Books I’ve Learned From, Part 1 of 2

What many grapplers of today don’t realize is that back then grappling techniques were a lot harder to come by. Now-a-days, anyone can go online learn from any of the many highly-qualified grappling instructors who, many for absolutely free, demonstrate effective and proven techniques. With the advent of Youtube and other similar websites, one can simply type in “omoplata defense” on YouTube and get to choose the most credible-looking instructor from a multitude of related videos. But back then, you primarily relied on your instructor or training partner to teach you, or if you were determined enough, tried to piece together techniques from instructions in a book on grappling, which were expensive and rare.

When I was around 14 years old, I was member of my high school Judo club. The pace of the Judo lessons back then were agonizingly slow. We spent months learning break falls and rolling. I desperately wanted to learn more grappling techniques, and as I mentioned, this was before there was this answer-to-all-questions-in-the-universe thing called the internet. I already had a copy of Judo in Action: Throwing Techniqueslying around the house (my dad and my three older brothers were martial arts nuts). And I already read the book back and forth several times before I ever stepped foot in a Judo dojo. But what I didn’t have was the grappling version of this treasure trove of a book.

One day as that 14 year old frustrated kid, I was roaming around, and decided to drop by the bookstore that was in front of my school, and right there in the sports section, I saw it the grappling book I’ve wanted to buy for years. Until that time, I had never even read or seen for sale a single book on grappling (except for a small book on Sumo in my dad’s personal library). To afford it, I had to save up my allowances for a couple of weeks, and once I just had enough money, I bought it: Judo in Action Grappling Techniques.

Here’s what the book looked like:

Back then, it was the Holy Book of grappling knowledge. I would spend whole nights leafing through it page by page. It gave me an edge. At every grappling session, I’d try apply whatever technique points I could glean off just reading and visualizing. Not before long, I had a definite technical edge in grappling over the other kids in the club.

The author of this book is Kazuzo Kudo. When he wrote the book in the 1960’s he was already an old man, and by then he was the only living student of Jigoro Kano still left alive. But even if you picks up the book today you will find out that the techniques in this book are still used by the modern grapplers and MMA warrior today.

Somethings I did learn from my first ever book on grappling were:

1. For every technique there is are actions you have to focus on
2. For every technique, there are techniques you can do to try escape from it.

Judo in Action Grappling Techniques is a treasure. It’s a masterpiece. It shows you how advanced grappling techniques were already before the time of colored Brazilian Jujitsu belts and Pay Per View MMA.

The book is also a time capsule. The nature of fighting sports have evolved dramatically since the book was written, especially with all the prize money and science put into grappling and MMA. One can expect that improvements have been made on some techniques, and new ones have been developed and introduced to the grapplers around the world. But also, far more interestingly, one will see that most of the techniques on the mats and in the cages today were already well-studied by at least the middle of the last century.

Now-a-days, without the benefit of a grappling coach, I still learn from books, but I’ll take that up at a later post.

(While I love Kazuzo Kudo’s book to bits, literally because my copies are falling apart, this page contains affiliate links. That means if you click on links or pictures to Amazon and end up buying the book, I’ll probably earn 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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