Books I’ve Learned From, 2 of 2

In my previous post I wrote about how as a 14 year old Judo player finding grappling techniques outside your dojo or club was a lot harder than it is in today’s age of the internet and the wonders of YouTube. I also told you about how a book Dynamic Judo – Grappling Techniques written in the 1960’s by the only living student of the founder of Judo was my treasure trove of grappling techniques back then.

Now, times have changed. It’s not so difficult finding good instructors who post free videos online. For example, just last year it was my first time to hear about the “berimbolo”, after reading about how it was all the rage now-a-days in BJJ competitions. A “berim… what”? Hey, no sweat, I Googled it then checked out a video on the move on YouTube. So now I know a Berimbolo is a kind of sweep you can do when your opponent stands over you and you have control over one of his legs. If you don’t know what a berimbolo is check out this YouTube link I must warn you that I don’t exactly agree with the choice of music for the soundtrack of whoever put this video together.

I’m still a fan of learning techniques from books
The best way to learn a new technique is to get a qualified instructor to teach you. But for most of us, we don’t always have a grappling instructor to who can respond to our every call. In my case, I’m in this city out here in western China called Chongqing where I am so far the only experienced grappler in this municipality of 33 million people the martial arts community here knows of. I heard there’s a very good BJJ practitioner who set up his club in the nearby city of Chengdu in a nearby province about two hours away by bullet train, but right now there are some things I have to prioritize over going to Chengdu to grapple.

So now, I’m learning a lot from books. A book has perfect patience and is always accessible. You can read over the instructions again and again, without worrying you seem a bit slow. You can pick it up as many times as you want in the day and at any time. And because it is in a permanent written form, a lot of thought was put in by the authors to make the instructions and tips as concise and well-articulated as possible, with none of the essential points left out.

A book on Wrestling for MMA
Right now, I have two books on grappling which I’m learning from. There first book is a book my wife, who was then my girlfriend, gave for my birthday four years ago, Wrestling for Fighting: The Natural Wayby Randy Couture. Yeah, you can see why I married her, huh? It’s a pretty wicked book. I wrestled and competed in Freestyle and Greco-roman a lot in college, for a time I trained with our national wrestling team. But after I got this book and started looking through the pages, I’d go “Hey, my coach never taught me that”. (Don’t get me wrong, my college MMA and grappling coach is one of the coolest, most effective and smartest coaches ever, I’ll get on to that in a later post.)

Plus, Randy “The Natural” Couture remains to be my favorite UFC fighter of all time, till today. Way up there with Ken Shamrock. Yep, call me old-fashioned, but they’re my favorite fighters.

A book on Judo for MMA
I was basically a wrestler in college, so I am able to learn a lot from Randy Couture’s book. But I am not just a wrestler, I am also a Judo nut. I learned Judo long before I ever watched my first UFC fight. I also became an undefeated two-time collegiate Judo champion, I was the my university’s wrestling club, but the Judo coach got me to play for the university.

As a Judo nut, I was absolutely thrilled when I first got to see Karo Parisian fight when I was a teenager. I remember going ballistic with joy whenever I’d watch him slam down his opponents with one of his amazing Judo throws. As a Judo man, I had tremendous interest in how he learned to adapt his Judo game to a no-gi fight.

Last year, I was lying on the couch one lazy weekend morning, leafing through my book by Randy Couture on Wrestling for MMA I saw that among the other books from the same publisher was a book by Karo Parisyan. That book was Judo for Mixed Martial Arts: Advanced Throws, Takedowns, and Ground Fighting Techniques. I had my wife buy it from Amazon China that same morning.

Two weeks later, the book arrived. I was kid in a candy shop. For days, I poured over page after page. What I’ve always wanted to learn, the ways Karo Parisyan adapted his throws to MMA, which I first wondered about when I first watched him as a teenager were there. Written down in that book were all his instructions and tips. I was in grappling nerd heaven.

One for Wrestling, One for Judo
So these are the two books I have now, and which I always refer to when I want to look for something new to try out. These two books represent my strong points as a grappler. In one hand is a book that represents my years I played wrestling in college. In the other is a book that helps unlock those secrets on how to transition Judo throws into the MMA cage, which helps bring my Judo throws into my MMA and no-gi grappling game.

Contemplating getting a book on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
I have to say that I’ve come to grips with reality that I might never have the time to work on all the techniques I want to learn from both books I have right now. One thing is that there really isn’t someone I get to practice grappling with here at home. I am still trying to get my younger brother to visit me here in China. I’m sure he’d have a swell time exploring China’s wild west, as an added bonus I can work on new grappling techniques with him. (hehe) Anyway, having in mind that I won’t really have much time to practice techniques from these books, I have to say that these two books already have plenty I can work on for the next coming months and years, and I should resist the temptation to buy more books on grappling.

Even though I know this, I’d still like to study a book on no-gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Though I did quite well in BJJ competitions in the circles I competed in back then, I never formally learned BJJ itself save from a few lessons here or there. I always learned grappling from different coaches and teammates, but I never enrolled in a formal BJJ program, partly because I couldn’t afford the expensive training fees back then. I’m not sure if my circumstances in life will ever turn to give me the opportunity to train over a sustained period with a BJJ instructor. In the meantime, if I had a book on BJJ, I know there is still a lot I could pick up, the same way I was a 14 year old kid so many years ago who was so excited he was almost running home with his first ever book on grappling techniques clutched in that red bookstore plastic bag, so he could read it and unlock its secrets.

Wrestling for Fighting: The Natural Way

Judo for Mixed Martial Arts: Advanced Throws, Takedowns, and Ground Fighting Techniques

(This webpage contains affiliate links, that means if you click them and end up buying any of these books on the Amazon website, I will most probably get a few cents.)

About Duke Villanueva 18 Articles
Duke is full-time career diplomat assigned in China. He is a two-time collegiate Judo champion. He's also done quite well in Wrestling, BJJ, MMA and Fencing in his years as an athlete. Once a week, he still trains and coaches in grappling and MMA. He's married with two wonderful kids, and a couple of naughty dogs.

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