August 2022 Book Survey Part 2
Welcome to the August 2022 book survey, part two. I decided to break this month's survey into two posts, as I did last month.
In August 2022, I (Richard) continued my reading plan. This post describes 7 more books that I surveyed in August. Part 1 addressed the first 8 that I surveyed last month. Read on to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique, Renzo Gracie, Royler Gracie, Kid Peligro, John Danaher, 2001
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique begins our look at Brazilian jiu-jitsu books for this month. My copy is an 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch color paperback with heavy glossy paper and 256 pages. This appears to be the first book featuring the philosopher of BJJ, John Danaher. The book offers a section on theory, followed by 110 techniques, each occupying two pages. They are grouped according to rank (blue, purple, brown, black), but that appears to be more for organizational purposes.
It's clear to me professor Danaher wrote the theory section. He notes on page 11 that Carlos Gracie spent "no more than 4 years, and possibly as little as 2 years," studying with Maeda. Danaher continues by saying "teacher/student contact between Maeda and Carlos was not as extensive as is commonly supposed," hence the Gracies had to develop jiu-jitsu themselves. This is a plausible take, although it ignores that Carlos served as an assistant professor to Donato Pires dos Reis in 1928, teaching police officers in Belo Horizonte. It also ignores that Maeda awarded rank to five instructors in 1920, 4 years after arriving in Belem do Para where he met Carlos. Maeda never awarded Carlos (or Helio) any rank.
In other words, with Maeda absent, Carlos could have learned his judo from the instructors who taught for Maeda, like Pires dos Reis.
In 1930, Pires dos Reis opened the Academia de Jiu-Jitsu with Carlos and George Gracie as assistant instructors. Carlos was teaching in his apartment living room at the time. In 1931 Donato left the school and gave it to Carlos, who rebranded it in 1932 as the Academia Gracie. This is useful history to remember when seeing 1925 as the presumed founding of the Gracie Academy. For more on this background, check out books by Roberto Pedreira and Robert Drysdale.
As far as this book goes, it is well-produced, with good photos, layout, and progression. The techniques are those one would find in the Gracie self-defense curriculum from the early 2000s.
Mastering Jujitsu, Renzo Gracie and John Danaher, 2003
Mastering Jujitsu is the real Danaher work in this collection. It begins with the title, which uses "jujitsu" and not "jiujitsu." I wonder if professor Danaher really wanted "jujutsu," but that was a step too far for the Gracies?
This book is another 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches paperback, although this offering has 234 black and white pages. Professor Danaher's biography in the book says he has a PhD in philosophy, but a recent 2018 story by Vice confirms he did not finish it. His picture shows hair, which demonstrates that this book is indeed an early work.
This is a true Danaher composition. There is a lot of exposition and theory, compared to the average "technique" volume of the period. The techniques, in fact, are integrated into the text, rather than acting as the skeleton of the book. Mastering Jujitsu features 3 chapters on theory and history, followed by chapters on free movement, clinch, and ground phases of competition. The book concludes with chapters on winning from the bottom or top, training and competition, and jujitsu for self defense.
If you are Danaher fan, this book is a must-buy -- especially as it is available in Kindle and print editions at reasonable prices.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: For Experts Only, Carlson Gracie [Sr.] and Julio Fernandez, 2004
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: For Experts Only is the third 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches paperback in this post. This book features color photographs on glossy paper, with 253 pages. I bought my copy because professor Carlson is a giant in BJJ, being the first of the second generation Gracie competitors.
The book offers 80 "sports jiu-jitsu" techniques. Carlos contrasts "sport" with "self defense" and "no holds bar" techniques. The layout wastes some space and results in smaller pictures. It's still fairly attractive, though.
This book is a testament to Carlson, who in some ways seems to be ignored by parts of the BJJ world. It's worth acquiring if you find a used copy at a reasonable price, which is not easy to do today.
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Helio Gracie, 2005
I bought my original 2005 hardcover Gracie Jiu-Jitsu "master text" when I started training in 2017. This is a 8 3/4 inches by 11 1/4 inches color hardcover featuring high quality, large color photos. My original copy includes 273 pages. A 2020 "revised" edition adds 19 pages of what one might call "Helio-isms." These are short statements by professor Helio on a variety of topics. Here is one example:
If you own the 2005 edition, you can see all of the extra pages via the Amazon preview function.
It is good to see this book back in print, but at a cost of about $115, it's mainly a collector's item. The content features the old Gracie self defense curriculum, which is useful for historical reasons.
I used my copy as a way to collect Gracie family member signatures. I started with Royce in 2017 at a seminar, right after I started training.
My copy currently has signatures from Rickson, Royce, Reylson, Ryron, and Rener.
Training for Competition: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling, David Meyer, 2008
Training for Competition: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling is the fourth 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches color, glossy paper paperback in this post. It's a Black Belt / Ohara title with 220 pages. The author is a very early (1997) Machado black belt who offers advice for gi and no-gi competition.
The book is a combination of advice and techniques, on everything from matches to exercise. The layout is pretty good, although some of the pictures are too small.
Jiu-Jitsu University, Saulo Ribeiro and Kevin Howell, 2008
Jiu-Jitsu University is probably the most widely-purchased BJJ book around. It is consistently near or at the top of Amazon's martial arts book lists. It's yet another 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches color paperback. It provides 368 pages of techniques organized by theme and belt level, such as survival, escape, the guard, guard passing, and submissions. This smart organization probably accounts for its popularity.
At times the pictures are small, but the book compensates for this issue by often featuring two angles for the same technique step. The book sometimes also shows what not to do, which is welcome.
There is good attention to detail here, with demonstrators using white and blue gis to make it easier to pick out various arm and leg positions.
This book is probably a must-have for those looking for a reference to the fundamentals of sport BJJ.
Nonstop Jiu-Jitsu, Brandon Mullins and Stephan Kesting, 2020
Nonstop Jiu-Jitsu is the newest BJJ book in my collection. Stephan Kesting and Brandon Mullins have produced several instructional videos together, and BJJ books seem increasingly rare in the era of video teaching.
This title is a 8 1/2 inch square paperback, with color photos. The layout makes good use of the page, with two angles for each technique. The photos are "linked" with double lines, which is a clever method to help the reader follow the instruction. Some techniques also feature detail photographs.
The book provides information on fundamental movements, butterfly guard, and De La Riva guard. I like the decision to focus on these three areas.
You can't go wrong with any of the books in this list. There really is something for everyone. If I had to encourage one purchase, it would be Nonstop Jiu-Jitsu. As a fan of the Danaher method, I also recommend Mastering Jujitsu.
Stay tuned for next month!