When it comes to improving your game in BJJ, reading the best BJJ books probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, reading is an excellent tool for people who want to learn techniques and strategies that will dramatically boost the rate at which they improve. Simply put, reading can put you ahead of the curve and on the fast track towards a black belt.
As a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I have dedicated my mind and body to improve as a BJJ player. At the beginning of my BJJ journey, my progress was slower than it could have been. After I began researching and reading as a way to augment my progress, I saw fast improvement.
Below you will find my list of the top 10 best BJJ books that helped me the most. Like any journey through martial arts, my reading list evolved linearly, starting with books targeted for beginners, to the history of the sport, on to literature for more advanced BJJ players. As such, the books on this list will be useful for BJJ players at any stage of the game.
Table of Contents
- Top Picks: 10 Best BJJ Books (Jiu-jitsu Books)
- #1 5 Rules for Whitebelts by Chris Matakas
- #2 The Grappler’s Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques by Jean Jacques Machado
- #3 The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 2: Tactics for Defense by Jean Jacques Machado
- #4 Mastering Jujitsu by Renzo Gracie and John Danaher
- #5 Choque: The Untold Story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil by Roberto Pedreira
- #6 Breathe: A Life in Flow by Rickson Gracie
- #7 BJJ Techniques to Defeat Bigger and Stronger Opponents by Dan Faggella
- #8 The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan
- #9 Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed: A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Hottest Martial Arts Discipline by Eddie Bravo
- #10 Advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques by Marcelo Garcia
- Final Thoughts
Top Picks: 10 Best BJJ Books (Jiu-jitsu Books)
5 Rules for Whitebelts is a must-read BJJ book for anyone just starting their BJJ journey. Ask any master from any gym, and they’ll tell you that the majority of their white belt students quit before they progress to blue. Whether due to difficulty or intimidation, the fact is that most people end up quitting BJJ before really getting started.
The book is targeted towards white belts who are feeling overwhelmed. Anyone who’s just starting knows that remembering all the techniques during drills and then trying to put them into practice can be extremely frustrating. This book teaches strategies and techniques around 5 rules to foster a healthy mindset for a BJJ whitebelt.
Author Chris Matakas is the owner and lead instructor of the Matakas BJJ Academy in New Jersey, USA. He’s written several books on BJJ but tailored this one to ease the anxiety of new BJJ players. He delivers on his promise to make BJJ training sessions more enjoyable and more productive for whitebelts.
If you’re looking for a bible of grappling techniques, look no further than Jean Jacques Machado’s The Grappler’s Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques. The BJJ book features detailed explanations and high-quality photos of every grappling technique imaginable.
It goes beyond the scope of just BJJ, detailing strategies across various grappling arts and how to implement them. This is a great reference book for anyone who practices any sort of submissions-focused martial art. It has sections that illustrate how to seamlessly transition between styles, whether you’re practicing BJJ in a gi or taking your skills to a cage in MMA.
Jean Jacques Machado is one of the world-renowned Machado Brothers, one of the premier BJJ families. He’s written many books on grappling and BJJ and is also an active competitor. If you’re having trouble keeping track of techniques or how they translate across grappling arts, it’s a must-read.
This follow-up BJJ book by Jean Jacques Machado builds on the foundations laid out in the first volume. Like that book, this technique bible offers detailed instructions and high-quality images across a wide range of grappling techniques.
The main difference in this book is that it focuses on defensive tactics. It teaches you proper postures on the mat so that you can improve your defensive techniques in any position. While the first book illustrated how to take someone’s neck, this one focuses primarily on how to protect your neck, escape from the bottom, and improve your guard.
If you’re looking to expand your repertoire beyond just offense, this technique bible is the perfect reference for knowing all of the most important defensive tactics in BJJ.
If you’re obsessed with BJJ, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with the legendary authors of this BJJ book staple, Mastering Jujitsu. Authors Renzo Gracie and John Danaher are legendary figures in the world of BJJ and MMA, teaming up to create this comprehensive book. If you could only read one book on BJJ, Mastering Jujitsu would be a great choice.
The reason this book stands out is that it outlines the history of BJJ and its influence on the sport of MMA in addition to teaching techniques. It starts from the very beginning, tracing the roots of BJJ back to Japan until the modern-day. It then outlines techniques for use in competitions as well as self-defense.
Unlike some of the other books on this list that focus on one thing, Mastering Jujitsu offers a bit of everything when it comes to learning and improving in BJJ.
The ultimate BJJ book on the history of the sport in Brazil is Choque (pronounced “shock”). This dense historical account traces BJJ back to its origins, from its formation to the “Golden Period” to the modern-day.
In addition to the historical accounts, the book also provides an index of every known BJJ fight in Brazil from 1856 to 1949. This deep dive into the history of the world’s most popular grappling art takes the reader on a fascinating journey that is sure to captivate anyone obsessed with BJJ.
Author Robert Pedreira is considered the world’s premier authority on the history of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, writing multiple books on the subject. His other works are worth reading, but the first volume of Choque covers the most intriguing period in BJJ history.
The newest addition to this list is Breathe: A Life In Flow by the legendary Rickson Gracie. One of the most famous martial artists of the 20th century, this memoir is a riveting account of his life as a fighter.
Unlike a book written by a historian, this is a first-hand account of a man who helped bring BJJ to prominence, transform the UFC into what it is today, and revolutionize the sport as a member of the Gracie clan. This is the most personal and moving book on this list, making it a must-read for anyone interested in gleaning insight from one of the most important figures in BJJ.
The memoir features previously unreleased photos and shocking insights into the sport of BJJ, as well as profound wisdom that you can implement both in the gym and everyday life.
You’ve probably heard the popular trope that BJJ is a martial art designed for smaller opponents to defeat larger foes. While it’s true that a smaller BJJ practitioner will make easy work of a larger, untrained opponent, the fact of the matter is that on the mats, rolling with a considerably bigger and stronger opponent can be frustrating.
Make no doubt about it, unless you’re a heavyweight with super-strength, eventually you’re going to come across a training partner who dwarfs you. Author Dan Faggella hones in on this issue, providing smaller BJJ players with the most effective techniques to tap your Goliath bully.
In addition to covering techniques, the book also covers the right mindset and philosophy to take into a training session when you know you’re going to be the smaller or weaker grappler. This BJJ book is particularly useful for women, who often have to roll with men due to being the only female in the gym.
The most philosophical entry on this list comes to us from Sam Sheridan, one of the most prolific writers in the world of competitive fighting. Although not strictly a BJJ book, this is a must-read for anyone interested in combat sports competition.
The book aims to identify the secrets of mental fortitude that are required for participating in a potentially deadly activity like fighting. The book covers the mindset of athletes across various combat sports, but practitioners of BJJ will recognize many of the people interviewed in this book, such as Marcelo Garcia.
If you are actively competing in BJJ tournaments and need an edge over your opponents, The Fighter’s Mind will give you everything you need to sharpen your mental discipline.
#9 Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed: A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Hottest Martial Arts Discipline by Eddie Bravo
If you’re a fan of BJJ, the Joe Rogan podcast, or conspiracy theories, chances are you’ve heard of Eddie Bravo. The founder of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Eddie rose to prominence in the BJJ world when he tapped Royler Gracie. He’s regarded as a pioneer in the sport, building on the foundations of the Gracie clan to take the sport to new heights.
Like other technique literature, this Jiu-Jitsu book comes with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos (some of which feature Joe Rogan himself!). It also covers strategies to implement in your training that will help you in competition.
This is a must-read for any BJJ player who wants to stay up to date on innovations within the sport. This technique bible has a heavy emphasis on practicality, teaching techniques related to stances, punches, and kicks that you won’t find in other BJJ books.
As the title suggests, this is a technique bible designed specifically with more advanced BJJ players in mind. Written by five-time BJJ World Champion and four-time ADCC Submission Grappling World Champion Marcelo Garcia, this book details the personal systems he utilized to dominate the BJJ world.
Like other technique bibles, this BJJ book offers detailed instructions with over 2,000 color photos for various methods across BJJ. However, unlike some of the other books on this list, Garcia skips over many of the widely known techniques that an advanced BJJ player would already know.
Being a competitor at catchweight throughout his career, Garcia discards any technique that isn’t effective against larger and stronger opponents. This book is ideal for someone who is already at purple belt or above who is looking for ways to graduate to the next rank.
No matter what stage you’re at in your BJJ journey, these best BJJ books will offer great insights that will help take you to the next level. Whether you’re interested in the history of BJJ or learning BJJ as a novice or master, reading the books on this list will bring you new knowledge that will help you on the road to a black belt!