for its fierceness, and for its ability to help even the smallest competitor defeat their opponents, no matter the size. Though the tradition is less than a hundred years old, it has become one of the most popular martial arts taught across the world, with schools on every inhabited continent. Numerous UFC fighters incorporate training form BJJ into their repertoire, which is a key to their success. And now you can too.

 

 

Criteria for Evaluating
The Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Books

Author Credentials

  • Gracie family: The Gracie family is one of the most well known, if not the most well-known, martial arts families in the world. Aside from founding the lineage, their family continues to compete and teach to this day. There are many works written by the Gracie family included on this list.
  • Teachers and Masters: There are masters and teachers of BJJ who are qualified to teach and write about this topic. Looking at the outcomes of their students and the reputations of their schools is a great way to test their credentials. Additionally, many of the best teachers and masters have trained under the Gracie family.

Topics Covered

  • History: There are a few works that delve quite deeply into the history of the sport and its founding family. If you want to really understand the spirit and philosophy behind a sport, you need to understand its origin. Works of this category will help you do that.
  • Techniques: This is perhaps the most straightforward variety included on this list. This variety includes lists of techniques and forms and usually is filled with illustrations or photographs to help you learn those forms.
  • Autobiography: There are stories written by the masters about their own personal lives and journeys. Though you may wonder how these stories are useful, they are packed with information. They give you a front-row seat as to exactly what it takes to not only succeed but to become a master.

Formats Available

  • eBook: This stands for “electronic book,” and it is exactly what it sounds like. It is a digital file that you store on your computer, smartphone, or other devices. You simply pull up the file on your device when you are ready to begin reading. A plus of this format is that it is transferable between devices, and weightless.
  • Physical formats: This refers to paperbacks and hardbacks, both of which are physical tomes that you can hold in your hands. Hardbacks have hardcovers that are covered in removable dust jackets. Paperbacks have somewhat flimsier covers made of thick paper. Hardbacks are more durable but more expensive.
  • Audiobook: This refers to an audible work of literature. This means that you can listen to it via speakers or over headphones. A plus is that you can fold your laundry or ride the train while gaining access to this information. A downside is that photographs and illustrations don’t translate to this format.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know I’m doing the forms from the book right?
A: Ultimately, you don’t. You can self-correct, read as many books as you want, and watch as many videos as you can, but there is no substitute for a real teacher. To reach any degree of proficiency, you’ll need to find a physical teacher to walk you through the forms and techniques.

Q: What are the author’s credentials?
A: Before you buy a book you’ll want to make sure that the person who’s written it actually knows what they’re talking about. To do that, there are a few things you can look for. Looking for a belt ranking will help you, as will any information about if they’ve won any championships or competitions. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, look to see who they trained under, and what their lineage is. If they come from a prestigious school or a prestigious master, they are likely well-trained.

Q: Which format is best?
A:  “Best” is a relative term. If you’re a traditional bookworm who prefers the heft of a physical product in your hand, then you’re probably not going to be too keen on a digital version you have to read on your smartphone or an audio version that you have to listen to through your headphones. However, if you don’t mind technology and like to be able to pack light, then these two latter options may be right up your alley. However, images generally don’t translate well to audible or digital editions, so be wary of this.

Q: Are all these books the same?
A: Each work is written form a unique perspective and contains unique information. Not only that, but there are many different types of work available. If you’re looking to get into the mind of a master, then autobiographies are useful. If you want pointers on your technique, an instructional book is what you want. No two are the same.

Q: Who should I contact if the cover is ripped when it arrives?
A: You’ll want to contact the vendor. Usually, once you alert vendors to the situation, they are more than happy to walk you through the process of getting the item returned and replaced.

Sources

  1. Multiple, Gracie Family, Informational,
  2. Multiple, HISTORY OF BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU, Historical,
  3. Multiple, Helio Gracie, Biographical,