10 Great Books for the Jiu-jitsu Reader

1) Mastering Jujitsu – by Renzo Gracie , John Danaher , Jr. Carlos Gracie 

“From the origins of the art to personal techniques, you will experience the impact the Gracies have had on jujitsu and learn the strategies they have developed to dominate their opponents. Gracie shares the subtleties of the techniques necessary for mastering the art, and he clearly demonstrates the flow of movement with more than 250 high-quality photos.
Not only will Mastering Jujitsu help you progress from isolated skill development techniques to a full set of tactics and fight plans, but it will also introduce you to the concept of combat phases and teach you to attack from any phase.”


The first book you should add to your library! An excellent overview of concepts of BJJ beyond the usual technique books. 

2) Jiu-Jitsu University – by Saulo Ribeiro , Kevin Howell  

“Saulo Ribeiro—six-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion—is world-renowned for his functional jiu-jitsu knowledge and flawless technique. In Jiu-Jitsu University, Ribeiro shares with the public for the first time his revolutionary system of grappling, mapping out more than 200 techniques that carry you from white to black belt. Illuminating common jiu-jitsu errors and then illustrating practical remedies, this book is a must for all who train in jiu-jitsu.”


The best technique book of the list! The book is organized uniquely in sections by belt level. Saulo offers a great perspective and philosophy of what students should focus on each belt level. 

3) Kodokan Judo: The Essential Guide to Judo by Its Founder Jigoro Kano – by Jigoro Kano 

“This book by the creator of Kodokan judo is uniquely comprehensive and the most authoritative guide to this martial art ever published.”


The history of judo (the antecedent of brazilian jiu-jitsu) and a glossary of the techniques of the Judo gokyo. Really useful to help remember the Japanese names of the throws you learn in bjj class. 

4) Falling Hard: A Journey into the World of Judo – by Mark Law 

“On his fiftieth birthday, British journalist and self-described “indolent sportsman” Mark Law decides to take up judo on a whim and ends up getting hooked on the sport. Falling Hard is Law’s love letter to judo—the culture, drama, history, and practice. With journalistic zeal, he delves deeply into the sport’s history and lore, and interweaves his own judo experiences with the development of judo in Japan, the life and vision of its founder Jigoro Kano, the export of judo to the West, the emergence of women in the sport, and detailed descriptions of competition on the world championship and Olympic levels.”


The perspective of an outsider entering the world of martial arts. The author offers a fresh and humerous account of his own discovery of judo.

5) The Cauliflower Chronicles: A Grappler’s Tale of Self-Discovery and Island Living Paperback – by Marshal D. Carper 

“When Marshal Carper broke up with his long-time girlfriend, he packed up his white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and moved from rural Pennsylvania to Hilo, Hawaii to train at the BJ Penn MMA Academy.

The Cauliflower Chronicles follow Carper’s adventures and misadventures, both on the mat and around the island.”


For anyone who has ever wanted to up and travel to train with their BJJ / MMA idol in a tropical paradise,..this is a fun read. 

6) The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter: The true story about a frantic, 140 day long, around-the-world trip to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Paperback – by Christian Graugart 

“After a training partner commits suicide, Christian Graugart feels obliged to do something with his life. Starting his own gym, dedicating almost all his time to the art of BJJ, alters everything, including the way he sees himself.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter is not only a story about traveling and training in martial arts. It’s about all the things that can happen to you if you choose to truly stay alive until you actually die.”


Equal parts travelogue and Graugart’s personal life philosophy, you can follow him around the world spreading the art of jiu-jitsu. 

7) A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting Paperback – by Sam Sheridan 

“In 1999, after a series of wildly adventurous jobs around the world, Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he’d spent it all. It occurred to him that, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession:  fighting. Within a year, he was in Bangkok training with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) history and stepping through the ropes for a professional bout. That one fight wasn’t enough. Sheridan set out to test himself on an epic journey into how and why we fight, facing Olympic boxers, Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars, and Ultimate Fighting champions.”


The author writes an excellent view from inside the gyms and camps of top level trainers in Thailand and Brazil. A fascinating glimpse into the philosophies of some of the personalities. I have read this book multiple times. 

8)Angry White Pyjamas: A Scrawny Oxford Poet Takes Lessons From The Tokyo Riot Police Paperback – by Robert Twigger 

“Adrift in Tokyo, “thirtynothing” Robert Twigger came to a revelation about himself: He had never been fit or brave. Guided by his roommates, he set out to cleanse his body and mind. Not knowing his fist from his elbow, the author is sucked into the world of Japanese martial arts and joins the Tokyo Riot Police on their year-long, brutally demanding course of budo training, where any ascetic motivation soon comes up against blood-stained “white pyjamas” and fractured collarbones.”


Tiwgger brings the reader into the traditional world of Japanese martial arts and traditions with some funny observations balanced with insights into Japanese culture. Even though it is not about BJJ, don’t miss this book! 

9) The Gracie Way: An Illustrated History of the World’s Greatest Martial Arts Family (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series) Paperback – by Kid Peligro 

“The faces and stories of the sprawling Gracie family, who transformed Brazilian jiu-jitsu from an unknown street technique into the dominant form of martial arts today, are captured here.”


The chapter on Carlos Gracie Jr. alone is worth the price of the book. The story of the origins of Gracie Barra and the birth of the IBJJF. Must have book.

10) Gracie Submission Essentials: Grandmaster and Master Secrets of Finishing a Fight Paperback – by Helio Gracie , Royler Gracie , Kid Peligro  

“Showcasing their favorite and most effective finishing moves, world-renowned jiu-jitsu experts Helio Gracie and son Royler Gracie share the submission techniques that have helped them win fights for more than three decades. Sections of the book break down each submission procedure, presenting important details on how to put devastating combinations together in order to make practitioners more polished competitors.”


This is a hidden gem on the list. The single best explanation of the philosophy and strategy of getting the submission. My own copy is heavily hilighted and underlined. 

Credits: Mark Mullen 
GB Black belt from GB Calgary, Canada
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ

Note: Book descriptions courtesy of Amazon.com