Sunday, June 2, 2013

Books Every BJJ'er Should Read

There are many books martial artists read. Usually philosophy and books about how to think and strategy is more popular in other arts besides BJJ and MMA. MMA and BJJ being the new kids on the block, fans are more savvy with Facebook, social media, Youtube videos, blogs, and instructionals. It is a testament to its growth in the modern technology age and the new generation of martial artists who can now research bullshit rather quickly. End of the mystical one touch knock outs.

Still there is plenty to gain from the philosophies and concepts of Eastern thought. If executives can use it to their advantage and they come from a world of hard facts and numbers, surely we modern martial artists can as well.

If you are someone who likes to break the mold and likes to think deeper and outside of the box, there are classic books like The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, or The Unfettered Mind. All fine books which I have read over the years but the ones I found most accessible and most transferable are the three books I am about to list below:

1. The Inner Game Of Tennis - It's not a book about martial arts per se, but it does have a very zen, Eastern approach to mental peak performance. More than about tennis, it's about the inner game, the zone. It breaks down all the mental habits and attributes of a strong competitor. It's not just a favorite among all sports coaches, but business people as well. I do business with a lot of powerful CEO's and a book they kept mentioning that I should read was this. It inspired the name of this blog and the whole approach to writing about Jiu Jitsu, the inner game of Jiu Jitsu. The things that happen in the head that affects your whole game. A martial artists greatest tool should be his mind.

2. Zen In The Art Of Archery - A very short but deep book. Each line of the book is powerful. I remember reading it and pausing after each paragraph to make sure I understood the point. It's using archery to explain focus, mastery, and pursuit. Only when you and the goal become one reality, can you have perfect aim.

3. Living The Martial Way - The least known of these books and I found it quite accidentally one day early in my BJJ career. Written by a high ranking military officer/strategist. All his other books are about military strategy, this is the only one he wrote about martial arts. But his experiences in martial arts reflects in everything he does. The whole book is about applying martial arts in everything you do, in your daily life. Your daily life being a practice of martial arts. It made me realize I don't always need to train to be training martial arts. In all my business endeavors I've used thoughts I've acquired in the martial arts, and its paid off. Yeah maybe I'm a bit older and younger guys can tap me but I trust my ability to apply martial arts to achieve success in life.

Many martial artists don't apply what they've learned in martial arts to their life. Instead they make their life about their art. Coaches often use the analogy, football is life or basketball is life. What they mean is this game is an analogy for life. Lessons you learn here will help you in your life. But many instead just make their life about basketball or football, it revolves around it and when their competitive career ends they are ill equipped to handle real life. It's why so many of them go broke. If you can make a success life out of your craft, then all the power to you but there are far greater participants than their are openings for careers.

In BJJ, I see people instead of using BJJ to make themselves better at their jobs, careers, school, or life, they make their life about BJJ. Martial arts is about giving you skills to help you survive and thrive in life. Create efficiencies that are transferable. If it's not transferable, it's not worth doing. What if you open up a school? Then hopefully you can use your martial arts to help you become a better entrepreneur. Many often make the mistake that just being good at your art will help you build a successful school. If that were the case, so many BJJ schools wouldn't have needed the guidance of someone like Lloyd Irvin to help them grow their business. He saw a need in martial arts, that a lot of good martial artists had no idea how to run a business. They knew BJJ but none of it was transferring to being successful in other aspects of their life, so he taught them how for a price. Is that his fault? Or is that the fault of the martial artists who only built up a small repertoire of life skills that didn't transfer over well?

Remember martial arts originated as a way for people to protect themselves and keep living in their day to day life. As a necessity and a form of adaptation to be more efficient and effective at life. Now martial arts only makes you better at martial arts. What a shame.

Reading is essential at getting better at anything. I'm not talking about picture books with nice set ups and explanations but books that challenge the way you think and asks you to grow beyond yourself. From scientists, business people, lawyers, doctors, coaches like Greg Jackson to John Danaher, they all love to read. Many have been asked why Greg Jackson or John Danaher are such good coaches, and I've actually heard many say, they read a lot of books and apply those concepts to being a better coach. Brilliant! Knowledge makes you more effective at success. Knowledge is power.

Even with my instructor Cobrinha, we talk about all the books we have read, he especially encourages his competitors to read books on mindset and how to think more effectively. He's also told me he's always learning and often picks the brain of some of great entrepreneurs to get ideas to run a good business. His business being Cobrinha BJJ.

You got tons of hours of drilling in. How many hours of reading have you done? Without books like The Talent Code, drilling wouldn't have become such an important aspect of training.

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