T Nation

Martial Arts Books


Anyone have any good ones? I've been reading a few right now that I think everyone with any interest in keeping their asses safe in the street should check out, and I'd like to see any other books people think are good.

1) Meditations on Violence by Rory Miller. One of the greatest books I've read yet on the subject. Guy's a prison guard and former (I think) SWAT member. No jokes, no bullshit, straight up shit about the nature of violence, and how much different it is from what you see in the movies and in the ring.

2) The Little Black Book of Violence - Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. A kind of encyclopedia of all types of violence. Goes into tons of different aspects of violence, also addresses how to deal with cops, media, etc. One of the best all around books I've read on the subject.

3) Cheap Shots, Ambushes, and Other Lessons by Marc Macyoung. Still the best book I've seen yet. Big intro to violence, goes into a whole shitload of psychology on the types of guys you see in the street. It really helped me put into context alot of what I had seen go on over my life. I've read it a million times, and honestly I learn something knew every time I get older.

4) In Search of the Warrior Spirit by Richard Strozzi-Heckler. About a aikidoist who signs on to teach aikido to the men of the Army Special Forces. Incredibly interesting story, the guy is a good writer, and it's an easy (although big) read. It's cool seeing the contrast between his San Francisco pussy-hippiesh views of the world in contrast to how the SF guys view things- two completely different ideas. Definitely worth it, and interesting how the SF guys deal with things like meditation.

5) Street Escape and Evasion by Marc Macyoung. You can download it for free at Scribd.com Best, most practical guide to shit you'll actually use if you're ever being chased. Even deals with how to park in places where you might have trouble, how to keep your keys, what to do when hiding, etc. Really fucking awesome.

Anyone else got anything? I'm always looking for something to read... anything about martial arts, self-defense, the warrior mentality... etc


Thanks man, you just gave me some new books to check out.

IMO good books on the subject are those by Geoff Thompson, especially his autobiographical book "Watch my Back" which gives an account of his early days as a bouncer. Also "Dead Or Alive" is pretty good for a generalized overview of street self-defense. "Fear" deals with the phenomenon of the adrenal dump and all the negative feelings associated with it but also explains how this can be an asset. This book also contains some interesting interviews with people who had to deal with fear as part of their jobs.

Gavin de Beckers "The Gift of Fear" is also a nice read as it focuses on the development of "healthy fear" and awareness of danger.


Miyamoto Musashi - Go Rin No Sho (Book of five Rings)
This is easily the best book bar none.

Yagyu Munenori - Heiho Kaden Sho (the Life-Bestowing Sword)
Stands in stark contrast to the aforementioned. Can be read complimentary as to understand where others stood at the time of Musashi.

Lee's Tao of JKD, of course, the first post modern "mixed" MA approach boook. The other Lees are ripoffs


Great post.

I second Schwarzfahrer, book of 5 rings is excellent.

I would also recommend Prince. Although it is not about martial arts, I think you will enjoy it based on the books you have listed.


I know it might be cliche but I did read Sun Tzu and the art of war. Made me think a little differently in the ring, and in life. Although I don't think it's quite on the level of what you're looking for. If you're looking for fire and brimstone you can always read revelations. :wink:


Good on martial arts in general. Not specific to any discipline, but sure reinforces the warrior behind them.


fantastic for everyday practice, simple step-by-step for advanced/intermediate ground game martial artists.


Awesome suggestions. Gonna check some of these out.


You mean "il principe"? It's translated in German as "the count".

Jack Dempsey's "Championship Fighting" is also a must.
I read literally hundreds of MA books that talk about striking without really getting to the point on how to make a person kick/strike harder and better. Dempsey's is the best on striking with the fist.

German WT Guru Keith Kernspecht made two good books, "vom Zweikampf" (~on combat) and "der Letzte wird der Erste sein" (~the last shall be the first). I may disagree with him on his conclusions, but they're still worth it. Even if a good part is about advocating Wing Tsun as "the bestest style" quite shamelessly. I don't know about english translations.

For MMA, Victory Belt seems to have consistently produced some mighty good books.

"Muay Thai, the art of fighting" by Yod Ruerngsa is a fantastic book. Too bad I can't get my hands on the actual, factual book...


haha. One of the reasons I like "Little Black Book of Violence" is that every section begins with a quote by Sun Tzu and Musashi and how it relates to street defense. Definitely makes you realize that shit just don't change.


Never saw that one, but I'm going to look for it.


Agreed. I love it. It's out of print, but you can also download it at Scribd.com


"Master of the Blade" by Rich Ryan. Probably the most realistic and no nonsense book that I've read on edged weapon combat. Covers things from stance, to different methods of holding a knife, pros and cons of different types of knives, and even strategies for fighting different types of attackers (or multiple attackers).

"Joe Lewis Black Belt Manual" by Joe Lewis. Honestly don't know where you can get one of these online though. I got mine from Joe himself at a seminar. But, if you can get your hands on one it's an excellent resource for all things striking. Joe goes into strategies for fighting different types of opponents, principles of combat, different "angles" of attack, attributes essential for maximizing performance, and there are a whole bunch of combination drills designed to improve timing, footwork, evasive head movement and accuracy while striking.

Unlocking the Combat Code" by Walt Lysak Jr. Not all that much technique (although there are some basic examples), but a good book on the mentality and philosophy behind effective street self defense.


This has been sitting on my nightstand forever, I've only skimmed through, but everyone that's read it says it has an interesting perspective.

On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace by Dave Grossman


Also from Yagyu Munenori, The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War.


My list would look like this:

  • Mark Hatmaker: "The Ultimate Guide to Submission Wrestling" and "Killer Submissions" - lots of submissions wellexplained, his other books are great too and they are cheap

  • Geoff Thompson: "Real Punching", "Three second fighter: Sniper option" and "The Fence" - great books about self-defense / street fighting and ending a physical encounter as quickly as possible, he's got many other good books

  • Marc "Animal" Macyoung: "Cheap shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons" was already mentioned

  • Mark van Schuyver & Pedro Villalobos: "Fighting Strategies of Muay Thai" - good general overview about Muay Thai as well as some interesting, thought-provoking concepts about fighting in general.

  • Those who speak German might want to check out "Mechanik und Struktur der Kampfsportarten" by Ralf Pfeifer, a very technical book, but great for understanding the physics behind martial arts. There are also many articles from him on this site: http://www.arsmartialis.com/


Ralf Pfeifer's page is exactly about what I consider wrong and outright foolish, both with WT and this distinctively "new-German" approach to MA.


Being as most of us don't speak German, what's it say?


What are your reasons for this and what do you mean by "new-German"?

I read the book and I found it pretty interesting how he explained the physics of things like stance, falling step, rising step etc.

And thanks to the one that recommended Dempsey's book. I've downloaded it and found it to be one of the best books I've read on the topic.


I second Muay Thai - The Art Of Fighting & Mark Hatmaker's Submission books + his book called Strikes!
Also BJ Penn's MMA The Book Orf Knowledge, Bas Rutten's Big Books Of Combat...even if i don't agree with his Strenght workout - but if it works for him...who am i to argue?
Geoff Thompson has some very good no bs stuff!
Renzo Gracie's Mastering Jiu Jitsu
Randy Couture's Wrestling For Fighting
The Fighters Notebook...