When I finished my masters at University I suddenly had no real mission between training sessions anymore. No more assignments to finish, no exams to prepare for. I always liked reading and used my commutes to read up on everything that might help my BJJ development. From weightlifting to flexibility and from the ancient philosophers to modern self-help books. Over the years I’ve read dozens and dozens of books with the goal of improving my jiu jitsu. Of course, reading something won’t get you better at BJJ. But the ideas in the books I’m about to recommend to you can be life changing if applied. That’s the catch though. Reading is one thing, actually applying the lessons is the real challenge.
I’m not quite sure in how many parts I will post this blog series, but let’s start at the base of the pyramid: How to get good at something. These books can give you guidance in anything you want to achieve, and have helped me tremendously through my jiu jitsu journey. All four are very well written and not only useful, but also very entertaining.
Getting good at something
If I could recommend you to read one book, it is this one. Robert Greene shows you the exact path to get really, really good at something. He uses anecdotes from masters throughout history to get his points across. He divides the path to mastery in 3 stages: Discovering your calling, the apprenticeship where you learn the skills you need in your field, and finally the 'creative-active phase', where you specialize and push the boundaries of the field you chose. This book has given me a roadmap of what I want to reach with jiu jitsu, and in my opinion is a must read for everybody that wants to be good at anything.
Daniel Coyle went on a quest to find what talent really consists off. He argued that it’s not a genetic thing, but rather the result of deep practice that leads to myelin development. Don't worry, he'll explain both deep practice and myelin in a easy to follow way. He visited talent hotbeds, places that produced champions at a extraordinary rate, around the world. Including Russian tennis courts and baseball fields in the Dutch antilles.
A book that was recommended by Espen Mathiesen in a podcast a few years ago. It teaches you how to learn, but also how to teach. Critical reading for jiu jitsu coaches and people that are training without the guidance of a great coach. Helped me a lot with creating my curriculum and planning my own training sessions
Very interesting read on how some people and cultures manage to be more successful than others. This book popularized the 10.000 hour rule. Malcolm Gladwell is a great writer and the book is very well put together. He uses very interesting examples to explain what factors create outliers: from how some plane crashes are the result of the power distance within a culture to how Chinese rice farms have led to their excellence in math.
Let me know what you think about these books, which categories you would like to learn more about and what books you like in the comments!
(Disclaimer: Ordering books through the links I posted will get me a small commission, at no extra costs for you!)