Mastering Jujitsu Book Review
I train in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or BJJ. I spent time training in other martial arts before, Chinese Kung Fu styles for the most part. They were great. But BJJ is the truth. My first day of training consisted of getting thrown around and dominated by everybody. My mind blew wide open. It wasn’t just strength and power. It was technique and pressure and position. I knew I needed to learn, so I hit the books. Mastering Jujitsu was where I started.
Now you can’t learn jiu-jitsu from a book, you have to put the time in on the mat. But books can help. Mastering Jujitsu works as an intro because it doesn’t have hundreds of techniques. It focuses on the different aspects of the fight. From free-movement, to the clinch and then to the ground. Working from top position and from bottom, to competition and self-defence. And it has an excellent overview of the history of the art.
The authors of Mastering Jujitsu are Renzo Gracie and John Dannaher. Renzo is a living legend, one of the famed Gracie clan who are responsible for the evolution of BJJ. He’s a former MMA fighter and winner of more grappling tournaments that you can name. Dannaher is one of his students who is now the best instructor in the world. He’s responsible for training an elite squad of leg-breakers called the Dannaher Death Squad. They win all the major jiu-jitsu events and do so by submission.
The history in Mastering Jujitsu is the best story of the art that I have read. Starting with ancient Japanese history, through the Samurai, to Brazil and the modern day. Getting a sense of the history of the art you practice is amazing. It also explains why they used the traditional spelling rather than the modern jiu-jitsu.
The explanation of the founding of Judo by Jigaro Kano and his innovations in training is fascinating. That leads to Mitsuyo Maeda and his travels that took him around the world fighting allcomers. Ending in Brazil where he met Gastao Gracie and began to teach his kids. Who knew that this would change the world of Martial Arts and lead to the creation of the UFC?
One of the keys to the success of BJJ is that we can train and roll (spar) at close to 100% without injury. You get good at using technique to submit an opponent who is doing his all not to lose. This idea, like much of BJJ comes from it’s Judo roots and it’s founder Jigaro Kano.
The book has a strong focus on stand-up or what they call the free-movement phase. This includes the opponent throwing strikes. There is a trend in modern BJJ schools to focus on the ‘sport’ and neglect the self-defence roots of the art. Gracie and Danaher slip that trap and cover the art in it’s entirety.
Mastering Jujitsu is a powerful addition to any Martial Arts Library. If you are training in BJJ or interested to learn more then it is a perfect starting point.