I am looking for a Brazilian jiujitsu book to understand how BJJ thinks about groundwork. As a judoka of some years, I already have some familiarity with joint locks, chokes, control, escapes, the guard position, guard passes, etc. I am looking to understand at a high level the BJJ evaluation of these elements and putting them together.

In particular, I would like:

  1. Strategy - For example: how techniques are linked together, the thinking behind when some guard positions may be preferable to others, general principles of position (in the sense of position before submission)
  2. Names - BJJ has its own nomenclature, and it would be helpful if no prior knowledge of names were expected

I am only secondarily interested in how-to descriptions for techniques.

  • Did you get a chance to check out any of the material I suggested? ...or even read my write up?
    – coinbird
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 14:03
  • @coinbird I read your writeup, but haven't gotten a copy of either book yet. Thanks.
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 14:29
  • @mattm Cool. If you decide not to do the book thing I really think Stephen Kesting youtube videos are your next best option.
    – coinbird
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 15:02
  • 1
    I've been working through Saulo Ribeiro's Jiu-Jitsu University and have found it quite helpful, as someone coming from a judo background. Techniques are introduced in five progressive sections: survival, escapes, the guard, guard passing, and submissions. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


There are countless paths you can go down, so I'll cover two of the most popular.

"Traditional" Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique by Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie

This book covers BJJ from the most simple techniques, to the more advanced stuff. You not only learn positions and submissions, but little intricacies that help you hold the positions, and transition between them (ex. which grips to use, how distribute your weight, etc.) The ability to, as you say, "link techniques together" is essential, and Renzo and Royler are two of the best to ever do it. They go over all the names of common positions and techniques. There are two down sides to this book; it's gi heavy. If you're planning on fighting, you'll need to learn exclusive nogi techniques elsewhere. The other down side is the defensive techniques are limited to defending against stupid moves (untrained folk), and defending against the Gracie techniques you just learned. (so good luck defending against our next author, Mr. Eddie Bravo)

10th Planet Jiu Jitsu

Mastering The Rubber Guard: Jiu Jitsu for Mixed Martial Arts Competition by Eddie Bravo

This book couldn't be more different than the first one I mentioned. Eddie Bravo developed his own BJJ system, centered around the rubber guard. Eddie goes into depth as much, if not more so than the previous book. He covers positional changes, technique flows, and of course unorthodox submissions. Eddie has his own naming system that is overwhelming at first, but you'll get used to it. Two down sides to this book: It doesn't cover "everything you need" for BJJ. You will learn rubberguard and a few other things, which are foundations for 10th Planet BJJ. He has more advanced books to further your knowledge. The other issue is the book is old. Eddie is constantly developing his system, so rubber guard has been tweaked and improved countless times since this release. Eddie has no problem letting his students add to his system. If you use this book, be sure to research the techniques on YouTube for updates.

All in all, there are a lot of great books out there, but these are two of the best. Since you have a Judo background the first book I mentioned will be much easier for you, as you won't have to learn as much new terminology. You really can't go wrong with either, just supplement your training based on the downsides of each that I mentioned. But remember, you can't improve by just reading books, watching videos, and drilling, get in the gym and roll!

Edit: Since I mentioned YouTube I'm also going to add one of my favorite YouTube channels, Stephan Kesting. He provides excellent step by step technique lessons, as well as plenty of BJJ philosophy. Great place to look for techniques for any level BJJ practitioner.

If you want a more "formal" instruction, Ryan Hall is widely regarded as one of the best in the BJJ instructional video game. Much of his content is on YouTube as well. His stuff can get pretty advanced, so it might not be the best place to start for a beginner.

  • I read the Gracie book, but I find it very technique-oriented in a I cannot see the forest for the trees way. I am looking for a deeper discussion of the positional strategy section in the introduction, not the myriad of techniques that follows. I still need to hunt down the Eddie Bravo book.
    – mattm
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 12:19
  • @mattm You'll find Eddie's books much more "flow" oriented. For every strange position he throws at you he will have multiple different avenues you can explore to move to different positions or submissions. Also tons of pictures, which is nice. His other book Mastering the Twister is also a great one. I picked up some mean techniques from that one that I throw in MMA sparring. Half the time dudes don't know what the hell is happening to them, but they know something is about to break! The Electric Chair is a submission series from hell!
    – coinbird
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 20:48

As suggested by an answer that was flagged as spam for excessive promotion and a comment, Jiu Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro is a solid choice. The book is organized around a progression of techniques:

  1. survival
  2. escapes
  3. guard
  4. guard passing
  5. submissions

This viewpoint emphasizes, for example, that the first thing you should learn from the position where the opponent has your back is to defend against getting choked, and not escaping. This strategic choice is different from how I thought about this position before reading this book. My general thinking was to escape first because if the opponent cannot control your body, they cannot submit you. However, the act of trying to escape too early opens up choke opportunities for the opponent and does not yield position improvement fast enough to prevent the choke. Surviving by defending first, then and inching out to escape does indeed seem to be a better strategic choice.

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