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Books to Help Train Your Mind for Jiu Jitsu

While thinking of what I wanted to write this post about, I had no idea. There were no good ideas coming to me.  So I put the post aside and started reading, which is when it hit me to write about books. Most every teacher I have met is an avid reader, as are most dedicated students.

But be warned. These are not Jiu Jitsu technique books. While books can help show you new techniques and ideas, the only way to learn them is through practice. I’m also not talking about Sun-Tzu or Musashi. Everyone reads the Five Rings when they first begin a martial art. These are books that I think people who practice Jiu Jitsu will be able to benefit from in helping to train their minds.

The 33 Strategies of War

by Robert Greene. I’m not sure who this book is targeting. It’s about 33 principles of warfare as they relate to the reader. It has a formulaic outline that introduces the strategy, gives real life examples, interpretation of how the strategy was demonstrated in the historical example, and then ties it all together with how you can apply it to your life. This book has a lot of other cool bits and pieces too.

The problem I initially had was I wasn’t sure who the author thought his readers were. Parts seem like it’s aimed at actual military soldiers, or regular people or even business men. Though this bothered me originally, I quickly realized most of the strategies could be beneficial in training. It really helps you think with an appropriate mindset.

This is the book I was reading when I came up with this idea. I was still undecided until I came to a section that had the heading “Jujitsu” to describe a historical example about Roosevelt. While the reference was to Japanes jujitsu, it was too obvious to miss. Having finished it, I can heartily recommend it.

Best Tip for Jiu Jitsu: “Live jujitsu every day, and you will never fail.”

The Hagakure

by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. This book is featured prominently in Ghost Dog, an excellent movie. Translated as Hidden by the Leaves, The Hagakure details how samurai should live. Though a lot of the advice seems archaic, like “A samurai with no horse is not a samurai.”, you can usually see how to apply it in modern times.

While this book is not quite as useful as the previous one for your training, it is still an excellent classic of samurai thinking. Plus the ideas are much smaller and easier to remember when under duress, like when you’re on the mat.

A lot of the advice is specifically meant to help you have the “warrior mindset”that all good samurai were expected to have. While the idea of being willing to die on command is a little extreme today, some of the tips he gives on how to calm the mind before battle are exceptionally useful.

Best Tip for Jiu Jitsu: “Every decision should be made in the span of seven breaths.”


The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game

by Sam Sheridan. Finally! A book that is actually about MMA and BJJ! Yes it is, and so much more. This easy to read book is the sequel to another book, A Fighter’s Heart, which I haven’t read yet. It’s a journey through fighting and grappling and all different sports from BJJ to wrestling to MMA and more.

Sam meets with many of the greatest athletes the sports have to offer, and it is a really inspirational tale. I challenge anyone to read this book and not want to immediately go train.

Best Tip for Jiu Jitsu: “If the worst thing that happens is you lose a fight, you’re doing good.” ~ Randy Couture

There are many other books that could interest you as well, so if these don’t really fit the bill for you, take a look at the books on the shelf near them. Likely you’ll find a winner. And if you read one of these books, I hope it brings you the same insights it’s brought me.

But to become most proficient in Brazillian jiu jitsu, nothing beats time on the mat at Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Denver, Boulder and our other locations.


2 Comments

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  • Jake

    +1 on Hagakure….read that for the first time about 12 years ago on the reccomendation of my Aikido instructor. A bit abstract, but if you approach it knowing that, it doesn’t take much to find the lessons he’s trying to teach.

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