The 18 Best Books to Learn Martial Arts and Self-Defense

The 18 Best Books to Learn Martial Art and Self-Defense. such as The Gift of Fear, The Art of War, Principles of Personal Defense, Krav Maga
Welcome to an insightful journey through the '18 Best Books to Learn Martial Arts and Self-Defense,' written by Muhiuddin Alam on the book recommendations and reviews site,

Over the years as a leading authority on literary expertise, I've created numerous articles, many of which can be found on this site.

I have received many requests to recommend some of the self-defense books. In response, I'm pleased to offer my expert recommendations in this article.

I will recommend you best self-defense books in this post, which is based on my in-depth study and testing in this field. Such as The Gift of Fear, The Art of War, Principles of Personal Defense, After The Bell Rings, In the Gravest Extreme, The Law of Self-Defense, Meditations on Violence, The New Superpower for Women, Krav Maga, and The Self-Defense Handbook.

These aren't the only books on this topic. Below, you'll find 18 books with detailed descriptions of each of these outstanding resources, helping you make well-informed decisions in your best self-defense journey."

I like to say that each person should learn reading, writing, and self-defense

While many of us living in first-world countries feel like we will never get attacked - we think that until we actually do get attacked. 

Meanwhile, other people are constantly looking over their shoulders, always being afraid of an assailant, considering what they would do and what they Should do if such a situation would arise. 

This questioning and sense of fear usually lead people to practice martial arts or to go to a self-defense course - yet the truth is - that not all martial arts and self-defense courses are created equal. 

The 18 Best Books to Learn Martial Arts and Self-Defense

Today I wanted to give you guys my top 18 personal protection, personal defense, and situational awareness type of books.

I want to read about it and although books usually put me to sleep if I read them like at night. I try to make time during the day when I can read things because there are so many good books out there that will give you information that's helpful. 

if you're trying to learn more about how to defend yourself whether it's with a firearm or pepper spray or just changing your mindset around personal defense.  

So I'm gonna give you guys the 18 favorites and best books on self-defense that I have here and we'll talk about situational awareness first one of my all-time favorite best books to learn martial arts.

Hence, this article. Now I know you are already eager to get to know what books they are, so let’s take a look at our recommended best self-defense books list. 

1. The Gift of Fear 


The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker 

In my early search for the best possible answers on the subject of self-defense and personal safety, I was recommended on more than one occasion a book called “The Gift of Fear”  written by Gavin De Becker.  

Initially, it did not seem like a book directly speaking about the subject of self-defense.  I mean, you don’t find pictures of an angry man grabbing a lady on the wrist and in the next picture see the lady perform a flashy open palm strike into the nose of the attacker.  

Yet with getting deeper into the book, I realized that not only is it extremely helpful in understanding what self-defense is truly about, but it also helps even more in understanding safety from predators in all possible situations.  

Gavin de Becker is a security specialist, primarily for governments, large corporations,  and public figures, but he is no stranger to violence in everyday life.  Growing up in a violent environment himself, you could say that he basically became obsessed with understanding violence and eventually - how to avoid it as best as possible.  

Throughout the book, he introduces the concept of our intuition, the vast capacity and knowledge of our subconscious which collects significantly more information than our conscious mind,  and pretty much without failing - warns us about upcoming, possible dangers through a  sense of, often seemingly unexplained, fear.  

While it may sound like a woo-woo type of an idea at the beginning, Gavin gives a generous amount of real examples of how this sense of fear saved many lives, or in more unfortunate cases - when this intuition was not listened to and as a result - lead to horrifying outcomes. 

Reading this book you will not only understand deeply how this survival mechanism, which we all inherently already have, works, but you will also learn much more about the predatory mindset and various factors that will help you spot early on, not only the cookie-cutter,  hooded attackers in the dark alley, but even more importantly, the much less evident and potentially more dangerous “well dressed” and mannered assailants, who prey on our politeness and unwillingness to listen to our deeper, internal alert signs.  

I am no stranger to fear of being attacked myself, but “The Gift of Fear” showed me how to use this fear in an empowering and efficient way, so that in an almost paradoxical way - I would lose fear, or more precisely would stop being afraid when it is unnecessary,  and become allies with my fear, knowing when to actually listen to it.  Read this book and don’t forget to pass it on to everyone that you care about to make them safer too.

2. The Art of War 


The Art of War by Sun Tzu 

This book is an old book it's from the 5th century BCE I believe and it was written by a Chinese general named Sun Tzu it's basically a military strategy book but it can give you a lot of helpful information on how to strategize in different areas of your life. 

There are a lot of quotes you've probably heard that come from this book one of them is if you know yourself and you know the enemies you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. 

There's a lot of good information in here on dealing with conflict and different situations in your life so definitely buy the art of war. I definitely recommend this book.

3. Principles of Personal Defense 


Principles of Personal Defense is written by Jeff Cooper 

he's the one who created what is called Cooper's color code and if you have ever heard of the condition yellow that's where this comes from he talks a lot about mental conditioning and how to change your mindset. 

How to become more aware he goes through different categories but they're mostly based on the way you think like decisiveness coolness how to stay cool when things are going bad and things like that's principles of personal defense by Jeff Cooper.

4. After The Bell Rings 


After The Bell Rings-Giving Kids the tools they need to stay safe: A field guide to situational awareness by William A Dalpe

William Dalpe owns Patriot Firearms School in Rehoboth Massachusetts. it is actually aimed at children ages 10 to 18.
If you have kids that are between those ages this book is really great it teaches them about the main ideas behind situational awareness and what I really like about this book is that it gives different scenarios like if you're home alone or if you go to a friend's house and something bad happens just things that they might encounter and then it goes and breaks down each scenario and will ask questions that the child should answer like what should have been done and then it also gives like a lesson learned so it kind of summarizes each scenario at the end. 

5. In the Gravest Extreme 


In the gravest extreme and this falls under the category of firearms mostly this was written by Massad F. Ayoob

This book is really good for learning some of the legal issues behind carrying a firearm and how to practically carry a firearm for personal protection so I like that one if you're going to be carrying a firearm for personal protection one of the most important things you need to do first of all is know the laws behind self-defense and when you're allowed to protect yourself, especially with lethal force in the case of a firearm so that's why I like this book.

6. The Law of Self-Defense 


The Law of Self-Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen by Andrew F. Branca  

I like this book a lot because it breaks down the law in terms of the use of force but it also has tables in the back that go through each state's laws so it'll give you the actual place you can find the laws for each state within the law so that's a really good reference I like that a lot I've highlighted things for my state Massachusetts so really like this. 

7. Meditations on Violence 


Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence by Rory Miller 

This book gives a no-nonsense introduction and a thorough explanation of what self-defense is truly about and how to best stay safe.  It beautifully explains the complex subject of self-defense and how to best approach life-threatening situations.  

One of the greatest things I find Rory does in the book, is the great explanation of the difference between a street fight and self-defense situations, a common misunderstanding,  pointing out that a lot of “street fights” happen not because they are unavoidable, but because two or more individuals engage in what Rory calls a “monkey dance” (of course we are mainly talking about guys at the moment), or in other words a battle between egos, which may end up being deadly, while in reality - it can be completely avoided by spotting such an event unfolding early enough and keeping our egos in check.  

Throughout the book, other crucial subjects are also explored such as dynamics of violence, predator mindset, adapting training to the realities of violence, making the physical defense work, and even the after-effects of a sudden assault or long-term exposure to a violent environment. 

If you want to become much, much safer in your everyday life and various environments,  this book will absolutely play a golden role in helping you achieve this goal. 

8. The New Superpower for Women 


The New Superpower for Women: Trust Your Intuition, Predict Dangerous Situations, and Defend Yourself from the Unthinkable by Steve Kardian

This book is obviously specifically for women but it gives a lot of good information here on being aware as a woman things that we might encounter bad situations that we might encounter and different scenarios and really helpful tips in here one of my favorite things. 

In this book is a chart that shows it's called the alcohol impairment chart and it shows men versus women and then based on your weight and how many drinks you've had how alcohol will affect you there's just so much good information in here on social media and if someone breaks into your home how to stay safe on vacation so this is really great for women.

9. Krav Maga 


Krav Maga: An Essential Guide to the Renowned Method--for Fitness and Self-Defense by David Kahn

The first of its kind - an illustrated guide to the hottest new fitness trend from a top expert in the field. Increasingly popular as a self-defense method and fitness program, Krav Maga is the Israeli military's renowned method for fending off attackers. 

Based on the principles of doing minimal harm and enhancing our natural instincts for self-protection, anyone can master its moves - regardless of strength, size, age, or gender. In this excellent beginner's guide, David Khan presents the basic techniques and principles. 

Topics include: 

  • Anticipating an attack; 
  • Understanding the body's vulnerable targets; 
  • Mastering essential defense techniques, and more.
Master the moves of Krav Maga—the international self-defense and physical fitness sensation

Increasingly popular around the world, Krav Maga is the renowned hand-to-hand Martial Arts defense fighting designed by the Israeli military forces. Swift, powerful, and simple, it is an effective method for fending off any kind of attacker—and it is also an amazing workout.

Regardless of size, strength, and fitness level, anyone can master the essentials of Krav Maga—and reap the rewards of increased safety, confidence, and conditioning. With moves, you can learn in as little as five minutes, or train and practice for long-term success. 

Krav Maga covers all the below:

  • What is Krav Maga all about
  • Instruction on how to protect your body's vulnerable target and learn weapons defense combat
  • Use an opponent's momentum to fuel your counterattack
  • Escape all kinds of grips and holds
  • Combine training punches, kicks, and other moves into a powerful conditioning workout---to lose weight, increase core strength, and improve muscle tone
  • Use specially designed drills and a 12-week training program to become a racist---a smart and prepared fighter
Written by one of America's foremost krav maga experts, this exciting new guide opens the door to an empowering and important set of techniques that you or anyone can master.

10. The Self-Defense Handbook 


The Self-Defense Handbook: The Best Street Fighting Moves and Self-Defense Techniques by Sam Fury

Teach Yourself Self-Defense!

Inside this four-part self-defense training manual, you will learn:
  • The Principles of Self-Defense. The information in this section is more valuable from a self-defense point of view than any of the individual techniques.
  • Basic Self-Defense Techniques. Simple and effective moves to escape your attacker(s) and get to safety.
  • Advanced Strikes & Strategies. Use these tactics when the basic self-defense techniques are too aggressive, such as in a "friendly" pub or schoolyard brawl.
  • Weapon Disarms. Advanced lessons on how to disarm an attacker and fight multiple opponents.
This is the only self-defense training manual you need because these are the best street fighting moves around.

Discover Real Street Fighting Tactics

  • The best target areas for self-defense and which strikes to use.
  • How to achieve street fighting knockouts.
  • Ground fighting techniques for self-defense.
  • Easy to apply strategies for attack and defense.
  • The correct way to use chokeholds and how to escape them.
  • The best self-defense objects from everyday items.
  • Weapon vs weapon street fighting training.
  • How to adapt what you learn to any situation.

Adapted From Proven Street Fighting Styles

This no-nonsense self-defense training manual focuses on the most effective techniques from a wide variety of martial arts, including (but not limited to):
  • Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee's martial art)
  • Vortex Control Self-Defense (eclectic self-defense)
  • Kali/Escrima Arnis (Filipino weapon-based martial arts)
  • Wing Chun (efficient Chinese martial art)
  • Krav Maga (Israel military)
  • Systema (Russian military)
  • Mixed Martial Arts (strikes and ground fighting) … and more.

11. When Violence Is the Answer by Tim Larkin 

Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake

In a civilized society, violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it's the only answer. 

The sound of breaking glass downstairs in the middle of the night. The words, "Move and you die." The hands on your child, or the knife to your throat.

In this essential book, self-protection expert and former military intelligence officer Tim Larkin changes the way we think about violence in order to save our lives. 

By deconstructing our assumptions about violence -- its morality, its function in modern society, how it actually works -- Larkin unlocks the shackles of our own taboos and arms us with what we need to know to prevent, prepare for, and survive the unthinkable event of life-or-death violence.

Through a series of harrowing true-life stories, Larkin demonstrates that violence is a tool equally effective in the hands of the "bad guy" or the "good guy"; that the person who acts first, fastest, and with the full force of their body is the one who survives; and that each and every one of us is capable of being that person when our lives are at stake.

An indispensable resource, When Violence is the Answer will remain with you long after you've finished reading, as the bedrock of your self-protection skills and knowledge.

12. Shooting to Live by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes

One of the most influential combat shooting books ever published, Shooting to Live is the product of Capt. W.E. Fairbairn's and Capt. E.A. Sykes' practical experience with the handgun from their many close-quarters gunfights while working for the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1930s. 

By actual records, both Fairbairn and Sykes while with the Shanghai police engaged in over two hundred incidents where violent close combat occurred with oriental criminal elements. 

These battle-scarred veterans were experts in all types of close-quarter fighting with and without weapons. 

Their training techniques and methods were proven first in the back alleys of Shanghai and later with the Commando and the Special Intelligence branches of both the British and U. S. services.

13. Kill or Get Killed by Mr. Rex Appelgate

First published in the early 1960s, the content of this text has been tested over the long term and has proven to be chock full of techniques that are both effective and simple in application. 

Originally written for police and military personnel, with sections on riot control, baton techniques, and subduing combatants, the lessons provided are nonetheless equally valuable for civilians as well. 

You will learn disarming skills, proper gun handling, and many other techniques that are sure to keep you safer in the field and on the streets, whether a soldier, police officer, or private citizen. 

This half-century-old book is a must-have for any library geared toward self-defense, combat tactics, and street survival.

14. No Second Place Winner by William H. Jordan

This Book Discusses grips, calibers, loads, and the care and fitting of a holster, and looks at the keys to the fast draw and successful gunfighting.

Promising Review:

There was a long, storied era when the revolver was king and the fast draw stopped at belt level, when unsighted "point-shooting" was standard law enforcement training, and when sophistication in handgun bullets meant lead semi-wadcutters instead of lead round-noses. Bill Jordan was the apogee of that glacial age, and this book is its core sample.

All of us present-day shooters should read this book and know from whence the current art and science grew. Jordan was an accomplished writer as well as the preeminent shootin' badge of his time, so the reading is a straightforward pleasure. 

Further, this is a book by a working law officer of immense experience, and some of its greatest charm is in its practical day-to-day advice. For example, whether or not you'll ever draw your weapon in extremis, you'll have to ride in a car with the thing at your side for eight hours a day, and that will have a lot to do with your choice of barrel length, holster style, and belt. Similarly: How to make wax bullets for cheap practice; and how to shrink-fit a new leather holster to your gun -- a lost art in our age of Kydex and other plastics. 

And at every point, there are excellent photographs: How to do it right...and, with comic gravity, how *not* to do it. Jordan was six-feet-six of Law and Order - with a sense of humor. ----Read More --- David L. Staples

Best Self-Defense Books Series by Peter Consterdine  

Now for all of your self-defense and martial arts nerds and everyone who has an interest in a complete and comprehensive understanding of self-defense, personal safety, and even bodyguarding - Peter Consterdine’s books are the way to go. 

With decades of experience as a martial artist, a bouncer at the rough bars and places of England, and a security expert, he has run EP operations in such diverse geographies as Moscow, Beirut,  Madrid, Kazakhstan, London, St. Petersburg, Algeria, and the Far East.  

Peter not only has personal experience in all these different fields, but he also possesses a brilliant mind for breaking down information and presenting it in crystal clear detail. 

15. Streetwise 


Streetwise: A Complete Manual of Security and Self-Defense by Peter Consterdine

A comprehensive book on self-defense and personal safety,  in which you will learn the principles of personal security, the threat pyramid, security on the street, fear and adrenal responses, personal threat analysis, legal aspects of self-defense, ranges, tools, handling multiple attackers, situational awareness, psychology of conflict, conflict resolution, understanding myths behind martial arts and a whole lot more.

16. Fit to Fight 


Fit to Fight: Manual of Intense Training for Combat by Peter Consterdine 

It is then followed by “Fight to Fit” - an in-depth guide to understanding and learning the best ways to train physically and mentally for a physical confrontation. 

17. Travelsafe 


Travelsafe: The Complete Guide to Travel Security by Peter Consterdine

And if that is not enough, you can also check “Travelsafe” - The Complete Guide to Traveling  Security which covers everything from risk analysis to travel and health, surviving hotel fires, hotspots of the world, hostage survival, and anti-kidnap procedures, crisis planning, and evacuation, and yet again, a whole lot more. 

18. The Modern Bodyguard 


The Modern Bodyguard: The Manual of Close Protection Training by Peter Consterdine

And then if that is still not enough, you can read Peter’s “The Modern Bodyguard”  - a book that will help you understand what Executive Protection is really about.  

After reading these books you will not only become much safer, but you will also be able to go to parties and impress your friends with your newfound, comprehensive knowledge of self-defense, self-protection, and executive protection :)  

#Worthy Mentions I find the presented books to be essential in truly understanding self-defense and self-protection, yet it does not mean that they are the only ones. 

While not all self-defense experts present the subject appropriately, there are indeed excellent experts out there, and with that in mind, I also wanted to give worthy mentions of these self-defense experts and announce their shared knowledge and wisdom:  Geoff Thompson, Tony Blauer, and Paul Sharp.  

These are the self-defense experts I’ve learned a lot from and I encourage everyone interested in self-defense to check them out.  I am sure the list could also be expanded with even more, awesome individuals. 

Before the article ends, don’t rush to run off and start reading your books!  There is still something else important that I need to share with you.  

As I said at the beginning of the article - knowing how to spot, avoid, and deter a potential threat,  can make you 80% (if not even more) safer, but there are still the other 20%, which can also play a life-or-death role in a self-defense situation.  

And these other 20 percent are the physical side of self-defense, which you, unfortunately, can not learn from a book, (nor an article or YouTube video. Trust me - you can’t learn martial arts or effective self-defense techniques just by watching videos).  

While the information you will find in presented books will make you immensely safer, life is still unpredictable, and even with perfect knowledge of personal safety, there is still a chance that you may get caught off guard, or that someone else will get attacked in front of you.  

This is where actual physical skills are valuable and if you want to be 99% safer, I encourage you to also devote at least a few months to training a martial art or system that will teach you the necessary physical skills to defend against an attack efficiently.  

Alright, now you can run off and start reading these excellent self-defense and personal safety books to make yourself and others around you safer!  

so those are my top 18 books that I recommend if you want to learn more about personal defense and personal protection so definitely check them out. 

if you like this article subscribe to my website and make sure you like the article thanks for reading and I hope you guys all have a great day bye.

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