Image via Black Belt Magazine
As the popularity of MMA has grown, so have the various industries surrounding the sport. Clothing lines, workout gear, magazines... there's a whole world of MMA items out there now. You see this especially in books about MMA and other combat sports, where there's an ever increasing number of books written by big names in the sport either telling their story or sharing their secrets. With so many on the market, a book needs to have something unique to stand out.
Jean Jacques Machado's The Grappler's Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques absolutely stand out from the crowd.
Written by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master Machado, along with Jay Zeballos, this book is the first book in Machado's series on BJJ and MMA. The 2nd volume, Tactics for Defense, was recently released by Black Belt Magazine - look for a Bloody Elbow review on volume 2 coming soon.
The Grappler's Handbook follows a format that will be familiar to fans of MMA instructional books - a brief background and history on BJJ and MMA, followed by techniques from different positions illustrated with color photos breaking down the steps of the technique. It's a format that works, but again, it's one we've seen before. So what makes this book unique?
Machado does an excellent job breaking techniques down into three different categories - traditional Jiu Jitsu with a gi, submission fighting with no gi, and MMA. He consistently returns to these divisions, explaining how a technique that works well in Jiu Jitsu can't work without a gi, or how to make adjustments to avoid punches in an MMA setting. Unlike some BJJ purists, he does this with no condescension towards no-gi fighting; these are simply related, but different, forms of combat.
By acknowledging the differences between these sports, and making adjustments to suit them, Machado creates one of the best resources for how to take high level Jiu Jitsu and work it into the MMA game.
With his world class credentials, Machado also works in some very unique transitions, always explaining these complex moves in a way that makes sense to even a novice. I'm now itching to see someone pull off his leg-assisted head and arm choke - a choke I can honestly say I've never seen in MMA.
Overall, The Grappler's Handbook is a great resource for anyone looking to strengthen their Jiu Jitsu skills across disciplines, or for anyone just looking for a better understanding of the intricacies of the ground game. It's a worthy addition to your growing MMA library.