The 10 Best Books to Learn Martial Art and Self-Defense

Today we talk about the 10 best books to learn martial art and self-defense. 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. 
best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense
Based on the school, style, and instructor - some martial arts classes or self-defense courses can be a hit or miss, as most martial arts instructors will teach you complicated techniques which will take years to master or that in actuality are simply not effective, while a weekend self-defense course will teach you various “what if techniques”, such as “if an attacker grabs you like this - do this!”, but you will neither be able to learn them so quickly nor will remember them a few days later, let alone - if you will actually be attacked. 

When the situation of learning self-defense is described in this way, it may seem like a gloomy and confusing situation to be in, yet the good news is - you can learn the essentials of self-defense without leaving your home, or even better... Without leaving your couch! 

Now I understand that this sounds like a “drink a pill and lose weight” snake oil-salesman type of scheme, but stay with me for just a little bit more. 

The truth about self-defense is that roughly 80% if not more of what self-defense actually is about - is self-protection and prevention. It is knowing how to spot and avoid a potential attacker, to begin with, or how to de-escalate or avoid a situation that is growing toward a potential threat. 

80%, if not more of self-defense is self-protection and avoidance of potential threats. Luckily for us, this information can be gained through reading quality self-defense books. But not all self-defense books are created equal.

Join me in this article to explore things and dive into understanding what makes self-defense books great and what books in particular at the best for learning about self-defense and self-protection to become much safer.

And lucky for all of us - this information can be easily found in books. But hold your horses - don’t run off and buy the first self-defense book that you find on amazon. This situation is still a bit more delicate than that and needs some more explanation.  

As not all martial arts and self-defense courses are created equal - the same can be said about self-defense books. Many of the self-defense books do the same mistake as formerly mentioned self-defense weekend courses - they only show pictures of “what if” techniques, which consist only of dealing with physical attacks. 

But as explained earlier, what is more, important than just learning physical self-defense - is appropriate knowledge of how to avoid and deescalate potential threats. Lucky for us again, some self-defense books are incredibly good at providing this crucial, life-saving information. 

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. 

Table of Contents

The 10 Best Books to Learn Martial Art and Self-Defense


Today I wanted to give you guys my top 10 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 where I can read things because there are so many good books out there that will give you information that's helpful especially. 

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 10 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.

If you want to learn more about mindset, self-protection, and situational awareness, check out my Top 10 Books for Self-Defense & Martial Arts. 


1. The Gift of Fear 


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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 seeing 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 does 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, that we all inherently already have, works, but you will also learn much more about the predatory mindset and various factors which 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 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-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 and 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 


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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 towards 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 


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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 


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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 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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

This book gives a no-nonsense introduction and 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 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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 kravist---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 


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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.


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, and 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 the information and presenting it in crystal clear detail.
 

1. Streetwise 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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.


2. Fit to Fight 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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. 
 

3. Travelsafe 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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. 
 

4. The Modern Bodyguard 


best-books-to-learn-martial-art-and-self-defense

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, 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 yet 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 percents 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 which will teach you the necessary physical skills to defend against an attack efficiently.  

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

so those are my top 10 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 so thanks for reading and I hope you guys all have a great day bye.


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