I am what you would call an avid reader. Some would even say my reading habit borders on a reading obsession since at any one time I can be found to have at least three, sometimes four books going simultaneously. I have several on my nightstand next to my bed, a couple on the coffee table downstairs, one or two on the kitchen counter and, of course, my bathroom book. So when NJPDA asked me to write a guest blog post on my Top Five Favorite Martial Arts books, I was, shall we say, more than psyched to do it! As I sat on the floor in front of my book shelf picking out the martial arts books, it started to occur to me what a daunting task this could actually become. You see, I own several dozen martial arts books and I like all of them. So, how to narrow down to my Top Five?

Well, since there are several different types of martial arts books, I decided to categorize them. The five main categories I came up with for my collection are: Martial Philosophy, Martial History, Martial Technique, Martial Stories, and Martial Strategy.  See if you can figure out which books fall into which category.

Tao of Jeet Kune Do

This is the book that influenced my thinking on budo and fitness training very early in my martial arts career. It’s one that I read cover to cover so many times that the pages are worn and dog eared. Simply a classic!

Essence of Ninjutsu

Hatsumi Sensei has written several great books on budo that encompass technique, philosophy, history, and much more. His enegmatic writing style and command of language makes all of his books must haves. This one in particular though, like Tao of Jeet Kune Do, was a book a read dozens of times and is really one of the gems of my collection.

Angry White Pyjamas

This book is simply a fun and informative look at a young man from Oxford’s journey training Yoshinkan Aikido with the Tokyo Riot Police. I really enjoyed this book!

Book of 5 Rings

If you have not read this book yet, go buy it and read it now! This is a classic of strategey by one of Japan’s most renowned swordsmen, Miyamoto Musashi. This is not just a read once and comprehend book; this will require you to spend some time thinking and training with the concepts presented.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight

This book is a fascinating look at tracing the history of internal power training in the martial arts from China to Japan and through various Japanese schools of budo. Bujinkan practitioners will appreciate the discussion on the Kuki Family martial arts as well as connections to Takagi Yoshin Ryu.

Bonus Book: The Ethical Warrior

While not a “martial arts” book per se, Jack Hoban’s Ethical Warrior is a must read for ALL martial artists, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and everyday men and women. In short, I think everyone on the planet should read this book. “It’s a better life!”

So there you have it. My Top Five Favorite Books, plus a bonus. How does my list stack up to yours? What books would you include in your own Top Five? Drop a comment and let me know!