Can You Learn Martial Arts from a Book?


Young determined karate man breaking pile of books

There are times when it’s not possible to learn martial arts at a dojo or spend hours watching instructional videos which require good internet. So, you’ve probably wondered can you learn martial arts from a book?

Having practiced martial arts for years, here’s what I know:

One can learn martial arts from a book. There are many beautifully illustrated books that guide readers in a step-by-step manner. The visual components of such books make it easy to grasp the concepts being explored. And, because of the practical nature of martial arts, even the text is usually very informative.

Of course, in-person or videos or online classes are still better.

But books like these are often used by those who live far away from where they can easily have access to reputable dojos. And, there are martial artists who got started this way.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can teach yourself, we’ll check out the easiest martial art to get started with and some related info that’ll help you.

Let the fun begin…

Can you self-teach martial arts?

You can teach yourself martial arts. Structured online courses with videos or YouTube videos are helpful because of the visual component. Next to these are books with a lot of step-by-step pictures and illustrations. 

Such books are effective aids that would help you explore martial arts.

Because of the practical nature of martial arts and their importance as a tool for self-defense, the best way to master them is to enroll in a reputable school, where you’d have access to solid instructors and sparring partners.

But, that may not be feasible. Or, maybe you just want to teach yourself?

Would you like to teach yourself Karate? In a recent article of mine, I shared actionable and cost-effective strategies that’ll help you.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

So, structured YouTube courses are awesome since you can see the techniques being demonstrated even if you have no one to practice with.

These YouTube courses are designed by seasoned and professional martial artists who are also great teachers. The courses follow a sequential path, from beginner to intermediate to advanced levels, so they are easy to follow.

However, we all have different formats we prefer. Maybe videos aren’t really your thing. I get it.

There are those who prefer books. Truth be told, it’s often easier to pause and focus on some aspects of what you’re learning if you’re reading. A book offers you more control.

It’s not as easy when you have to pause and go back to some parts of a video. Fortunately, there are many print books and e-books you can use to teach yourself martial arts.

Now, let’s check out the easiest one to get started with…

What is the easiest martial art to learn from a book?

Muay Thai is the easiest martial art to learn from a book. This is because it does not have a lot of techniques that students have to master. But its relatively few techniques are deadly. Therefore, the main focus is to understand each one and then practice them over and over again.

To put the above into context. Consider that there are some martial arts that have hundreds of techniques.

In fact, Aikido has 10,000 techniques!  Muay Thai (MT), on the other hand, is one of the deadliest martial arts, and it has a few techniques to boot.

If you’ve got a friend or family member to practice with, fine. But, no worries, if you don’t.

A couple of beautifully illustrated MT books, shin guards, gloves, punching bag, a training dummy, and you’re good to go.

The major skills you’d need to read about and practice are around:

  • Punch techniques
  • Elbow techniques
  • Knee techniques
  • Kick techniques
  • Some conditioning exercises 
  • Some tricks (to give you an edge)

Study and practice. In time, you’d notice you’re becoming more confident and skilled.

If you’re a bit skeptical if learning a few techniques very well is a good path to follow. Let me share one of the most popular martial art quotes with you.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” — Bruce Lee

Curious about how you can teach yourself Judo? Check out a recent article of mine where I showed you effective and actionable strategies to use.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you learn Kung Fu from a book?

One can learn Kung Fu from a book, provided the book has many pictures and illustrations depicting the most vital techniques step-by-step.  

Besides, most books about Kung Fu are written in a lucid fashion. Therefore, it would be easy for a reader to explore the captivating world of Kung Fu.

It has many styles. So, the first step would be for you to do a bit of research about each one. And, then decide on the one that’s closest to what you want.

If self-defense is your goal, you’ll find a suitable style in either Wing Chun or the Luan Ying style.

If self-control and spiritual development are what you’d rather focus on, you’ll find a style that’d suit them, such as Tai Chi Chuan (often just called Tai Chi).

Once you’ve chosen a style, buy a couple of books on Kung Fu in general and on the particular style you’d want to focus on.

Striking, kicking, grappling, throwing, seizing, and locking the joints are the main techniques taught in Kung Fu.

You can learn about these techniques in a good book. In addition to pictures, such books also contain several illustrations, so it is easy to follow along.

In a recent article of mine, I went into some depth to show you how you can teach yourself Kung Fu.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I learn Jeet Kune Do by myself?

One can learn Jeet Kune Do on one’s own. There are YouTube videos and books that can be used as instructional aids. A punching bag and a training dummy would help to “simulate” real-life scenarios. 

Studying and practicing the techniques over and over again is an effective path to teach oneself Jeet Kune Do.

Jeet Kune Do is a style of Kung Fu developed by Bruce Lee. Of course, he envisioned it as a style that goes beyond the limitations of style. He wanted it to be like water — highly adaptable.

He believed that the ultimate fighter is someone who is not restricted to the patterns of any style but rather one who is open and flexible, a person who is constantly learning and adopting effective techniques, no matter the style.

This is why JKD is seen as the “father” of MMA. JKD is the first MMA.

You can see it in action in Bruce Lee’s movie Enter The Dragon. You can find videos and books (choose those with lots of pictures and illustrations) to learn the techniques.

But, don’t forget that JKD is also a philosophy. 

A way of being in the world that would not simply make you a better fighter. It can help you become more successful in other areas of your life. So, make sure you learn Jeet Kune Do’s principles, too.

Curious about how to teach yourself, Krav Maga? Is that even possible?

Find out in a recent article of mine, where I showed how it could be done. As with any martial art or self defense system, training in a school with partners is ideal. But there’s 1 key way to make Krav Maga work for you at home alone.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is a training dummy good when learning martial arts from a book?

Yes, a training dummy is crucial when learning martial arts from a book, as it will allow your punches, kicks, and blocks to connect with something rather than practicing in the air. 

When learning by yourself, any small resource you can access could help. Of course, a dummy can’t be the same as a strong, nimble fellow charging at you!

But it’s way better than attacking an “invisible” bully. It’ll help you improve your skills because you actually have a target to direct your skills at.

CLICK HERE to see the training dummy I recommend from Amazon. 

It’s made of durable and easy-to-wash military-grade vinyl. It comes in a variety of sizes and weights, so you could easily choose the one for your “division.”

Practice all your lethal moves secure in the knowledge that you aren’t hurting anybody. But don’t see it as a dummy. Use your imagination. Give it a name, a really scary name.

Then, give it a serious beatdown again and again.

Conclusion

A well-written and beautifully illustrated book can be an invaluable aid as you get started with a martial art of your choice.

Of course, nothing beats being able to train at a dojo. Or using structured YouTube videos. But it’s smart to make do with what one has. Books with pictures are awesome.

We learned that one could learn Jeet Kune Do by oneself.

We checked out the easiest martial art to teach oneself. Go with Muay Thai, and we looked at whether a training dummy would be helpful.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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