So you are thinking about starting training and wondered if you can just buy a few martial arts books and learn from them? Well the short answer is unfortunately not really. Although you could learn a few techniques and exercises, martial arts training does require a human instructor give you feedback in order to ensure you are performing those techniques correctly to avoid injury.
Martial Arts Books are definitely not a waste of money though. When used in conjunction with classes they can help supplement your training. Here are a few of my favourite books I would recommend anybody training now to get hold of and read:
Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee – A collection of the late Bruce Lee’s thoughts and scribbles put together by his widow and best friends. Jeet Kune Do literally translates as ‘the way of the intercepting fist’ and this is the one book I would recommend over all martial arts books. Bruce’s philosophies and emphasis on non-classical method really help you to see training in a different light. Jeet Kune Do encompasses all martial arts as it is the style without style and encourages the student to create their own method after learning a range of techniques, which is ultimately what the founders of every form did and went on to formalise their method.
Stretching Scientifically (fourth edition) by Thomas Kurz M.Sc.- This book has the most effective stretching system I personally have seen anywhere. It explains why your current training methods have most likely inhibited the development of flexibility and what and when to do exercises. It’s not perfect though. It can be a little complicated to read the explanations but definitely worth it to understand the science behind flexibility and hence the training methods behind the stretches. Be aware you do need to be fairly fit and lean before you attempt the stretches as you could injure yourself if you are not careful. Read the whole book through at least once including the FAQ’s to make sure you are completely familiar with the techniques before proceeding.
Explosive Power and Jumping Ability for all sports by Tadeusz Starzynski and Henryk Sozanski Ph.D. (translated by Tom Kurz) – More training techniques to infuse into your workouts, this time concentrating on the development of power behind your strikes, grappling and as the title indicates jumping ability. This book includes a full explanation of how to develop explosive power and the science behind it. Again it can be a little hard going at times but take your time through the book and re read if you are unsure of something.
Martial arts books can be a good supplement to training but should not be the sole source of instruction. When you have trained for a while in martial arts you will begin to understand a little more about your body and you will be able to look at a technique you found in a book or video objectively and understand how it works. If you can, get hold of these books and give them a good read.