The Best Martial Arts Books You Should Read
Martial arts trains the mind and the body, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for
reading about martial arts. There’s a wide and varied selection of martial arts books to train your
mind when you’re outside the dojo. Martial arts books span the centuries and hail from all parts
of the world, both from the West and the East. Some of these books are practical and others are
If you are interested in getting started in martial arts, or you’re a long-time practitioner, these
interesting books are great options for your reading list.
The Book of Five Rings — Musashi
Musashi was an undefeated swordsman from medieval Japan; supposedly, he retired to a cave to
write these five scrolls. When it comes to martial arts books, what better author to learn from
than a medieval Japanese swordsman?
One of the defining characteristics of the book is that it’s based on the author’s experience as a
real fighter as opposed to abstract philosophy. Since you didn’t get a lot of chances to be a
second-rate sword fighter in medieval Japan, Musashi’s survival vouches for his experience. This
is a classic work of martial arts literature and worth including in your collection of fitness books.
Tao of Jeet Kune Do — Bruce Lee
This book serves as a kind of autobiography of perhaps the most influential martial artist of the
twentieth century. Bruce Lee defined what martial arts could be in popular culture. He
entertained millions and popularized martial arts in America with his cinema.
This book provides practical information about the art which Lee developed, Jeet Kun Do.
Insights into his mindset and the mental attitude he found most useful for fighting are contained
in the pages, making this a must-read martial arts book.
Breathe, A Life in Flow — Rickson Gracie
Every jiujitsu practitioner knows the name Gracie. Even if you practice other martial arts, Gracie
is a familiar name from the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This is a memoir
of a champion and a thoughtful man.
Gracie sheds light on the mind/body connection in this book, which has practical applications for
martial artists. The book also tells the story of the Gracie martial arts dynasty, from the beginning
in Brazil to the development and growth of jiujitsu as a popular martial art in the West. Easy to
read, fun, and modern, if you love jiujitsu or the UFC, this book is a good choice for your martial
Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts — David A. Hall
At over 650 pages, this is not a book for light reading, but more of a reference manual for the
martial artist, history nerd, or both. Published in 2012, this book covers everything you want to
know about all aspects of Japanese martial arts—and more. The book is fun and useful for the
novice, black belt, or even someone who simply loves the history of Japan. It can also be a guide
for martial arts instructors who want to learn more about Japanese martial arts and culture, so
they can further their students’ learning.
The Art of War — Sun Tzu
This is probably one of the most well-known books from China in the world. While it isn’t
specifically about martial arts, it deals with many of the ideas that are related to martial arts
philosophy. From business to war and philosophy, this classic affords the reader a glimpse into a
strategic mind from the past.
The Art of Peace — Morihei Ueshiba
When you’ve finished reading The Art of War, you can change track and consider the art of
peace. Morihei Ueshiba is a very interesting figure; he was no stranger to war and its terrible
effects. Ueshiba served in the Japanese army during the Russo-Japanese war and later again in an
expedition to Mongolia where he was captured by Chinese troops and returned to Japan.
Afterwards, while living as a pioneer in the far north of Japan he had a spiritual experience that
changed his life.
Ueshiba studied various martial arts but ultimately developed and created his own known as
Aikido, which is both a martial art and an outlook. This book is a collection of his speeches, his
poetry, and even his calligraphy. It gives insight into this lesser practiced martial art from Japan
which focuses on non-violence.
Ready to Start Your Martial Arts Journey?
You’ve done the reading, now it’s time to take the action. At Premier Martial Arts, we welcome
students of all levels to study with our expert instructors to reach their martial arts goals. Find
one of our many studios near you and make your martial arts dreams a reality.