When someone begins their journey as an athlete, and especially as a martial artist, he or she often puts all their time and energy into the physical aspect of training. But so much more goes into becoming a champion in any sport. What is even more important for martial artists and boxers is the psychology component. Training for a fight goes far beyond the physicality. In fact, it has been said that fighting is 90% mental. So, if the mind is not focused and in tune with the body, it doesn’t matter what kind of shape you’re in, you will not succeed in obtaining greatness, become a world class athlete or a top notch champion.

Beginners to the world of martial arts often make many mistakes when it comes to training methods, nutrition, vitamins and supplements, and learning to balance their professional life as a fighter and their personal life. There are also several experienced fighters who often still get it wrong when it comes to what will help them bring their game up another notch in order to wear a championship belt around their waist. So, to help martial artists achieve success in the ring or cage and in life, here are 10 books and reviews that every fighter should own.

Speed Training for Martial Arts and MMA: How to Maximize Your Hand Speed, Boxing Speed, Kick Speed and Power, Punching Speed and Power

by J. Barnes

In this book, author J. Barnes breaks down his methods in seven keys components: speed, visual, tactile, auditory reflexes, adaptation, initiation, and movement. Aimed toward novice martial artists and expert fighters, Speed Training for Martial Arts and MMA: How to Maximize Your Hand Speed, Boxing Speed, Kick Speed and Power, Punching Speed and Power, plus Wrestling Speed and Power for Combat and Self-Defense teaches readers in simple steps how to excel in the cage, during a street fight or how to handle themselves in practically any violent situation.

The book, which can be adapted for any style of martial arts, also includes simplified instructions, exercises and drills, e.g. mental shadow fighting and focus. There are several drills and exercises, which can be performed solo, with a partner or in a group.

The author writes in the introduction – “This book isn’t meant to just be read; the exercises and methods should be followed and practiced in order for the reader to get the full value of this book.”

About the author –

J. Barnes has more than 20 years of experience in mixed martial arts, boxing, and wrestling. He is the creator of the innovative “Speed Loop” training system, which is the #1 speed training system in the world for martial artists, boxer, and wrestlers.

The Fighter’s Body: An Owner’s Manual: Your Guide to Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and Excellence in the Martial Arts

by Loren W. Christensen and Wim Demeere

Being an athlete and performing at your peak requires practical and solid information when it comes to nutrition. Authors Loren Christensen and Wim Demeere provide factual advice for martial artists and athletes in their book The Fighter’s Body: An Owner’s Manual: Your Guide to Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and Excellence in Martial Arts. There is a lot of information and books that are full of fads and hype, but this book cuts through the nonsense and dispels the myths.

The information provided includes: diets to avoid, staying hydrated, why rest and sleep are vital for optimal performance, how to form a balanced eating plan and what types of foods are ideal for martial arts, how to cut weight safety, the proper way to either lose or gain weight, and what to eat while training for tournaments and competition.

The book also supplies answers to questions regarding supplements and vitamins and which ones are best to help with training, recovery and performance. In addition there is information about how to read food labels and which sports drinks and nutrition bars are best for the body.

There is an overwhelming amount of information, so readers may have to re-read the book to make sure they get all the knowledge the authors provide. Overall, Christensen and Demeere provide the necessary information that will help any martial artist run at peak performance and make the gains and improvement they look to achieve not only during their days as a fighter, but during their lifetime.

About the authors –

Loren W. Christensen started martial arts training in 1965. Since then, he has earned a total of 11 black belts, which came in handy during the three decades he worked in law enforcement. As a professional writer, Loren has written on martial arts, missing children, street gangs, school shootings, workplace violence, riots, prostitution, police-involved shootings, nutrition, and exercise.

Wim Demeere became a certified personal trainer in 1994. His clients have included CEOs of global companies, world-class athletes, best-selling authors and many different clients of all ages. In June 2006, Wim completed a video shoot at Paladin Press for a series of instructional tapes and DVDs titled Combat Sanshou.

The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game

by Sam Sheridan

The author, Sam Sheridan, takes a hands-on look at what goes on in the mind of a competitor. Sheridan does extensive research focusing on the mental part of competition by traveling around the world to interview cut-men and psychologists, as well as fighters, athletes and trainers, including Dan Gable, Freddie Roach, Greg Jackson, Andre Ward, Renzo Gracie, Randy Couture, and others who give their insight about what they think of the fight game, what’s the secret to mental toughness, how to remain confident even when your body is in pain, how to deal with their personal life when it’s filled with stress, how to stay focused and committed to training year after year, and what it takes to be great, not just as a fighter, but at anything in life.

The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game is a tremendous learning tool on the psychology of champions and what drives someone to near obsession sometimes to achieve such a burning desire to become number one.

About the author –

Although Sam Sheridan went to Harvard and majored in Visual and Environmental Studies, he traveled the world a great deal. At one point he ended up in Thailand, where he lived in a Muay Thai camp and fought. He was featured on National Geographic’s A Fighting Chance.

His first book was entitled A Fighter’s Heart. Sam was also one of the fight announcers in the recent mixed martial arts movie Warriors.

Living the Martial Arts Way

by Forrest E. Morgan

When one begins their training in martial arts he will experience many things, many people, many instructors and coaches. How a fighter is taught to carry himself is vital to the road to becoming a true master. In Living the Martial Arts Way, Morgan, who is a retired Air Force Major, concentrates on why it is important for any martial artist to have honor, respect and courage, along with laying the ground work for justice and a sense of obligation to their family, friends, other martial artists, and even their opponents. The book helps martial artists learn not only how to carry themselves in the ring or cage, but how to uphold a sense of integrity in their everyday life.

To excel in all areas of one’s life, Living the Martial Arts Way focuses on the mind, body and spirit functioning as a well balanced machine in order to build character. This is an especially great book for beginning students, who may not have a balanced or structured life. For once he starts earning money, winning fights, and the lights and fanfare, along with the temptation of women and drugs surround him, it is definitely quite easy for a gifted martial artist to lose his way and form a conceited, cocky, less-than-humble attitude toward others. In fact, many of the MMA fighters and champions could also benefit from reading this book.

About the author –

Forrest E. Morgan is an Adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a B.S. in Business Management, a M.A. in Computer Systems Management, a M.A.A.S in Airpower Arts and Science, and Ph.D. in Policy Studies.

Ultimate Flexibility

by Sang H. Kim

Ultimate Flexibility is mainly geared toward beginning martial artists and those who have been injured and are making a come back.

It is a known fact that MMA fighters need to be flexible during their training, not just for great kicking power, but for grappling and Jiu-jitsu. It’s pretty difficult to get an opponent in a triangle choke if you can’t get those legs up and wrapped around his neck.

Stretching is a component that is often overlooked by martial artists when training, but it is vital for excellent ground game, to avoid injury and for overall conditioning. Even more experienced fighters, who understand the importance of have great flexibility, have seen an improvement in their fight game when they add yoga and Pilates to their training program.

Ultimate Flexibility is written in plain language with several photos to help explain and demonstrate the proper way to do the stretches. All the exercises will help readers increase their flexibility, work out the knots in the body and improve circulation.

Follow the guidelines in the book and most readers will definitely see an improvement in their flexibility, kicks and ground techniques.

About the author –

As the author of 13 martial arts books and a freelance writer for several magazines, including Black Belt, Taekwondo Times, Taekwondo People, WTF Magazine, Combat, and others, Sang Kim has studied martial arts for 40 years. As a professional speaker and teacher, Sang uses his skill, knowledge and education in martial arts, sports philosophy and fighting strategies and techniques to teach millions of people at his own schools and through seminars, workshops, books, and DVDs.

Sang holds a B.S. degree in English Literature, an M.S. degree in Sports Science and a Ph.D. in Sports Media Studies.

Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks

by Marc De Bremaeker and Roy Raige

For beginners and advanced martial artists Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks is an amazing book which includes 89 different kicks, and it is written in a clear, concise and organized way. It is also filled with photographs and drawings to help explain each kick in simple terms. The kicks can be used for fighting competitions as well as self-defense.

Although, many martial artists will be familiar with a lot of the kicks, there are some that will surprise people, e.g. the ghost kick or the drop overhead back kick. The book even includes a DVD showing the kicks for added instruction.

When a fighter wants to seeks an edge in a competition having superior kicking skills could mean the difference between a win and a lost, just ask UFC champions such as Jon Jones or Anderson Silva, who often win matches by breaking down their opponents with deadly kicks.

Any fighter who wants to add to their repertoire, improve their kicks and gain more power, speed and accuracy for cage fighting, competitions or self-defense in a street fight, this book is a must.

About the authors –

Marc De Bremaeker has been a top martial artist for over 45 years. When De Bremaeker competed he was renowned for flashy kicking.

Roy Raige is head of the Shi Heun style founded by his late father. He is also an officer in one of the most elite commando units of the Israeli Army.

Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts: The Stand Up Game Book

by Greg Jackson with Kelly Crigger

If it is your goal to fight for the UFC one day, then you need to read Greg Jackson’s book because he is considered one of the best, if not the best, accomplished and celebrated mixed martial arts coach in the world. Some of the fighters he has coached include: Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Nate Marquardt, Diego Sanchez, and Keith Jardine.

In Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts: The Stand Up Game, Jackson reveals his training methods and how he develops fight strategies to produce champions. Some of the most helpful and insightful information includes principles such as: seizing and maintaining the offensive initiative, capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes, every move should have a back up plan, and think more than one move ahead. Jackson also offers simple instruction and colorful photos on how to improve on guard, submissions, ground and pound techniques, and escapes, as well as dozens of striking combinations and counterstriking combinations.

What is interesting about Jackson’s book is that he also gives readers information and his wisdom beyond how to train to become successful in the UFC. He includes pointers on what to do once a MMA contract has been signed and the steps that you must take to help you become successful once you step inside that cage.

About the authors –

Greg Jackson trains novice fighters and MMA champions at his Albuquerque New Mexico Submission Fighting camp.

Kelly Crigger is a former US Army Lieutenant Colonel and author of Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts. He also writes regularly for FIGHT magazine.

Muay Thai: A Living Legacy

by Lesley D. Junlakan and Pitsaporn “Kat” Prayukvong

This book is for the Muay Thai enthusiast as well as the student of this art. It is extensively researched and contains history, cultural rituals, rich ceremonies, and ancient training methods.

Muay Thai: A Living Legacy is an excellent book for anyone who is a novice to this fighting style and wishes to learn how to incorporate the techniques into their training. The book also includes warm-ups, stretching, wrapping the hand, stance, targets, footwork, which focuses on pivoting, leaping, and blocking footwork.

The excellent photographs and well written descriptions allow readers to follow along with the techniques in a safe and proficient way.

About the author –

Lesley D. Junlakan hails from Manchester, England. She holds a M. A. in English Literature and has lived in Asia (Thailand and Japan) for over 16 years.

Pitsaporn Prayukyong earned a degree in Communications at Illinois State University. Afterwards, she returned to Thailand to work on this book with Ms. Junlakan.

The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970’s: 500 Films Loaded with Action, Weapons & Warriors

by Craig D. Reid

For education and entertainment, relax from training and go pick up a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded with Action, Weapons & Warriors.

Craig Reid, who has a background in martial arts and film, does extensive research to compose over 500 kung fu and martial arts films that were produced in the 70s. Through his detailed description of fight scenes, which are vivid and engaging, and analyses of the films, he is thorough and comprehensive, especially with the trivia and history of each movie.

Fighters, martial artists and fans of the art and those who enjoy movies will get a kick out of this book, which features colorful movie stills throughout. Most of the films were produced in various countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, the United States, and even Germany.

The author doesn’t critique the movies although he is a world respected film critic and historian. He does offer plot summaries and personal observations though. Instead of telling readers what they should or shouldn’t like, Reid prefers that people select various martial arts movies, from the small or lesser known films, to the big-budget, well-known films, and pick and chose which ones they want to watch. With 500+ there are more than enough movies to keep anyone entertained for a long time.

About the author –

Craig D. Reid was born in Reading, England. In 1972, he began practicing martial arts. Over the years, Reid has developed an extensive knowledge of martial arts history and martial arts cinema. He has also worked as a fight choreographer and stuntman for Asian and Hollywood films.

With over 18 years as a writer, Reid’s articles have appeared in magazines such as Black Belt, Karate Illustrated, The Hollywood Reporter, Emmy, Boxoffice, Fangoria, Femme Fatales, Masters of Kung Fu, Inside Kung-Fu, Location Update, Wu Shu Kung Fu, Asian Trash Cinema and in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Tao of Jeet Kune Do

by Bruce Lee

No fighter’s library can be complete without having at least one book from the master – Bruce Lee. In Tao of Jeet June Do, Lee breaks down in detail his method of seeking knowledge to become a true student and master of the fighting arts. In the book, which is for the more experienced martial artist, Lee includes his own warm-up techniques and fitness training, along with combat strategies (tools, preparations, mobility and attacks).

What is so great about this book is that Lee goes beyond the methods of what it takes to become a great martial artist and fighter. He helps readers understand the art of Jeet Kune Do and his thoughts on the martial artist philosophy as well. As someone who created a style that blends Wing Chun Kung Fu, American Boxing, French Fencing, and Grappling to form Jeet Kune Do, Lee taught students and the world that it is important for martial artists to use what works best for them and not get stuck in the ideal of what a certain style of martial arts should be.

It is interesting to note that before Jiu-jitsu and grappling became popular in the U.S. Lee already practiced and perfected these styles, which are included in his book along with extensive illustrations of grappling and ground techniques, holds and locks.

About the author –

The late Bruce Lee was a Chinese American, Hong Kong actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement.

Now to be realistic no one will become an elite fighter from just reading martial art books. Nothing can take the place of skilled hands-on instruction from a knowledgeable instructor. However, if a fighter wants to advance his or her skill level and work on becoming a world champion, reading books and applying the content by others who are considered masters in their field and those who have top notch skills and years of experience either as a champion martial artist, trainer or coach will surely help any martial artist significantly raise their fight game.